Adobe has finally opened up the beta of Photoshop Express, the long-awaited online version of Adobe Photoshop. I’ve just finished running it through it’s paces and I am impressed.
Photoshop express requires registration to use. You get access to the online editing tool and a relatively meager 2 GB of space for photos at a custom URL which you can organize into a slick public gallery and slideshows. It won’t replace dedicated photo sharing like Flickr (no comments, limited interaction) but for casual users just being able to share a few albums and slideshows may be enough. By default, photos you upload to the service are private until you move them into your public gallery.
The interface should be immediately familiar to anyone who has used Adobe Lightroom. The default view of your photos mimics Lightroom’s browse mode and even includes the ability to rate and caption your uploads. Unfortunately it does not support RAW editing. That would have been killer.
Editing is also very much like Lightroom. Unlike Photoshop, it does not support layers, masking, or really any of the features that make Photoshop, well, Photoshop. It does provide easy, one-click access to the most used functions for everyday usage: cropping, red-eye removal, saturation, white balance, sharpening, etc. It also provides a version of the healing brush and highlight and fill light correction. Effects include black and white conversion, cutouts, color adjustments, sketch filter, and distortion.
Undo works similarly to Picasa where you can undo a specific effect or action. As you make changes, checkboxes appear next to the tool you used that allow you to toggle the change on or off. It’s not quite “undo” but it works well enough.
Adding photos to the service is easy. You can upload from your own computer or pull photos from your Facebook, Photobucket, or Picasa account. Flickr was conspicuously missing. Only JPG photos are supported.
Overall, Photoshop Express is an impressive and polished service. It is positioned to become the “gateway drug” to the entire family of Photoshop products. It won’t replace Photoshop, and it would have been more appropriate to name it Lightroom Express, but it does most things that casual users need. Only time will tell if it can succeed against competitors like Picnik and Picasa.
Related: Review of Picnik
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