Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review

4.0
October 27, 2009 | Jon Canfield | Software Reviews |

Introduction

Photoshop Elements 8 is the latest version of Adobe's affordable image editor for consumers. New features include an enhanced Organizer, Photomerge Exposure, Auto-Analyzer, People Recognition and touch support in the recently launched Windows 7. Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 is available now for Windows and Mac for $99.99 / £79.99 - Jon Canfield finds out if it's worth upgrading.

Like clockwork, you can count on seeing a new version of Photoshop Elements, the simplified sibling of Photoshop CS, every 12-18 months. Here we are in 2009 with the latest release, version 8. As usual, Adobe has increased the functionality of the program while keeping a very similar look and feel that is easier to navigate, and normally easier to accomplish your goals.

What's New

By version 8, you'd expect that most of the features that would be added to an application would already be there. While that may be true of some software categories, in photo editing, it seems there's always something new to bring to the table, and Elements 8 is no exception. With this release, Adobe adds HDR processing with Photomerge Exposure, recomposing with a new Recompose tool, face recognition options in Organizer with Auto-Analyzer and People Recognition, touch support in Windows 7, and automatic syncing of photo and video files between computers. Enhanced features include a revamped Organizer and more powerful auto adjustments for images.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8Organiser 1

Organizer seamlessly integrates photos, video, and audio into a single browsing application to make it easier to track all your digital assets. You can open images into Elements or another selected application.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8Organiser 2

Photoshop Elements is now available in two versions - the standard version, which includes 2GB of online storage at www.photoshop.com, and the Plus version (US only) that ups your storage space to 20GB and provides extensive tutorials, extra artwork, and access to new template designs. If you also do video editing, Elements is available in a package with Premiere Elements. And, in a nice step from Adobe, the Macintosh version of Elements is also now available in version 8 (Premiere Elements is still a Windows only product).

Starting up Elements, you'll notice the tighter integration with Adobe's online service, www.photoshop.com (Figure 1).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 1

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 2

From this startup screen, you can elect to go into the Organizer, or straight to the editor.  The Organizer is laid out like previous versions, and if you're importing images or video that already have metadata assigned, Organizer will recognize that and import it if you choose (Figure 3).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 3

New to Organizer is the Auto-Analysis feature for finding images with faces. This isn't a fast process, especially if you're shooting RAW with large files - 128 total images took about 25 minutes on my system, so if you're running through thousands of files, I'd recommend starting this up and letting it run overnight.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 4

Once completed, you can tag the files with names by going through each scanned image and naming the faces. Once you've named a person, Elements will ask if subsequent matches are correct (Figure 5).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 5

Photomerge keys into the latest fad by allowing you to capture multiple images at different exposure settings, and blend them together to create a single image with much wider dynamic range than you would otherwise be able to capture (HDR). To do this, you'll open multiple images, then select File > New > Photomerge Exposure (Figure 6). Elements will analyze the images and blend them automatically for you.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 6

You have a couple of options in the Automatic mode, with Simple doing all the work and Smart letting you control the highlights, shadows, and saturation of the finished image. If you want total control, switching to Manual (Figure 7) expands your control over alignment, selections, and regions.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 7

With a bit of tone mapping, you can reproduce the edgy look that identifies many HDR images (Figure 8).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 8

Photomerge also includes options for Faces to combine elements of one face into another, Group (Figure 9 and 10) to select the best parts of one image with another, Panorama to do the obvious - create a panoramic image, and Scene Cleaner, an option that lets you add or remove elements from one image into another to clean up areas in the final image.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 9

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 10

Recompose is a way to intelligently modify an image to remove elements and change the positioning of elements and size of the image. In Figure 11, we have three kids running. I've highlighted the areas to protect in green, and the areas to remove in red. The selections don't need to be overly precise, so just set a brush size and paint over the areas. The finished image in Figure 12 shows the girl removed and the boys positioned closer together.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 11

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 12

Entry Tags

software, photoshop, adobe, image editing, photoshop elements, 8, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review

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50 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Mladen Radman

That example of retouching reality demonstrated by figure 11 & 12 was very much tool of choice of Soviet Propaganda in 1920s, also George Orwell in his seminal 1984 wrote a bit about it.
As much as this feature may be desirable by some people it is fundamentally contrary to what good photography is all about.

