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Adobe Photoshop Elements is the number one consumer photo editor in terms of licence sales, outstripping Adobe's professional flagship: Photoshop CS5 Extended - largely because of its power and cheaper price. Expensive to upgrade perhaps, but there's no denying Elements 9 is an impressive package for the serious home or semi-professional photographer. As ever, increasing complexity within Elements makes the package ever harder to fully master, but all the basic tools are simple enough and the use of image layers, `Photomerge' panaramas and tranforms can be investigated later. There is plenty of on-line help at Adobe and other sites, although worryingly some of that Adobe help [`How to' guides] is slipping towards `annual membership fees' and of course much of the video help is Adobe Flash based and invisible to Apple users. But Elements 9 is still superb software for those new to image editing and PC photo databases, and you can download a 30-day trial from Adobe now.

New to Elements 9 is the enhanced 'spot healing brush' that wowed Photoshop CS5 users. Just go over a background object in the photo with the 'Content aware' brush tool and hopefully the unwanted item vanishes by blending information in from nearby - ideal for removing things like a car, person, lamppost or seagull [it works well for natural scenes]. This 'content aware' healing brush doesn't always get it right though, but often results improve with fresh attempts. There's also a new guided edit tool that can create pop art, startling graphics and reflections. Photomerge [the superb panorama stitching tool] has been `enhanced' [the blending works better]. Interestingly layer masks have been introduced, one area that lagged behind Photoshop CS5. There's now a tool to transform your new photo into a similar style to an older one [i.e. apply it's contrast and colour vividness] so the photos look good next to each other. There's also some new minor stuff [for me] like quicker uploads to Facebook, an improved editing interface within creation layout, the ability to create and print calendars and suchlike, and create virtual photo-album's scrapbook style [Serif's Scrapbook Artist 2 is more fun for this]. There's also new support for Apple Mac's `multitouch' hardware. The `Plus' version of Elements 9 offers 20Gb of on-line storage rather than 2Gb and a years subscription to `Plus' downloadable content [Flash video help and templates] - but the 20Gb storage is for US users and with upload speeds being a fraction of download speeds not many would wish to use on-line storage anyway.

The old Elements tools are also there, like one step `teeth whitening' and `Sky more blue' tools streamlined to make colour, contrast and lighting adjustments even quicker [actually useful for old faded slide scans or to give your boss a fake tan and make them look ridiculous]. For editing you have a set of 'quickfix' options or you can load the full image editor for greater manual control: such as adjust sharpness, correct camera distortion, levels, hue and skin colour/tones. Standard tools include crop and adjust image size (pixels) and you can just edit selected areas of the photos using various object selection tools. Plus there are step-through guides [guided edit] to help you get there. The software will also integrate with scanners twain interfaces if you are into scanning film, and the Fill Light [shadow/highlight] tool is essential for bringing out detail in shadows from any slide/negative scan. Plus Elements can handle large RAW camera images. You can correct lens barrel distortion using the specific tool or various generic `Transform' tools. You can recompose [shrink] photos without loosing detail. Once installed Elements 9 auto-updates itself.

Elements 9 offers complex image database features [which work better than PhotoShops CS5's]. Although all this takes a while to do, within the photo-organiser you can now quick-edit images while viewing them and you can sync your photo collection across PCs to ensure the same photos are on all of them [useful for backup protection]. Plus you can add location information to the photo via Yahoo maps and satellite GPS if your camera supports it.

System requirements are similar to Elements 7: DVD drive, 1Gb RAM, XP, Vista or Windows 7, Mac 10.5.8+, 1.6GHz processor, 3.4Gb harddrive space, internet access, and a Direct-X9 16-bit graphics card. Those with a modern multi-core PC and 4Gb system RAM will find the program far more responsive though. Elements 9 perhaps isn't a crucial upgrade from Elements 8 or even 6, but for new home users, or those with older versions, it's very powerful photo editing and image database software from the market leaders. The new healing brush and layer masks are enough to convince me to upgrade to v9, but then my workplace pays for my copy [Adobe upgrade prices are steep].

