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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 October 2010
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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on 10 March 2017
I used Photoshop at evening classes so bought this to use at home. I only make use of a small amount of the editing system but if you were really into photography this has loads of stuff on it. I would definitely recommend this software to budding photographers everywhere.
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on 11 December 2010
Works pretty much as expected and the automatic (smart) correction is improved from version 6, which is what I am replacing. The user interface is somewhat improved, but still has a lot of rough corners and annoying habits.
Bearing in mind that I am a grumpy old man, the two things that get to me most are:
1. it does not maintain the view at the maximum size as you do things, and to get a maximum view you need to change to Full Editting mode before loading pictures. I have other editors, that as you work (cropping, re-sizing, etc) constantly manintain the view at the full size of the window;
2. You can no longer enter numeric values when adjusting the sliders in quick edit, and there is a lot of hysteresis in the slider positions. On the plus side, the adjustments are less violent than my previous version (PSE6).
I also find perhaps slightly less than a 1% failure rate (corrupted JPEG file) when using the 'Process multiple files ...' option, which is slightly worrying. Again I just use a different editor.
Finally, I tried to update my Adobe Registration and re-use my previous version on another machine. Neither of these actions worked properly and Adobe have not been very helpful in trying to sort them out.
To summarise, an improvement on my ealier version, but still fails to delight - just does the job, more or less.
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on 17 September 2011
A forced change of software when you are comfortable with your existing - in my case Elements 3 - is never looked forward to with much relish but the new pc would not have it any other way.

This version seems to me to have gone overboard with the menu and tool colours but that aside it looks and generally behaves in much the same way as it did before.

In the old days of developing films and printing at home the darkroom became an extension of the creative process and in the digital world Photoshop Elements 9 is now the home lab and very effective it is too.

Yet again great value from Amazon.

Recommended for every serious photographer/artist/designer.
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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.
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on 4 February 2011
I bought this Photoshop Elements Version 9 a couple of months ago to replace Version 6 that I had used for three years.
I had purchased a new computer in November 2010 and decided to put on some newer photo-software.
I found it easy to get into - no huge change from v6, Obviously more functions but I have as yet had little experience of them
Going from Windows XP to Windows 7 Professional 64-bit has been quite a challenge with my work software. The photo stuff is hobby only...
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on 19 March 2014
At the time I got this it was just the job for my very small knowledge of photo editing but all the adjustments and alterations I made worked out ok, then I got bored and just use the mobile for taking photos with now, upload them to the computer and there they sit....

Another fab product from adobe....
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on 5 February 2011
Bought this for my husband as a present. He just loves it. Working his way round all the effects to vastly improve his photos. He is getting quite creative. Good to find a moderately comprehensive photo s/w package that is fairly intuitive in the first instance but allowing more advanced processes to be brought in as and when.
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on 30 July 2011
The Elements 9 works well with the pictures I've taken with my digital SLR camera, whether it's adjusting a slight imperfection in an image that wasn't right or creating arty pic's for an album, it's great.
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on 24 June 2017
too complicated
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