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on 11 January 2013
I recently had nearly two years where I was too busy selling a house and moving countries to do any photographic processing, although I still took photos. When I finally had the time, I found that raw photos from my two new cameras were not supported, by either my Photoshop CS2 or Elements 5; I therefore needed an upgrade. CS5 was out, because of price and the fact that it contains a lot I would never use. I also needed to sort and reduce over three years of photos (7,000 +). I originally bought Elements 5 when I was teaching Photoshop to a beginner's class, none of whom would shell out the £500 or so needed to buy the full version. I only used Elements 5 to check that what I was teaching would work, and I wasn't very familiar with its full potential.

As part of my research I downloaded the trial version of Elements 10. I also read as many "How to do it" books as I could lay my hands on and tracked the development of the program since edition 5. I was aware of the criticisms in this forum, and others, about a near fatal bug in the Lasso Tool of Elements 10 but decided to look at it anyway. In the end I rejected 10, waited and eventually bought Elements 11.

Here are my conclusions for what they are worth.

Pros

1. If you don't have any image enhancement software or you have a very basic program, such as Picassa or one of the bundled programs you may have found on a disc with your camera, then buying Elements 11 is a no-brainer. It is worth buying for the Organiser alone and in the Edit module, it lets you do most things that you might want to do, as you develop your photographic skills and interest.

2. If you want one-click general enhancements then it does these as well as, if not better than, other one-click programs.

3. If you want to do more and better, you can tweak the basic one-click settings and stop when satisfied. knowing that all moves are reversible
.
4. If you need more than that, then there are guided edits, which both achieve good results and teach you to handle some of the important Photoshop tools, in a non-threatening way. If you want to know more, there are tutorials on Adobe TV and countless ones on the Youtube. If you are just beginning I found some good stuff on [...] (Complete with written notes).

5. If you want a good range of Photoshop tools and capabilities then it offers 80% of those and 95% of those that matter (IMHO), and most of those left out are not critical. Much of what is left out is of more interest to pro photographers, designers, graphic artists and the like. If that is you, then you want its big brother CS6. Also there is a very comprehensive set of creation tools that allow you to make photo-books, calendars etc, if you are into that sort of thing.

6. If you already have an earlier version of Elements then, even up to Elements 7 it is worth considering the change, for the enhancements in the Editor, the Recompose tool and the Quick Selection Brush (better than the former "Magic Selection Brush" I think) tools alone. These will cut your workload in half and are fun to use. You do need plenty of memory to use the Recompose Tool, otherwise it is painfully slow, but it is quite simply fantastic. You can do the same job with layers, if you know what you are doing, but it is so much easier with this tool. If, like me, you have version 5 or before, then this has all the things that you hoped 5 would have, like layer masks, vibrance and actions. After that, at versions 8, 9 or 10, an upgrade is less certain to please. The best thing to do is to download the trial version, and see for yourself.

Cons

1. The organiser and a edit workspaces in 8, 9 and 10 were getting very cluttered and so it seems like a good idea to simplify them, as Adobe have done. However, they have also made it so different I don't know where everything is! I am constantly having to refer to the help pages and YouTube to find stuff, know it is there, but just can't find it. The edit space I am beginning to understand, but the organizer space is driving me nuts. If you are not used to the traditional Photoshop format, this may not be such a problem. Update 18/3/20013. I am now friends with the organizer and I am very happy with the new setup.

2. Then there is the issue of reliability and stability. Some people have reported Elements has crashed more frequently as it has gone from versions 8 to 10, but I could not get 10 to fall over, no matter what I did to it and the same seems to apply to 11. The reliability problem may be a symptom of Adobe's tendency to bolt on more and more new stuff to the basic Photoshop engine and not take away redundant features, but I have never had a crash with Elements-I have had it happen with other software though.

