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4.2 out of 5 stars391
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 is a great (5 stars) photo editing package for home users and serious photographers on a budget. Adobe's upmarket Photoshop CS6/CC is the defacto industry standard photo editor, and this Photoshop Elements 12 software offers the bulk of CS6's tools for a fraction of the price, so it's hard for any others to compete (although Adobe's streamlined Lightroom 5 offers a faster editing experience with fewer but better implemented tools, and the likes of freebie 'Picasso' may well provide many with all the features they need). For those upgrading from Photoshop Elements 10 and lower, there are some useful additional tools in version 12 and it has the revised Elements 11 interface that I like. However I'd always buy this full licence version rather than the similarly priced Elements 12 Upgrade version, as then you can re-install your old version of Elements onto another machine or laptop (and even use it legally at work). The Adobe licence allows you two installs, one at work or on your main PC, and another at home or on the laptop (provided you don't use both programs at the same time). However this is one upgrade I'd skip if I had Photoshop Elements 11 as there's little extra on offer (i.e. just the 'mobile albums connection' app for tablets/smartphones and a few updated features like improved 'red eye' reduction for pets and 'moving objects within photos').

Although the Elements 12 Expert Editor interface looks fairly kiddy Fisher Price, within the editors buttons and menus there's a lot of submenus and options that include Layers, Masks, the 'correct camera distortion' tool, Transformations (distorting photos or distorting/moving objects within photos), Photomerge (for creating panoramas and transferring/removing objects within photos), Levels (brightness & contrast), Colour Correction, Shadow Highlight (bringing out details within shadows), plus many selection, drawing and resizing tools, image sharpening apps and various art filters, all similar to that within Photoshop CS6, albeit in cut-down form (although Elements does lack CS6's macro recording, non-destructive filters, the Pen & Curve tools and CMYK colours required for professional printing). Elements 12 also has an advanced Photo Organizer that catalogues your photo folders into a thumbnail database so that you can search and find photos more easily (even using face recognition and location). In addition there's the Quick Edit and the Guided Edit modes to help you quickly carry out simpler editing tasks or to learn new ones.

With this full licence version of Elements 12 you can even leave an old version of Elements on the PC as well as Elements 12, as they install as separate programs - you can only run one at a time though. The photo Organizer can convert/transfer older Organizer catalog 'settings' to new versions, but it's not always possible or completely successful, depending on version and OS. To uninstall an Adobe application these days you must 'deactivate' the licence first which is done under Help in the top menu - this is important as otherwise your licence will still be active on the old PC and the new install will not register (do this if you are reformatting the system drive or you will lose a licence otherwise). Personally I choose Photoshop Elements 12 over Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom 5 as I value the extra power in the Expert Editor over Lightrooms speedier options, and I don't often use Elements Organizer preferring logical folder names instead (Lightroom is very good at the photo organisation and fast batch processing side, and it is designed to run alongside Photoshop Elements 12 or Photoshop CS6/CC rather than replace it). Lightroom 5 also deals with dSLR RAW files far better than Photoshop Elements 12, offers non-destructive filters, and it's a similar price (£100) - although only Elements/Photoshop CS6 offers advanced tools like Photomerge. If you want to spend a short time editing a large number of photos then Lightroom 5 is ideal, but if you want to spend a long time working on relatively few photos then Photoshop Elements 12 (or Photoshop CS6/CC) is the one to check out. Photoshop Elements 12's Expert Mode editor is quite similar to Photoshop CS6's industry standard editing interface, so it's easy to swap between them. Although the minimum spec for a monitor is only 1024x768 pixels the Elements 12 expert editor can feel a bit cramped on screens less than 1680x1050.

