Adobe Premiere Elements 8 Review

by Reads (22,162)
  • Pros

    • Excellent format support.
    • Awesome output options
    • Organizer separated from app
  • Cons

    • No tangible upgrades over 7
    • Stability and rendering issues
    • Not very intuitive

By: Dustin Sklavos

Earlier this year, we were very ambivalent about Adobe Premiere Elements 7. Now that Adobe Premiere Elements 8 has hit the market, are we in for more excitement, or just another uneven video editing experience? Find out in this review.

First impressions with the Premiere Elements 8 are very meh, but when you look at the screenshots I want you to note the odd distortion in the bottom of the screen, because a rendering error like this — not in the project but in the application itself — is fairly common.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 first open screen

When you load the program you’re greeted with the window shown above. The organizer…

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 organizer

…is more or less its own application, and it’s integrated with whatever Elements software you have installed (in my case, Premiere Elements 8 and Photoshop Elements 8). I’ve voiced my disdain at this sort of library-based project management, but mercifully the organizer has been somewhat severed from the rest of the program proper.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 new project

Of course, when you select New Project from the original window, you’re greeted with this blank screen, where you will then have to click File and then New Project from the menu bar. It’s a needless redundancy that could’ve been averted simply by defaulting to the actual New Project window.


When you start your new project, you get into what’s basically Adobe’s slam dunk: Their format support.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 new project formats

Premiere Elements 8 supports all of the major consumer-grade recording formats, NTSC and PAL alike. When you export later, Premiere Elements 8 has an equally massive breadth of output formats. Note that when you choose your format here, you’re choosing the format you’re going to master your project in. This shouldn’t be a huge deal for most users, who should be aware of what their video cameras record in.


Just like its predecessor, Premiere Elements 8 supports importing from just about everything under the sun.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 import

If it has a lens and captures an image, Premiere Elements 8 can use it. The problem is that even though the organizer is fractured off into its own app, footage is still imported to a main album unless you specify otherwise. This kind of setup just feels prone to problems.

The actual video capture window hasn’t changed a whit from Premiere Elements 7, however, so my old remarks from there apply here. Preventing the logging of timecodes and of capturing clips in batches doesn’t make things simpler; it makes them more complex and more time-consuming.


As with its predecessor, and common to most software in this class, Premiere Elements 8 uses a sceneline and a timeline.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 sceneline

The sceneline is the arrangement of clips in sequence we’ve all come to know and love, and it’s suitable for basic video assembly. It doesn’t allow for anything too fancy, but if you’re looking for iMovie-level simplicity you’ll find some of it here.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 timeline

Moving on to the timeline, we find the source of my woe. It may be because I’m used to things being laid out a different way, but I just don’t like seeing the video and audio tracks paired up together like this. It negates one of the main reasons for using a timeline instead of a sceneline: Editing the audio outside of the video. Of course, apart from including exciting new application rendering errors, editing is identical to Premiere Elements 7.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 effects

The standard visual effects are accounted for…

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 transitions

…along with the standard transitions. Again, not much has changed here. Adobe offers a healthy number of visual effects and transitions for the user to play around with, and so long as you don’t bother with the lens flare, scourge of professors everywhere, you’ll be fine.

The problem here is, again, there’s no difference from how things were handled in Premiere Elements 7 at all, except now right-clicking the effect doesn’t even produce the settings for it. You have to click Edit Effects at the bottom of the window to get the actual settings to show up.


Even if Adobe continues to mildly bungle the actual editing step of their video editing software, they make up for it on the import and output functionality in spades.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 sharing

Clicking the Share tab results in some pretty logical options: Disc, Online, Personal Computer, Mobile Phones and Players, and Tape. These are all identical to the previous version, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and these definitely ain’t broke. Clicking each one gives you a sort of subset of presets on your export; the Mobile Phones and Players option, for example, has presets for the Apple iPod, Creative Zen, and more.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 burn to DVD

Disc output is much the same as before, offering a rudimentary menu editor and simple disc presets for DVD and Blu-Ray.

Adobe Premiere Elements 8 share online

Likewise, sharing online is a big plus, with options for uploading to (integrated heavily into the Elements 8 suite), YouTube, Podbean, and even your own website via FTP. At this point I really feel like YouTube should be a standard feature, but some applications amazingly still don’t upload directly to it, so hats off to Adobe. I’d also like to point out that I appreciate the myriad options available as opposed to pushing vendor lock-in by solely offering Other, bigger corporations could learn a lot from this.


If I had one broken record with Premiere Elements 8, it’s that it’s nigh identical to Premiere Elements 7. That would be fine if Premiere Elements 7 was a homerun, but it was maybe a second-base hit. There was a lot of room for improvement there and it wasn’t really addressed, and now I feel like I’m reiterating my old review half the time since most of what I’ve said there is applicable here, too.

Unfortunately, in ways Premiere Elements 8 is actually a bit worse. While I’m sure patches will straighten out any major issues, the rendering errors I had in the application as well as some general low performance makes me feel like this software wasn’t ready for primetime. I’m running this on a machine designed for heavy-duty video editing, with a Core 2 Quad overclocked to 3.7GHz and 8GB of memory. Leveraging that kind of hardware, there’s no excuse for how sluggish the software feels, and I get the impression that a lot of that has to do with features calling home. The effects window, for example, wanted to connect to Adobe at one point and see if there were any new effects to download. This seems like a good idea, but honestly should be included in the integrated updater as opposed to interfering with the general usage.

When I reviewed Premiere Elements 7 and the competition, it wound up feeling decidedly middle-of-the-road. Not too bad, but could use some work. With 8 there’s no excuses; this is basically the same software Elements 7 was, but with delightful new bugs. At the end of the day, I’m sorry, but there are better alternatives on the market for your money, and users of 7 shouldn’t bother upgrading.


  • Excellent format support.
  • Awesome output options
  • Organizer separated from app


  • No tangible upgrades over 7
  • Stability and rendering issues
  • Not very intuitive



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