Today, when you take pictures with your digital camera, you have an inordinate number of options for online editing, storing, and sharing your shots. Thanks to improvements in Flash, popular graphics software, and the availability of fast broadband connections, a number of impressive online photo-editing sites have emerged in the past couple of years. Now Adobe is jumping into the fray with its new online photo-editing software called Photoshop Express. The service opened a test version to the public, which offers simple editing tools, syncs with Facebook, Picassa, and Photobucket, and provides two gigabytes of free storage.
Photoshop Express requires Flash Player 9 to run and works with all major browsers, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. A user first uploads pictures from a hard drive to Adobe’s servers, a process that takes a couple of minutes, depending on the speed of the Internet connection and the size and number of photos. Once uploaded, the photos can be edited with a simplistic editing toolbar that lets the user crop, adjust exposure, touch up blemishes, remove red eye, and change the color saturation. As well as these basics, Photoshop Express lets users fine-tune the color and lighting with controls such as white balance and a tool that sharpens blurry edges. In addition, a user can add more creative elements to a picture with a sketch tool and a distort feature.
In terms of editing, Adobe’s offer isn’t impressive. It lacks editing tools available in other online editors, including Picnik (used by the photo-sharing site Flickr), FotoFlexer, and Rsizr. Rsizr, for instance, offers an innovative tool that can compress and expand images without distorting them. Moreover, this initial version of Photoshop Express comes up short in terms of storage. Sites like Flickr and Photobucket offer unlimited storage, albeit for a price. (Express shouldn’t be compared with Adobe Photoshop C3, the professional editing suite that can cost nearly $1,000, or Photoshop Elements, desktop editing software for under $100, because it’s free and vying for a different audience.)
These are just the early days for Photoshop Express, notes Geoff Baum, director of express solutions at Adobe, who pitched the idea of Web-based products about two years ago. “It’s not quite there yet,” he says. In the coming months, the company will offer more features, depending on user feedback, as well as more storage and the ability to synchronize photo libraries with additional websites. One particular feature that will be available soon, he notes, will be access to a printing service.