Or as Computer Shopper/PC Pro's review puts it "For new users who want sophisticated layer-based photo editing on a budget, Photoshop Elements 12 is still the software to get. Existing users should save their pennies though. However, those who just want to manage and spruce up their photos are much better off with Adobe Lightroom 5 or the free Google Picasa. Plus the dSLR camera RAW file importer in Photoshop Elements 12 is less powerful than that of Photoshop CS6/CC, so if you want to get the best from your RAW images consider using Photos0op Lightroom 5". Also check out the Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 and Premiere Elements 12 Bundle Edition, as Premiere Elements is a pretty good package for home video editing. Other highly rated budget photo editor contenders to consider are GIMP (totally free), Xara Photo&Graphic Designer 10 (£70), Corel Paintshop Pro X6 Ultimate (£70), Serif PhotoPlus X7 (£80) and if you only work with dSLR Raw files: DxO Optics Pro Standard (£110) - although there is the consistent interface advantage of staying within the market leading Adobe stable, and Elements 12/Lightroom 5 are great value if they offer you everything you want.

When installing Elements 12 you can install the latest version direct from Adobe rather than use the supplied CD - the licence code in the box will activate either. If you are unsure whether you should go for Lightroom 5 or Photoshop Elements 12 (or Photoshop CC Extended for that matter) you can download any Adobe software from Adobe's website for a fully functional 30d trial, which can then be activated by the code in the retail box. Adobe software is frequently buggy on first release, and I get the impression that Apple users get more problems than Windows 7 users like myself, but Adobe are pretty good at releasing patches to correct these (another reason for early adopters to leave an old version of Elements on the PC I suppose). So great photo-editing software but do try out the 30d trial version first to see if you like it.

Update Sept 2014 - Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 (PC/Mac) has now been released, replacing this version and adding a few more features.
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There is no doubt that Photoshop Elements is an excellent photo-editing program, providing most of the features of full Photoshop which digital photographers will need, and adding some more too. It's got layers, gradients, brushes, filters galore and in the hands of an experienced user there's nothing it can't do to enhance an improve a digital image.

But Adobe have created a real problem for themselves in knowing what to do with Elements now that the editing features in their excellent Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (Mac/PC) have developed to far. Most enthusiast photographers I know have moved on to Lightroom from Elements. The cataloging features of Lightroom are much better than Elements and the editing features get better and better. In version 5 it now has adjustment brushes, radial filter, gradient filters, spot removal and red-eye removal and most importantly, all the edits are "non-destructive" which means you can revert to the original version of your photo in a single click. Lightroom now has many extras which Elements doesn't have, such as the Lens correction features (which includes an automatic leveling tool) and a very useful Effects panel which has a very easy to use vignetting feature. You can even apply the same edit to a batch of photos in a single click, which is really useful if you've taken a few photos of the same subject in order to make sure you get one good one.

Exsiting Elements users are finding that these annual updates to Photoshop Elements look more and more pointless and more like a marketing exercise to keep the upgrade treadmill going. I have been using Elements since version 4 and my last upgrade was version 11 last year which I did actually think was quite a good investment. As I look down the list for version 12 however, I can see no reason to upgrade this year. A reasonably competent Elements user can achieve the features of the new version with earlier versions. For example, just try googling "elements correct pet eyes" and you'll see numerous quick and easy ways of doing this. "Photo-puzzle" guided edit? Well, how often am I going to need that? And in any case there are countless websites which will create photopuzzles for you for free.

I regret to say that Elements is beginning to look a little tired nowadays. Let's face it, most people will be happy with Google's free Picasa for organising and editing their photographs. For anyone who wants advanced cataloging and editing, Lightroom is the software to go for. Elements is now looking like a mish-mash of features, with some "guided edits" bolted on top for those who are new to it or find Photoshop-style editing just too complicated. I really can't see the point in it any more and definitely will not be upgrading to this new version.

Incidentally, if you're looking for another alternative to Elements, but don't want the advanced features of Lightroom, take a look at Serif's new PhotoStack (PC) software which is looking like a good alternative to Elements with very good tagging and editing features.
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on 13 November 2013
Who needs full Photoshop?

