Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop: Which Software is Better for You

By Eva Williams 21 days ago, Software Reviews

Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop request became more relevant after Ps Elements has been updated to the 2023 version and due to the appearance of Neural Filters in Photoshop. I tested and compared these versions side by side, answered the main questions, and shared my opinion regarding whom these programs are suitable for and what they are capable of.

Photoshop Elements (PSE) is simple but equally effective photo processor and manager for image sorting and editing. The functionality and capabilities resemble Adobe Photoshop, but the presentation is more user-friendly, and the number of tools is reduced. Photoshop Elements app is a great choice for beginners, as automatic tools allow you to customize pictures – from import to export, from adjusting white balance and exposure to red-eye correction and skin smoothing.

Photoshop (Ps) is a multifunctional and versatile pixel-based photo editing software. It is part of the Creative Cloud family and has all the extra bonuses in the form of cloud storage and close integration with other applications. It is not limited to advanced picture retouching, its functionality covers design, animation, 3D graphics and even video post-processing.


  • photoshop elements interface
  • photoshop elements interface

    Adobe developed and released Photoshop Elements, originally designed as a lite version for beginners with three modes of varying complexity, which form the required interface. The Quick view displays only the most common tools and elements to help you quickly create a design or edit a picture using preview. You can change it via the slider or select any image from the list of thumbnails and adjust it. Or click “Auto” to let the program do all the work for you.

    The program is suitable for specific adjustments and effects. For instance, using the Touch Ups and Effect settings, you can create vintage images or use vignettes, performing step-by-step image editing or restoring old pics.

    The Expert workspace has all the tools you can use in any way you wish. It is one of the closest programs to Photoshop CC, where the entire toolbar will open on the left, masking and layers – on the right, but without a huge number of settings.

    photoshop interface

    Adobe Photoshop is one of Adobe’s largest and most powerful software for creatives. It is suitable for many professionals in different industries. But even experts use only a small percentage of what the program offers. Since Photoshop is packed with all sorts of features, it may be somehow complicated or not obvious for amateurs, for whom such functionality is redundant. Moreover, for novice users, the interface may seem too overloaded and frightening.

    Therefore, it is widely used by experienced photographers/retouchers/designers. Since Adobe Photoshop has all sorts of features and tools, it requires devoting a large amount of time to study all aspects. However, Ps is the most popular image editor of all times with thousands of helpful video tutorials, courses, active forums are available on the net. Besides, brief tooltips with a demonstration on the interface make the learning curve slightly easier.

    Photoshop offers a single module-free interface where all the tools are located, and all the operations will be performed. You will enjoy working in Photoshop due to its customizable workspace. It is possible to change the placement of instruments and take advantage of hotkeys. The same as all image editors, Photoshop offers a set of drawing tools. Moreover, these tools have a large number of settings that let you make the process of creating drawings from scratch even more efficient.

    Editing Features

    Compare visually how Photoshop vs Photoshop Elements handle similar tasks. Both programs were originally designed to work with pictures. But in addition to advanced picture retouching tools, such as layers, curves, Photoshop masks and brushes with many professional features, Adobe Photoshop can be used to work with simple video content, create attractive graphics and more.

    Retouching Tools

    • photoshop retouch photoshop retouch
    • photoshop retouch photoshop retouch
    • photoshop retouch photoshop retouch
    • photoshop retouch photoshop retouch
    • photoshop retouch photoshop retouch
    • photoshop retouch photoshop retouch

      Here you will find enough integrated picture enhancement and retouching functions that help you edit the background, apply an effect, remove the age with one click. With a wide selection of brushes and the ability to create your own ones, the program lets you adjust the thickness, stroke, color and tip of the brush.

      Photoshop Elements lets you smoothen or blur an area, adjust the anti-aliasing intensity as a quick fix. Open the “Adjust Facial Features tool” from the “Enhance” menu, and a window will appear with all the recognized and circled faces. On the right-side panel, there are controls for lips with a smile, eyes, nose and face. The latter allows you to change the height of the forehead, the shape of the jaw bone and the height of the chin.

      • photoshop elements editing
      • photoshop elements editing

        Skin smoothing in automatic mode is aimed at minimizing wrinkles and other imperfections, without significantly affecting other facial features, such as eyes. Slider control helps avoid the overdone effect so that the skin doesn’t look artificial. Thanks to the Adobe Sensei AI technology, automatic colorization of pictures is possible to bring color to a black and white shot or improve an already colorful photo.

        Photoshop Elements doesn’t have all the functionality of Photoshop. There is no support for the channel bar and many vector tools like the Pen tool. But its minute fixes in Auto mode or by boosting the effect with the slider will save you the time you would spend manually on a similar effect in Photoshop.

