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Other New Features Borrowed From Photoshop CS

A surprising number of Photoshop CS features made it to Photoshop Elements3, although most of them have reduced functionality compared to Photoshop CS, indicated with *.

Healing Brush *

Introduced with Photoshop 7 and maintained in Photoshop CS, one of the best Photoshop features ever, has found its way into Elements 3, and a new variant, not available in the current version of CS is the Spot Healing Brush, making retouching even more easy as no reference point needs to be specified. For those of you unfamiliar with Photoshop, the Healing Brush is a tool that makes retouching (e.g. removing wrinkles) much easier than using the cloning tool as it blends or "heals" the correction into the image, so the correction becomes virtually invisible.

Histogram Palette *

The new Histogram Palette is a welcome addition. Previously, histograms were only accessible via the (now removed) Image -> Histogram command (which showed the luminosity and individual channel histograms) and the (still present) Levels command (showing the RGB and individual channel histograms). Having to look in two different places to view all the histograms was inconvenient enough. But the main drawback in Photoshop Elements 2 was that the histograms were not updated as you changed the image. You could only see the effect on the histogram after you made changes to the image.

The Window -> Histogram command now brings up the new Histogram Palette, so you can perform your image adjustments while keeping an eye on the real time histogram, thereby reducing the risk of clipping and posterization. The Histogram Palette shows a "ghosted" image of the "before" histogram, and updates the "after" histogram in real time.

Shadows/Highlights *

This powerful tool should be used with caution to avoid "halos" around contrasty edges, e.g. three branches against a blue sky, the horizon, etc., even more so because there are only three sliders compared to eight in Photoshop CS (which even then still shows the occasional halos).

Divide Scanned Photos

Scanning multiple photographs with a flatbed scanner typically leads to a big image consisting of the photographs with white space in between. The Image -> Divide Scanned Photos command automatically detects each photograph, rotates it, crops away any white borders, and opens each image in a separate window. The command is equivalent to the The File -> Automate -> Crop and Straighten command in Photoshop CS.

Filter Gallery

Just like the Filters palette of Photoshop Elements 2, the Filter Gallery dialog box of Photoshop Elements 3 shows the effects of the filters in a graphical way and allows you to try out a variety of filters on the image without having to go back and forth to the Filter menu. However, unlike the Filters palette, not all filters of the Filter menu are available in the Filter Gallery.

The key benefit of the new Filter Gallery dialog box is that it allows you to conveniently apply the same filter multiple times or combine the effect of multiple filters. Similar to what you can do with layers, you can rearrange the sequence of the filters by dragging them around and toggling their visibility. This makes it much easier to experiment with various filter combinations.

Photo Filter

mage -> Adjustments -> Photo Filter leads to this self-explanatory dialog box with a variety of photographic filters to choose from and the ability to create your own. The effect of the filters is adjustable using the Density slider.


The File -> New > Photomerge Panorama now has the "Keep as Layers" option in the dialog box, just like in Photoshop CS, so you can do further manual adjustments, which are often necessary because PhotoMerge lacks the sophistication of dedicated panorama software like Panorama Tools based PTGui which allow the definition of control points.

Bicubic Smoother and Bicubic Sharper Interpolation *

This feature is explained in my Photoshop CS review. However, in Elements 3, these additional options are not selectable as the default interpolation engine in the Photoshop Elements 3 Preferences.

Photoshop CS Features That Did Not Make it to Elements 3

The Photoshop CS Color Match command, Color Replacement Tool, Layer Comps, and Lens Blur Filter did not make it to Photoshop Elements 3.

New Elements 3 only Tools

Noise Reduction

The new Filter -> Noise -> Reduce Noise command performs less well compared to the noise removal in Camera RAW and manual noise removal methods, as shown on the previous page.

Cookie Cutter Tool

The new Cookie Cutter Tool allows you to cut a layer into a shape, ideal to superimpose it against a background. Identical results can be achieved in other Photoshop versions with the Shape Tool, but it requires more steps, while the Cookie Cutter Tool lives up to its name by being as simple to use as a real cookie cutter.

Red Eye Removal Tool


After Red Eye Removal Tool

Original After Red Eye Removal Tool

After further adjustments

The Red Eye Removal Tool is improved compared to Photoshop Elements 2 and Photoshop Album 2. Now you only need to click in the neighborhood of the red eye and the correction happens automatically. The tool works well, but as with all "Auto" methods, sometimes further manual tweaking is required for optimal results, as shown in the second example.

This article is written by Vincent Bockaert, author of
The 123 of digital imaging featuring
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 & 3 and Photoshop 7 & CS
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