3. Some experienced Photoshop users complain about the greater and greater reliance on guided edits to access certain features and it has been suggested that it may be time for Elements to become two programs, one for low volume enthusiasts and semi pros and one for scrapbookers, facebookers and the like. This edition seems to answer that problem by making it look more like ordinary Photoshop but with guided edits and photobooks etc, hidden from view. Some will like this, personally I don't. Update. I am now at peace with the new spartan format.

4. Then there is the vexed question of Amazon random number pricing and price matching with other companies. If the price on Amazon was the same now as it was when I bought it (£34.99), I would be saying, to anyone who has been put off buying it from Amazon by negative comments, that it is quite simply the photographic bargain of the year. However the price seems to vary randomly on a daily basis, currently it is £58.79. Over the last year, Elements 10 varied from £34.99 to £50, or even once, £80, with bizarre prices like £60.16p popping up. Other companies follow suite, leading to a dog's breakfast of pricing nationally. I was so incensed by this that I held off buying until the random number generator came up with £35 again! That was one day a few weeks ago, for Elements 11, and I bagged one.

Conclusion

There are still some gaps, like there is no access to Channels or Lab Mode and you cannot create your own actions but you can now load third party actions, if you want. But hell, 95% of the important parts of the full Photoshop is nothing short of brilliant, if you are paying £35; any more and you are being ripped off! If you want more features, then you will have to bite the bullet and shell out for CS6. Update: 'Elements+', is an add on program, which unlocks a lot of the hidden CS6 functionality, including channels, smart objects and scripts. There is no lab mode but there is 'sharpen luminosity' which is one of the main reasons you want a lab mode. A genuine bargain at £10.07 or $14.28.

Update
I have now had enough time to assess this product, and I have to say it is a fantastic piece of kit. There is so much in that saves time and angst that it is worth having it just for the hassle it takes out of processing. I take back my previous caveat about the cost. Even at full price it is well worth the money. If you shop around you should be able to get well below full price but whatever you do get it!
1616 comments| 376 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I have been using Photoshop Elements since 2004 and have upgraded to the latest version every year since version 4. I have tried every other photo-editing program over the years but Elements has the best combination of power and usability of any. It is ideal photo-editing for digital photographers providing most of the tools from Photoshop plus many features which Photoshop users envy. I also use it for adjusting photographs of paintings for a local art society and Elements is the only software I have found which is capable of refining colour to the demanding standards of artists.

Elements comes with a powerful organiser/gallery application which is capable of dealing with many of thousands or photographs. I have 15,000 photos in the Organizer and every time I upload more photos I use keywords for places, people, events etc. This is really easy to do and together with the timeline function makes sure that I can easily find any photo I am looking for. This version of the organizer has new functions for searching by people, places, events and georgraphical locations which improve the search system even more.

There are four levels of editing available - photofix (quick and easy fixes for common problems from the Organizer screen) , then in the Editor itself there is "quick" for many basic fixes, "guided" which provides step by step guided edits, and "expert" for those who wish to use all the layers/filters/masks etc which are the main reason you would use Elements rather than Picasa or other free software.

Version 11 is fast and it all hangs together really well. There are lots of small improvements - for example, I find the rationalisation of selection tools very welcome and much overdue. The new tools options bar along the bottom of the edit screen is much easier to use and I appreciate the larger size of everything. In a program as comprehensive as Elements it is perhaps inevitable that a small number of bugs will slip through testing but I have yet to find any in this version. The general consensus on Elements forums is that this version has fixed the known bugs from previous versions.

One important point is that Adobe Camera Raw is much improved in this version - it's worth reading the documentation if you wish to use this feature (i.e. you take your photos in RAW format rather than JPG). For example, the old fill light slider has now been dropped and instead the Exposure slider works with the Shadows slider to produce much improved effects with this version.

I have not always felt that the new versions add much to previous versions and last year I came to the conclusion that Elements was becoming too much of a mish-mash of unrelated functions (although it was still the best photo-editing package if you didn't want to go for full Photoshop). I am pleased to say that this year, version 11 is the first upgrade for a long time which I am really pleased with. Its a great improvement on earlier versions. It looks better and feels better - it gives a much better impression of being a fully integrated package with real logic behind the design.

