You'll probably also want to look into Richard Lynch's book on Elements (there's a support forum for it here over in the Education subforum). You'll definitely be wanting to use curves, and Elements doesn't support them natively.
All in all, it will probably be worthwhile for you to make the $300 upgrade investment in the full version of Photoshop, given the high-end nature of your goals.
And you won't need any RIP software.
Are you saying that the full Photoshop upgrade will accomplish everything I want more easily than will Elements with the "curves" you mention?
Are "curves" simply something that's downloaded or something I'll have to develop?
(I will also look at the Elements subforum you mentioned)
What's the downside (is it readily seen at 11X14 from a 35mm scan) to working in 16 bit mode?
Perhaps I misspoke, as Elements doesn't provide 16bit mode, so that would be a downside to Elements, not of 16bit mode. The upside to working in 16bit mode is simply that you'll start with a vastly superior number of tones to work with.
As for curves, that is a PS feature left out of Elements, and Richard's book provides a way of including back into Elements.
If you have additional questions I'll split this discussion off from this thread and move it over to the Software forum.
I went ahead and bought a 3200 (refurb direct from Epson, saved big $$$)
After a few reflective experiments (flawless, exceptional) I went to the project for which I bought the scanner initially...a bunch of 35mm color neg wedding casual portraits, damaged (scratches and excess contrast) at a one hour lab.
After struggling with its neo-english support faqs, I gave up on the documentation (as usual) and learned how to use the excellent Lasersoft software...
1) I immediately got goodish color/density. Automatic.
2) IThen, the scratches...scratch control methods produced excess unsharpness overall so I went the other way, sharpened lightly instead (nice effect on eyes and hair) and retouched the scratches with Elements. Miraculous package of software.
3) Then I struggled and didn't fully succeed with the contrast of the damaged originals...many tests to get reasonable skin color/density while keeping background reasonable density (no flash...bright open shade).
Juggling "brightness" and "contrast" I got close to what I needed, but not close enough. Couldn't get adequate skin color on these very white kids without losing the background and turning the skin grey. The negs began over-processed evidently.
QUESTION (at last): Is there a way to separately control the density/contrast of faces/arms etc versus the background/clothing/sky etc?
Some sort of mask via Elements? Would this want a digital illustration pad?
I never was able to get used to Silverfast as a slide scanner, particularly when compared to the wonderful interface Epson provides for use with their slide holders. Silverfast is an excellent product, but it does assume you're an advanced user.
As for your question, that's a huge topic. Several image-specific ideas could be listed, but your best bet is to learn the underlying theory so you can make an informed decision. There's an excellent subforum for Elements users under the Education main forum. Also, much of the information in the general forums and tutorials can be transposed for Elements users.
If you really don't know where to start, you can simply post a sample image with your question in the Help Requested forum (specify you're using Elements so you don't get suggestions you can't use).
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