Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Runs on the full Photoshop's powerful imaging engine; includes all of the essential retouching, selection, and output tools for digital photographers; now supports OS X.

The Bad Help system is annoying for experienced users and isn't integrated or thorough enough for newbies; lacks Photoshop's most useful tool, the Healing Brush.

The Bottom Line Photoshop Elements delivers the core image-editing tools needed by most nonprofessional photographers. But it's still too complex for most hobbyists. For a more kitchen-sink feature set, try Jasc Paint Shop Pro or Ulead PhotoImpact.

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For $99, this stripped-down version of Photoshop delivers all of the digital image-editing tools that most graphics enthusiasts need. In fact, Adobe's Elements 2.0 even tosses in a few interesting new features and enhancements. But as a next step up from newbie image editors such as Microsoft Picture It, Photoshop Elements 2.0 misses the mark; it's still too complicated. Based on our experience with a beta copy, only Elements' native support of Mac OS X justifies spending $69 to upgrade from version 1.0 or from a competing product. For $99, this stripped-down version of Photoshop delivers all of the digital image-editing tools that most graphics enthusiasts need. In fact, Adobe's Elements 2.0 even tosses in a few interesting new features and enhancements. But as a next step up from newbie image editors such as Microsoft Picture It, Photoshop Elements 2.0 misses the mark; it's still too complicated. Based on our experience with a beta copy, only Elements' native support of Mac OS X justifies spending $69 to upgrade from version 1.0 or from a competing product.

Of course, if you're already familiar with Photoshop 7.0 or Elements 1.0, you'll feel at home in version 2.0. The standard Adobe interface lets you dock all of your palettes at the top of the screen for easy access and displays relevant tool settings below the menu bar. Elements contains all of the essential image-editing tools, including free-form selection tools and special-effects filters, as well as a few advanced features, such as adjustment layers and gradient maps. We're pleased to see that Elements now includes some basic color management, letting you choose to ignore any color settings in the file or automatically optimize them for Web or print. This is a handy feature for high-quality output and one that version 1.0 didn't have.

Not much new
Elements' full lineup of new features isn't terribly compelling, however. Its batch-processing options (standard among similar editors) allow you to convert, rename, and resize an entire directory's files--for example, all of the cryptically named files imported from your digital camera. The new Selection Brush lets you select soft-edged areas of your image that you want to delete, cut, or crop, but it requires extremely precise mouse work for real accuracy.

Experienced designers will love Elements' overhauled paint engine, straight from Photoshop 7.0, but we don't think potential Elements customers will need such a sophisticated engine. Additional modest enhancements include the ability to display EXIF metadata, such as camera model and shot settings, in the File Browser, and updated layouts for Web pages and printing Picture Packages. There's also a Quick Fix dialog that aggregates a variety of existing enhancement tools. Unfortunately, Elements still doesn't include Photoshop's most useful tool for photographers, the Healing Brush, which magically fixes lines and wrinkles.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0

Part Number: 49230201
MSRP: $99.00 Low Price: $22.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category creativity application
  • Compatibility Mac