I have Elements 9 and 12 is the right upgrade as it brings so much more in the way of bells and whistles it is almost as good as the full version of Photoshop. As an amateur photographer, I simply don't need many of the features in CS (and I have no wish to "join the cloud" and pay monthly for the privilege).

I prefer the old-fashioned, simple method of buying a programme, loading it from disc, installing it with the unlock key and getting on with it. Updates arrive (eventually) and I do not need to have them before anyone else - it is just not that urgent for me. My prep from RAW is simple, adjust the tonality with the RAW processor, convert the adjusted file to a TIFF (also uncompressed) an then apply the magic of Photoshop.

It lets me prepare my shots, either for printing (I use ColourMunki to standardise my screens and printers) or DPI preparation and is completely consistent.

I must recommend this to all who want a 'Digital Darkroom'
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on 23 February 2014
I recently purchased an upgrade to Corel Paintshop with the intention of improving my editing skills but after I spent many hours trying to understand the many aspects of the programme, I decided it was going to be a long haul and probably not for me. At a recent trade show, I saw an exhibitor using Adobe Photoshop Elements and was struck by its simplicity and ease of use and so I decided to try it on a trial download. Amazing, all I wanted was there. User friendly, video tutorials and step by step guidance. Perfect.
Thoroughly recommended for budding photo editors.
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on 28 July 2014
I am annoyed because I only wanted what was advertised namely PHOTOSHOP elements 12. I did not want Premiere elements 12 which they seem most anxious to sell me. Installing the package was made difficult because of Adobe trying to coerce me in to accepting a 30 day trial for Premiere elements 12, most irritating I still have not managed to install photoshop to my satisfaction and I shall be wary of Adobe products in future.

Garry Mainstone
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Platform: PC/Mac|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Photoshop Elements 12 brings a few new editing toys to play with, but there is nothing so useful that I could recommend upgrading from 11 (which, for me, was already a fantastic product).

You can now sort photos alphabetically and upload them to Twitter (as well as Facebook, Smugmug and Flickr). One potentially useful feature is the ability to sync albums with your mobile devices (though as I don't have any, I couldn't test this out). There are also new tags for Places and Events.

There is a new pet eye removal tool, which works the same as (and is accessed by first selecting) the red eye removal tool. Though I do get "zombie" eyes on my dogs snaps sometimes, I still found it better to just select the eyes and re-tone/colour them manually. The tool is clumsy to use--not allowing "live" edits.

The new guided edits are both decent, though by no means essential. Zoom burst gives a nice "bloomy" motion effect (which works well for kids or pets running) and the old photo restore is very useful for teaching novices the steps and tools needed for photo restoration (though once you are familiar with them, you'll probably appreciate the freedom from using the tools individually, all of which are available in PE 11, to running this guided edit).

The new content aware move tool is useful to have around occasionally, but will only save you a little time compared to doing it yourself with PE 11's content aware selection tools. It basically allows you to move something to a new part of the photo and automatically creates a seamless background where the object was. Like any of these tools, you'll probably still need to do some spot healing/cloning afterwards to clean up. It is a nice tool, though, should you require it.

The new smart tone correction feature is not something I'll use (preferring to do it manually), though if you prefer to save time it may be useful to you.

There are also a few minor additions (such as a selection of photo frames and textures; and the straighten tool automatically fills in cropped areas--you could select it to do this in 11).

Is it worth buying? I'd say that if you already have 11 then (unless you really need one of the new features) it probably isn't worth upgrading to 12. If you don't have 11, then it is obviously the better of the two (though if you can find 11 much cheaper, then you'll be getting 95% the same software).

