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Test Drive: Adobe Elements 14 Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

24 September 2015

We think we've figured out the logic behind the fall release every year of a new Elements package from Adobe. In an era where Instagram, Google Photos and Apple Photos take all the space in the photographic jumpy house, Elements focuses on traditional values. The turkey in the oven, the presents under the tree. Not the jumpy house.

We were briefed recently by long-time Adobe Elements product manager Bob Gager on the refinements in Photoshop Elements 14 and Premiere Elements 14, as well as the accompanying Organizer. And we've played with the gold master releases a while, too.


While there are three parts to the Elements puzzle, we prefer to think of them as one bundle that includes Organizer (which comes with either individual package), Photoshop Elements for stills and Premiere Elements for movies. Ever it was thus, lads and lassies.

And that's an affordable bundle at $149.99 for the box compared to $99.99 for either Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements. No subscription, just a license to run the software. Traditional values.

Elements combines professional-level image processing with consumer-level user experiences to bring advanced editing to life in a "very easy and accessible way for everybody," Gager said. It remains easy to use and accessible even if you know nothing about digital imaging.

At the heart of the release is an improved user experience, Gager said. And those improvements include both new features and improvements to existing features.

Let's take a brief look at what's new in each of Elements 14's applications.

New in Elements Organizer are:

  • Easier to use in general
  • Faster, more accurate face recognition with complete automation
  • Smartphone GPS data will locate images on a map after import
  • Improved Events organization with better view and group by time

New in Photoshop Elements are:

  • Reduce camera shake from unsteady hands.
  • Remove haze from the background of landscape photos.
  • Add a motion blur to action photos and resize photos with step-by-step help from new Guided Edits.
  • Select fine details like hair or fur by painting across them.
  • Elements Live: learning content, inspiration, news and access to support, all available from within the Elements apps.

New in Premiere Elements are:

  • Pop one or more colors in a scene while pushing the rest to black-and-white or add slow-motion or fast-motion effects using step-by-step Guided Edits.
  • Edit and view high-res 4K movies.
  • Motion titles
  • Fine-tune a movie's audio.
  • Elements Live: learning content, inspiration, news and access to support, all available from within the Elements apps.


Gager didn't spend a long time on Organizer but did point out that it's the hub of the Elements experience. And it's also the first point of comparison with Apple Photos and Google Photos where your collection is the first thing you see when you launch the software.

You have a lot more real estate with Elements, which is designed for a desktop monitor not a palm-sized screen. That gives you the option to view your collection organized by People, Places or Events (the Who, Where, Why of things). Plus the eLive and Media options.

The eLive option shows you resources on the Web for learning more about photography in general.

The Media option shows you everything in your catalog tiled on the screen.

On launch, Organizer converted our previous Elements catalog.

When we clicked on the People option, Organizer reported it had two unknown faces. We gave a name to each of them and it went through the catalog looking for them.

As it was scanning the catalog, it ran into another one it didn't recognize and prompted for a name. It was a duplicate name (same person, new hair color) so Elements asked us if it was OK to merge the two. Yep. Smart.

It guessed right every time but a few times it didn't hazard a guess, showing us a few faces and asking for help.

People. Better face detection.

That was impressive. As was it's ability to pin our images to the map when we selected the Places option. We don't usually record GPS data but it figured it out.

Places. GPS data pins the image to the map.

Events was nicely organized too with a Min-Max slider to break collections into finer groups. You know, maybe you did two things one day.

Events. Multiple ways to group images.

We felt this version of Elements was a lot smarter and a lot more helpful organizing our catalog into meaningful collections. And that extended to the Saved Searches, which offered a lot of searchable fields (our illustration below is just partway down the list) with several conditions. Being able to save that is like creating a custom category.

Saved Search. Build your own.

We did hear the fans come on as Elements was working and it wasn't a particularly hot day. So the CPU is really going to town on the data.

It took a long time, nevertheless to set up a slide show, which you can do any time with any selection of images. But when it ran, it was very nicely presented with a background texture and images sliding onto the background to music. We had nothing to do with it but we felt like taking a bow anyway.