12:11 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#2 Palette

@Mladen Radman:
Photography has been accepted as “real” for decades.  That is now changing.  Photography itself is now as much a fiction as painting.

3:41 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#3 Mladen Radman

Are we mixing interpretation with manipulation here.

4:47 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#4 Gareth Jones

I think these bells and whistles show that in terms of useful tools PSE has gone about as far as it’s going to go. The software business model is after all fundamentally flawed. It relies on selling the user a replacement for something that doesn’t wear out. Your washing machine wears out, so you buy another. Computer software doesn’t wear out so you can keep it forever if you so choose. If the developers can’t come up with useful new features then they probably shouldn’t bother releasing a new version. Microsoft demonstrated this with Vista, most of what added over and above XP was bells and whistles.

It really is worthwhile getting out of this particular money swallowing rat race and going open source. I can do everything I need with The GIMP and a few plug ins like UFRaw.

On which subject, how about some coverage of The GIMP? To read most of the photography focussed media you wouldn’t even know The Gimp existed. OK so it’s still at version 2.6 five years after the release of 2.0 but that’s not a problem. It doesn’t have the commercially driven need for a new “major release” every 18 months. It’s not as if the latest version of is what might truly be termed a major upgrade from version 7, but they probably wouldn’t be able to sell it to so many suckers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H customers if they called it 7.1 and termed it a maintenance release with a few plugins.

Come on give us some coverage of The GIMP and indeed the likes of PSP and let people know that there are alternatives to the security seive that is Adobe.

5:29 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#5 Richard Adler

Gareth makes a good point.  I am still happily using PE 3.0, and have not seen any additions in later versions that have been compelling enough to convince me to shell out $$ to upgrade.  When I purchase my next new computer (soon), I’ll probably spring for the latest edition of PE, just to be current, but I don’t think it will make a radical difference in the quality of the images I produce.

5:36 pm - Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#6 Malcolm

Is the 2nd image in Fig 10 the final product? - with the front subject’s head squeezed in an invisible vice? Spare me.

11:55 pm - Thursday, November 12, 2009

#7 Deb

Thanks for all the interesting, thought-provoking comments here. Nice. Except for a few personal needs, I now use PSE7 with some of my old full-blown, compatible (and, yes, pricey) PhotoShop plugins for my product/gallery photos.

After using the CS3 package, I wearied of the Adobe treadmill, resurrected my old PSE3 and replaced it with the aforementioned version 7 ... after I’d confirmed with my PS CS3 plug-in primaries everything I wanted to take with me would be compatible with PSE7. Those plug-ins work fine with my PSE7, go figure.

My primary need for photo-editing is for my gallery product photos (almost always turned and sculpted and/or carved wood). Looking back, I have come to question why I ever bothered with the mammoth, steep learning curved, uber-pricey PhotoShop/Illustrator/Dreamweaver (for web maintenance, advertisement/flyers/catalogues, photo artist’s statement cards and the like, along with the product photo layouts) to begin with.

There are some few things requiring a few of the incompatible, elaborate actions I set up in PS CS2-3 - special effects and such where I’m replicating/creating logos, banners, mastheads and the like with my “brand”, if you will. If there’s no time-saving work around in PSE7, I can always fire up my “outdated” [allegedly] PS CS3.

Free of the perpetual cost and headache of the upgrade treadmill and finding much more cost-effective ways to accomplish the same ends, nope, I won’t be upgrading from PSE7 to PSE8 either. Nor will my CS3 package ever be upgraded to CS4 and beyond. Enough already!

