• Editor Rating
  • Rated 3.5 stars
$99.99 to $149.99
  • 70%

  • Adobe Elements 15 Suite (Photoshop & Premiere)
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: October 26, 2016
  • Installation & Setup
    Editor: 85%
  • Design & Interface
    Editor: 60%
  • Features
    Editor: 65%
  • Function
    Editor: 70%
  • Value For The Price
    Editor: 85%

Adobe's Elements 15 Suite is for entry-level that want to learn photo & video editing.

With the rise of social media, more consumers are interested in getting into the world of digital content. While Adobe's higher-end offerings like Photoshop CC and Premiere Pro CC cater to the professional crowd, their Elements Suite has always been a great way to develop photo and video editing skills for an entry-level user.

With a focus on ease of use and affordable one-time pricing, Adobe has just released the latest version of Photoshop Elements 15 and Premiere Elements 15. This year's update include new features, UI changes, improved file management and performance tweaks.

Adobe supplied us with an evaluation license to make this review possible yet we always have full editorial control over the content in this review. The following article is based solely on our hands-on use with the product in question with no outside influences or bias playing a role in the review's outcome.

Pricing Structure

Adobe's professional-grade software sells under the ‘Creative Cloud' product for a rather hefty subscription fee on a month-by-month or annual pre-paid basis. Since the professional crowd typically spends thousands of dollars a year on expensive equipment, a $50/month fee is just a drop in the bucket and a necessary expense for those who make a living off their work.

For beginners who might only have a smartphone camera at their disposal, an entry-level software like Adobe's Elements 15 Suite will cater well for most consumers' budgets. Depending on your needs, you have a few different product options:

Editor's Note: If you have valid proof to qualify as a student or faculty at an accredited academic institution, you may be eligible for an educational discount of $79.99 for the entire Elements 15 suite. 

If you own an older version of the Elements software, you can pay $79.99 for an individual license upgrade or $119.99 to upgrade to both Photoshop Elements 15 and Premiere Pro 15. Whether you buy either piece of software or the combo suite, the license includes access to Adobe's Elements Organizer 15 for storing and sorting imported media.

Based on the discount you receive when buying the combination suite, I think it is worth it to spend the extra $50. This way, you won't regret only investing in Photoshop Elements 15 for editing pictures your family photos and then later realize you would like to start compiling video montages of your family trip vacation to help save these precious memories or to share on social media. At this point, you would have to purchase Premiere Elements 15 for full price thus losing out on the $50 discount for the combination.

New Features

If you've had any experience with previous versions of Adobe's Elements suite, then you'll know it offers three distinct pieces of software. In this year's version, it follows suit Elements Organizer 15, Photoshop Elements 15 and Premiere Elements 15. I'll give a brief breakdown of the new features or changes that have come to each software in this year's update.

Adobe Elements Organizer 15

  • Support for Touch-Enabled devices – with the influx of laptops and desktops that now offer a touchscreen display, the Organizer and ‘Quick Edit' mode are now touch-friendly
  • Enhanced Search – an improved search feature provides a robust algorithm to locate specific photos by places, events, subjects or a combination of these things
  • Smart Tagging – advanced technology can recognize certain characteristics of a picture and now be able to automatically tag photos with relevant information. This includes the possible recognition of sunsets, birthdays, pets, sports and more.
  • Enhanced Instant Fix – apply a one-click instant fix to a single or batch of photos

Adobe Photoshop Elements 15

  • Additional Guided Edits – like the previous versions, guided edits make complex tasks easier with step-by-step directions. This year's version offers five new options bringing the total number of guided edits provided in Photoshop Elements 15 to 45.
  • Adjust Facial Features – while this feature is rather creepy and borderline unethical from a professional photographer's perspective, you can adjust your subject's facial features to differ from reality. This includes tweaking squinting eyes or changing a frown into a smile.
  • Enhanced Filter Gallery – improved viewing of preset looks with the ability to fine-tune each filter.