Whichever you choose, this is probably the best all-round hobbyist photo organising/editing package around. Light room is great also, but I actually prefer Elements as I can't live without layers.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 March 2014
Platform: PC/Mac|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having used both Adobe Photoshop and Corel PhotoPaint extensively for very many years, photo-editing is far from new to me, so I was most interested to see how this scaled down version compared. The initial window that opens offers three options, Basic, Guided and Expert. While the Basic claims to be the quick edit option it is the Expert that offers the most options for editing, and this is the option I found the most versatile. However while it offers many of the functions available in Photoshop I did not find one which offered the flexibility of the latter; by comparison all were limited in user control. This could be viewed in two ways; for the inexperienced it could be seen as an advantage as one is unlikely to find things getting out of control; for the experienced it is a frustration for it can prevent one achieving the desired result. It should be noted too that some tools available in Photoshop are either not present in Photo Elements, or so limited that they do not stand comparison with Photoshop.

Those familiar with the likes of Photoshop and PhotoPaint, and I should include Serif PhotoPlus, will notice the workspace and tools work quite differently, and as far as I am concerned less intuitively, and while it is difficult to be objective here for obvious reasons, I found Photo Elements rather awkward and cumbersome in use.

So if you are looking to do just very basic photo editing and you are not too sure about what you are doing or how to go about it you might find this to be just what you need, but if you are looking for something that will provide you with full control to achieve aims you have clearly in mind you really need to look elsewhere for you will find Photo Elements severely limiting and most disappointing. If you fall into the latter category it is Photoshop or PhotoPaint you should be considering, and after much use of both I now favour PhotoPaint; I find it more intuitive and quicker. The only thing lacking in PhotoPaint is a warp tool, but this is where Serif PhotoPlus comes in for it offers the best warp tool I’ve yet encountered.

But we must not forget cost; Adobe Photoshop and Corel PhotoPaint while both good are expensive, yet Serif PhotoPlus costs about the same as Photo Elements (and if you go the right way about it you can get if for considerably less); it may not produce quite the same high standard results as the two big boys, but I would certainly choose it over Photo Elements.
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Platform: PC/Mac|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Adobe Photoshop elements, most famous for being "like Photoshop, but nothing like Photoshop", having used Photoshop before but always avoided this version as inferior, well, now it's time to give it a proper go before judging. As a photographer more than a graphic designer, although I do step into both areas from time to time, but I'd put myself more in the "take a photo and mangle it" group of users rather than the "start from a blank page" group of users. So, how does this stack up against the now subscription based Photoshop CC?

Firstly - A question I've seen before but didn't get a straight answer to: Can you connect it to Adobe Lightroom? Answer: yes - you absolutely can. Right click on an image in lightroom and select "connect to other application", point it to program files(x86)\adobe\lightroom 12\lightroom 12.exe and away you go. That said, I found that I had to have elements open already for it to work properly.

The first thing you'll probably want to do is turn on expert mode - its right at the top of the screen, and the default is "Quick". If you've not used an image editor before then this is fine, but if you have any experience with any image editor other than "microsoft paint" then go straight to expert mode!

The main issue I have with elements over Photoshop is that initial nagging discomfort that "everything isn't where I expect". Lets go with some examples..
- unsharp mask isn't in "filter>sharpen", because there is no "filter>sharpen". It's still there, it's just in "enhance".
- image>adjust>levels is in "enhance>adjust lighting>levels" which seems illogical.
- and so on. I have yet to find a function I use regularly when editing photos that isn't available in elements, but I do keep struggling to find them. I will get used to it. It's just a teething issue.

New stuff? Well, not having used a copy of photoshop in recent years other than a few days on the latest trial of CC, I can't really pick out any features that Elements does have that photoshop doesn't, but here's a couple of cool things that are easily available in the menus:

- straightening tool. You can draw a line between any two points on a photo, and it will straighten the image so those two points are level. So for example on a sea scene, just point to either end at sea level and your image is sorted.
- content aware move tool. Now this is something special, it has to be seen to be believed, it may not always give the right results but it's a cool toy. Anything from moving a hat from one person's head to another, to making someone a foot taller than they are by extending their legs, moving your tomatoes around your plate to make that food blog image more appealing, and similar shenanigans, all now possible with minimum effort!

