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Tour: Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 beta

A walk through the new features in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7

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 10 Lori Grunin
Unfortunately, all of the tagging operations in both Photoshop and Premiere Elements are still far too modal. For example, in order for this keyword import dialog to be truly useful, I needed to see the photo which used the original keywords. But you can't do anything else in the application when dialogs like these are onscreen.
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2 of 10 Lori Grunin
This is one of the more impressive tools in Photoshop Elements 7. Normally, these quick compositing operations don't work on random photos I pull off my hard drive, but this worked without a hitch on the first try. I wanted the inset photo on the left, but without the big head of the guy who walked in front of me. All it required was some brush strokes over the elements I wanted gone. (The large photo is the result.)
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3 of 10 Lori Grunin
While some of the new Guided Edits, like Pencil Sketch, walk you through the various operations required to produce the effect, this Guided Edit doesn't guide at all--it simply applies an effect, and doesn't even tell you what it's doing.
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4 of 10 Lori Grunin
The new Bluer Skies Smart Brush only works well on unobstructed vistas, like the sky over the ocean. The selection tool isn't smart enough--or fine tunable enough--to overlook branches, leaves or even buildings in some cases. You can make the brush smaller, but you can imagine the tedium of selecting around something like this.
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The real intelligence in the Smart Brushes isn't the automatic selections or effects they produce, but in that they now automatically generate layer masks and apply as Adjustment or Effects layers.
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6 of 10 Lori Grunin
The new text search filter, which searches metadata as well as keywords, is actually pretty good. Here, it found all the photos shot with Sony cameras. It also seems to understand booleans; in order to find all the photos shot with the Nikon D3, for example, I entered "D3 not D300." However, it probably should have understood quotation marks to limit that same search--in essence, just "D3"-- instead.
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The new Toothbrush Quick Fix doesn't seem to whiten teeth so much as lighten them, no matter how much you apply it.
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8 of 10 Lori Grunin
As one of its tools to create "better portraits," Adobe offers this variant of Gaussian Blur called Surface Blur, which seems to do the same thing as Smart Blur--it just defaults to different settings.
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9 of 10 Lori Grunin
You don't even have to be able to read the words in this screen to know that the Levels Guided Edit is a bit unwieldy. There has to be a better way. Ironically, the before and after previews, which are useful, still aren't available in the standard editing mode, just in Quick Fix and Guided Edit.
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10 of 10 Lori Grunin
Face tagging isn't new to version 7, but it's another example of a really useful feature that could have used some refinement. For instance, it could have benefited from a sensitivity setting that, say, told it to ignore faces smaller than X percent of the size of the photo, which would have helped weed out the framed photos highlighted here. And how it thought that big red apple-y thing was a face is one of those programming mysteries I will never understand.

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