Adobe just released version 9 of Photoshop Elements. If you are a photographer and don’t need the complexity of the full-blown Photoshop, then Elements can save you a bundle of money and is easier to learn. The program has guides – including a Guided Editing mode as well as lots of prompts that help even beginners edit their images.

The new Elements is built around an image organizer that makes it easy to import and organize your media. You have to go through a somewhat painful and slow process to get the thing up and running the first time if you want to take advantage of the 20GB of free online storage, but it’s free so why not? Adobe will of course try to sell you on an upgraded paid version.

Some of the new features in Elements 9 are:

a. People Recognition. This appears to be Adobe’s version of “faces” in Apperture or iPhoto.
b. Auto-tagging – a very welcome feature.
c. Improved Spot Healing Brush.
d. Layer Masks
e. Photomerge Panorama is improved.
f. It’s easy as can be to share photos on Facebook from Elements.
g. The program ships with lots of preset photo effects for those who want to make their pictures into something different.

Adobe at the same time announced Adobe Premiere Elements 9 and this product works very well with Photoshop Elements 9 for photographers shooting video on DSLRs. Adobe offers a 30-day-trial version of Premiere Elements 9 for photographers who want to explore that option. It also now works on Macs.

For less than $100 Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (Win/Mac) gives you 95% of the features you’d need from Photoshop for about 1/6th the price.

Adobe is clearly trying to improve the sharing and organizing portion of Elements, so much so that you might not need Lightroom if you like the Elements Catalog solution. Personally I found it slow but applaud the effort. The program is easier to use than Photoshop, costs less and does a great deal for the money. In my opinion performance could be snappier at times, but in some basic tests, I was impressed with how much capability this program has.

Adobe also surprised me by making this available for the Mac. Given the history of Adobe products coming later to the Mac than the Windows platform, and the current frosty state of the Apple and Adobe relationship, I was worried Mac users would get left out in the cold. Turns out I needn’t have worried.

Adobe Photoshop Elements is cheap and powerful and if you can’t afford Photoshop, is the next best thing.

Highly recommended.

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This post sponsored by LEDZ – LED lights for photography and video.