I have a book written by Steve Grissetti called "Cool Tricks and Hot Tips for Premier Elements 11". On page 40 he says that before you bring photos and graphics into Premier Elements you should "uncheck" the "Scale to Frame Size" option.
Would you try it and see if that fixes your issue?
It is a useful book. Thanks to Steve and his crew for writing it.
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Interesting suggestion. Tried it with a new video and a photo with image size 2592 x 3872 and, after I scaled the image down to fit the frame (30%), the crop/zoom worked. When I reduced the image size in Photoshop to 857 x 1280, a size that only needed a small scale reduction to fit the frame size (90%), the crop/zoom option once again stretched the image.
I may be the only one on the planet having good luck with this, but I simply have had no issues putting a variety of photos into PrE11. I seem to have some happy combination of camera, computer and PrE default settings. And, my "Scale to Frame Size" box is checked because it installed that way.
I don't understand why you re-scaled to 857x1280. What are the project presets?
What "crop and zoom" technique are you using? On mine it is labeled Pan & Zoom under the Tools tab. Are we talking about the same thing? The detail on your screen shots are fuzzy on my computer and I can't see what you are doing.
Since I know I want the option of showing my pictures on a TV, as a creative choice, I limit my camera to horizontal and have it set to 16:9. I also exclusively use 1920x1080p for my project presets.
The last time I tried using that I got weird results. I think you may be using a "video effect" to operate on a still.
I suggest you try the "Pan and Zoom" under the tools tab.
You are in luck because one of the bosses here has provided a tutorial on Pan and Zoom for free as an example of what his course on lynda.com can do.
The pan and zoom would be the solution if it worked on portrait orientation photos (see my original post). I'm just disappointed that a function that worked very well in version 7 no longer functions the same way in 11. And, I suspect it's working improperly.
I dug into my HDD for a vertical (portrait) photo and it didn't work at all well with the Pan and Zoom tool.
I figured out a way around it.
In Photoshop Elements I opened a horizontal (landscape photo) that I knew worked in Premier Elements because I had previously used it. I knew the size would be right.
Then, I painted it jet black so that I could see nothing. I opened a vertical photo that came from a smartphone and drug it onto the all black screen. I used the mouse to size the top and bottom of the vertical to match the top and botom of the horizontal. This automatically created some layers. I deleted the old original photo layer leaving the all black horizonat layer and one with the vertical photo layer. I saved it as a single photo.
In PrE11, I set up a 1080p60 project and brought the new horizontal black photo in that had the vertical photo in the middle of it. Then I used the Pan and Zoom tool.
It worked perfectly. You can see a sample here: https://vimeo.com/63120560
I can post some screen shots of the process if necessary.