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February 9, 2012 • Reviews

Adobe Premiere Elements 10 & Photoshop Elements 10 Review

If you use a Mac, then you probably use iPhoto for basic image editing and iMovie for basic video editing. But what if you use a PC? The tools included there are not nearly as capable, friendly or integrated. And what if you want to go further than the basic editing capabilities of the iTools? That is where Adobe Premiere Elements 10 & Photoshop Elements 10 come in – offering integrated photo and video editing and production tools for both OS X and Windows 7.

The folks at Adobe sent me a review copy, so let’s take a look!


The Hype:
Bring your photo and video collection to life in vibrant home movies and photo creations you’ll enjoy for years to come. Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 & Adobe Premiere Elements 10–the newest version of the #1 selling consumer photo- and video-editing software*–makes it easy to edit and create using automated options, share photos and movies with your social network, and view photos and videos virtually anywhere you are.

The Reality:
I had a copy of Adobe Premiere Elements 9 & Photoshop Elements 9 last year and had given some impressions, but found the performance and small-screen-friendliness not all that great so I set it aside and never returned. Fortunately Adobe seems to have listened to complaints and made the programs perform and look better on smaller screens. Let’s take a look at each of the programs included in the package!

Photoshop Elements 10
Adobe Photoshop is the most renowned image editing software ever made; I remember getting the initial ‘Elements’ release and thinking of it as a really scaled back version of Photoshop that didn’t compete well against free or less expensive options. That was when it was called ‘Photoshop LE, and that was over a decade ago. Wow, how time changes things!

There are a number of reasons someone might open an image editor. You might just need to crop or enhance the colors, or you might need to rebalance things or straighten something out. Your focus might have been off, or your subject lost in too many other eye-catchers. You might need to recompose the image due to poor lighting or setup. You might just want to play around and make some crazy effects.

No matter the what your photos might need, Photoshop Elements has you covered. If you are like me and neither a skilled photographer nor an expert user of Photoshop, you will appreciate many of the features that help you do what you want. These are called ‘guided edits’, and that pretty much describes what they do! Photoshop Elements 10 introduces three new guided edits: Orton Effect, Depth of Field, and Picture Stack.

The Orton Effect uses a special set of recoloring and refocusing tools to provide a softer and more artistic look to your pictures. It doesn’t work for everything, but when framing a subject in an outdoor setting it gives a unique look.

Depth of Field is an increasingly common look that pros use to single out a subject – only they do it with sophisticated lenses! Since most of us don’t have the hardware tools – Photoshop Elements helps us out. Using the guided edit, you simply select the object or area to remain in focus, and the rest of the image simply drops softly into the background. It is a great way to isolate a subject and draw a viewer’s eyes to a particular location.

Picture Stack is a cool and unique ‘one trick pony’ effect. You choose a multi-subject photo and then a number of ‘sub-pictures’, and the editor divides the picture into what looks like a number of individual photos tossed onto a table. Again, this is best suited to dense pictures that divide up easily, but for the occasional family collage it is a cool effect.

Photoshop Elements also includes the standard Full and Quick Edit menus, with Quick Edits being the standard sorts of ‘quick fix’ items you’d apply to a photo such as crop, auto-color balance, and so on.

The crop tool itself has seen a major overhaul – rather than just chopping edges, you can create custom shapes or apply presets based on the Rule of Thirds or the Golden Ratio (from Fibonacci). These custom edits create very distinctive looking shots with much less hassle then ever before.

Finally, you now have the ability to wrap text almost freely on your photo. Rather than just dropping a text box or using a preset shape, you can now define a wrap surface in your image for text to shape itself to – again, a little thing but a stunning effect.

Premiere Elements 10

Video editing is a daunting task, which is why everyone who bought a VHS-C camera back in the 80’s and 90’s has a stack of tapes sitting around that have never been touched and never seen since the recorded died sometime last decade. Digital video has helped … but only helped us pile up massive amounts of untouched video on our hard disks!

Apple’s iMovie has simplified video editing for most people, allowing you to put together solid output from all of that digital video. You can trim, stabilize, add soundtracks, add stills, and … well, that covers most of it. From there you jump to Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.

If you are already well served by iMovie, then you need look no further – but what if you need some more depth or are on a PC? That is where Premiere Elements lives!

When you start the program and pull in some video, you will see a ‘Sceneline’ that connects various clips of your video in a storyboard format. You can also switch to a time-line, or you can stick with the Sceneline and then dig into each scene for more hands-on manipulation.

In fact, that pretty much sums up Premiere Elements for me – there are simple ways to do things, or you can dig in and get into a much more detailed editing process — from quick edits to what ends up as a fairly intricate pro-style work stream.

A great example is integrating still images and video in a ‘slideshow’ movie. I have always loved using the ‘Ken Burns Effect’ to thread a series of images over a song, and made great use of it in stuff for our kids and family events. In Premiere Elements, you can do that … but then you can dive deep and manually control the pan and zoom effects on a per-picture basis, you can thread a line that cuts the path through all of the pictures you are viewing, and more.