Adobe Premiere Elements 15

  • Layer Adjustment Guided Edit – achieve the same step-by-step guided edits for a layer adjustment allowing you to provide a particular look of effect over multiple clips or your entire video sequence.
  • Haze Removal – the popular feature found in Photoshop Elements as well as Adobe's higher-end editing software has now been brought to Premiere Elements. Quickly remove the background haze in your scenes to achieve a crispier look throughout the entire image.
  • Remix – a useful tool for applying audio to video clips, the remix will automatically match a piece of audio to your clip or sequence length with natural transitions.
  • Face Detection – when utilizing Smart Trim, Favorite Moments and Pan/Zoom, it will prioritize people in your video thus focusing on the most relevant footage.
  • Video Collage – put together a dynamic collage mixing several photos and videos at once, best used for sharing on social media platforms.

User Interface

Compared to the interfaces that I'm used to within their higher-end Creative Cloud Suite, the Elements 15 interface feels less refined, but I think that adds to the ease of use as the UI elements are larger and well organized. On their more expensive software, the UI is sleeker yet more confusing. Sometimes I find myself searching for several minutes to locate a particular feature or menu option.

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Adobe Elements 15 Organizer Interface

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 Interface

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Adobe Premiere Elements 15 Interface

One of the biggest strengths of the Elements 15 software as with previous versions is the ability to swap between different user interfaces based on our level of knowledge for photo and video editing.

For some who is just starting out and has no experience with editing software, the ‘Quick' and ‘Guided' tabs are perfect for simple fixes like cropping, sharpening or changing the color/exposure levels.

For those who have a lot of experience editing with previous versions or someone who feels confident enough to leave the ‘Quick' and ‘Guided' modes, the ‘Expert' section opens up the full potential of this software with access to the most advanced editing features and the ability to fine-tune existing effects more precisely.

Function & Performance

For the type of user that the Elements 15 Suite is meant to cater to, Adobe has done a great job on the execution. Combining the friendly-UI with competitive features and efficient performance, the Elements 15 Suite puts up heavy competition in this price range.

Since most users will be working with data files from a smartphone or sub-$1K camera, file compatibility is vast with support for all major makes and models. I was able to import and work with media from an iPhone 7+, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Sony RX100 IV, Sony a7RII, Sony FS7 and Canon 5D Mark IV without any need for prior conversion.

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An Example Of A Guided Edit In Adobe's Photoshop Elements 15

The guided edits are easy to follow, and I like how their implementation doesn't take up too much space on your editing screen. The selection of guided edits is made up of primarily basic concepts which are perfect for beginners although some of them are a bit too cheesy for my taste.

One tool that intrigued me was the ‘Dehaze' tool in Premiere Elements 15. This is a feature I often use when dealing with images shot outdoors that I import into Lightroom CC 2015, but surprisingly Premiere Pro CC 2015 still lacks the ability to apply a dehaze to imported footage. This type of effect can be altered manually with various tools in Premiere CC 2015, but this can be rather time-consuming.

I threw in a few video samples taken outdoors in bright light with the 5D Mark IV recently, and the dehaze functionality worked better than expected to regain clarity. Here's a quick example of this, pay close attention to the detail in the marble bank building in the center of the frame:

Regarding performance, both Photoshop Elements 15 and Premiere Elements 15 ran efficiently on my 27″ Retina 5K iMac. This is as expected considering it is a Mac with rather high-end specs.

However, this will primarily depend on the type of media you supply as typically the more cumbersome the file's data is, the harder the software has to work to view and manipulate it. Fortunately, most entry-level consumer cameras and smartphones result in edit-friendly media files that are a breeze to use in Adobe's Elements 15 software.

Final Verdict

With a price tag of $149.99, Adobe has continued to hold the reigns in the entry-level photo/video editing market with the release of their Elements 15 Suite. The software is designed with a beginner in mind yet still harnesses the ability to cater to more experienced users and accomplish advanced editing techniques found in software that is several times the price.

If you are someone just starting out or on a tight budget, I'd highly recommend Adobe's Elements 15 Suite as it is worth the $149.99 cost. If you are a more advanced user or need to invest in software for more high-end, professional work. I'd instead a look at their Creative Cloud plan which is available for a monthly subscription fee.

Related Alternatives:

  • Adobe Elements 14 Suite  – last year's version with fewer features, but a slightly cheaper price-point
  • VEGAS Movie Studio 13 Suite – video editor only
  • GIMP – free photoshop alternative, limited features and harder to learn
  • Affinity Photo – 2015 Mac App of the Year, priced affordably at $49.99 with advanced features yet a significant learning curve

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