Hands On With Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 2021
For those who don’t need the power or want the complexity of the full version of Photoshop or Premiere Pro, Adobe’s Elements offerings have long been a strong alternative. Their optional annual upgrades also appeal to those who don’t like the idea of having to subscribe to software licenses. I’ve been testing an early version of the 2021 editions of Adobe Premiere Elements ($99.99) and Adobe Photoshop Elements ($99.99). There are some nice new bells and whistles in both, which I’ll cover below, but it’s probably not a “must-have” upgrade for users on a tight budget.
Home Page Gets More Interesting
I’m kind of old school when it comes to using applications. I generally prefer that they get right down to business when you open them. So flashy start screens with lots of distracting promotions for things you may not be interested in at all, and probably not right at that moment, mostly just get in my way. That’s been true of the Elements’ start screen — called the Home Page — at least until now. Adobe has enhanced it with more useful items and more actions you can take directly from it. I still wish it was easier to simply get to the editors, but the new Home page is growing on me.
Face Tilt Added to Portrait Enhancement Features
One of the headline features of the new Photoshop Elements is the ability to change the direction a portrait subject is looking. Common use cases include having them face the same direction as other people in the photo or facing towards the camera. It allows you a limited ability to tilt one or more faces in an image in different directions.
I tried it on some group portraits and found it to be powerful but not unlimited. In the example below, you can see that while I could fairly successfully tilt one face towards the direction of the camera, with another face the direction of the eyes doesn’t change, so the effect doesn’t work very well:
New, Fun Features and Quick Edits Added
Speaking of things you may or may not want to see more of, there is a new Moving Photos… feature under the Enhance menu. It can automatically create zooming or panning effects.
Three new Quick Edits are also included. Perfect Landscape is a combination of sky replacement, haze removal, and erasing unwanted objects, along with more traditional image corrections. I’m not a fan of sticking clip art skies into my images (although I’ve certainly taken the sky from one image taken of a specific scene and blended it with another image taken when the sky wasn’t as dramatic), but the tool does a pretty good job technically and provides lots of options for helping make it look appropriate. Duotone lets you create a two-color version of your images, while Move and Scale allows you to do just that to an object in your image.
Premiere Elements Goes Real-Time
Premiere Elements 2021 uses the GPU for more types of rendering than previous versions, so some operations that used to require waiting and buffering now operate smoothly.
In addition, there are two new Video Quick Edits: Double Exposure and Animated Mattes. Double Exposure allows you to place a video in a photo so that for example you can have a video of someone running through a fixed background. Animated Mattes lets you do video reveals using various matte overlays.
Elements Organizer Gets Automatic Backup
Elements Organizer doesn’t seem to have changed much since last year’s version. It still has excellent face tagging and object recognition for quick image search and retrieval. One new feature is that it will prompt you to do an automated backup of your catalog to minimize the possibility of data loss due to catalog corruption. Personally I haven’t had any issue with my large Elements catalog getting corrupted, although I have the same images cataloged with Lightroom and have had multiple instances where my Lightroom catalog broke and I had to revert to a backup.
Pricing and Availability
Adobe Elements 2021 is available now, and Adobe has maintained its traditional pricing. Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements are $99.99 each, or $79.99 to upgrade from an earlier version. A bundle of both of them is $149.99, or $119.99 for an upgrade.