Software & Apps Design Photoshop Versus Photoshop Elements: Is Photoshop Worth an Extra $500? The answer depends on how you use it by Sue Chastain Writer Sue Chastain is a former Lifewire writer and a graphics software authority with web design and print publishing credentials. She's also skilled in WordPress administration. our editorial process LinkedIn Sue Chastain Updated on May 23, 2019 Design Graphic Design Photoshop Animation & Video 3D Design Tweet Share Email For most people, Adobe Photoshop Elements is sufficient — but for creative professionals such as designers and photographers, the full version of Photoshop is well worth the investment. If you are a home user or hobbyist, save your money and go with Photoshop Elements. It has all the features of Photoshop that you are likely to ever need. If you plan to use the software for professional graphic design or photography, however, you will need the industry-standard Photoshop; it offers many more advanced tools and productivity enhancements than Photoshop Elements. Although the price difference and the learning curve for the full Photoshop program are steep, students can purchase Photoshop at significantly discounted educational prices. Some features included in Photoshop but not in Photoshop Elements are: CMYK and LAB color modesMore tools and features that work with high-bit (16-bit and 32-bit) imagesChannels paletteThe ability to record custom actions (for batch processing)Adjustments: color balance, match colorLayer comps and quick-mask modeSmart objects, smart guidesLens-blur filterVanishing-point toolPuppet WarpPen tool and paths paletteMixer brush and bristle tips painting toolsSome adjustment layers (curves, color balance, selective color, channel mixer, vibrance)Editable history logText on a path, advanced text formattingAdvanced layer-style manipulationAdvanced color managementAdvanced web features (rollovers, slicing)Customizable tool presets, keyboard shortcuts, and menusMore advanced options for fine tuning and control Although these features are not natively supported in Photoshop Elements, you can simulate some of them using other tools in Elements. Some are actually there, but hidden and accessible only through actions created in the full version of Photoshop. Some generous folks who have access to both Photoshop and Elements have created add-ons and tools that allow Elements to use some of these features. Photoshop Elements also offers some features that are not available in Photoshop, such as: Cookie cutter toolSmart brush toolDrop-in frames, backgrounds, and artworkAdditional photomerge modes, such as group shot, scene cleaner, faces, and style matchGuided edits and quick-fix modeMulti-file processing without the need to record an actionAutomatic division of scanned photosMulti-page documentsPhoto creation templates for photo books, greeting cards, calendars, and moreEasy online sharing options for Facebook, Flickr, etc.A powerful photo organizer The Photo Organizer (Windows only in Photoshop Elements 8 and under) lets you organize your photos with keyword tags, then search and share them. The organizer also offers several ways to share your photos in slideshows, discs, cards, email, calendars, web galleries, and photo books. In addition, most Photoshop-compatible plug-ins and filters also work with Photoshop Elements. Photoshop Elements users who are aware of the limitations noted above can also take advantage of the many Photoshop tutorials available online. If you are still undecided about which version to purchase, you can download time-limited but fully functional trial versions of both programs from the Adobe website. This discussion centers on the older boxed versions of Photoshop. In 2013, Adobe switched over to the Creative Cloud subscription service. For a monthly fee, you can download and install all of the Adobe products to your desktop. Coupled with this are regular, no-fee updates to all of Adobe's products. A large number of Photoshop updates and feature additions have rolled out under this model. The Bottom Line The real issue in choosing the best Photoshop version for you revolves around what you need to do. If you are a serious graphic designer who does heavy-duty image editing and effects, then your choice is Photoshop CC. If you find Photoshop's feature set and techniques to either be intimidating or not for you, then Photoshop Elements is a great way to start. Either way, it comes down to personal choice.