Photoshop Elements 7.0: First Look

Adobe's newest version of Elements is faster, easier, and cheaper than Photoshop CS3.

Adobe Photoshop Elements is a great tool for photo enthusiasts getting into more serious editing. The latest version -- 7.0, for PCs only ($100, street, full version; $80, upgrade) -- makes organizing easier. Editing starts at a simple level and builds to greater complexity, so you can do more as you learn more. If you want to try shooting RAW images, Elements' take on Photoshop's Camera RAW converter is a great way to get your feet wet. But the biggest improvement is in compositing, which had been quite limited in other versions.

Most of the magic happens with the new Smart Brush, a tool that lets you paint a pre-set adjustment onto an area of your picture. It creates a selection, mask, and adjustment layer, but you don't need to know how to use those things to get what's best out of them.