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With the release this week of the beta of Photoshop Express, many amateur photographers will be excited about the possibility of having access to a free, Web-based version of the powerful and popular photo-editing tool from Adobe.
But once they try the beta they may find themselves a little less excited. For while Photoshop Express has some value as a quick and dirty tool for editing and sharing photos online, it is even further from being a true online version of Adobe Photoshop than Google Docs is of being a true online version of Microsoft Word.
In fact, the application that the beta of Photoshop Express is most similar to is Google's free Picasa photo editing and management tool. Like Picasa, Photoshop Express provides only very basic editing features, such as cropping, balancing, red eye removal and simple effects.
All of this said, I was still fairly impressed with the beta of Photoshop Express as an online application. Since it's built on Flash and runs in a browser, it will run on most operating systems and in any Web browser.
It also works well within its modest goals. It was simple to upload and manage photos and albums. I could directly link to photos in other sites such as Facebook and Photobucket. And the simple editing tools worked well for the most part.
I also liked the full screen option, which made it easier to work on an image without being restricted to the confines of the browser window. And as a photo sharing service Photoshop Express has some nice features, including 2GB of free storage and a permanent sharing URL at photoshop.com (so for example I could try to get emergingtech.photoshop.com).
So if there's any photo you think might be worth money someday, it would make good sense to keep it off of this service.
Those interested in testing out the beta of Adobe's Photoshop Express can sign up at www.photoshop.com/express/