And when you're ready to move on to the next module, a contextual menu makes it easy:

Contextual Menu. Quickly send an image to Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements.


We did have a peculiar performance issue with Photoshop Elements that took us a while to figure out.

In Quick mode, the Adjustments on the right-side panel appear as six pull-down panels, all closed to start with. Smart Fix, Exposure, Lighting, Color, Balance Sharpen.

Quick Mode. Adjustments panels open slowly.

Each of those, when opened, displays a slider to finesse the effect, a set of nine thumbnails illustrating the range of the effect and sometimes an Auto button to apply the effect. And when you mouse over any thumbnail, the effect is previewed on the main image.

All of which sounds very nice and is just the way you would like it to work.

Except opening the panels was exceedingly slow when we had opened our test image. Most of them took almost 10 seconds to open (on a very spry system that has no trouble with Photoshop, Lightroom or Optics Pro) and a couple a full three seconds.

We opened a second image of about the same size and we didn't have anything like that kind of delay. The panels opened promptly.

So what happened?

The second image was stored locally. The first image was online.

Smart Looks

In Quick mode's Effects panel, Smart Looks has been added. The idea is to simplify the 50 effects into the most useful ones.

Smart Looks. After analyzing the image, Elements suggests five effects.

Those five Smart effects are suggestions based on the image. It looks at what kind of photo it is, the lighting, what's in it to determine what kind of photo it is and reach into a database of 2,500 effects to suggest the best five effects.

It didn't do much for our test image, though.

New Guided Edits

Elements 14 provides a new way to pick a Guided Edit. It had been a textual list, which wasn't much help. Now it displays a thumbnail with a before/after slider so you can see what the Guided Edit does.

Guided Edits. Not a list any more.

Guided Edits. Thumbnails show before/after effect.

You can move the divider on the thumbnail to see more of the before or after thumbnail.

There are two new ones in this release.

  • Resize Your Photo to match Web use requirements or change the aspect ratio for print
  • Speed Effect adds a motion blur to your photo

All of the Guided Edits now end with their workflow with Sharing options now. And if you want to see under the hood, to learn what the edit did, just pop into Expert mode.

Expert Mode. More tools.

Haze Remover

The Lightroom and Camera Raw Dehaze function has been added to Elements in this release.

Hazy Scene. The unedited image.

Auto Haze Remover. The automatic version.

Haze Removal. The manual version.

There are two options for haze removal on the Enhance menu, Auto Haze Remover and a Haze Removal... option that brings up a dialog box with editable options.£¢

Shake Reduction

Shake Reduction, like Haze Remover, works in either an automatic or manual mode to minimize camera shake in an image. You reposition the target to analyze how the camera was moving in a part of the image.

Shake Reduction. The target analyzes camera shake.

Before & After. Pick the right spot to analyze and get a sharp image.

Refine Edge

Masking has gotten a bit more sophisticated in this release as well. Edge detection is too rough for fuzzy masks like a lion's mane.

Refine Edge. Before and after masking.

But you can now use the Refine Edge brush (which was in Elements 13 but has been improved in Elements 14). Just paint along the fuzzy edge and a finer mask is created.

Perspective Control

We just happened to pick an image we would have used Lightroom's Upright tool to correct perspective, so we hunted around for the Upright tool.

We didn't find the Upright tool but under the Filter menu we did find an option to Correct Camera Distortion. That gave us a few sliders to handle barrel and pincushion distortion, perspective and vignetting. Not automatic, like the Upright tool, but good enough.


There are four main improvements to Premiere Elements in the Elements 14 release. Let's look at each of them.

Audio Timeline View

Adobe has improved the view of the audio track in Premiere Elements 14, making it large enough to see the wave forms and giving you a master volume control.

Audio View. Larger with wave forms.

The Audio menu also groups together all the audio tools in Premier Elements. A Video menu switches back to the video tools.

Motion Titles

Motion Titles animates the text in a title sequence using a healthy number of templates. Just drop the template on the Timeline and click on the elements to edit them.

Motion Titles. Four screen grabs of a title sequence in which the letters move into place.

