Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 £79/$70
Good for novices, but it has its limits
Photoshop Elements is made up of Elements Organizer and Elements Editor. You import, tag, organise and search your photos with the Organizer (and carry out some basic image fixes too), but more advanced photo manipulation tasks are done in the Editor. When you save your pictures from the Editor, they are automatically added back into your Organizer catalogue.
The Organizer is touchenabled and the search feature includes combinations of places, events and favourite subjects. Smart Tags can automatically tag common subjects such as sunsets, birthdays and cats.
The Editor has three operating modes – Quick mode offers simple everyday adjustments, Guided mode offers interactive walkthroughs for more complex effects, and Expert mode is like a mini-Photoshop for those who like to take full control, and it’s actually quite powerful.
Elements 15 brings five new Guided Edits – Photo Text, Painterly, Effects Collage, Speed Pan and Frame Creator – taking the number of Guided Edits to 45. They are one of Elements’ strong points, as you don’t just get an interesting image at the end, you learn a lot of new tools and principles along the way.
The Elements Editor is quite flexible, offering many of the same tools as full Photoshop – and of course once you learn how to use Elements, you’ll quickly feel at home if you move on up to Photoshop.
It’s easy to create layers, effects, selections and montages. It does lack certain key Photoshop tools, notably curves adjustments, but it can still create some advanced effects. The bigger problem is the simplified version of Adobe Camera Raw it ships with. This lacks lens corrections, tonal adjustments, gradient and radial filters and more. Elements can work with RAW files, but you may not get the best from them.