One advantage of using Photoshop Elements is the wide range of training material available. I recommend buying Photoshop Elements 11: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals) (Missing Manuals) by Barbara Brundage which goes into a tremendous level of detail in describing the functions of this powerful software. Also Scott Kelby's book The Photoshop Elements 11 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter) is also very good for those who prefer a more task-oriented approach.

Finally, if you want to get serious about colour, it might be worth buying a monitor calibrator such as Pantone Huey PRO. This will ensure that your monitor is adjusted for colour and ambient light. Without making sure that your monitor is calibrated correctly you are shooting in the dark when it comes to colour correction.
44 comments| 321 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Adobe Photoshop Elements is now firmly established as the market leader for home users serious about photograph editing. This latest version 11 has had a major interface upgrade over the previous version 10, and now has a more pleasant light grey colour scheme. As before, Elements 11 is split into the Photo Editor and the Photo Organizer applications (with options to flip between the two for the full photo editor). In Elements Organizer once I found 'Folder Hierachy' mode, it was easy to right-click 'import media' and load whole directories of photos in as the thumbnails. The revamped Organizer is much improved and there's the usual Organizer photo folder search options, including face recognition for tagged people (which can be a bit hit and miss), photo metadata (e.g. camera type), and tagged locations. Personally I'm not a massive fan of Organizer, as I find it slow and mostly stick to logical folder names, however Elements Organizer is nicer to use than the Photoshop CS6 Bridge version.

Right click over an image in Organizer and you can jump to the Elements 11 Photo-Editor. Once loaded the Photo Editor is now clearly separated into Quick, Guided and Expert modes. Quick mode just has 'smart fix', exposure, colour balance, and sharpen. Next there's the Guided wizard mode to help you through editing step by step, and finally there's the powerful Expert mode that switches to the full photo editor (giving you access to many of the same photo editing tools as in Photoshop CS6, albeit in simpler cut down form).

The window buttons are now larger and easier to see, and the new menu structure is more logical, e.g. Photomerge is now easier to find in the top menu of 'Enhanced'. Usefully the Organizer and Editor both stay open so you can quickly flip between the two. In fact the new interface is so superior to Elements 8, 9 & 10, personally I upgraded for this reason alone. Otherwise though there's not so much in terms of new tools or features over Elements 9/10: a few new filter effects (The Comic 'illustration' Filter being particularly good), a simple Vignette tool (giving a engraved bookplate effect), and a 'refine edge' tool to further help you select objects within the photo for say cutting and pasting or transforming in shape. For those upgrading from version 8 or older there are a few additions: layer masks, updated Photomerge options, extra filters, quick-edit to a common photostyle, the improved edge detection tool, updated Organizer search (for location/objects within), instant photo repair, and the spot healing tool (helps remove unwanted objects), although if you mainly use the basic editing tools there's little change in them.

All the old Elements Image Editor tools are there: tools streamlined to make colour, contrast and lighting adjustments even quicker (useful for old faded 35mm slide scans). You can use the 'quickfix' options or you can load the full image editor for greater manual control, such as adjust sharpness, levels, hue and skin colour/tones. Standard tools include crop and adjust image size (pixels) and you can just edit selected areas of the photos using various object selection tools. The software will also integrate with slide/flatbed scanner interfaces if you are into scanning film or paper, and the shadow/highlight tool is essential for bringing out detail in shadows from any slide/negative scan. Elements can handle large RAW camera images and you can correct lens barrel distortion using the specific tool or various generic `Transform' tools. Plus there's layers and layer masks for complex photo manipulation like copying a smiling head from one photo into another, and tools to do things like remove a traffic sign from the scene. You can recompose [shrink] photos without losing detail, and use Photomerge to create fantastic panoramas or merge/delete objects from a sequence of photos. Once installed Elements 11 auto-updates itself to patch bugs or add features. With our Windows 7 64-bit PCs I found Photoshop Elements 11 worked perfectly - you can download a fully working version from Adobe for a free 30 day trail (it runs under Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 and 8, and Apple Mac OsX 10.6 or above).

