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I've found these low-end but non-free programs and can't decide with which to go. They all seem to be around $50-$80 (One time. Not subscription). My question - are they all comparable, or are some very different than others (such as Adobe After Effects being different than Adobe Premiere Pro)?

  • Sony Movie Studio
  • Adobe Premiere Elements
  • Cyberlink PowerDirector Deluxe
  • Corel VideoStudio Pro
  • MAGIX Movie Edit Pro

Also, I'm assuming an amateur video can be created with all of these. If I'm wrong, or if there are any other serious drawback I should be aware of, I'd like to know. This is - other than being more limited than the more expensive version, of course. I mean something like not being able to export the finished video to h.264 for example. (As far as I know, this is not the case. I'm bringing this to show what I mean by a serious limitation.)

  • The ability to import/export XML may help. I've used it to move projects from FCPX to Premiere Pro CC. But even that was buggy and involved Adobe support. – Crowder Mar 25 '15 at 3:01
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With consumer targeted software, there is less of a standard of how to do things. For professional software, there are pretty standardized workflows that editors follow and so tools are pretty similar. For beginner software, while the basic concepts are still similar, the way in which they simplify them is not. The end results that are possible are still pretty similar, but the way you get there is not necessarily.

The best bet when comparing entry level beginner video editing is to try trials of them and fine the one that relates best to the way you think about video editing. Don't forget to look at some of the free options out there like Lightworks or Resolve too if you want something that is more professional oriented, but without the price tag.

  • Thanks for the quick response. I take it that besides the main answer (which is quite clear, thank you), there are no no-brainer deal-breakers in this level of applications. (About Lightworks - see their FAQ (under Can I use the videos created with Lightworks Free for commercial use?) that you must include their logo at the end of the movie. Not the end of the world. But still...) – ispiro Mar 22 '15 at 18:54
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    I would like to add that trying programs is not a perfect solution. Serious limitations might pop-up months into using an application. Not arguing with you, since no better approach seems to exist. Just explaining one of my reasons for asking. Thanks again. – ispiro Mar 22 '15 at 19:01
  • @ispiro - unfortunately, pretty much any of the entry level software has limitations and you will hit them eventually. There isn't really any good way to tell which limitations you will hit first though. They should all let you do basic work without any obvious gotchas if they are at all decent, so I wouldn't worry too much about the long time down the road gotchas. The solution then will just be to upgrade to a more serious option after you have more experience under your belt. – AJ Henderson Mar 22 '15 at 19:19
  • I'm two years late to the party, but this is a useful question with a useful answer. I understand that it's inevitable that one will eventually hit hard limits with cheap (or free) software. Assuming one can define a "typical" film-maker, which low-cost products are best if one expects to upgrade to expensive software eventually, so that learned skills (and file archives) aren't wasted? For example, if I learn Premiere Elements I have an easy path to Premiere Pro, but not so much to Avid. – Steve Mar 17 '17 at 20:22
  • On the other hand, if I'm not planning to be an editor, I may not ever run into the limits of a good prosumer product; instead I'll work with a professional editor if my projects get that serious. – Steve Mar 17 '17 at 20:25

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