Out on beta from one of the biggest names in this business, Adobe Photoshop Express offers photo-editing tools online, with an encouraging 2GB of storage and a gallery feature for sharing your photos. But can Adobe’s online solution compete against the other options out there? We jacked in to find out.
From a design point of view, Photoshop Express has clean and simple lines and is easy to navigate. After registration, you begin the process of uploading the images you want to work with. Before you get to work it is worth considering the size of your images and the time this will take. As the system is Flash-based, each time you want to edit an image there is a delay whilst it is prepared, something that would happen almost instantly when working offline. Once the image is loaded however, the edits can be made instantly.
Looking first at the editing tools, these are split into three areas: Basics, Tuning, and Effects; those looking for a comprehensive editing toolset have missed the point here. The tools provided are simple to use, and provide small working previews across the top of the screen so you can simply pick the desired results. The Basics tools cover those common tasks – crop, straighten, red-eye removal, etc.
Tuning will allow you to adjust white balance and correct minor exposure problems, as well as the ubiquitous “Sharpen” and “Soft focus” changes. The final Effects option lets you apply a Pop art filter, tints, sketch effect, distortion, etc, which are a bit of fun and not too overwhelming.
You can create albums and slideshows with a range of options - again, it is all very easy to do. Arranging your photos into albums allows you to add these to your Gallery and share it with the world. If there was one criticism here, it would be that the graphic to represent your album is a hideous brown blob (representative of a “real” photo album, from the age when people had “real” photos), quite out of character with the rest of the site's slick design.
The Gallery provides you with a central point that you can use to show off your images of choice, including a unique URL to make sharing simple. Of course, you also have the option of browsing other user’s shared photos within the Photoshop Express universe and there is already a fairly hefty number out there.
Perhaps star attraction, however, is the ability to log-in to other sites, including Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa, where you can access all your images and use the Photoshop Express features to edit them. We tried out the Facebook and Picasa options and found it was all very simple. It doesn’t replace the original photo, it adds another to your album, so you end up with a duplicate - a good precautionary measure but perhaps a little admin heavy.
You can create new albums in your other photo sites too, but you can’t drag and drop from one to the other (i.e., Facebook to Picasa), so you have to move photos to Photoshop Express and then back to your album of choice. Photoshop Express, the cheeky tinker, adds a caption to your image so interested Facebookers will know what you’ve done.
Adobe Photoshop Express is a very useful tool and so simple to use that it can only stand to gain a strong following. The editing tools provided are not so different to those available from other free resources, such as Picasa, but the added dimension of being able to pull in your other online photos makes this a very attractive proposal.
With the simplicity of Picasa, including the free offline element, it is questionable whether Adobe is offering enough to win people over here. For Facebook users, however, this is a really useful tool that can be used to clean up albums you already have. For those travelling, or away from a home PC, this one-size-fits-all online solution could be a very useful tool.
Considering this is still in beta and there could be developments to come, Adobe Photoshop Express is a useful tool for those sharing their photos online, especially as it can be had for free. The simplicity of the site, clean looks and layout make it a pleasure to use – either as your standalone online photo gallery or integrated into an existing photo-sharing arrangement.