Nice to know I’m not over in a corner all alone. :-)

4:16 pm - Saturday, December 5, 2009

#8 Stan Stabler

I currently am using Photoshop CS and am not in the position where I can(or necessarily want to) upgrade to CS4 OR 5 or whatever. Isd there any value in me changing to PS Elements8? What would I get that I haven’t got now and would I lose anything?

1:44 pm - Monday, December 7, 2009

#9 Yvonne

Just downloaded trial version of PSE 8.  I was using PSE 4.  I’m finding that navigation in PSE 8 to be very cumbersome and confusing.  Can’t stand all the gray area on the editor workspace and the way the photos are stacked up in the work area.  Also, the menu bar is hard to read (small text and black on gray lettering).  The project bin is not as user friendly as version 4 either.  Used to be able to just click on a photo in the project bin and it would appear in the editing work area.  Now you either have to drag it into the editing work area and stack it on top of what is already there.  Maybe I’m doing something wrong.  I’d like to hear other people’s review of PSE 8.  At this point, I find it more frustrating than it’s worth.

3:41 pm - Friday, December 11, 2009

#10 Peter

I upgraged about a year ago from elements 3 to 6 and the improvements were definitely worthwhile.  Just the addition of the spot healing brush tool justified the investment.  I like the addition of an HDR tool in the new version, I already have a separate HDR tool so no need but would definitely upgrade if I didn’t.  As a solid editing program Elements can’t be beat and with the addition of filters such as (free) masking plugin or the magnificent Power Retouche suite, ordinary Elements becomes royalty indeed.

12:25 am - Monday, December 14, 2009

#11 Sarb Kaler

Just bought Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.Can I load it onto more than 1 computor at home?

8:07 pm - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#12 j zangl

i hate elements 8. I used to have some semblence of control when printing, most controls have been reaaranges or lost. sizes have to be set in multiple places, i have all but given up doing any but the simplest of printing and then hope i get the siz i asked for.
while organizing, deleting items from the cataloge elements is constantly shutting down. An d god help you if any organizing was done with any other software

6:54 pm - Friday, January 29, 2010

#13 sherry

disapointed with elements editor. after working on it for weeks it still is useless.

4:36 am - Saturday, January 30, 2010

#14 ted

just bought pse8 and am a bit agitated about the service sales pressure.  However, since I’ve got the beast I may as well give it a chance.  I haven’t been able to change the size of a photo yet, which was fairly easy with pse7.  In regard to Sarb Kaler’s question: I believe you must down load from one computer, removing the serial number, before you can load on a different computer.

4:36 am - Monday, February 1, 2010

#15 seo firm

Don’t buy this product, Early Versions (Ver 2.0) were so good, what happened??? Time to find an alternative to Elements..

8:04 am - Saturday, February 13, 2010

#16 Phil

Seems like elements has lost its way in trying to be more than an editor it fails.  The move from 5 to 6 when they changed to the dark gray screen background was and is horrible - you can hardly read the screen anymore and as far as I know there is no way to adjust this and select something more useful.  I tend to use the older version for most of work, occassionally the latter version and even less photoshop and that is mainly for batch processing.  They have the tools but they are packaged horribly and getting worse with each rendition.  Too bad ...

12:45 am - Thursday, February 18, 2010

#17 Tim Barnes

Hi,

I am new to Elements so cannot comment on earlier versions, I have to say I am absolutely bowled over with the functionality of the software. It is awesome and immense. It is the best software I have put on my computer for a long time. (I have experience of developing software, in terms of project management working with developers to deliver the product for the customer.)

To answer Yvonne’s query re’ the dark interface- this is easily solved by going to Photoshop Elements>preferences>general and in the appearances options use the radio buttons to choose ‘light’ or ‘dark’- voila!

There is on line support via the blue hyperlinks that often appear whilst using the tools panel, as well as a comprehensive website from Adobe.

There are also plenty of well written books to support the software and podcasts. So I recommend new users should use these support mediums to find some of the answers they are looking for and unlock the depthless potential this software has?

