Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 Review
Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) is a low-cost consumer version of its sibling, Photoshop CC. With the release of the photo editing and organization app’s new version, consumers are treated to a mature and user-friendly software.
The application introduces features, such as dehaze and shake reduction, as well as enhancements to guided edits and facial recognition. PSE 14 comes with an editor and an organizer. It also includes Adobe Camera Raw, which users can use to process raw images.
Although PSE 14 does not offer Photoshop CC’s full set of features, the latest version has great depth and a handful of welcome improvements.
It is in the Elements organizer that you import, export, and organize images. It comes with sorting modes to help you divide the photos into categories based on Places, People, and Events. The latest version includes a better facial recognition feature. Elements can now recognize faces and automatically add photos to a person’s stack as soon as you import images into the application.
What’s more, the organizing options allow you to add tags, captions, and star ratings, as well as let you apply basic corrections, like smart fix, rotation, cropping, sharpening, contrast, and red-eye reduction. These auto fix tools are a big help, especially if you don’t want the hassle of launching another program for minor edits and adjustments. Meanwhile, the Events Tab allows you to sort the images based on a timeframe with the help of the Smart Events switch.
The Places tab, on the contrary, lets you organize your photos using improved GPS-tagging with built in maps. If your photos have an embedded GPS data, the application automatically places them on a map so you can see where your photos were taken. Hovering over the thumbnails will enable you to browse through all the images taken in that location. It’s a pretty neat feature overall.
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The editing modes of the photo editor are split into three: Quick, Guided, and Expert–each catering for different levels of expertise.
For quick edits, the menus, options, and settings are kept to a minimum. In it, you have access to about 50 tonal adjustments and ready-made effects. But new to the latest version are the Smart Looks, which enable users to pull out as many as five various effects based on the app’s image analysis. The concept is interesting, however, the effects it provides can often times seem random.
New Guided Edits
Element 14’s guided mode has 40 step-by-step tutorials for tasks such as restoration, spot color effects, and composite creation. The new version also integrates interactive sliders so you can see and compare the before and after photos for each effect.
New additions to the guided edits include resizing and motion blur–two of the most frequent concerns posed by newbie users. The guide offers a quick access to all the tools relevant to the task. Although there are no new tools that comes with the tutorials, the added features effectively guide novice PSE users through the confusing process.
One clever adjustment Adobe made on Elements 14 is that users have the option to switch among the three editing modes as they go. If you use the guided mode to restore an old photo and then switch to Expert mode, for instance, you can still peek at the guided edit to see how the effect takes shape on various layers. It really is a useful feature, particularly for beginners who are still getting the hang of the fundamentals.
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The Haze Removal command is a new PSE feature that is accessible from the Enhance menu. The feature cuts through haze and brings up the contrast for extra clarity and deeper detail. For a quick touch up, you can simply choose the auto-dehaze option alongside the manual control in Quick mode. Note, though, that you won’t be able to adjust the tool’s strength unless you switch to Expert.
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Also making its debut to the host of PSE features is the Camera Shake Reduction. The command sharpens up blurry or shaky images to make it print-worthy. Be warned, though: The effect takes about half a minute to work even on a reasonably fast PC. The new feature also does not let you adjust the tool’s intensity and locate areas in the image you want to correct.
Adobe has also improved its Refine Selection brush. In Elements 14, you can make complex composites or cut out tricky edges, such as hair or soft fur more seamlessly, making the task easier and less frustrating. The improvement was rather minor, though, and you can easily whip up the same flawless results from using Elements 13’s Refine Edge command.
- No monthly subscriptions
- Plenty of powerful photo-manipulation tools including haze removal and shake reduction
- Improved Geo-tagging and face recognition
- Excellent sharing output options
- Solid learning curve with enhanced guided edits and three editing modes
- Improvements from the previous version are minor
- Does not introduce new features for the Adobe Camera Raw plugin
- Slow to import
- Takes up a large disk footprint
For those looking for a cut-price yet powerful and easy-to-use editing application, the Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 is difficult to beat.
Elements 14 comes with more complex image-manipulation features and tools, adding to the list of impressive Photoshop tricks are the haze removal, camera-shake reduction, automatic filter effect, and fine-detail selection. With a host of interesting new features, Elements 14 is certainly the best version yet.
In addition, PSE 14 does not require a monthly subscription compared to Photoshop CC, so paying the seemingly hefty price up front is worth considering.
However, improvements to PSE’s already existing and excellent features are rather increment. Thus, if you are considering an upgrade from 12 or 13, it might be best to wait a little longer to see what the next version has in store.