Adobe Elements 9 has only two real competitors at the price: Paint Shop Pro X3 and Serif PhotoPlus X4 [worth investigating]. Professional users will head towards Adobe's semi-automated PhotoShop Lightroom 3.0 and the fantastically expensive Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, although at work we have Adobe Elements 8/9 on a few imaging workstations for casual users, where the cost of PhotoShop CS5 Extended isn't justified. That said experienced Photoshop CS5 users will find Elements 9 lacking key features they are used to. Photoshop CS5 users won't find Elements 9 immediately easy to use; it's evolved into a very different program and it annoyingly hides identical tools in different menu locations.

Overall a useful and desirable update to Elements 8. Plus you can buy Photoshop Elements 9 as a cheap double pack with the excellent Adobe Premiere Elements 9 [video editing] - and Adobe offer educational discounts for schoolkids/teachers/students.
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1717 comments| 483 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 October 2010
How good you will think Elements 9 is depends much on what you have at the moment. For new users, it's as good as any entry level photo processing software out there in my view. Not the cheapest necessarily, but it's extensive, robust and, while there is the constant issue that software companies no longer produce manuals - which given the depth and complexity of something like Elements is nigh on unbelievable, although it presumably keeps the cost down - there will soon doubtless be books on the subject and there are a number of monthly magazines that do reasonably priced guides and content examples.

For upgraders - if you have anything up to Elements 7, there have been substantial changes since 7 and again, it's worth the cost. 8 included a lot of improvements and, while 9 adds only slightly to those, it's still worth going for the latest version. Again, buy it.

(Although in both cases, if you find a cheap source of Elements 8 as retailers try to de-stock, then by all means go for that - you won't be disappointed)

More difficulty comes if you have 8. Is it worth it? I'm not so sure. In hindsight, I wish I'd stuck to my usual software update rule of getting every other version - and since Adobe tend to upgrade annually, the wait wouldn't have been too long. (Note this is a PC based analysis - it may add more for mac users)

What it adds to 8 are basically (and this is a user's view rather than the complete corporate schpeel):

1. The biggy is layer masks. That makes a big difference and is what led me to splash out here. It's good to have, and makes a lot of tasks easier.

2. Context spot healer - nice idea, but far from problem free. Yes, it saves a little time in terms of healing and cloning, but not much. It works best on small areas - as you'd expect - and so the time saving is not great. It's nice to have rather than must have. [edit: of more use is the fact that you can now preview the clone stamp for more accurate alterations]

3. A few cosmetics, a few easier guided edits (the Lomo effect is nice and the portrait one, while adding nothing that you couldn't easily do before it is a nice, logical and simple walkthrough.

4. Faster links to Facebook. It didn't take much to upload to FB before, so again, that's a fairly minimal step forward. Again falls under the nice to have label.

I'm sure there are other tweaks that I've yet to uncover, but for me, if you are on Elements 8, the big issue is `do I want to pay the upgrade price for layer masks and a few other minor benefits?' (I suspect others will view the context spot healer more favourably than I have - it IS nice, but isn't the same as in the full CS suite. Check out product description for more upgrade features.

I'm sure others will give a more technically detailed review of this huge software kit - for me though, I upgraded for the layer masks - in truth I wish I'd waited until next year's update. Although in terms of time savings, it will probably pay it's way.

One other thought - the requirements are basically the same as for 8 but it does run noticeably slower on my computer. Certainly not unworkable, but be prepared. The more processing power you have to throw at this, the better.
11 comment| 152 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 October 2010
Saw this advertised and really liked the new features. However when trying to use the healing brush the programme crashes. Spent 45 mins on the phone to Adobe support (very helpful), appears there is a bug in the software - so I'm waiting for them to send me a solution. All other parts of the programme seem to work fine.

Probably should have waited a few weeks before buying so they could iron out the bugs!
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on 17 December 2010
Photshop elements has been and continues to be, in my opinion, the No 1 cost effective photo edition software available. You can read all the stuff it does elsewhere on here, however I just want to point out that if you are buying this for the Photo Organiser aspects, then think again if you have a large photo album. I have over 18,000 photos and it can't handle them and as such crashes every time I tried to set it up. It never worked in the previous version and I was hopeful that this upgraded version was the answer, but sadly not! That said, having read some other reviews, even if you have only around 5000 images, you computer will come to a grinding halt when you use this feature, so something to consider. That said,I still believe Photoshop Elements 9 it is well worth the money for the exceptional amount of photo editing tools it provides. It would get 5 stars but for the organiser problems.
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on 29 September 2010
This is indeed an extraordinary application. The improved Spot Healing Brush, and specifically the sublime Content Aware option, justify the price with plenty to spare.