I for one am very very impressed with this software and am delighted with the results I am getting from it.

9:17 pm - Sunday, February 21, 2010

#18 Kristi

Actually, that preference change does nothing for the main toolbar or anything else around it, just the drop down menus.  It’s still horrible to try and read.  I was going to upgrade from my much older version, but after seeing 8 at work, nooo thank you.  My eyes hurt from resizing five photos.  If I were to try anything more complicated, I’d get a headache.

9:29 pm - Thursday, March 18, 2010

#19 Jokes

Great! Thanks for the great informative post and you effort.
I think the above article is valuable for all concerned people. For me the Informations are really really useful. I’ve Bookmarked this page for future reference.

Thank you
Robin Kukri

5:50 am - Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#20 Roy

I’ve been experimenting with the exposure blending on Elements 8 but I’ve been unable to achieve the ‘edgy’ look that is mentioned in Figure 8 of this review.

Can someone help me out on this?

Thnx

10:25 pm - Friday, April 9, 2010

#21 George

I have looked at a couple of reviews of Elements 8, and left wondering about the purchase.  I had Arcsoft Photostudio 5.5 on my old XP computer before it died, and it was lost.  I recently saw PSE version 8 in a Dick Smith Electronics store (Australia), and the price was $AUD175.  If the program has as many problems as I have read, perhaps I should look at alternatives. Thank you to the contributors for their comments.

2:23 am - Saturday, April 10, 2010

#22 Jarrod

I am a High School student taking a photography class, and I know that I have only begun to start photography as a hobby, but I have already realized that if you are going to photoshop or edit a picture, that it needs to look real.  Good photography is not all the bells and whistles of expensive software, but if you have utilize it and make your good pictures, great works of art.  Don’t down the fact that people use photoshop software, why should they be judged for trying to make there pictures great. It’s just like a kindergardener trying there hardest to stay in the lines when they color a picture.  Art evolves constantly, don’t judge and look down on the new techniques, it still takes just as much skill to do so.

9:34 pm - Sunday, May 9, 2010

#23 L Miles

I have to agree with paulette in my opinion it is no longer photography but image making there has always been a certain amount of manipulation but usually this consisted of a bit of dodging ect when i used my mamiya RB67 if I failed to get the shot in 2 or 3 exposures I was very disapointed now along with 90% of digi users its saturation snapping then pick the best of the bunch.
I believe digital image making is not photography so must be looked upon as a new medium in this context manipulation of images is within this field exceptable although I believe the loss of the film camera and its unique skills is to be regreted digital image making is the start of a new art form and as such must find its own place as for elements 8 I have used CS3 Lightroom and several others IMO elements 8 gives enough control to do anything I want but is simple enough for everyone to get to grips with so its a thimbs up from me.

3:57 am - Monday, May 10, 2010

#24 heather

I just received elements 8 for my b-day and I can not figure it out.I can not even do layers.Is there a help book or something out there I can use?

7:09 pm - Monday, May 10, 2010

#25 l miles

hi Heather
have you tried looking at the elements 7/8 video course on the adobe site it may be of value

5:54 pm - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

#26 ttp

This is a terrible product.  They don’t bother telling you you must up-grade to PREMIER to copy saved projects to DVD for TV viewing.  Many problems on install.  Customer Service is at least a one hour hold, for someone in India, very difficult to get results.

DO NOT BUY THIS JUNK!

6:54 am - Saturday, May 15, 2010

#27 Kim

I just bought this product!! Have not tried to use but you all scaring me. Maybe I should have read the reviews first.  BIG MISTAKE!!!

7:06 pm - Monday, May 17, 2010

#28 foo

What a disappointment! One simple but in my opinion pure necessary functionality is not found in PSE8. The ability to print a photo in any size on any position on a sheet of paper. This has been confirmed by Adobe. The recommendation was buying PS!

