Adobe Photoshop Elements could easily be described as “Photoshop Lite”, image editing software intended for consumers rather than professionals. It brings a lot of visual tools and enhancements from the full version, but unlike Photoshop, it doesn’t require you to have a regular subscription.
There is no doubt that Elements looks and is a more streamlined photo editor than its full counterpart. However, the software still allows users to create fun effects, work with layers and filters, and even create content Photoshop can’t, like memes and highlights. New features in version 2021, including face tilt and sky replacement, are powered by Sensei, Adobe’s AI technology.
Since Elements main interface has three modes to choose from – Basic, Guided, and Expert – the editing experience can be tailored to suit different abilities. It is a photo editor well suited to home computers; beginners don’t need to get overwhelmed, while avid photographers can quickly access the tools they need.
Adobe Photoshop Elements Review: Features
- Automatic modifications with Sensei artificial intelligence
- Elements 2021 organizer
- Creative effects
The myriad of creative effects available in Adobe Photoshop Elements – some of them a bit fancy but a lot that are really useful – is one of the main reasons people look to use the software. They’re all quick to find, select, and apply, although they don’t offer much room for customization.
Besides adding frames and text to images, it’s also easy to add motivational quotes or personalized messages to images using one of the many pre-designed templates. These are a little cheesy, but they are sure to appeal to family members who want to create their own Instagram cards, albums, or even graphics.
Other notable effects include multi-photo text – where you can use a different photo to fill in a letter and create an awesome visual word – as well as double exposures, pattern brushing, and adding a touch of color to a black and white photo. Elements is a scrapbooker’s dream, and even if you walk into the software as a professional photographer feeling a little snobby about it, it’s easy to waste an hour playing around with everything on offer.
What’s new in 2021?
New in version 2021 is support for Adobe’s Creative Cloud storage service, allowing easy sharing of images to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Adobe’s artificial intelligence technology, Adobe Sensei, enables enhancements such as perfect landscapes and two-tone image creation, as well as automatic and one-click subject selections.
Adobe is constantly adding more AI features to its software. Sensei’s AI-based one-click sky replacement tool found in Photoshop 2021 also appears in Elements under the Perfect Landscapes guided edit. If you select Auto Match Color Tone, the result is quite effective, although the 12 included skies can be a bit limiting.
Another one-click transformation is the ability to turn still images into animated photos to create animated GIFs. This one is a lot of fun and can literally be applied and exported in seconds.
Adobe isn’t the only company using machine learning to transform digital images at the push of a button. Skylum Luminar AI was the world’s first image editor entirely powered by artificial intelligence (the hint is in the name), and DxO introduced DeepPRIME in its Photo Lab 4 software in October 2020, an AI technology which denoise RAW images.
Unfortunately, not all of the AI features of Adobe Photoshop Elements are effective. Colorize Photo added only subtle tones to the black and white images tested. It wasn’t an unappealing look, but not the magical transformation into a color capture we were promised.
When it comes to keeping your collection of images tidy, it’s worth noting that Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021 is made up of an editor and an organizer. The organizer looks rudimentary but offers a powerful search function, while a catalog structure makes it easy to sort and tag your images by place, event, or location. Plus, smart beacons powered by (you guessed it) AI can automatically identify what’s in a photo: a tree, a pet, a face, a landscape. This information is then automatically backed up to the cloud for easy retrieval in the event of a problem.
Each photographer has their own unique workflow. If you’re used to an all-in-one approach like the one used by Apple Photos or Lightroom, having two separate windows can feel a bit awkward. That said, it’s pretty straightforward to switch between the two workspaces using a button on the bottom panel.
Adobe Photoshop Elements review: Compatibility and plugins
Adobe Photoshop Elements is compatible with macOS (10.14 or later) and Windows (Microsoft Windows 10 version 1903 or later) operating systems, and is the same in functionality for functionality on either. The system itself needs at least a 6th generation Intel processor to function properly.
Items can be paid for and downloaded online directly from the Adobe website. A DVD-ROM drive is required if you purchase the software on a hard drive (this is an option on some sites).
Adobe Photoshop Elements Review: Pricing and Subscription Options
Photoshop Elements is one of the only Adobe software that does not require a cloud-based subscription. It can be purchased directly for $ 100, whereas if you already own the software and want to upgrade to the 2021 version, that price is reduced to around $ 80. A 30-day free trial is also available.
Should you buy Adobe Photoshop Elements?
Adobe Photoshop Elements is a great first step for those who are still learning the ropes of image editing and don’t want to invest in Photoshop’s steep learning curve and recurring payments. Enthusiasts will always find a generous amount of creative tools to enhance the look of photos, and these come together in a simple and easy-to-navigate interface, especially in the Guided Edits tab.
While Elements’ range of effects is better than some of its competition, professionals and enthusiasts alike will likely find its looks outdated and functionality too basic for a long time to come. While those looking for complex layering and advanced processing capabilities should head to Photoshop, photographers who want a streamlined all-in-one workflow solution would be better off buying Lightroom.