Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0
Powerful new tools and fun features make this version of Photoshop Elements well worth the upgrade
The Editor brings a few enhancements as well. The User Interface is a more pleasing color, with darker backgrounds and menus that give the focus to your images. A new Adjust Sharpness command works like the Smart Sharpen feature in Photoshop CS2, with a larger preview area and more options for selecting the type of blurring. For reasons unknown, you'll find this feature under the Enhance menu.
Elements finally has two pro-level tools that users have been asking for. First is Curves, in a modified and easier-to-use format that borrows from the Variations control, letting you select from preset options and then refine your choice with sliders for highlights, brightness, contrast and shadows, all while seeing the results on a curve chart.
The second tool is a real Convert to Black and White. Rather than the simple desaturation of previous versions, this control works more like the Channel Mixer in Photoshop CS2, letting you select a preset style and then fine-tune the results based on a color filter, contrast and intensity. I was surprised at the quality of conversion of which this simple tool was capable.
Elements 5.0 also gives users a number of new output options. In addition to the map publishing covered earlier, there are new web galleries that include Flash layouts and more professional-looking templates and new printing templates designed for scrapbooking enthusiasts. This version greatly expands on the previous versions' limited selection of book page designs.
You can now output directly to a CEIVA Digital Photo Receiver, SmugMug or Kodak EasyShare Gallery, or order photo greeting cards, along with creating CD and DVD jacket labels and flip books.
All in all, Photoshop Elements 5.0 is a solid upgrade from previous versions and should be considered by anyone looking for an easy-to-use program that also has room to grow. For existing users of Elements, if you've wanted better black-and-white output, Curves adjustments or help getting better organized, Elements 5.0 is a terrific upgrade. Windows only. List Price: $89 (full version); $69 (upgrade).
Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.