This week, Adobe announced the latest version of its consumer image-editing package, Photoshop Elements 5. It's taken a while for the software to crawl out from the shadow of its celebrity sibling, Photoshop, but these days you'd be hard-pressed to find similarities between the two. There's the occasional familiar dialog box and a handful of traditional Photoshop interface quirks that may elude newbies--for example, how to enter the unit (such as "px" for "pixels") in the width and height of the crop box. But Elements seems to have settled into its identity as something more--and less--than a "lite" Photoshop.
Overall, there seems to be more and better creative content in Photoshop Elements 5, and it's generally easier to work with. The organizer and photo downloader have also taken a step forward in elegance and usability. Ironically, however, the imaging tools don't seem to be keeping up. All four of the new additions--black-and-white conversion, curve-based correction, distortion correction, and a different take on sharpening--try new interfaces for old problems. But, at least to me, the approaches don't make the operations much easier or better. Just different.
Once I get the final version, I'll flesh out a review and deliver a verdict; the beta version I worked with was certainly zippier than previous releases, but I'd like to see everything hooked up before I lock in my opinion. Stay tuned.