TRY the Incredible and far better GIMP at http://www.gimp.org/
You’ll hate yourself for buying PSE!

10:33 am - Saturday, May 22, 2010

#29 Rob

Having used PSE ver 6 for nearly 2 years, I am now constantly getting error messages in the Editor.
I can’t finish most operations due to a message saying NOT ENOUGH RAM.  I haven’t changed any setting on my XP system, that runs Solidworks and Autocad software flawlessely.
I don’t know whats wrong, but there are LOTS of people with the same problem.
PSE 6 has gotten steadily slower at loading and running, and backing up my catalogue takes over 12 hours.
I am seriously looking for other software, I am not really happy with PSE.
The Pentax Forums website also suggests GIMP software, will give that a try next.

1:33 am - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

#30 lee

Gimp is good as a free bee but I am not a lover of it my old paintshop pro gave better control and finer manipulation as for showing images on a tv I use the cyclon micro (£17.50) as this gives 1080p hdmi on any HD capable tv either from a sd card or mini usb input.
I suppose much is a matter of personal preference as to which software you like I cant say I have ever found the perfect image software some are too complex and some lack the features I would like so far I have not be disappointed with PSE8 the organiser is a bit over the top for me and I reduced what its default start actions are. the panorama stitch was a doddle for the wife to use and she has never used any photo packages I cant say for myself that it is junk it does sufficient for me.

6:59 am - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

#31 Lisa

I just purchase Elements Photoshop and Premier. I have been working on a project for several weeks and have had so many problems with both of them.  I find myself reverting back to Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 8. It took me awhile to learn vegas, and I still haven’t learned all it (2years); at least it has great tutorials.  Elements have next to no tutorials and crashes all the time.  I have a new computer with awsome memory and graphics, so I thought Elements would be perfect for me.  The trial version I downloaded seemed to work fine, but you start making slideshows, that is just to much for it to handle.  Elements editor seems to be working just fine, but Organizer is slow and crashes when you get enough pictures and projects in there.  As far as Premier, I have found it extremely difficult to work with, I suppose for someone just starting out, it would seem fantastic…You can compare it to Windows Movie Maker with a few bells and whistles.  I would say that if you are going to spend the money and want to make great slideshows and movies, I would go with Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 8..(there might be a newer version)..it looks intimidating at first, but once you learn it, the possiblilities are endless…..and it doesn’t crash if you have a decent memory size.  The whole Idea of Elements Organizer, Editor, and Premier and how it is suppose to work together is a wonderful idea, but the system crashes need to be worked out and more tutorials would be nice.  I hope they get all the kinks worked out with the next version, because if it worked the way it was intended, I would buy it.

12:35 am - Monday, June 7, 2010

#32 mel wittenstein

Elements is a great photo taging system and the worst backup/restore you The worst file back system you could ever NOT WANT.  Don’t trust it’s back to your future image searches espescially if your going to an external HD backup.

6:56 pm - Monday, June 21, 2010

#33 Aneeter

Help.  I have Adobe elements 6.  The organizer area does not have the regular toolbar on it..File…edit…etc.  Did I disable it?  How can I restore it. Thanks.

3:29 am - Sunday, June 27, 2010

#34 colin southgate

I am shocked that you make no mention of the changes to the printer interface that effectively renders the program useless for serious photographers; namely the inability to reposition the image on the paper.

5:06 pm - Friday, July 9, 2010

#35 Nightskies

I experience crashes when ever I attempt to resize a small photo by 110%. I have allocated maximum ram to this program, to no avail. Any one else have this problem?

7:01 pm - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#36 Tamie

Hi Can anyone help me with a question on Photoshop Elements 8….. I have today purchased a copy, can I only instal the programm on one computer or can I install the software on multiple computers???
These are all for home useage.

Thanks for your help.  Tamie

10:18 am - Sunday, July 18, 2010

#37 Lindsay

Hmm . . interesting. I have been using CS2 for a few years and I’m quite happy with it. I was considering purchasing Elements 8 because I can’t afford to upgrade to CS5,(thinking I might need to stay current) but after reading all this I don’t think I’ll bother.

