Adobe Elements 11 Review :: Digital Photo Secrets

Adobe Elements 11 Review

by David Peterson 4 comments

[review] Adobe Photoshop Elements is an entry-level photo editing program. Whether out of intimidation or price limits, most beginners shy away from Photoshop CS and start with Elements. But, with Adobe Elements 11's new looks and features, many won't feel the need to bump up to Photoshop CS because what they need in a photo-editor is more than sufficient in Elements.

You know the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." And yet the new Adobe Elements 11 is worth the surface layer look because Adobe gave it a nice facelift. It's once grey complexion has been replaced with a bright new one. The text is larger and easier to read. The icons are less visibly challenged. And users have better access to commonly used tools.

That's a pretty good start to a new version. But this version isn't all about the new spit-shine look. Here's what you can expect from Elements 11.

Quick Mode

The new Quick-Edit mode gives beginners, or those who just need a down and dirty quick edit, a new and simplified interface. In Quick Mode, users are presented with only a handful of tools, but since they're the ones that are quite commonly used, this mode comes in handy for quick fixes. Some of the options you'll find in Quick Mode are: selection, text, healing, redeye removal, and tooth brightening (don't we all need a little tooth whitening?). What were quick clicks in the Organizer now open up into a 3x3 grid. These features, the Smart Fix, Exposure, Color, etc. have simpler control for options like saturation. Along with an auto button in Quick Mode, the ability to adjust color, saturation, hue and vibrance are at the users' fingertips.

Guided Mode

In Guided Mode, the panels and tools are hidden, except for a panel that displays a series of useful options, such as: Touchups, for skin tone correction, color enhancement, scratch and blemish removal, etc.; Photo Effects, which gives you depth of field, Orton effect, and the new tilt-shift, high key and low key effects; and Photo Play, providing out of bounds, pop art, picture stack and reflection.

Creating the Out-Of-Bounds effect with Elements 11

Appropriately named, Guided Mode guides you through these processes, making it easier to make adjustments, utilize filters, and apply enhancements. You'll find it not only user friendly, but quite accurate in the processing realm; yet, there's flexibility for creativity for the adventurous folks. As such, Guided Mode is a great way to learn Elements 11.

Expert Mode

Speaking of the adventurists among us, one of the neat things you can do is create an effect in Guided mode and then switch over to Expert. When you do this, you'll see your image presented as a series of layers, masks, adjustments and filters, exactly as if you'd created all of these effects in Expert mode in the first place. That's part of how this makes a great learning tool.

Being able to move from Guided Mode to Expert Mode allows for a few handy things. First off, it lets you to edit the images you've created. You can fine-tune your image's results to meet your critical eye. You can adjust layer modes and repainting masks as required. And newbies can learn a lot from the experience about how the effects were created.

Expert Mode doesn't end there. Users have access to a few new filters, such as a Lens Blur, Comic, Graphic Novel, and Pen and Ink. These filters are designed for the cartoonists at heart, yet at the same time, there is a sense of realism to them.

The new Refine Edge dialogue, which is fully updated as a sophisticated cutout tool, isn't just for smoothing edges, but isolating tricky areas like troublesome backgrounds.


Elements 11 Organizer, which is your image management interface, has changed, too. Other than the new user interface, it's easier for you to filter images with People, Places and Events views. Utilizing face recognition algorithms, you can now have photos automatically sorted into separate stacks for family, friends, or otherwise. The option of using the Google-powered map interface allows for both automatic and manual geo-tagging of photos, which might hold up well in court some day? The Smart Events option lets you automatically organize your photos by capture time with the flexibility in adjusting the granularity of the date/time range.

In a nutshell

Your photos will go from your camera to post production in a matter of moments with many of Elements 11 features:

  • A completely revamped, user-friendly interface that features the same engine as its big brother, Photoshop CS.
  • Modes such as: Quick, Guided and Expert assist you in editing and fine-tuning your images.
  • One-click options, bigger text, and identifiable icons
  • Organize your photos based on people, places, and events
  • Funky and fun new filters – Comic, Graphic Novel, and Pen & Ink for the cartoonists and illustrators
  • Easy to add presets compared to Photoshop Elements 10

Let's not forget the video!

You can now create professional looking videos with automated moviemaking options. Spend less time editing and more time watching and sharing your videos.

  • Add a professional look with a wide range of great-looking effects, transitions, themes, titles, disc menus, and effects and sound
  • Glitz your video up a bit with FilmLooks; easily apply slow and fast motion effects; dial-in colors with slider controls; effortlessly integrate blends for seamless transitions; and make adjustments with Quick Presets

Concluding Thoughts

Whether you're new to Adobe Elements or upgrading from version 10, you won't be disappointed. The upgrade price is $79 USD and the full version is $99 USD.

Worth the money, Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 is an advanced program that continues to grow and deliver exceptional features that will keep you quite happy with your photo-editing. Some say that the Refine Edge tool alone is worth the upgrade and the new filters are an added bonus. But, only you can know which features would make you want to upgrade.

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  1. Elle says:

    I bought PSE 10 last year, upgrading from 8. I just bought PSE11 for $50 at Amazon. I hate the gray small Menu text. I am looking forward to being able to see what I'm doing.

    It seems Adobe adds one new feature to PSElements every year. This year they are going all out with the update to the interface. About time.

  2. Glenn says:

    I got version 10 for less than $60 (full version). Rather than upgrade it seems better just to wait for a sale on the full version!

  3. Christopher Fidoe says:

    Might be better than Lightroom?

  4. June Johnson says:

    At over 100 dollars......I think I will give it a miss!!

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