The Premiere package is excellent. I had a tutorial with Ben who uses the full Premiere programme. He was impressed with what the version contained and how it compared well with the complete version and I was impressed by the fact that I understood it! I could actually see myself using it. My pathetic attempts to work with (understand!) Final Cut Express had left me thinking I would be restricted to iMovie, but I was encouraged by how user friendly Premiere Elements seemed to be.
I also installed a copy of Photoshop Elements.
I have a somewhat ancient (4 years old) Macbook and thought that I would use it on that. It would be useful when I'm working away for example. I'm currently using Photoshop CS4 on it, and it works OK though a little slowly. I thought the elements version might run better.
Unfortunately this wasn't the case. It runs incredibly slowly. Way slower than Photoshop CS4. I was also expecting a cut down version of the full Photoshop. A programme that would basically be the same but with features missing. Not so again. I recognised very little in this elements version. After a few hours battling away with it I decided to give up. I actually disliked it as a piece of software and thought it very strange that it should be so different from its parent software. Plus the fact that it took for ever to do anything.
I've been using Photoshop for a long time now and am pretty familiar with it. I worked with Lightroom a while ago when it was in its beta form, but never really got on with the interface. I really only used it because it had extra parameters in the raw conversion section that Photoshop at the time didn't have. When these turned up in the next version of Photoshop I went back to that.
I bought a copy of Aperture when it first came out, but have never liked it. It is such a slow working programme, with an interface I don't like. Having to import all my pictures into a folder structure imposed on me by the software isn't what I want to be doing.
Adobe Bridge has had its problems, usually related to the speed at which it works, but it lets me organise my images in the way that I want and it integrates very well with Photoshop.
In the light of my experiences with Photoshop Elements, I would suggest that using an older version of Photoshop might be a better option. These versions however don't deal with the latest raw file formats, but that can be overcome by using the latest version of Adobe Digital Negative Converter, which can be downloaded free from Adobes Website. The Dpreview site always has a link to the latest version. This converter lets you convert your raw files to the .dng format. You can also convert your files to be backwards compatible with earlier versions of Photoshop, so its a very useful piece of software. Ever since it came out I've always converted my files to .dng, the files are usually smaller and its nice to have them in one format. I've never found any difference whatsoever from the manufacturers files, nor have I seen any difference in the compressed .dng files.