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PixelGenius PhotoKit EL3 review

An economical way to sharpen, adjust and fine-tune images

Our Verdict

This package of filters may be too complicated for the average Elements user

For

  • Cheap

    Wide range of effects

    Well crafted

    Uses layers

Against

  • No preview

Don't be fooled by the Photoshop Elements tag. This set of filters has been packaged at an attractive price and is aimed at users of Adobe Photoshop Elements (versions 2 and 3). However, they can be used with any software that's Photoshop plug-in compliant.

The results are top notch. What the people at PixelGenius don't know about Photoshop could be written on the back of a CompactFlash card. The effects on offer include traditional darkroom techniques such as tone adjustment, colour balance adjustment, and conversion to greyscale. There are other useful non-darkroom functions too, like sharpening and graduated tone adjustments. But there are flaws.

First, there's no preview showing you what each plug-in does. You have to try all the effects out to discover what they do. Also, the plug-ins work in a non-destructive way - you apply the effect and it's placed in a new layer. It's up to you whether you ratchet back the effect by reducing an individual layer's opacity.

The flaw here, is that Photoshop Elements users aren't advanced Photoshop users, and may have trouble visualising what the plug-ins do and mastering the layering system.

A help index comes with the package, and appears in the Photoshop Elements help window. Each effect is explained, but it's still no substitute for seeing the effect in a preview window as with regular Photoshop filters.

To use the PhotoKit, you need to experiment at length to get a feel for the effects. The filters are subtle, but you can build up the effects by applying more than one filter. The overall features and effects would perhaps be better directed towards seasoned Photoshop users. Mark Sparrow