Photoshop Elements is good

Photoshop or Photoshop Elements: which program is the right choice?

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Photoshop CC and Elements - what are the differences? It is precisely this question that we regularly receive. We have therefore compared both programs in detail for you and reveal which software is suitable for which purposes.



The family duel of the unequal siblings

Eighteen years ago, Adobe released Photoshop Elements, a slimmed-down version of Photoshop for less than 100 euros. That was a little sensation back then, as Photoshop still cost almost 1,000 euros at the time - and so the little brother quickly established itself as a welcome alternative in the entry-level area. Over the years, the software has been continuously expanded and some nonsensical restrictions in the photo editor have been lifted. Obviously, Adobe was concerned at the beginning that if there was too much functionality, even professionals would use the Elements software. In the meantime, Photoshop Elements presents itself as completely independent software for beginners and hobby users, despite the similarity of names.

In return, Photoshop CC refrains from artificially opening the application for beginners and remains true to its operation - many functions have of course been optimized and provided with artificial intelligence, but the basis was laid decades ago. In this comparison, we want to give you a decision-making aid as to which program is the right choice for you.

Special software & complete package

Photoshop CC 2018 is a powerful tool for creative photo editing and almost no alternative for professionals. This is ensured by the well thought-out tools and almost infinite possibilities for really all matters relating to digital images. Photoshop CC has the right solution for all areas of application, from photo optimization to complex composings.

The functions, some of which have been established for decades, are powerful, but cause a headache for beginners as they are not always logically named or quite well hidden. For example, the new editing tools for portrait images are housed in the Liquify filter. Anyone who knows that this tool could previously also be used to manually change face shapes will find this logical. A beginner would not expect that here. In fact, Adobe has cleaned up again in version CC 2018 and offers very well-made tips on the respective tool in the tool palette, which explain the functionality in images and text.

With Photoshop CC, however, you shouldn't ignore the learning curve. If you really want to familiarize yourself with the software, patience is required. The best way to get to grips with the powerful functions is with workshops, such as the one from our Photoshop series (which you can find in our DigitalPHOTO print editions). Then working is also great fun.

Elements with a different approach

Photoshop Elements takes a completely different approach than its big brother. It starts with the fact that the core of the software is a comfortable photo management system so that you can quickly have an overview of all your favorite pictures. The organizer is really practical and even superior to the somewhat bulky counterpart in Lightroom in terms of operation.

The actual photo editor is divided directly into three work areas. Beginners without any prior knowledge can use the greatly simplified user interface or the area with guided wizards; advanced users will find almost a Photoshop look in the expert area. Although the functionality of the existing tools is comparable to Photoshop CC, the entire surface looks quite old-fashioned due to the choice of colors and symbols.

All the same, all the necessary tools and functions are available for the hobby user, although restrictions occur again and again - for example, the layer functionality from Elements can largely keep up with that from Photoshop CC, but then again it is not possible to group layers in folders . These restrictions run through the entire software, but in fairness this is more likely to be noticed by a CC than a hobby user.

Simply upgrade Photoshop Elements

As mentioned, the Photoshop Elements editor has many of the functions of the great Photoshop, albeit in a significantly limited way. Surprisingly, these limits can be overcome without complications. With the Elements + program extension ( a real firework of functions is set off for around 10 euros and hidden setting and editing options are activated. These include an advanced RAW converter, the ability to group layers, working with smart objects, the path tool and much more.

Takes a very similar approach Elements XXL ( - this expansion promises over 800 expanded or new tools and functions, from filters to setting layers to smarter selection tools and smart objects. Even if it is only noted very small on the website - the plug-in also works with the latest Elements version. The cost of this extension is around 40 euros. This investment is definitely worthwhile for all users who have reached their creative limits with the Elements Editor but are reluctant to switch to Photoshop CC.

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