As a digital artist, Photoshop is one of the key tools available to you. Buy Photoshop Elements instead and you can shave £500 off the price, so the question is, is this a worthwhile saving, or are you going to become so frustrated with the missing features that you end up buying Photoshop CS2 anyway?
Elements is a reduced version of Photoshop and some tools have been left out. Most of the flashier effects filters from Photoshop are present, but a few of the subtler colour processing tools are missing (particularly those which enable you to work with 16-bit colours, and CMYK). The Vanishing Point tool and some of the masking tools are absent, as are some of the web and text formatting features.
That said, there’s plenty left – customisable brushes, cloning and selection tools, layering and healing brushes are all available. There’s also a focus on organising your images that Photoshop CS2 lacks. You can create slideshows and quickly locate images on disk much more easily.
There are a lot of new features in version 5, but most are aimed at digital photographers rather than artists. There are tools for correcting lens distortion and sharpening images as well as the ability to work with RAW files from a wider range of cameras. There’s a new Colour Curves tool for better colour correction and an advanced black and white filter for producing monochrome images.
All in all, this is a great product for the artist who’s got better things to spend £570 on than Photoshop CS2 (you could get Poser, Project Dogwaffle, Bryce and Photoshop Elements for that). However, version 5 doesn’t offer much more than version 4 to the fantasy artist, so if you’re thinking of upgrading, take a good look at the list of new features first.