Adobe today released the latest iteration of its consumer photo and video software, version 10 of Photoshop Elements (pictures) and Premiere Elements (movies).
Perhaps the most interesting addition to Elements photo editing is a "guided edit" for changing an image's depth of field by blurring the background. This isn't completely new capability -- you could do this in earlier versions of Elements by selecting the background manually and applying a blur filter. However, the guided edit cuts down the steps and makes it easier for those who are less comfortable diving deep into Elements' many tools.
I'm not sure this feature is quite as compelling as some other recent updates to the Elements editor, such as the addition of layer masks (for a long time only available in full Photoshop) and "content-aware" smart retouching. However, it took me less than half a minute to do a simple background blur on a flower photo with the new guided edit -- a feature that could appeal to users who want to punch up a portrait or still life without spending a lot of time.
New depth of field guided edit in Elements 10
Image after background blur is applied
There are also some intriguing new features in Elements' organizer and the Premiere video editing package this time around.
Organizer now integrates with Facebook, allowing you to tag photos from your Facebook friends list, not only your list of tags within Elements. In addition, there's more intelligence built into the Organizer search. Elements 9 already uses facial recognition for tagging, but Organizer can now help find hotos including a particular object (such as your puppy or the Empire State Building). This object searching should be welcome news for people who import a lot of photos into Elements but don't bother to tag them. In fact, I'm surprised that capability didn't come first to Adobe's more expensive professional workflow and asset-management tool, Lightroom.
To use the new object search, you choose a photo and then select the object you want. When the results appear, you can tweak the results by adjusting a slider to decide if shape or color should be more important. A test search through my photos searching for the Matterhorn didn't take long to pull up half a dozen with the correct mountain first.
Selecting an object for searching
Object search results can be adjusted to emphasize shape or color
Organizer can also find photos that look similar -- say, a bridge at sunset. That capability is new in the Mac version, but Adobe says it's also been improved in the Windows version.
If it's time to declutter your hard drive, the Elements smarter search is also designed to help find duplicate images -- not only exact copies, but also versions that have been edited or cropped. T
Premiere Elements video editor has a couple of significant upgrades in version 10 as well. It's now a native 64-bit application -- useful for RAM-intensive video work -- and it offers more sophisticated color correction. Borrowed from the pro version of Premiere, version 10 can now do separate changes to midtones, highlights and shadows.
Also in Premiere Elements 10: an easier way to create "Ken Burns effect" panning and zooming, as well as auto pan and zoom of various faces in a still shot.
The Elements photo editor has several other useful additions -- probably not enough by themselves to justify an upgrade from 9 to 10, but handy to have if you're buying anyway. The cropping tool now has a one-click overlay that gives guidance to those who want to follow the popular photographic "rule of thirds" (if you were to draw a tic-tac-toe board on top of an image, the line intersections are often the best place for an image subject to appear instead of dead center). There are also 30 new smart brush filters and effects as well as two new guided edits in addition to depth of field.
Should you upgrade to Elements 10? If you just do basic editing -- or already have version 9 and don't feel an urgent need for a rule-of-thirds overlay or guided background blur -- the editor alone may not be enough of a change to justify a $79 upgrade. However, if you've got an older version that doesn't yet have the content-aware retouching and layer masks -- and you're advanced enough in editing that you'd use such tools -- it's probably worth moving up.
If you've got a lot of photos imported into the Elements Organizer but haven't gotten around to tagging them yet want to be able to find images with certain things in them, the smart object search may be worth the upgrade price.
And if you're a power Premiere Elements user, native 64-bit and pro-like color correction may also be worth the upgrade.
Photoshop Elements and Elements Premiere 10 list for $149.99 as a bundle or $99.99 if you just want to buy one; that's for new users. Upgrade lists for $79.99 each and $119.99 for the pair.
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