Elements 11 Organiser is simpler than of old, largely as you have to manually point and select folders for import (although subfolders can be grabbed at the same time), so it works more like a traditional file directory tree system, which I like, as it's quite efficient and speedy. You can sort the photo collection into media, people, place or events (e.g. weddings) if you wish. Photos with embedded geolocation can automatically be tagged onto Google maps, so you can also sort by location. Once you create albums you can share these quickly on-line with a click or two. In fact overall Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 has become so much better than the similarly priced opposition that its major competitor is now the sibling Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (that offers faster Organizer/Editing speed and better Raw file support, albeit with simpler Photo Editing options). Other alternatives include the various increasingly powerful photo apps for tablets that offer cheap quality image editing solutions for casual users, and there is Corel's Paintshop Pro X5 Ultimate which offers extras like superior filters and batch processing, but it's complex to learn and slow even by Elements standards. Experienced Photoshop CS6 Extended users will find Photoshop Elements 11 easier to use, as it shares similar tool names and menu structures. At work we use both Photoshop CS6 and Elements 11, which is on many workstations where the high cost of CS6 can't be justified. Adobe's Elements 11 help is quite good, and there's plenty of free advice on the internet.

You can buy Photoshop Elements 11 as a cheap double pack with the excellent Adobe Premiere Elements 11 [video editing] - and Adobe offer educational discounts for schoolkids/teachers/students/Colleges, with big savings for Photoshop CS6 Extended and Adobe Design Premium as well. This v11 of Elements is now obsolete as v12 was released in October 2013.
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88 comments| 117 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 December 2012
I've used Photoshop and Elements for years for improving and enhancing photographs that are published on line and in magazines. I cannot justify the cost of the full Photoshop software, so have used Elements as it does most of what is necessary for bitmap files and some freeware to deal with the vector graphics stuff that Elements doesn't support. For the past few years I've used Elements 8 and been very happy with it.

I bought Elements 11 after all the nagging screens that pop up when starting the older program; I bought it on a day when Amazon had a good priced special deal and I had a spare gift voucher, so it didn't actually cost me much and no real money changed hands.

Just as well! If I'd paid the full price, I'd be seriously disappointed. I cannot see what advantages it offers over Elements 8. The same functionality is still there, but they have messed about with the menus and tools so some functions you need to go hunting for. It has the look of the newer versions of Office about it and I cannot see why they have changed something that worked perfectly fine other than changes for the sake of it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Or conversely, keep meddling till it is!

Conclusion - if you have never used Photoshop or Elements, you'll be amazed at what you can do and how easy it is to use once you get the hang of it.. If you've used earlier versions, certainly from about 8 onwards, you'll wonder why they have bothered with the new version. Adobe products have a (deserved) reputation for being expensive, but also for being quality. I did not think that they were into the game of change for the sake of it and just moving a few boxes around to call it an upgrade.
1212 comments| 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 November 2012
Easy to install, except take exceptional care of the disk as the slightest mark leaves the disk unusable... Don't be put off by the 'bare bones' look and feel of the main screen - Elements is actually a really powerful editing and designing program that can polish off your photo's and make them look professional, as long as you have the knowledge and experience of what to do and how things should look. Don't buy this software if all you want to do is tart up a photo or meddle with your pictures, there are loads of other, cheaper, programs that will do this for you. Elements is for good amateur to (semi)professional photographers. To be honest, Adobe Lightroom does much of what Elements does editing photos-wise as well as cataloging your pictures. But, Elements adds the designing posters, cards, leaflets etc. to a professional looking level.I use both - Lightroom to commence the editing, Elements to finish off the editing and then to produce the photo's for publication, display or selling.