BUT once upon the time there were printed manuals. Then they were on the CD and you had to print them. Now we are offered a twenty-meg 367 page pdf file to download and - if we can - print. This is preposterous, hence four stars not five. I have Barbara Brundage's Missing Manual on order!

Incidentally does the boy on the box look like the President as a child or is that my imagination?
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on 27 October 2010
If you are into digital photography, you need this software.

I had been happily using Paintshop Photo Pro X3 for a couple of months, but was frustrated by the fact that camera magazine tutorials almost invariably teach through Elements. So, I made up my mind to buy a copy, only to find that version 9 is now out.

I have to say that this product is very, very good. Its interface is simple and uncluttered (and much easier to read that the microscopic font on Paintshop Pro). The interface is so simple that at first sight it is difficult to believe that it is so powerful. But, after watching numerous online videos and buying lots of instructional magazines, the immense power and usefulness of this product becomes apparent.

Layers and layer masks are brilliant, as are the numerous selection tools. The spot healing brush is a real winner.

I have two small criticisms:
1) Why is there no paper manual?
2) The organiser is less than clear. It seems to load images into the wrong folders - or maybe I'm just using it incorrectly.

I recommend this software wholeheartedly, particularly if you do not want to incur the massive expense of the full Photoshop CS5 software. Elements 9 really will help you turn snaps into photographs, and photographs into works of art.
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on 10 September 2011
This must be the worst product I have ever purchased. I downloaded the trial from the Adobe website and everything seemed okay. I then purchased a copy from Amazon. Following the instructions I then un-installed the trial and re-installed from the cd, BIG MISTAKE,if you have a working trial just put in the serial number.The product would not load. Eventually I got the programme to run but it crashes constantly, the organiser does not load and there are a number of features missing. The online helpline does not answer my questions or assist in my problem. There seems to be no e-mail or telephone helpline, where I can get help from a human. The online photo-shop user's forum is filled with complaints about the lack of customer support from Adobe.
Eventually I have got the programme to install correctly, no thanks to Adobe, their customer support really is the pits and it is only by having some knowledge about Windows 7 and knowing what to delete in the Windows directory, this product is now as it should be.
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on 14 January 2011
I am very disappointed that this software has been released with what, in my opinion, is a serious fault. It crashes constantly (about once every 15 to 20 minutes).

My recommendation to anyone thinking of buying this product is to wait until this problem is fixed by Adobe. The internet is full of complaints regarding the problem but the latest update didn't resolve it.

It is difficult to get to know a complex piece of software when you can't rely on it working from one minute to the next.
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on 8 January 2011
I needed something a little more sophisticated than Picassa, so I took the plunge and went the PS Elements 9 way. The reviews I read were mixed. For good reason, I think. Under Win 7 64-bit, Elements 9 acts a little erratically. It freezes from time to time and the Organizer is next to useless. On the plus side, there's much you can do with images through filters etc and there are some plugins from independent vendors that add functionality and nice effects to the inventory of the program's actions. I am no practitioner of massive post-processing, so Elements 9 is just about right for my needs. I wish it were less quirky. But after struggling with GIMP for months, using this program is a relief. And the price is reasonable. Bottom line: I am not in love with Elements 9 but we can co-exist rather amicably.
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on 9 May 2011
I have been attending a Senior Citizen's Digital Photography Course using Adobe Photoshop Elements 6. I thought that I should buy the up to date version of Elements 9. I checked the System Requirements necessary for Elements 9,and although my computer is 5 years old,it did have all that was needed .
The Organiser encounters a problem after 1 minute and needs to close down, although it does apologise for any inconvenience !!
When using the Edit Function to make Layers,everything attaches to the Background and not the New layer.When using the Photomerge function, it takes a long time to merge 5 photos. (time to make a coffee ),and so far I have not been able to perform all the tasks that I could manage with Elements 6.
I bought The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage for Elements 9 (from Amazon )which advised that if I had any problems,to uninstall and then reinstall.I did all this and loaded all the available Adobe upgrades, but this has not helped .
Now that I have read other Reviews,I realise that I am not the only one to have problems with Elements9.
Considering all the problems that I have had , I can not recommend Elements 9 !!
Or maybe I got a Dud Copy of Elements9 and should return it to Amazon
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