Review: Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 7

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Testing took 15 minutes to upload about 100MB of photos, videos, and prints available through Shutterfly. One caveat, though: Be prepared for Photoshop to generate annoying pop-ups such as 25% off books, Shutterfly subscriptions, and the like. Perhaps Adobe thinks programs at this price range are an easy place to do upsells, but the pop-ups make it feel more like a shareware application than a paid program.

Aggregated Desktop Media Organization
Like Adobe Bridge, which acts as the clearinghouse for Creative Suite applications, the Organize function in Photoshop Elements also shares content with Premiere Elements. Images ingested into Photoshop Elements are shown in thumbnail size, and Photoshop Elements has a clever feature whereby it analyses images for faces and then processes an automatic red-eye reduction. In my test ingest, Elements found 26 of our 248 photos that had people in them, and it did an adequate job of reducing red-eye. The other reason for face analysis is for social media tagging of faces, a feature that iPhoto finally adopted a few months after Photoshop Elements 7 launched.

The Organizer feature handles still images of almost any type, from JPEGs to RAW, including the CR2 format Canon RAW files from a Rebel XSi camera that we used for still-image testing. It also can import tapeless video clips from the same chip that the still images reside on (which we will cover in more detail in the next section), but it is not able to generate thumbnails for these video clips. This is a shortcoming as Photoshop Elements is the default organiser and because Premiere Elements is able to show thumbnails of both video clips and images. Still, the fact that a single repository for video and images is available makes editing and postprocessing of video clips much easier.

Tapeless Workflows
This is one area where Adobe really has surpassed Apple. Based on the Premiere Pro CS3 and CS4 applications, which handle tapeless video clips with ease and in their native formats—unlike Apple, which converts even HDV to an intermediate codec that creates significant visual image loss—Premiere Elements handles MP4, MOV, and other video clip formats that are shot on digital still cameras or newer digital video cameras.

For testing purposes, I used a Sanyo Xacti solid-state camera that shoots on 1080p NTSC video on SDHC chips (there is also an equivalent camera that shoots in PAL, and Premiere Elements 7 supports tapeless PAL and NTSC formats).

As mentioned before, the default for importing videos and images was through the Organize feature in Photoshop Elements, which doesn’t differentiate between video (MP4) and image (JPG) files. One glitch (that may have to do with the file type) is that Photoshop Elements did a two-step process on the video files, first copying the files and then importing the files.

Once the import is complete, I launched Premiere Elements, finding both images and video clips available to place on the timeline. Even with the two-step import process I mentioned, given the nature of tapeless video- clip capture, the time to import and lay content on the timeline is significantly shorter than using a tape-based video camera. Premiere Elements gears its editing tools to a semi-professional audience without sacrificing speed. I was able to rapidly assemble several clips, add music and transitions, as well as a few still images, and then choose a sharing option that allowed me to output multiple video format types.

Since I was shooting in HD, I chose a 720p Windows Media Advanced profile for my output; I even had the option of using two-pass variable bitrate (VBR), which is often found only on more expensive video editing and compression packages.

I also tested an import and edit with an inexpensive MiniDV camcorder. I found the device control and capture to be very efficient, and Premiere Elements performed an analysis of all the footage captured off the DV tape, splitting the clips up into their appropriate shots. It also analysed the footage against known types of shots so that the cataloguing workflow process was significantly reduced. I produced a Pocket PC version of the footage I edited, as well as a standard-definition Windows Media Advanced profile, projecting the latter on a large projection screen to verify that the content quality held up in the editing and exporting process.

All in all, Adobe’s Elements 7 bundle was quite easy to use. While I don’t plan on giving up my trusty MacBook anytime soon, I now have a respect for a set of tools on the Windows platform that I can recommend to all my colleagues, friends, and family who use Windows.

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