Photoshop Elements vs CC… Which One’s for You?

Selecting an editing software is a central decision for photographers of all skill levels. While you’ll be ready to print or share some images straight out of the camera, other images you will want to edit and enhance. Often, the question that arises is whether to use Photoshop Elements (“PSE”) or Photoshop Creative Cloud (“CC”). Both are affordable options, and while there are many similarities, there are a number of key differences between the two, with CC offering features that are not present in PSE. In terms of investment, Photoshop Elements can typically be found for $70-$100 USD and can be purchased from a number of retailers, such as Amazon.com. Photoshop CC is purchased as a monthly subscription directly from Adobe. The photographers package is $9.99 per month and includes Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Lightroom.

Things to consider:

1. Actions… Action sets are either compatible with Photoshop CC, or Photoshop Elements, but not both. If you think you may switch from PSE to CC, it’s probably in your best interest simply to start with CC so you won’t need to repurchase any action sets.

Actions are automated workflows that allow you to process images captured in similar settings much more quickly. Action sets are sold by many photographers and photography resource sites, including Sweet Shots. Once you begin using and creating actions, you will find your workflow dramatically simplified. Since actions are such a significant time-saving device, and yet cannot be transferred between CC and PSE, it is important to make sure you have selected the editing software that will work best for you.

2. Curves… If you like working with Curves for more finite adjustments with exposure and color management, Photoshop CC has a more robust Curves feature. Curves allow for granular alterations of color, contrast, brightness, etc.

3. PSE is user-friendly… Photoshop Elements it has a “Guided” tab that takes your images through step-by-step edits including eye/teeth/blemish fixes, adding background blur, skin tone correction, exposure adjustment, resizing, black-and-white conversions, and more. CC is geared more toward professionals, and consequently does not provide these helpful tutorials. That being said, there are numerous free Photoshop CC tutorials available through video sharing sites, such as Youtube, as well as expert training for purchase through sites like Sweet Shots.


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