First Impressions: Adobe Photoshop Elements 11

Photoshop Elements 11 received a complete redesign by the folks at Adobe and they sent me a copy to try out. It’s been hard so far to pull back from full scale Photoshop CS or even Lightroom, but I’m finding this middle of the road program packs a punch for average or even semi-advanced users.

Gear Used

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11

In Real Life

This is my first time using Elements, ever. I have received the copies you get when you buy a new camera but I have never installed it. I have been using Photoshop proper for at least a decade and Lightroom since it came out.

It’s taking me a little time to get used to the interface but I am liking it so far. Controls are more simple than in Photoshop CS and that is a good thing, because this product is listed at $100 and targeted to the hobby photographer. To that point, there are features that I consider fun and useful for the average photographer. If you use iPhoto or Picasa now, you’ll probably like Elements more.

There are essentially two parts to the program: The Editor and the Organizer. They do what they say and work well together. (Click any image for a larger version)

The Organizer is vital to navigating photo folders no matter where they are. I like that there are simple fixes available on the right so as to not need to launch the Editor. If I try to Auto Fix a RAW file it will ask me if I want to make a JPEG, TIFF, PNG or Photoshop file from it and then stack them together.

The Auto Fix can be a bit wonky and I won’t be relying on it, especially for wedding photos. But it can give interesting results (although sometimes undesired). For instance, it took this:

To this:

So not always perfect.

The Editor is well laid out and easy to navigate as well. I am used to looking in different spots for dialog boxes and menus, but once I found them, it makes sense. I like the Magic Extractor which allows for easy selection and extraction of only the elements I want. It works best with higher contrast items, but it does an amazingly good job in my few tests. In this example, red is what I want to keep and purple is to be removed.

The result:

It has layers, Auto A-Bunch-Of-Things (as well as manual controls like Levels, yay!) and can easily remove color cast. A number of selection tools also offer anti-aliasing and edge cleaning features for those who want to splice images together.

Clone, heal, bucket fill…they are all there for the most part. Leveling, cookie cutter, filters. Really, it’s the best parts of Photoshop arranged in a fairly easy way for average consumers to handle.

It can also create pages for scrap books or send your images off to be made into a photobook. The mapping feature also allows you to tag locations for your images as well as tag people.


This program is more powerful than I had believed it would be. I won’t be switching over to editing wedding photos on it, but it certainly can do things more easily than Photoshop.

It’s fun and fairly straight forward to use. The redesign has helped and I love that it has some advanced features and is not just a toy program. I give it a thumbs up as my First Impression.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 retails for $100 and can be downloaded in free trail version from Adobe’s website. It is available for both PC and MAC. I suggest giving it a try as you might be happy with what you find if you are looking for more advanced tools than what Picasa or iPhoto offer.

Want to save some cash and get the program right now?

Amazon has downloads for both MAC and PC for only $70.

You can also buy the DVD version for $90.

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Peter Carey

Peter West Carey is a world traveling professional photographer currently leading photo tours to Bhutan, Nepal and Hawaii. He also hosts basic photography workshops along the West Coast of the USA as well as the free 31 Days TO Better Photography series on his blog.