Color editing is something we take for granted with images but has long lagged in video editing. Now there is an ‘AutoTone & Vibrance’ editor that allows you to enhance the colors in your entire video without messing things up. If that isn’t enough, there is an advanced ‘Three Way Color’ editor that allows you to dig even deeper – but honestly aside from a quick play-around I didn’t do much. At that point I was getting a bit outside of my comfort zone.

One thing I take for granted making an iMovie slideshow is having my music match the show – but that was missing in the last version of Premiere Elements … well, on the Mac version anyway. Apparently it was on the Windows version, but now it appears in both versions and is a welcome addition.

Organizer

One thing I didn’t mention was the Organizer – but not because it is an afterthought. It threads together both Photoshop and Premiere, and serves as a browser, launch pad, search tool and more. The goals are to Organize, Create, Fix and Share.

Create and Fix will launch you into Premiere or Photoshop depending on whether you are looking at video or photos. They are a great centralized way to work with all of your media. But they depend on knowing what you have – and that is where the organizer comes into play.

I’ve had digital images seemingly forever, and as a result I have a huge library of offline photos. The problem with that is … duplicates. Very quickly you end up with a number of subsets of images strewn all over your drives, and finding anything is a pain. But with the organizer you can find duplicates – something you can also do in iPhoto – but Premiere goes even further. You can find ‘visually similar’ which will look based on an entire image, or ‘find object’ which will search for specific selections in your library.

My only issue with these is that what you search doesn’t become part of your organizer – in other words, after searching through all of the thousands of slides that I had scanned for my parents for stuff from my Little League team, when I came upon another set of slides and scanned those, nothing was associated with the new images. I had to manually associate the new images myself.

Contrast that with the ‘face finder’, which has even more powerful Facebook integration than ever. You can tag faces in photos, and Premiere will suggest names from your Facebook friends list. That ties seamlessly into the Share functionality, where anything you export to Facebook will have tags associated based on your selections.

One thing I have always loved with Adobe Photoshop and Premiere is the depth and breadth of export options. If you want a small JPG or GIF you can get it, or a huge TIFF, or in the native format that saves all layer and edit info. And within each format are all of the options you could desire.

Conclusions

While in the process of reviewing Adobe Premiere Elements 10 & Photoshop Elements 10, I discovered one reason I had issues with the previous version – the new release is the first to fully support 64-bit windows. And in the past, certain systems had issues with running it properly — like mine. But I was also asked a question by a friend who had version 9: is it worth the upgrade?

Upgrades – especially near-annual ones – are a tough sell. On the one hand, if you see features you want then it is probably a worthwhile upgrade. But on the other hand annual updates get pricey, and the return on investment is often rather thin.

So that remains my thought here: if you are using version 8 or earlier and like them – update NOW, as these are MUCH better than those older versions, and you will appreciate everything Adobe has brought to the platform. But if you are running version 9, particularly if it runs well for you now, look at the ‘new features’ section on Adobe’s website carefully before upgrading. It could be worth your while if you really need those features; chances are that if you can live with version 9 for a while longer, then you will be more rewarded by waiting for version 11.

On the whole I found Adobe Premiere Elements 10 & Photoshop Elements 10 to be excellent programs that will allow a novice to be productive at organizing, editing, and sharing photos and movies. But beyond that, the programs continue to broaden their scope to include mid-level and even some pro-level tools that allow you tremendous flexibility to do whatever you want with your media.

Here is a fun video of my kids and I unboxing and putting the Sumo Omni to use, done with Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements!

Review: Adobe Premiere Elements 10 & Photoshop Elements 10

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Price: $149.99 (currently on sale for $105.99)

What I Like: Super strong editing tools; organizer is a great centerpiece; sharing is simple and seamless; enhanced social integration facilitates quick uploads; easy tools for beginners and robust tools for advanced users

What Needs Improvement: Not a ‘must have’ update if you have version 9; search tools should remember objects and apply to new images as well.

Source: Publisher supplied review copies

2 Responses to " Adobe Premiere Elements 10 & Photoshop Elements 10 Review "

  1. Anonymous says:

    I use Sony Vegas for editing video, but ever so often, someone sends me a file that won’t play in Vegas.

    I can’t justify buying the full blown Premiere Pro, but I’ve considered getting a copy of Premiere Elements so I’d have another option. At $74 for both Premiere and Photoshop Elements, it’s practically a no-brainer.

  2. I would be more than Happy with iMovie if it exported good quality movies, but unfortunately since version 6 HD, Apple made it really bad when exporting, the colors are faded, there’s horrible color banding on dark scenes, so I guess this is the only real alternative on Mac World, since there’s no longer Final Cut Express and to be honest, Adobe Premiere is lot easier and accepts any file you put on in, not the same with FCE. Also the auto features really are time saving, I just wish Adobe would make it quicker and lighter!

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