Review – Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 10 and Creative Suite 5.5

Although there have been a few pretenders to the image manipulation throne, Adobe remains the alpha and the omega in digital photography software. This year’s introduction of the Adobe 5.5 Creative Suite marked a turning point for the company. An intermediate release, it ushered in a new licensing program that Adobe feels will keep users current on the latest version, and at a lower cost. If the subscription model isn’t for you, it is still possible to purchase a set license; educational users aren’t affected since one of the tradeoffs of the low cost of student licensing is that there hasn’t been an upgrade path. With features from Version 6 already demonstrated at Adobe events in New York and San Francisco (and on YouTube!), CS 5.5 is clearly an intermediate version. Adobe’s intermediate version is often the same as other folks’ full version updates. We found CS 5.5 to be a solid release with lots of under-the-hood changes and improvements, many in the realm of publishing to tablets, including the iPad. We also felt it seemed faster on many tasks than version 5. If you have an NVidia graphics board in your system, you can take advantage of significant speed gains via Adobe’s integration with NVidia’s CUDA language, to hook into their cards real potential.

We think that one of the most overlooked features of the full Creative Suite is the superb integration of the various applications including audio, video, digital imaging, vector, and DVD production. Sure, we know that folks expect this of the visual apps, but it seems that many forget about their audio, video, DVD, and motion apps. Many studios and schools have moved away from Final Cut Pro specifically since the Creative Suite offers a smooth, well-positioned workflow, from creation to post-production, with After Effects at the center. On the 3-D front, Photoshop Extended introduced compatibility with most 3-D formats and content, further extending the suite’s reach on the creative content side. We think that CS 5.5 is a solid upgrade, and with the interest in e-books, it has already found a welcome audience.

Photoshop Lightroom 3 is still holding strong with updates arriving on a regular basis.  If the usual Adobe timetable means anything, there will likely be a new version by the second quarter of 2012. Despite a price war with Apple’s lowering of the price of Aperture 3 on the Apple App Store to less than $100, Lightroom 3 is still the product of choice for most users, due in part to the robust digital asset management engine, cross-platform compatibility, and the seamless integration with the full Creative Suite.  Adobe offered special pricing to combat Apple, but for most professionals and serious photographers, most choose Lightroom, even at the higher price.

Mac Edition Radio audience members already know that we are big fans of the RAW still camera format. While many users think it is necessary to purchase the full version of Photoshop or Photoshop Lightroom to work with those files, there is another path – the aptly titled Photoshop Elements 10! Now bundled along with Adobe Premiere Elements 10, both apps ship in one box that contains the Mac and Windows versions. What do we like about Elements? Let us count the ways; first, the feature set is a big bang for a low cost. Elements is affordable, usually selling for under $100 on the street, not to mention the various rebates, special offers, and other enticements often added to the product.

As fans of RAW are aware, you need to have software designed to read your unique and proprietary file format, courtesy camera manufacturers who resist every attempt at being reasonable and adopting an open source format like the DNG initiative. You might think you need to purchase the full version of Photoshop, but fear not - Photoshop Elements shares the same RAW engine. This is incredibly important and for many tasks, professionals can use Elements 10 instead of the full-blown version of Photoshop. Adjusting RAW files is easier in the new version. It receives regular updates so that even the newest models should be quickly supported, and as you might expect, it plays well with recent versions of CS Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom.

Version 10 adds more ability to manage images, play with more special effects and use online services (we could do with fewer ads urging you to purchase online services though…). It can even import files with layers. We thought the Organizer feature to get your files in an organized and accessible manner was a step forward. While some users have reported issues with slow performance, we found it zipped along just fine for us. It’s positioned as an intro-level application, but packs so many features that we would recommend a good third-party book in addition to the downloadable PDF manual and hours of free video tutorials available from Adobe. Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, Photoshop and Premiere Elements 10 are Mac Edition Radio Holiday Picks.

Harris Fogel, posted 12/28/11

For more information on Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 visit: www.adobe .com

For more information on Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements 10 bundle visit: