Whether you prefer to shoot with a smartphone, DSLR or mirrorless camera, it's never been easier to capture video and beam it to all of your friends and family. But before you push Send or let folks gather around your TV or laptop, you'll want to make sure your footage is share-worthy. To help you do that, we tested five of the most popular and affordable video editing programs available.
We evaluated these packages based on their ease of use, ability to stabilize shaky video, color correction, performance, sharing options and other features, and Adobe Premiere Elements ($99) emerged as our top pick. It's the simplest video editing program to use and also offers advanced features, making this one program you can grown into. Our runner-up is Corel VideoStudio Pro X9 ($79), which offers great features and 4K support for half the price.
How We Evaluated Speed
For the speed smackdown, we tested five apps on an HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop running Windows 10 Home. The laptop's 64-bit Intel Core i5 processor, with a 5200U CPU, runs at 2.2-GHz on an HD Graphics 5500 system and 8GB of RAM. We combined a JPEG-based text opener with six clips linked by simple, cross-fade-type transitions, into a 2-and-a-half-minute video shot at 60 frames per second, and rendered the projects to the MPEG 4 format at 720p. We timed rendering at both 60 fps and 30 fps.
At 30 fps, Pinnacle was a lightning bolt, finishing ahead of all of the competition. Sony came in last. However, with the aid of an Intel Quick Sync setting in CyberLink, a 30-fps render got cut nearly in half, to 1:34:37. That's still slow, but it was better than Sony Movie Studio 13's render time of 5:38:03 with that setting enabled.
Rendering at 60 fps, not surprisingly, took a bit longer, for the most part. Corel VideoStudio led the pack, followed by PowerDirector. Pinnacle literally staggered through the render at an astonishing 23:40:80, most likely the result of a bug the company is promising to fix. Intel Quick Sync settings coaxed major improvements for CyberLink, whose time was 2:10:85, though Sony did not get any advantage at 60 fps, clocking in at 6:11:02 — roughly the same as it did on its automatic setting.
Our Top Picks