        • photoshop elements retouch photoshop elements retouch
        • photoshop elements retouch photoshop elements retouch
        • photoshop elements retouch photoshop elements retouch
        • photoshop elements retouch photoshop elements retouch
        • photoshop elements retouch photoshop elements retouch
        • photoshop elements retouch photoshop elements retouch

          Layers in Photoshop CC are the key instruments that make this photo editor preferable among other similar applications and, at the same time – hard to cope with. To perform basic photo retouching, you need to learn the basic combinations, namely, create, merge, move, open, enable, disable, view in different styles and so on. It will take you some time to master these operations.

          photoshop layer

          You can use non-destructive «adjustment layers» to alter the look of your image, without changing the underlying pixels. Moreover, you can also combine image layers to produce complex combinations of two or more shots, mixed with layer masks and overlay modes. For example, it is good for frequency separation.

          photoshop brushes

          Brushes in Photoshop are the most demanded and popular instruments, both among the professionals and beginners. This instrument can be used for painting as well as for accomplishing other tasks: red eyes, pimples, skin tone correction, etc.

          The main parameters of the brush are Size, Hardness, Blending Mode, Opacity and Flow. You can download different styles for text, brushes, actions and gradients to automate and facilitate the work in the program.

          Color and Light Correction

          photoshop elements lighting

          The Lighting instrument of Photoshop Elements will effortlessly correct underexposed or overexposed elements. It is mostly aimed at shots taken in the bright, overhead lighting or backlighting with illumination. Such shots have a widespread problem of overshadowing. The Lighting instrument comprises three individual parameters – Shadows, Midtone and Highlights. Each parameter corresponds to a slider that is responsible for particular light settings.

          photoshop elements color

          If the skin color in the shot doesn’t look appealing to you, navigate to the “Color” tab and alter it. Three parameters are present: Saturation, Hue and Lightness. Each tab provides ready-made patterns and a slider for manual tweaking of the chosen parameters. Besides, you may try artificial intelligence – simply click the “Auto” button and the program will give you an optimal color.

          photoshop elements balance photoshop elements balance

          Comparing Photoshop vs Elements in terms of color models, Elements features RGB only. The difference between CMYK and RGB is that RGB is essentially just the emitted color (or light).

          Better performance and enhanced HEIF and HEVC support will help if you work with a large number of files simultaneously. For instance, correct white balance in the wedding photo session, you can notice that the Elements copes with the task faster.

          • photoshop correction
          • photoshop correction

            Photoshop boasts more color correction options, as it supports all color modes and channels. The channel mixer mixes color channels, can be used to fix faulty channels and create grayscale images from color ones.

            photoshop camera raw photoshop camera raw

            Photoshop is capable of performing professional color correction. Adobe Camera Raw is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that ensures comprehensive work with files in RAW format, color correction. Among the tools, you can find the already familiar exposure, tone, contrast, clarity, saturation, white balance settings, adjustment brushes, curves, HSL. You may even use professional plug-ins and more.

            photoshop dodge and burn photoshop dodge and burn

            The Dodge and Burn instrument will come in handy whenever you have to modify a light-and-dark pattern, person’s body and face, brighten or darken the picture. The latter is suitable for boosting the depth of the space, objects correction and expanding.

            AI Features

            photoshop elements adobe sensei

            Thanks to the intelligent Adobe Sensei engine, which Photoshop Elements is based on, you will be able to open accidentally closed eyes, A new face correction feature lets you modify the tilt and direction of several faces in a shot if they are not in profile.

            The Smart Fix instrument features nine variations for quick picture editing. Each variation boosts the brightness or contrast, meaning that the instrument incorporates artificial intelligence. Feel free to use it as means of standard picture settings or apply this effect to the entire album. The intensity of the effect is tweaked via the slider.

            photoshop neural filters

            Neural Filters Photoshop is a new workspace with intelligent filters based on Adobe Sensei, which can be constantly improved and expanded with the help of AI, as well as significantly simplify the coloring of the scene, removing imperfections, changing features or face position. It is similar to Elements, only with a large number of options, the opportunities and prospects of which are simply huge.

            File Organization

            photoshop elements organization

            The integrated digital asset and file management system Photoshop Elements Organizer is intended for importing, grouping, sorting shots by various parameters, tagging and displaying pics without cluttering the main picture editing window.

            Advanced photo organizer lets you filter content by people, location, keyword tags, media type, date and folder. You may combine search criteria to narrow down the results too. Robust search and face recognition, automatic selection and sharing tools will be a useful addition. The automatic copy function helps the user find pictures with different attributes, such as smart tags, tags.

            Auto-tag with Smart Tags will automatically detect that the photograph is featuring an animal, a face, a landscape, a flower. The program automatically identifies such details as pets, birthdays and sunsets in the videos during import to simplify the process of tagging and finding them.

            photoshop organization

            Photoshop is supplied with Adobe Bridge, a file navigation system that works like Windows Explorer or Macintosh Finder, assuming you will use Lightroom or some other method to manage your libraries. Many of Adobe Bridge’s robust capabilities, which let you organize, search and track files and versions, depend on the XMP metadata in your files.