Font, size and color are all editable, too. You can also adjust the background opacity or use a freeze frame from the video as the background.

Guided Edits

There are two new Premiere Guided Edits:

Black & White with Color Pop Pop one or more colors in a scene while pushing the rest to black-and-white following a step-by-step Guided Edit.

Color Pop. You've done it in stills, now do it in movies.

Fast/Slow Motion add slow-motion or fast-motion effects using a Guided Edit.

Fast Motion. Or slow. Easy to add to any sequence.

As a Guided Edit, these effects are achievable by anyone. You don't need to have any video editing expertise to add these effects to your video.

Export/Share Workflow

One thing that puzzles even professionals working in video is the number of output formats in which you can export your video. Elements helps out a lot here by asking you how you want to watch the export and then picking the appropriate format.

Export. Elements gives you a big assist in selecting the right format.

Gager also said Adobe has invested in handling 4K video even though it isn't quite in the consumer space yet.


System requirements common to both Mac and Windows installations are:

  • 2-GB of RAM
  • 1024x768 display resolution (at 100 percent scale factor)
  • DVD-ROM drive (for installation from DVD)
  • Compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs; compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray discs
  • QuickTime 7 software
  • Internet connection required for product activation and content download

Mac OS system requirements include:

  • Mac OS X v10.9 or v10.10
  • 64-bit multicore Intel processor
  • 2-GB of RAM
  • 5-GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 10-GB to download content
  • 1024x768 display resolution (at 100 percent scale factor)

Windows system requirements include:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8 or Windows 10 (32-bit versions will be installed on 32-bit systems; 64-bit versions will be installed on 64-bit systems)
  • 2-GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support; dual-core processor required for HDV or AVCHD editing and Blu-ray or AVCHD export; Core i7 required for XAVC S
  • 10-GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 10-GB to download content
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver
  • Windows Media Player (required if importing/exporting Windows Media formats)

Or to put it another way, if you were able to run Elements 13, you can run Elements 14.


Photoshop or Premiere Elements 14 is available for $99.99 from the usual sources. Upgrade pricing is also available for $79.99.

The Photoshop Elements 14 & Premiere Elements 14 bundle is available for $149.99 with upgrade pricing of $119.99.

We'd appreciate purchasing through our affiliate links:

Information about other language versions, as well as pricing, upgrade and support policies can be found at


Gager likes to start each briefing with an overview of the harried head of household trying to manage the family memories. We're busier than ever, he said, and all these photos and videos we take are a big part of the reason.

Elements, he said, lets you focus on the memories instead of worrying about technique. Enjoy the moment, participate, don't worry about tweaking your camera setting. Let Elements help you create the perfect shot later.

Considering how reluctant most photographers are to sit at a computer to do any post processing, Elements has always appealed to a subset of the camera clickers out there. The ones who want to amaze their friends.

It doesn't mask your captures with filters. It doesn't include a free mobile app so you can immediately share your capture from your smartphone. It won't go through your photo library and automatically build animated GIFs or presentations like Google Photos Assistant.

But what it does do is unique.

It shows you what you can do with an image and teaches you how to do it all in about the time it takes to describe it. You get a Quick fix to start with before exploring the library of Guided Edits. And when you're ready to leave the nest, you don't have to leave Elements. Expert mode reveals what the automated edits wrought in all their layered detail.

You can add filters as if you were playing in Instagram. You can upload images and movies to your favorite sharing sites. You can improve what your camera captured and add special effects as well.

But you can also learn how the magic tricks are done.


We called Elements 13 the best assistant you can buy and Elements 14 knows a few more tricks. Elements 13 had heftier hardware requirements than Elements 12, a trend we bemoaned at the time because most household computers we see are not state of the art.

But Elements 14 brings more intelligence and therefore more help without increasing the hardware requirements over what Elements 13 required. That's pretty good news.

We were concerned about the fans going on and the slow panel opening until we realized we were pulling our images down from the cloud. It's nice that you can pull data down but it's not the recommended way to work.

So with that quibble resolved, we're giving Elements 14 all four corners with a particular recommendation for harried heads of household and budding photographers who want to know what lies beyond the land of fun but facile filters.

