Photoshop Elements 15
A competent photo editor that struggles to sell itself
£79.10 FROM Adobe, adobe.com/uk needs OS X 10.10 or higher
Photoshop Elements’ challenge is not only to keep adding features that don’t step on the toes of its bigger brother, but also to justify its very
existence and price. After all, at £79 it’s only £20 cheaper than a year’s Creative Cloud subscription to Photoshop and Lightroom.
Interesting in this version is the ability to liquify shots of people: faces are automatically recognised and features can be subtly altered: a mouth can be made smilier, for example. By keeping the size of our adjustments under control, we were pleasantly surprised at the subtle effectiveness of some of our changes.
The dehazing feature applies an intelligent contrast boost to images with atmospheric haze. In our tests, landscapes showed the most difference, boosting contrast in hazy areas while leaving clear foregrounds alone.
A shake-reduction tool is also included, allowing photos shot at too-slow shutter speeds to be salvaged. This also falls into the ‘surprisingly effective’ category, although our tests showed telltale halos concomitant with overenthusiastic sharpening, and we had difficulty creating a file that we felt would print well while simultaneously showing the benefits of the new tool. Photoshop Elements’ Guided Edits panel – a range of step-by-step guides – has gained new tricks, such as the Photo Text tool, which creates a block of text that’s masked off so your background image assumes the shape of the words you type.
Power up your workflow
The Elements Organizer has also been given an injection of new features: select a group of images and click Quick Fix and you can batch process them with saturation, exposure and clarity tools. Its search tool has grown impressively, too: as Organizer rakes through your photo folders, it allows you to search not only by face or geolocation, but by the content of a photo. Enter ‘Taj Mahal’, for instance, and it will return shots of the eponymous mausoleum. It also works with more prosaic keywords: we got results for keyboards, buildings and camera lenses, potentially saving dedicated keyworders hours of work.
The app’s challenge is meaningfully occupying the gap between Apple’s Photos and the full-blooded version of Photoshop. While Elements offers loads of power, and we’re still fans of its suite of guided edits, you may be better off with a Creative Cloud subscription and YouTube for tutorials. Interestingly, the first time we used the Expert editing mode we were met with an ad for Photoshop Lightroom. We suggest you cut out the middleman and go straight there.
The app’s challenge is meaningfully occupying the gap between Photos and Photoshop
The shake reduction tool is surprisingly effective, and may help rescue shots.
The app has a range of ‘Fun’ edits to quickly spruce up images with collage, text, paint-like effects and more.