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Compare Differences: Adobe Photoshop vs. Elements vs. Lightroom

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What Are the Differences: Photoshop vs. Elements vs. Lightroom?

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69 thoughts on “Compare Differences: Adobe Photoshop vs. Elements vs. Lightroom”

  1. Hello –

    I am a Business / Computer Applications instructor at a Colorado High School. We have used CS5 in the past to teach the computer graphics portion of our Computer Applications class. However, we only have 5 CS5 licenses – and 18-20 students. That said, we need to get additional Adobe software in order to be able to meet the needs of our students. The Adobe Cloud (even with the educational discounts) is not an option because at $30 / student / month we are looking at an annual cost of $5,400…………there is no way our budget can sustain that.

    That said, I have used Elements for my husband’s small business for 3+ years and have been exceptionally happy with it, and feel that Elements might possibly work in my classroom to teach basic graphic design and graphics manipulation to my students. Do you think this is a viable solution? As we could feasibly purchase 18-20 Elements licenses for approximately $3000 (which is, within our budget range). If this is a viable solution, are there Elements tutorials available for students? (Similar to the CS5 and CS6 tutorials available online?)

    Thank you in advance for your help

    Reply
    • Greetings Trina, apologies for the delay in response. You see many of the differences between the full Photoshop vs. PS Elements above on this page, and there have been more new features added in Photoshop CC that are not in any version of Elements.

      Another point is that Photoshop CC (and/or CS6) is the professional release in use by major companies worldwide; it’s the industry standard that most job candidates would like to have on their resumés.

      So with all that in mind, and based on your own knowledge of PSE, only you can make that final decision.

      Photoshop Elements could be used to teach the basics, and there are free video tutorials and free e-books available for it as well.

      But there are still more resources available for Photoshop CS6 and beyond: hours of online tutorials, free downloadable ebooks, and even hundreds of pages of free training courses already out.

      And your other option besides buying Elements would be to purchase more licenses for Photoshop CS6 outright, as Adobe is continuing to sell and support that release too (in addition to CC)…

      With that route, you should be able to get an education discount on Photoshop CS6 Extended, or 65% off the regular price.

      Hope this helps!

  2. I recently purchased Photoshop CS6 Extended and am reviewing the tutorials online. They make reference to opening the ‘Exercise Files or Workshop Files’ to follow along with the tutorial. Where do I find these exercise or workshop files to practice in…???

    Reply
  3. The 30+ Hours Free Online Adobe CS6 Tutorials is what I have been watching. It was in the Layers section where they made reference to the working files. It said working files can be found in the Working Files folder. Then the trainer suggests (for example) to open up (in the exercise files) Layers and Groups.

    Are these files a part of the Photoshop program which I have purchased? If so where can I find them. If not then where do I need to go to find them?

    Reply
  4. HI,

    I am looking for the ability to manipulate, stretch and or change pictures from a standard size to a long thin version ie: 1′ x 8 1/2″.

    I will also need to Pump up the colors in some instances.

    I have no experience with Photoshop …

    what product do you reccomend?

    Thanks
    Terry

    Reply
    • Hi Terry, you can “Transform” a photo like that using either Photoshop CC or Photoshop Elements 12 (Ctrl-T on Windows, Command-T on Mac)…

      You will get more power, control, and options with the full Photoshop than with Elements, but either will do the basic function.

      The same goes for “pumping up the colors.”

  5. Thanks for the helpful comparison between Photoshop vs. Elements. I had one question.

    Do the more recent versions of Photoshop Elements have higher support for 16 bit images? Or does PSE 14 remain the same as prior releases?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hello Will, thanks for your question. The answer is that Photoshop Elements has been very gradually creeping towards 16-bit image editing, but you still can’t do layers or some of the filters in 16 bits – so if that’s what you’re looking for, then the answer remains the same with PSE 14. You can apply things like sharpening and levels to a 16-bit file, but overall there’s not a great deal of difference vs. older versions besides a few more filters working.

      Adobe gives more details here:

      … There is very little 16-bit support in Photshop Elements. You cannot create or convert an image to 16-bit, only open images that are already 16-bit. While working with a 16-bit image you cannot work with layers. The following tools do not work: Magic Wand, Selection Brush, the family of Type tools, Recompose, Cookie Cutter, Straighten, the brush based tools (Paint Brush, Eraser, Dodge, Blur, etc), or the shape based tools (Rectangle, Ellipse, Custom Shape, etc). Many filters do not work, mainly those featured in the Filter Gallery …

      Of course, the the full Photoshop CC 2015 desktop release does everything and is now offered in Adobe’s new Photoshop + Lightroom Plan. Those products used to cost over $1,000 upfront to buy but are now available for US$9.99/mo. with ongoing upgrades included. Free trials are also downloadable here.

  6. Hi there, I recently purchased photoshop for my son who is studying 3D Art and animation so he can keep working (and improving) from home. I did not open the sealed sleeves in which the DVDs are packed. The problem I have is I was not aware there were more than one type of Photoshop and I ended up buying Elements 15, whereas I now realize from this blog that I should have gotten CS6 Extended. Is there a way to ship the elements 15 back or given it is software there is absolutely no chance in the world the vendor will accept an exchange? I bought it less than two weeks ago on Amazon. Any suggestion you can provide will be muchly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Greetings Maude, for that you would have to check Amazon’s Return Policy – it’s possible they may accept it back, especially if it’s unopened. Also the returns period is usually extended around the holidays.

      For purchases made direct from Adobe instead, their Refund Policy is here. Note that Adobe gives refunds even if their package is opened or if the software is installed or used.

      Regarding purchasing CS6 Extended instead – please note that is a pretty old version now. Adobe stopped selling Creative Suite 6 standalone on their website last year. The reason is because CS6 is over 4 years old now (from spring 2012) and increasingly unsupported; they stopped releasing updates for it last summer as the newer CC rapidly grew and took over.

      With the CS6 software EOL and end of support, there are no updates, no bug fixes, and no guarantees it will run on the latest or future operating systems. So at this point we’ve stopped recommending it as a good or viable option going forward.

      What’s replaced CS6 is Photoshop CC instead, which is considered a much better tool. With CC all ongoing upgrades, compatibility updates and product additions are always included – so becoming obsolete will never happen. The monthly payments are also more budget-friendly in the new model than in the old CS model – where the software used to cost many hundreds or often thousands of dollars upfront, and never evolved.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Hello,

    Long time, no post from me :). I’m just wondering if there is an updated post that would explain the difference between the latest version of Photoshop Elements (version 2018, I think) and the bigger brother Photoshop CC (2018, I think as well)?

    Thank you :)

    Reply
    • Hey Daniel, good to see you back! That’s a great idea, as the post above could benefit from updating to the latest releases… The general framework of the differences between Photoshop CC (2018) vs. Photoshop Elements (2018) remains the same, but of course there are new features in each product since this article was originally written. Thanks, we’ll put it on the list!

  8. Is there a photoshop product that will turn a photo into a paint by number that can be printed onto a canvas and then painted by hand?

    Reply

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