Thanks to the affordability of digital cameras, wireless access to the internet and the popularity of social media and sharing sites, photography has never been more popular than it is now. Whether you take photos with your smartphone, a point-and-shoot camera or a professional-grade DSLR, photo editing software is what enables you to take your photos to the next level and stand out above the rest. Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 gives you all the creative and essential editing tools you need to create your next photographic masterpiece and is our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award winner.
Adobe is known worldwide for their professional creative software and is considered a standard in the photo editing software industry. Elements 12 is not a watered-down version of Photoshop, but rather a focused picture editor designed to empower the photographer. All the basic and advanced tools you need to make your photos shine are included in this software.
Elements 12 has three modes of editing, each with its own specialty tools and presets. The Quick Edit mode gives you access to dropdown menus that allow you to make common corrections for lighting and color. The Guided mode is where most beginning editors will spend their time. This mode has a long list of different adjustments photo editors commonly make, such as "Restore an Old Photo" or "Remove Object." Each task has its own step-by-step tutorial that takes you through the editing process, complete with tools and settings so you can understand exactly what you need to do to achieve a certain effect.
One feature in Guided mode we really like is the enhanced Red Eye Tool's Pet Eye removal. This lets you eliminate the glowing glare in your pet's eyes so that it doesn't look like a demon dog or cat. Guided mode is definitely a great asset, not only for beginners but also to anyone who is trying something new and needs help figuring out how to be successful.
The third and final mode is Expert. Here, all tools are laid out for general use, and if you find yourself at a loss, you can easily switch back to Quick Edit or Guided modes at the click of a mouse. This mode is nothing to fear, and unrestricted access to all tools, creative filters and effects allows you to apply advanced techniques and take total control over your photographs.
Elements 12 has all the basic tools you need, and includes many tools not found in other photo editing software. One handy tool is the Straighten Tool. With this tool, you can align crooked pictures by drawing a line across where you want the horizon line to be,1 and Elements 12 will straighten the picture accordingly. You can even use the auto-fill option to intelligently add content to the new corners of the photo so you will not have to crop or resize the image.
Another standout feature is the Content Aware Move Tool, which allows you to select an object or person in your picture and move it to somewhere else. The intelligent content-aware function fills in the hole where the object or person was and feathers the area around the selected object in its new position. This is a great way to arrange people and pets to where you really wanted them to be, and create some great effects in your photos.
Elements 12 is also an actively learning program. For example, when you use the Auto Tone Tool to correct the lighting and color tones of your picture, Elements 12 pays attention to your preferred output settings and adjusts the auto corrections according to your most common edits. This is a great time saver, letting you decrease redundant edits and spend time on other important activities, like taking more photos.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 comes packaged with Adobe Revel, the new Adobe organization software. This program makes it easy to import, sort and rate your photos. You can create custom groups and albums to store your photos in as well as sort and view your photos by ranking, name, date, time and more. Adobe Revel is compatible with all other Adobe creative products and is a one-stop program. While these features are great and help streamline your photo organization, it can get a little cumbersome having to switch between Revel and Elements 12 instead of having it integrated directly into the Elements software.
Photos are meant to be seen, and Elements 12 allows you to upload and share your pictures directly to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, SmugMug Gallery and private web albums. Having direct access to these accounts within Elements 12 itself is a great time-saver and makes sharing so easy. We especially like Elements 12's ability to generate a URL that you can send to your friends and family, giving them access to your private web album.
You can also share directly from Adobe Revel, and one of the most exciting features of Adobe Revel is that your images can be stored and accessed from the cloud. This means that you do not have to have a copy of your pictures on your device to access and display them anymore. Just place the photos you wish to store on the cloud in your Mobile Album, and you will be able to access them at any time on your tablet or smartphone. You can also upload photos directly from your mobile device with Adobe Revel, making it incredibly easy to import your photos.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 imports all the common image file types, such as JPG, GIF, TIF and PNG, and is capable of importing nearly all other image formats. The software also allows you to open and edit RAW format files. This flexibility is great and helps to eliminate the fear of incompatibility.
You can save your edited photos in 19 formats, including the basic JPG, PNG, TIF, PSD and GIF. This allows you to customize your work to whatever format you need, whether it is digital, print or optimized for a website. There are many printing options included as well, if you plan to print your projects at home.
Adobe offers help and support by phone or email. The software includes access to the user manual as well as the Adobe online knowledgebase. There are also a variety of online tutorials and community forums to turn to when you have a question.
Adobe Photoshop Elements is powerful photo editing software that allows you to turn ordinary photographs into amazing works of art. We are impressed with the friendliness of this software, especially the Guided Mode, and find it suitable for all levels of expertise. If you are looking for powerful software that is flexible and can grow with you as you mature as a photo editor, Elements 12 is a great way to go.
This program learns from your preferences, and the Guided mode gives you step-by-step instructions on what tools to use to accomplish different editing tasks.
You cannot create actions, and the included photo organizer, Adobe Revel, is a separate program, adding an additional step to the editing process.
Photoshop Elements 12 is ideal for beginners and powerful enough for veterans. The flexible, professional tools let you manipulate settings with precise detail and enable you to unleash your creative potential.