Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 4.0; It’s Back, It’s Updated, But Only For Windows Page 2

I love to shoot cars at crowded car shows, extract them from the background, and drop them into more attractive surroundings, so I was thrilled to see the new Magic Extractor that allows you to quickly and accurately select an image while removing the background. I hope to see some of this technology migrate into Photoshop CS2 the way other Photoshop Elements feature have. To straighten off-kilter images, Elements 4.0 gets a Straighten tool that's a simplified adaptation of Photoshop's Measure tool.

Elements 4.0's Filter Gallery that appears almost intact in Photoshop CS2 is back and remains one of the most useful interfaces in any digital imaging program for applying special effects to photographs.

More color management features are now available and you can optimize colors for on screen (sRGB) or print (Adobe RGB). Changing color profiles is a snap: By selecting Image>Color Profile you can remove the file's existing color profile and choose either sRGB or Adobe RGB. Skin tones can be adjusted with the Adjust Skin Tone (Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Color for Skin Tone) command. With the Skin Tone dialog box open, you can click on a portion of the image that represents an average skin tone and the image will be color corrected. If you think this feature sounds a lot like a dumbed-down version of PhotoTune's (www.phototune.com) SkinTune Photoshop compatible plug-in, you ain't the only one.

Skin tones can be adjusted with the Photoshop Elements Adjust Color for Skin Tone command. With the Skin Tone dialog box open, you can click on a portion of the image that represents an average skin tone and the image will be adjusted.

Back in the dark days of film, people loved grain. Film like 3M's high speed (ISO 1000) and other grainy slide films were widely prized for the soft look they produced, yet in the digital world the opposite seems to be the case. We want to stamp out digital noise and grind it into something finer. My prediction is that noise and grain will become trendy as soon as some dude or dudette creates some clever but noisy ads. Then all of us will be beating on companies to give us an ISO 64,000 setting in our cameras and programmers will be writing plug-ins for creating and adding noise. Continuing this noise-is-bad theme, Photoshop Elements 4.0 has a Remove JPEG Artifacts (bad artifacts, bad...) to remove those blocky image artifacts and halos that are created when selecting a low JPEG quality setting on your camera. Reduce Noise can be found at the Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise menu tree.

Photoshop Elements 4.0 has a "Remove JPEG Artifact" check box that will remove blocky image artifacts and halos that are created when selecting a low JPEG quality setting on your digital camera, such as this ISO 800 shot made with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel. Reduce Noise can be found at the Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise menu tree.

For Digital Window Washers Only
Revolutionary? Hardly. Evolutionary? Sure, and with what will undoubtedly be an attractive upgrade price, you can't go wrong with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, that is, unless you're on the Mac OS. (See "Mac Heads Of The World Unite.") Is this the final word? Hardly. As I write this there is still 30 days before the official launch of Photoshop Elements 4.0. Maybe there will be a few surprises...

Face Finder is a new feature to quickly apply "tags" to photographs of friends and family. After selecting a group of images in the Organizer window and choosing Find>Find Faces for Tagging, any faces identified will appear in a new dialog box so you can quickly tag them.

Mac Heads Of The World Unite
The Mac OS version of Elements 3.0 had fewer features and cost less than the Windows version, but all the beta versions of Photoshop Elements I tried were designed for Microsoft Windows and tested using a 2.2GHz Windows XP Home computer. So naturally I asked Adobe about Elements 4.0 for Macintosh. Here's what they told me: "...revisions for Photoshop Elements Mac and Win(dows) are on different cycles. On the consumer side, the majority of our audience is on the Windows platform. However, our Mac customers are still very important to us. We've seen an overwhelmingly positive response to Photoshop Elements 3.0 for the Mac and have also seen an increase in sales within this community. We don't have a new revision to announce just yet, but be assured the Mac customers are important to us and we want to bring them the best solutions possible for their platform." What this really means is anybody's guess, but all I know is that with previous versions of Elements the Mac OS and Windows versions were on the same track. What's changed?

For more information, contact Adobe Systems Inc., 345 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95110; (800) 833-6687, (408) 536-6000; www.adobe.com.

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