So - The Annoying:
- Having an Adobe ID and registering online is necessary, in fact the product will "stop working" if you don't within 7 days. Why is this especially annoying? Well, Adobe was recently hacked, leaking username data (albeit nothing more than username data), so this should be optional for a paid product, quite frankly. If you buy a boxed product you would expect it to work stand alone without any need for an online account. In my opinion at least.

Odds and ends:
- You will need a fair spec of PC to use this comfortably. The minimum is 1GB RAM and 1.6ghz processor, but I have 4GB and a quad core AMD, it runs comfortably but I can't imagine it being pleasant on the minimum specs, especially if your camera is taking 10+ megapixel images.
- This version works fine on Windows 8. I encountered no issues. Notably though, it's not a 64 bit program and there is no 64 bit version, the 64 bit on the packaging is referring to MAC OS only.

In summary - is it worth it? Yes, of course it is. Naturally, there are many free "photo editors" and yes many people swear by them, but as soon as you start getting serious, very few tools can rival Photoshop. For the masses, Photoshop is not affordable, and so this is the next best thing, with what appears to be all the same basic features but just moved around a bit. Of course it's worth the money. And then some.
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VINE VOICEon 8 January 2014
I bought this as it was on special offer and I thought it was time to upgrade from PSE8 which I've been using very happily for the past few years. First impressions however are disappointing. There may be things I have yet to discover which will improve my experience, but as a reasonably advanced user I still prefer the older version and have gone back to using that for now.

This new version has various different interfaces depending on whether you classify yourself as beginner, intermediate or expert. The 'beginner' interface as it suggests just has basic editing functionality and a number of wizards to help you do creative stuff with your photos. Probably fine for basic home users. As you go into the more advanced interfaces, you get more functions and more control over the editing as you would expect. I went straight for the 'advanced' user interface which seems much more cluttered than the PSE8 workspace I'm used to. The control palette icons are big and colourful, more like a children's software program than a professional bit of software and take up far too much space on the desktop. The adjustment palette is not stacked with the layers palette as before and can either be free floating (which gets in the way) or docked by the side of the layers palette, which takes up more space and further reduces the available size of the editing window.

Overall impression is that while this incorporates new features, the program has been' dumbed down' to appeal to the less advanced users, leaving the more advanced users with the choice of either putting up with the lack of editing space or buying the full version of Photoshop CS-whatever, which is out of the price range of many people.

I may play around with this further in due course to see if I can find ways of making it more user-friendly, but first impressions have left me a bit disappointed. Sorry Adobe.
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VINE VOICEon 15 April 2014
Platform: PC/Mac|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As someone who has used the full Photoshop for many years now (at work we use CS6 on Apple Mac Pros) it was interesting to get hold of a copy of the consumer 'cut down' version. I'm basically a photo editor, but my job involves video editing and it's also invaluable for that as well.

Firstly it costs a fraction of the full Photoshop. There are three modes presented for different levels of knowledge: Basic, Guided and Professional. This means anyone can jump in and get working on photos without too much difficulty. It has a good selection of the Photoshop filters and functions to take a fresh out-of-camera camera jpeg or RAW file (RAW is restricted to basic editing) to a finished product for display or printing. The interface has been reduced to a series of simplistic icons, but I was able to find my way around it quite quickly.

I didn't load the programme from the disk, instead created an Adobe ID account and downloaded the trial version from the Adobe website. I then used the serial number in the box to register the software. This quaranteed I had the latest version to work with.

It's a good selection of controls to work on your photos, but you may outgrow what it can do. A possible alternative for more experienced digital editors (for a little more money) is to buy Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (Mac/PC), it's a far better package for a photographer.
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