Introducing Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 & Premiere Elements 14

If you're like most people, there's a lot going on in your life. In addition to work and other day-to-day activities, you're busy with back-to-school events, weekend outings, sports, hobbies, holidays and gatherings with friends and family. And since you always have your smartphone or tablet with you, you're probably taking more photos and videos than ever before.

It's great that you can easily capture these moments, but since you're living the moments, too, you don't want to have to worry about things like lighting, composition and trying to get the perfect shot or video. That's why the Elements team is excited to announce the release of Photoshop Elements 14 & Premiere Elements 14. We built this version with the goal of helping you stay in the moment, enjoy your memories and make the most of your precious time. Elements 14 software uses content intelligence, automated features and a friendly interface to help you effortlessly turn your quick snapshots and video clips into amazing photos and movies.

We've created some great new features and we've enhanced existing ones to make them better and easier to use. Here's a quick look:

What's new in the Elements Organizer

Find and organize with ease: We've revamped the Elements Organizer so you can more quickly find the photos and videos you need. The enhanced People view does an even better job recognizing the faces in your photos and it stacks them by person during import so it's easy to find photos of specific people later.

The enhanced Places view makes it easier to assign locations to your photos and videos and view them right on a map based on where you took them. And in the Events view, your media is clustered by date range making it easy to apply an Events tag to that cluster.

What's new in Photoshop Elements 14

Bye-bye, camera shake: We call Shake Reduction "your selfies' best friend," but it's great for any photo shot with a handheld camera. Just click to remove the camera shake blurs that come from unsteady hands.

Never a hazy day: Ever notice that, when you take a photo of an outdoor landscape, moisture in the air can cause the background to look hazy? Now you can use Haze Remover to make the background as crisp as what's up front. De-haze in one click or use sliders for more control.

Speed Guided Edit for action shots: Whether your photo captures a ball in flight, a bike zipping by or some other cool moment, now you can get step-by-step help amping up the action by adding cool motion blurs.

Resize in seconds with a new Guided Edit: Want your photo to fit a certain picture frame or spot on a Web site? With step-by-step help, resizing has never been easier.

Select hair in a snap: It used to be a real chore to select hair, pet fur and other fine details in photos. Now you can just paint loosely over the area you want to select and Elements detects the edges and does the rest with the Fine Detail Selection option.

Get custom looks to fit any photo: Want to give a photo some extra style, but not sure which effect will look best? Elements analyzes the subject, color and lighting and Smart Looks gives you five effects that fit perfectly.

Quick edits made easier: Quick Edit mode is now even friendlier and easier to use, letting you rotate photos and make quick fixes faster than before.

What's new in Premiere Elements 14

Tell dazzling stories with motion titles: When you've made a great movie, why not start it off right? Grab attention with new, professional-looking motion titles. Premiere Elements makes it easy to animate text and graphics using built-in presets.

Color Pop Guided Edit for instant wow: Color Pop for photos was a big hit last year, so we added a Guided Edit for Premiere Elements this year. Create some visual drama by popping one or more colors in a scene and pushing everything else to black-and-white. You can fine-tune for hue, saturation and luminance, too. Elements walks you through it step by step.

Play with time using Guided Edits: Get step-by-step help creating slow-motion effects that add emphasis, suspense or drama. Or, get guidance with adding fast-motion effects that speed up your story and create energy, excitement or fun.

Go beyond HD with 4K: If you've got a 4K Ultra HD video camera and/or TV, you know what all the fuss is about. Now you can use Premiere Elements to edit and view 4K movies for the ultimate cinematic experience.*

Sound your best: Audio sets your movie's mood and now it's easier than ever to fine-tune your sound. We've brought all of the audio features together in one place so they're easy to find and a new toggle screen lets you focus on just audio or video parts of a clip as needed.

Easily export optimized movies in multiple formats: Now when you're ready to export your movie, Premiere Elements recommends settings for you. That way you get a movie that looks great on whatever device or screen you choose, from iPads, iPods and other smartphones to big-screen 4K and HD TVs.

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