            Workflow Features

            • photoshop elements smart fix
            • photoshop elements smart fix

              Photoshop Elements provides better performance and enhanced HEIF and HEVC support. If you work with a large number of files simultaneously, for instance, correct white balance in the wedding photo session, you can notice that the latter copes with the task faster.

              Photoshop Elements supports Creative Cloud, but only if it is available, or you will have to purchase the storage separately. Besides, only the desktop version is currently available. Multi-file processing lets you process numerous files without having to record an action. This is fast, as is the ability to share with your friends in a way that is convenient for you through several social platform options.

              Photoshop Elements has:

              Ready-made templates for photobooks, greeting cards, calendars, quote graphics, animated GIFs, memes and collages for social networks are easily accessible, as is the integrated service for printing and delivering pictures and printed gifts.

              Instant conversion to 3D-GIF: create GIFs from pictures with 3D camera movement relative to the selected object, which is very effective.

              Cookie Cutter tool: this tool is a creator of non-standard shapes for cropping images and creating masks. Its analog is absent in Photoshop.

              photoshop ipad

              Photoshop allows working on a PC or iPad with a portable version, even offline – all your work is synchronized with the cloud storage that comes with it. Thus, you can always pick up where you left off. There is no direct exchange function here since it happens via Adobe Bridge. To batch process several files, you will have to record an action.

              Photoshop can’t offer simultaneous post-processing of multiple shots. It is more convenient to work with separate pictures. I wouldn’t recommend trying to open numerous images in Photoshop and editing them one by one. However, a few options for batch editing can be found in the program.

              Photoshop has:

              Supports file export in CMYK format, which is obtained as a result of overlaying paints in printing. CMYK support is crucial for prepress.

              Lens correction of chromatic aberration or lens geometry profiles. Despite the support for Adobe Camera Raw by both programs, here its capabilities are presented in full.

              Helpful vector tools: Among them are a Pen tool for making Curve selections and more, as well as a currently AI-powered Patch tool for eliminating undesired elements from pictures.


              photoshop elements vs photoshop price

              As for Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop comparison in terms of price, the first one is undoubtedly a better investment. Ps Elements offers an unlimited license, which is more as a one-time purchase. The License upgrade costs $79.99, but it is unknown in advance how often it will be updated.

              The only money-saving offer is the Elements family bundle, which has a $50 discount on purchases together with the Premiere Elements video editor, as well as a separate money-saving offer for education.

              Photoshop Elements 2023 – $99

              Elements Family Bundle – $149

              There is one universal way to buy Adobe Photoshop – a monthly or yearly plan subscription. But you still have a choice between Photography Plan with 20GB or 1TB of cloud storage, Single App or All Apps.

              Photography Plan (20 GB) – from $9.99/month

              Photoshop CC Plan – from $19.99/month

              No matter which plan subscription you pick, you have a possibility to install Adobe Creative Cloud Free Trial version. Thus, you can test different types of Photoshop software and make an informed decision on whether the programs are worth investing in or not.

              One more difference between Photoshop and Elements is that the latter isn’t a part of Creative Cloud, although Elements supports access to it. So, you can’t take advantage of cloud storage and other options. But if you only need assistance in completing basic tasks, Elements is a perfect choice.

              Despite the starting price, after a year, PSE will still cost $99, and Photoshop will cost more than a hundred due to the subscription model. For both programs, there are free trials, letting you try out the product for 30 days for Photoshop Elements and 7 days for Photoshop. Therefore, comparing Photoshop versus Elements, the latter has an advantage here if you plan to update it less often than once a year.

              Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop – Who Wins?

              photoshop elements vs photoshop winner photoshop elements vs photoshop winner

              For the vast majority of users, the functionality offered by Adobe Photoshop will be simply unnecessary. Photoshop Elements will offer almost the same features, only in a simpler manner, which can be obtained in Photoshop only after knowing and performing certain actions. Ps Elements is perfectly suitable for beginners and even advanced users, who want to get creative with pictures without learning and subscription obligations.

              Photoshop Elements makes a lot of cool effects available and is concentrated on creative shots and social graphics. Although the Elements version is simpler to use, as it offers practically all automatic settings, including not only eye correction but also face retouching. Moreover, the picture editor is packed with more than 100 different filters (this is several times less than Photoshop offers). It is also worth mentioning that Photoshop Elements comes as licensed software. You don’t have to pay for it every month.

              Photoshop is found in a variety of industries, but it is focused on sophisticated picture retouching and design. However, if you prefer having precise control over every aspect of image editing, or you need more advanced features, like 3D objects or color management, choose Photoshop without any hesitation in the Adobe Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop battle.

              BONUS for Photographers

              photoshop elements vs photoshop tools

              If, after studying this Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop CC comparison, you pick the latter option, the first-class materials will surely come in handy. The ability to record actions saves you time if most of your portrait work involves repetitive picture retouching, resizing, etc.

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