Conclusion: Buy Elements to enhance you photo manipulation and subsequent publication (if that's what you do). Don't buy if all you do is fiddle around with photo editing.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PC/Mac)
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on 16 October 2012
Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PC/Mac) After a lot of searching I decided to replace my Serif Photoplus X 4 with PSE11. Ordered on the Sat 13th Oct it arrived today Oct 16th. Following the installation instructions, but my PC would not recognize the DVD for Windows 7 64bit. When I searched the DVD properties in 'My Computer' it showed that Used space was zero as was Free space. So I have now returned it to Amazon who have been extremely helpful as usual. Oh well back to Serif and maybe I will try PSE again later when all the bugs are sorted.
Nov 5th: I followed Keith Josephs advise and downloaded the trial then used my purchased ser.No. and, Lo and Behold, it worked straight away. I now see why the programme has had so many good reviews, I found it quite intuitive and easy to get to grips with. It is far easier than Serif Photoplus and after a couple of evenings I have been doing basic editing of my downloaded photos also i have got to grips with the blemish removal ( which also acts to remove unwanted background items). I had always been a bit wary of the steep learning curve of Photoshop, but elements 11 is a lot less steep, it must be if my 80 year old brain can get to grips with it. I know that I still have a lot to learn but the 'guided' editing makes it a lot easier, and then switching to 'expert' shows what steps were taken to do the job. Its like having a tutor at your side. It makes it almost as easy as Picassa and a LOT more comprehensive, so I will upgrade my original 3* to a full 5*. I would give it even more if it had a 'curves' adjustment.
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on 9 April 2013
In reality this deserves no star whatsoever. The import from iphoto does not work, Adobe support say they know about this problem but can't solve it except suggesting manually moving all your photos into a new folder. Tried that and just like iPhoto import it crashes at 90% complete, upshot is I now have two thousand out of my 36 thousand library on Elements 11 not really satisfactory and abysmal support from Adobe. Elements 11 has been on the market for over a year now and Adobe are unable to make one of it's key features work! Thank god for Amazon as I will be returning this shortly (box is sealed just using Adobe's trial version). I will continue using Aperture at least it works!
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on 16 January 2013
Well, what's the first stage when you've just installed a photo editing/organising package? Answer - import the pictures. I'm just trying to import my 30K+ photos into the "Organiser", and it is agony. My photos are nicely arranged as subdirectories of one "Photos" directory, yet the Import function is incapable of simply reading from this directory tree. It imports some bits, and not others. It tries to import .ini files (left by another photo package) despite saying that it's looking for media files. It stops saying "Import unsuccessful", having imported some fraction of the available files. So far, I've re-started the import about ten times - just to read one directory tree - and I've probably only read about half the directories...

It amazes me how poor this is. I've had Elements v2 and v7, and thought I'd upgrade to v11 because they would have sorted things out by now. I note other comments by reviewers about the bugs - I agree with them. Adobe's quality control seems to be very poor; I've tried versions of Premiere which won't read video files in. Finally, I have to add that the Adobe software seems almost gratuitously unintuitive to use (certainly as a Windows user); everything you try because it seems the sensible way to do something doesn't work. All in all, a very frustrating package; not a good buy, even at the half-price deal that Amazon were doing it for.
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on 19 June 2013
I bought this as a download but the Adobe download mechanism just doesn't work. It wouldn't load on one pc and I finally got it to go on another. When i had to download it again after losing the hard drive on my PC there was no way of doing this and no help whatsoever from Adobe. I know the product itself is good but no good if you can't use it. Please get the disc as the downloads just don't work.
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on 23 December 2012
Avoid getting Elements 11. For actual users of the organiser, the new layout is hopeless and makes really poor use of all of the available screen. Using it on my new macbook pro is truly awful and i am considering getting my money back. I have used prior versions extensively for 5 years and loved them
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