For as long as anyone cares to remember, Adobe Photoshop has been one of the world’s leading professional art packages. While Elements trades on it’s name it doesn’t have the same price tag – it’s about fifth the price – and is essentially a stripped down version for the average man in the street.

There are two modes on offer here, Quick Fix and Full Edit. When you launch the program you can choose to drop directly into either one but as icons are placed on the toolbar you can switch between the two if needs be.

Quick Fix is best suited to the first time user as the interface is clean and simple and allows for basic functions, such as cropping images and red-eye removal, as well as zooming into your image. You’ll find these basic tools on the left-hand side of the screen. Once you get the hang of these tools there is space to add more, so the package can grow with your abilities.

On the right-hand side you’ll find a range of filters that are neatly arranged into four quite specific areas: Lighting, Colour, Sharpen and General Fixes. You can either change settings, to get the contrast and lighting balance right yourself using the simple slider controls or you can use the Auto button to allow the program to work out the best results for you. Even with just these basic levels of control you can manage to create some great effects with your images and really bring them up to standard.

If the Quick Fix is a little too basic for your needs, there is always Full Edit, which comes with a host of fine-tuning controls. Naturally, you can still get the basic edit controls but over the top of these you can also add more control. Using Adobe’s "adjustment layers" you can add effects directly to specific parts of your image, which means you don’t have to rely on a uniform finish to your pictures.

A new feature in Elements is the ability to use Curve adjustments, which really is the best way to bring high-resolution images to life. The fact that Adobe has made it really easy to use, which means that you’ll want to use the filter on every image, but that’s no bad thing.

A Create feature allows you to choose a range of projects, from greeting cards to posters and CD covers. This links directly to a website where you can add other choices as well as a host of effects. Budding travellers and students will like the new organisational style in Elements, whereby you can attach photos to a world map, which is supplied by Yahoo, so you can see images of where you’ve been.

Verdict

Adobe Elements 5 really is a great package that has no discernable faults. The new features have rounded out what was an already powerful package, making it even better value for money.