Adobe Photoshop Elements 12/Premiere Elements 12 Review

Adobe’s latest consumer image and video suite is powerful once you get to grips with it.

Photoshop Elements 12/Premiere Elements 12: On the plus side

Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements are (and have been for quite some time now) Adobe’s play towards the broader consumer audience. The “Elements” part of each package shows their intended audience; these aren’t fully pro-level tools, but instead a more guided way to edit photos and video clips into something a little bit more pleasant than your average home family movie.
At the same time, they’re also somewhat gateway positioning to the full Premiere, and undeniably the full Photoshop experience for those lacking skills/confidence/budget/need of the whole package. After all, while we don’t talk about “Premiering” a video, there’s a distinct verb used for photo manipulation that also happens to be an Adobe Trademark.
As such, both Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12 have to tread a careful line; Adobe has to produce packages that are both novice friendly for those who just want the basics without appearing to massively dumb down some fairly potent brand names all the time making sure it doesn’t jeopardise sales of the full-fat products, especially as they’re now essentially cloud-based subscription services with long revenue tails.
The good thing is that with Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12, they mostly succeed. If you’re a total novice at either video or photo editing, the Guided sections of the editing suites (Photoshop Elements 12 also includes the Organizer app) contain enough basic editing tools to produce pleasant results.
At the same time, if you’re looking for a bit more power, Adobe’s drip-fed existing Photoshop/Premiere features into Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12, with a strong focus on the kinds of tasks you might find daunting in “full” Photoshop or Premiere. As an example, one new feature on the Photoshop Elements 12 side, Content Aware Move allows you to shuffle items around within an image with generally decent results, although it depends on your selection and some fine tuning.

Shifting Steve Jobs' head hasn't gone entirely to plan here.
Shifting Steve Jobs’ head hasn’t gone entirely to plan here.

Image: Joi Ito
On the Premiere Elements 12 side of the equation it’s much the same story; if you want basic guided video editing it’s there for the taking, although a lot of the guidance is there more to switch you over to using the full suite through tutorials. You can add adjustment layers for more precise control, as well as track motion within a frame to add a variety of mostly silly effects.
There’s nothing here that will seriously trouble Hollywood, but it’s well pitched for its intended consumer audience.

Photoshop Elements 12/Premiere Elements 12: On the minus side

Both Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12 can be real memory hogs at times. That’s somewhat to be expected if you’re working with large photos or lengthy high resolution video, but I hit quite a few instances where either application’s demands were enough to send the rest of my desktop machine into a slow crawl until they were done.
They’re powerful products, but it’s sometimes a little confusing to work out where a given feature is actually hiding. Sometimes it’ll be in a panel inspector at the side or base; other times in a menu selection higher up. If you’re familiar with Adobe’s workflow ideas it’s less problematic, but it may take some exploration to work out how each feature within the applications actually works.

I may have overdone it with the silly effects here. Premiere/Photoshop can teach you skills, but not taste.
I may have overdone it with the silly effects here. Premiere/Photoshop can teach you skills, but not taste.

It’s also worth pointing out that while the name of one of Adobe’s products might be synonymous with photo editing, that doesn’t mean that these are your only options in the photo or video editing space.
It’s very much a matter of matching your needs and capabilities to the right product. As an example, Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12 ran reasonably well (if a little memory hoggy) on my desktop iMac, but I wouldn’t particularly try them on my 2011 Macbook Air, because I know it’d overwhelm it; there a cheaper alternative such as Pixelmator is more appropriate.

Photoshop Elements 12/Premiere Elements 12: Pricing

If you want either application standalone, Adobe’s Australian RRP is $129.99, or $99 if you’re upgrading from an earlier version. Bundled together, they’re priced at $199.99, or as an upgrade for $149.99.
It’s always interesting with Adobe products to work out how much of an Australia tax we’re paying, because the company has been amongst the very worst at pricing its applications equitably for local purchase.
Here the news appears mixed. Adobe doesn’t make it easy to dig out its US pricing from its site, but many other sites suggest US pricing for the single apps at $US99/$US79 (full/upgrade), which would equate to $110/$88 locally. On the full suite site, I’ve seen suggested pricing of $149.99, or roughly $165. There’s a slight uptick for the local market, although as always it’s worth remembering that US prices never list sales tax.

Photoshop Elements 12/Premiere Elements 12: Fat Duck verdict

Both Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12 are powerful suites (within the consumer context — image and video pros would no doubt find them limited in many ways) for their intended purpose, and they do remain amongst the best in their class.
It’s a little easier to recommend them as new purchases rather than upgrades however unless you’re really hanging out for cloud-based storage (which you can get elsewhere) or some of the newer app features drip-fed down from the full suites.

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