Adobe have released the beta of Photoshop Express, a free, cut down (even more so than Photoshop Elements), web based version of Photoshop and photo sharing service which currently provides up to 2gb of space per user.
So far I have been unable to get the register page or the test drive page to load in Firefox, however it seems to be working in Safari.
Registration is fairly straight forward, name, email address, password, personal sharing url (basically you.photoshop.com), birth year, and country. Currently, the United States is the only country available to choose from the drop down menu. It let me register with the US as my country and I was given the following:Thank you for joining Photoshop ExpressYou’ve successfully created a new Adobe ID and your account is almost ready for use. Verify your E-mail Please check your e-mail now to activate your account. If this e-mail is not in your inbox, please check your junk mail folder. We require that you verify your e-mail address within 24 hours prior to using your account.Due to the extremely high interest in creating new Photoshop Express accounts today, you may experience a delay of 60 minutes or more in receiving your account verification email. Thank you for your patience!Please note: If you request a resend of the account verification email, it will invalidate any prior requests. Therefore, the key issued with your most recent request will be the only email that will successfully activate your account.
Check my email, hey I got my verification email straight up, I would’ve been annoyed if I didn’t. The verification page works in Firefox and tells me I am now able to sign in. No big surprise, the sign in page doesn’t work in Firefox.
So, signed in using Safari and I am greeted with a simple interface where I can choose to either upload photos, edit photos/create albums, view/share photos, or browse community photo albums.
The upload section is fairly straight forward and easy to use, though it is a little on the slow side when it comes to actually uploading photos.
As far as editing photo’s goes, it comes nowhere near a replacement for the real thing, but it does provide some useful features and makes some of the filters in Photoshop easy to apply for a user that doesn’t know how to use them.
- Crop & Rotate – Your photo comes up with an adjustable box overlaid on it, you simply drag the corners of the box or the entire box until your image is where you want to crop it to. If you want to rotate, there is a button for clock-wise and a button for counter-clock-wise.
- Auto Correct – A series of small versions of the photo are displayed along the top of the editor with corrections automatically performed by the software. The user simply has to choose the one they like the best and apply it.
- Exposure – Works the same way as Auto Correct, simply choose from the various different levels of exposure, as worked out by the software.
- Red-Eye Removal – You are given a black cross-hair that turns red when you mouse over eye’s. If there is a red-eye, simply click it and the software will remove it. I don’t have any photo’s with red-eye’s on my laptop, so I can’t test the effectiveness of this at the moment, but it does seem to be very simple. Trying it on a photo without red-eyes though returned grey patches over the faces in some instances.
- Touchup – This is a touchy tool and is probably one of the most complicated tools in Photoshop Express. It works simply by clicking on the photo and either leaving as is, or dragging it in/out for a bigger or smaller touchup, you can of course drag it out using a slider after the first click. However, it seems to me to work similarly to the clone tool in Photoshop, except that the software determines the clone source instead of the user. Often it seems to be inaccurate or inappropriate. It seems to only work well in a large area of similar things, such as the sky or trees.
- Saturation – This works the same way as Auto Correct and Exposure, just choose your preferred saturation level from the choices made by the software.
- White Balance – This works the same way as Saturation, Auto Correct etc, except that it provides you with completely automatic, or choices for the sort of lighting, so you have options for sunlight, flashes, clouds, shade, incandescent lighting, and fluorescent lighting.
- Highlight – Works the same way as Auto Correct and simplifies the adjustment of highlights, however, it does severely limit the amount of adjustment you can make as it is automatically determined be the software.
- Fill Light – As with Highlight, it is a choice based on what the software decides, and seems to work similarly to adjusting the brightness.
- Sharpen – Very simple to sharpen parts of a photo. Click anywhere on the photo to select the section you wish to sharpen and a box will appear around it. You can drag the box if you wish. Up the top, a selection of different sharpened options become available for that section of the photo. It works the same way as Auto Correct etc, except you can sharpen specific sections, rather than only the entire photo.
- Soft Focus – Works the same way as Sharpen, except it creates a blur or “soft focus” on specific parts of the photo.
- Pop Color – This is pretty cool. You are given an eyedropper and all you do is select a colour from the photo. The software then determines everywhere else that colour occurs and allows you to change the colour from a selection of rainbow colours. The rest of the photo is turned gray scale. Alternatively, you can choose from one of the 3 presets which also give interesting effects.
- Hue – Lets you choose from one of the pre-determined choices, similarly to Auto Correct, and re-colours the photo the same way that using the hue layer overlay option does in Photoshop.
- Black & White – As the name suggests, it turns the photo black and white, but it gives you some choices with differing levels of black and white balances, it can create some cool effects.
- Tint – Works the same way as Luminosity in Photoshop, it takes a colour and makes the photo monochromatic based on that colour. The choices are rainbow colours.
- Sketch – Is just like the Sumi-e filter from Photoshop. It provides choices which obviously have variations on the brush width and pressure.
- Distort – Provides 5 different distortion effects. These effects all work by dragging an ellipse around the area you want to apply them to and it performs the operation. The effects are all pre-determined, so they will always have the same effect, on any spot on any image (though sky would not be as affected by them since its mostly variations of the same colour). If you use a lot of these effects, it becomes very slow and difficult to use. You are able to select each effect individually when you click it, which makes it difficult to apply two effects to the same spot. They are easy to remove though.
- Twirl – Performs a twirl on the selected area.
- Stretch – Stretches the selected area vertically.
- Bulge – Creates the appearance of a bulge in a selected area.
- Ball shape – Works similarly to the sphereise filter in Photoshop.
- Fuzz out the details – Seems pointless except for blurring out faces and the like. It creates a big pixelated patch over the selected area.
All in all, Photoshop Express is fairly easy to use, I expect that the speed problems will be fixed before the final release, and hopefully some of the distort effects will become more user-friendly when there are large amounts of them. I’m also hoping it will work in Firefox. Aside from that though, it seems like a pretty good tool really, especially for someone that has no experience with Photoshop or photo editing.
I can’t compare it to the likes of Picasa or Flickr as I have never used these services. Thus far though, it is looking like a very decent product to be brought to the online photo market. Not to mention, it’s free as well.
One of my biggest qualms with it is that neither ctrl + z or cmd + z perform an undo function, you have to click the undo button if you don’t like it. You also have to use the scroll bar, not the scroll wheel when scrolling through albums and so on.
Something that particularly stands out to me is that it seems to be based in Flash, and it is one of the most user-friendly Flash interfaces I have ever used, and coming from Adobe, I wouldn’t expect anything less.