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Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: New features tour--screenshots

The latest version of Photoshop Elements includes face recognition and geotagging.

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LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg
Lori Grunin
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Lori Grunin
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1 of 7 Adobe

Photoshop Elements 8

Both PSE 8 and Premiere Elements 8 include an updated version of the Organizer that supports people- and geotagging as well as some nonphoto file formats. As usual, the editor itself includes some features trickled down from Photoshop CS4, like Photomerge Exposure, which combines multiple similar source images for optimal exposure; Content-Aware Scaling, here dubbed "Recompose," which drops unwanted objects out of photos as you scale down; and Quick Fix previews for less parametric and more visually-based photo editing.
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2 of 7 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Mapping and tag clouds

Version 8 adds the ability to tag photo files with addresses--if they're not geotagged already--and display or select them based on location. Also, in addition to its traditional hierarchical tag structure, you can also view tag clouds, which (theoretically) depict more-popular tags with larger fonts. I couldn't find a way to hide unused tags, however, which makes this scheme less useful than it could be.
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3 of 7 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Greater visualization

The Quick Fix pane now offers variation previews for every adjustment option. This is a great way to learn the effects that different adjustments will have on your photos, but after a while some people might find it too distracting a way to work (at which point they can jump into the full editor, which provides a much more Photoshop CS4-like experience).
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4 of 7 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Photomerge Exposure, automatic

The new Photomerge Exposure tool, adapted from Photoshop senior, ironically seems to work best automatically than when fiddled with.
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5 of 7 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Photomerge Exposure, manual

There doesn't seem to be a one-to-one correspondence between the paint-on-mask and the selected regions for the Photomerge and I couldn't find a way to adjust the tolerance of the selections (so that it didn't spread to all the adjacent dark areas to the ones selected, for instance), which made fine-tuning the merge difficult.
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6 of 7 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

It's time for some dialogs to die

I think this is the same JPEG options dialog that was in the first version of Photoshop to support the format. Do any consumers even know (or care) what the difference is between the different format options? Time for some tidying of the UI, Adobe.
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7 of 7 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Living on the edge

Adobe certainly isn't the only software manufacturer to invoke FUD to try to convince you to use a feature, but it's the one that's currently in my face. I'm sure the language is simply some marketer's attempt to remind you what the feature does, but accusing me of not wanting to "protect" my "precious memories"? Perhaps it should say "No--Leave it OFF. I don't want to have to spend $50 a year on a premium subscription to Photoshop.com when this feature drives me past my 2GB limit or face getting cut off when I unknowingly hit my ISP's broadband cap" might work, too. Or the less verbose "No, I don't want Organizer to back up or synchronize my files."

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