Nathan Edwards Oct 18, 2011

Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and Premiere Elements 4

At A Glance

Kirk Douglas

Photoshop Elements 6.0 adds useful tools that take the work out of image editing.

Michael Douglas

Premiere Elements 4.0 continues to disappoint with problems such as ultra-low-resolution video previews.

We’ve closely watched the Elements kids since their birth, and though we’ve generally been pleased with their development, we’re a bit concerned about Adobe Premiere’s and Photoshop’s offspring. While Photoshop Elements 6 continues to impress us and we’re sure she’s on her way to an Ivy League school and a happy life as a doctor, Premiere Elements has us worried.

First, the good news. Photoshop Elements is a darling. Now fully matured, she’s able to pull off some truly useful tasks, including merging a handful of bad group photos into one good photo simply by selecting a base image. You then pick and choose faces from other photos and Elements merges them into one perfect group photo. The new Quick Selection tool allows you to choose sections of an image based on nearby colors, so you can easily change the color of an object without having to use other selection tools.

Not all the new features are practical though. One new trick, the ability to merge portrait photos, lets you do such useful things as blend the eyebrows from mom and the mullet from dad onto another person’s image. While neat to play around with, you’re unlikely to actually use this feature more than once.

Many of Photoshop Elements’s other enhancements come in the organization and sharing department. While good for anal-retentive types, color us unimpressed because they don’t help those who already have huge photo libraries.

But enough about that overachiever. Premiere Elements, which we gushed about at version 2, hasn’t developed as quickly as his sibling. When he turned 3, he couldn’t display HDV content while it was being captured. He also couldn’t detect scenes when capturing high-def content. Now turning 4, Premiere Elements can finally display HDV content and detect scenes, but he doesn’t understand the AVCHD format—something other kids in his grade can do.

Subpar performance and low-resolution previews make Premiere Elements 4.0 a disappointing update.

Premiere Elements, once quick on his feet, feels sluggish even on modern hardware. Also annoying: Video previews are disturbingly pixelated. Adobe says it’s the side effect of an “improvement” it made to its video-scaling algorithms. “Unfortunately, these algorithm changes unintentionally affected the preview resolution, which appears different when a clip or photo has a different resolution than the project resolution. Users can work around this issue by first rendering the clips that have a different resolution from the project,” explained an Adobe spokesperson. The upshot is that previews are unacceptably bad.

We also had issues creating still-image slide shows—they looked choppy. But it was actually that little do-gooder Photoshop Elements’s fault. One of Premiere’s recommended newbie ways to create a slide show is with the photo organizer in Photoshop Elements. Unfortunately, the tool is crap. We achieved more satisfactory slide shows using Premiere Elements’s native (albeit far more complicated) still-image support.

Not everything is bad here. Elements does have some niceties, such as top-notch titling and better online file-sharing capabilities—and that freeze-frame button is still handy. The stock title menus and art are also superior to that of other products. The interface is also tweaked to be friendlier to newbs, with easier access to guides that walk you through tasks and improved media catalog management.

As a pair, Photoshop Elements carries the water for the underperforming Premiere Elements. As a stand-alone product, Photoshop Elements 6 would garner a 9 verdict, but being bundled with Premiere weighs the package down.


Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and Premiere Elements 4

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