Adobe Photoshop Elements 11.
The low-down: This is Adobe's annual upgrade of its cut-down photo-editing program. Changes, for the better, have been made to the user interface. There are still three options for editing - Quick, Guided and Expert - and the Expert layout is now cleaner and a little more like the big Photoshop interface. Quick and Guided are still oriented to the user who wants automation rather than precise control. The Create tab opens up the options to print or to turn photos into cards, books, calendars or CD/DVD covers and labels.
Like: A slightly reduced version of Adobe Camera Raw can be set as the front-end of Elements 11 to open and adjust RAW files before editing. This feature puts Elements above most alternatives and gives a more serious feel to the program. The new way of running Actions is an improvement, although it is still not possible to record. The guided Perfect Portrait function - including Slim Down - works well.
Dislike: The inability to create Actions (macros).
Verdict: Anyone coming to Elements from the big Photoshop will be frustrated by its limitations, but for a newcomer with limited demands, the program should do nicely. But Elements is up against some stiff competition. At the sophisticated end of photo editing is Corel's AfterShot Pro, $88. And at the simple end are the applications included in operating systems: iPhoto on the Mac and Live Photo Gallery for Windows. Elements has more specialised photo finishing options but at the basic level of image editing, its only big advantage over the built-in applications is the Adobe Camera RAW front-end.