6:18 am - Saturday, August 14, 2010

#38 Mark

Problem:  I have a large database of family digital pics starting from 2002 using PSE3.  Spent a lot of time organizing, adding tags, etc. Now got new computer that runs Windows7, and find out PSE3 is incompatable (even in special compatability modes).  So have to upgrade to be able to use/grow my collection.  But your reviews of PSE8 scare me to death.  Any alternatives?  Is PSE9 coming out soon?

5:14 am - Thursday, September 9, 2010

#39 fred

Adobe Elements 8, it does not show the “Embed Watermark” option on the filter option, even after running the Digimarc plugin. Elements 8 gives the option of “Read Watermark” but does not give the “Embed Watermark” option. Is Adobe Elements 8 suppose to give the option of “Embed Watermark?”  Please advise as to how to install this option if it is suppose to be available after installing the Digimarc plug-in.  Thank you.

4:56 am - Friday, September 10, 2010

#40 Gary Stanullwich

I’ve just downloaded the trial version of PhotoShop Elements 8.  (I’ve still got version 3.0 in the background, so I’m not totally new to this)  My main comment is that Adobe set the Menu Bar with dark grey background and black text.  So you have to REALLY look close in order to be able to see that you are indeed clicking on FILE, or
EDIT, etc…............
  Otherwise, it is a nice program.
                    Gary Stanullwich

1:42 am - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#41 KG

I’ve been using SilkyPix as my RAW editing software as it came with my Lumix G1. I was wondering about moving to Elements 8, but after reading a lot of reviews, I’m probably just as well to stay with SilkyPix. Once I’ve converted to JPG, I can use PSP to do extra editing such as layer manipulation.
Oh, and it’s ‘Their’, not ‘There’, all of you Highschool students!!

KG

3:08 pm - Thursday, October 21, 2010

#42 Large Machining

Wow.  Recompose!  Is that option available on CS4 or CS5?  I’ve been using the “content aware fill” on CS5 alot, but I really like this recompose option.

7:25 pm - Thursday, December 9, 2010

#43 t1stranger

how do i change the way 8 starts, like to get rid adobe selling stuff to way 7 started

5:56 pm - Sunday, January 23, 2011

#44 Unhappy in Photoshop Land

Put Photoshop Elements 8 on my new laptop & it will not allow use of several tools that I used with ease on previous installs. I’m ready to uninstall it and go to another product. Any suggestions out there in Photoshop land?

2:05 am - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#45 Yvonne Cairns

Your Fig 9 illustrates the problem I have had as the girl in the pink T-shirt has been ‘damaged’ in moving the other girl across - part of her hair & her ear have disappeared and her face is therefore distorted.

3:33 pm - Monday, March 21, 2011

#46 Luis Barba

my elements 8 “Organizer” will not open i keep get a crash report.

an one out there know how to fix it.

3:37 pm - Thursday, July 21, 2011

#47 adobe photoshop

Stunning Photos what else can I say?
You always help me think of more ideas on how to improve my marketing course.
I will have my training to improve my photojournalist skill…lol

Thanks.

11:44 pm - Friday, July 22, 2011

#48 Web Media Company

Buying this product could be much more beneficial to your company as it contains many more features as compared to its last version.

7:03 pm - Friday, February 22, 2013

#49 Richard Adler

I started out in film, had my own darkroom.  Today, I still use Photoshop almost exclusively as a “digital darkroom”—just cropping, adjusting exposure, dodging, burning. Of course I realize that I’m using just a tiny fraction of Photoshop’s capabilities, but since I’m interested in “photography” that’s all I care about. Still, one of these days, I need to learn about using layers…

9:22 pm - Friday, February 22, 2013

#50 Jack & Marianna Elias

What is error code 147:20
Thank You

9:25 pm - Wednesday, January 15, 2014