Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Why not PsE (Ps Elements)?

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    This post is meant to spur a constructive conversation around a quote on this board some months back (paraphrasing): “You can’t be a pro photographer if you are only using Photoshop Elements.”

    I shoot raw with my 1Dx (and also with my older 50D) and process all my images through Lightroom 5. On the occasion when I’m “feeling a tad artsy,” I’ll pull an image into Elements 8 and make some change bot possible in LR5 (like putting my daughter and her friends into a different background, perhaps). I have Elements Plus installed as well, which “unlocks” many full Ps features which I rarely, if ever, use.

    I also have CS6 because a sales clerk at B&H told me during one visit there that “Elements can never approach the power and versatility of full photoshop, even with Elements Plus installed. It’ll bring your photography to a new level.”

    Beyond recording actions for repetitive tasks (which CAN be done in Elements with E+, BTW) or using the program solely for creating complex art forms from your photos or from scratch, I don’t really see the need for CS6 for a pro photographer. Even if I was shooting professionally, I’m not understanding why Elements would not suit my purposes. Indeed, if I was a pro AND had only enough $$$ for one program, hands down I would choose Lightroom.

    Can someone here explain what I am missing by using “just” Elements? I have CS6 and I’d like to know exactly what extra benefit I’d glean using the program instead of by letting it sit on my harddrive, untouched… It was expensive back in 2012 🙂

    Thanks in advance.


    Here’s a little list of various missing features http://forums.adobe.com/message/4568487#4568487 . Apart from this list a number of plugins don’t work in elements

    Indeed, for a hobbyist lightroom and elements will be enough and also probably for a fair few photographers.


    I’m always amazed at how much you get in Elements. I don’t own it (because I have PS5) but from seeing it on other peoples machines my main problem would be the way all the tools and menus fill  the screen and hardly leave any space for the actual photo. Though I expect if you know how, you can turn most of them off.


    I think it depends on the photographer and what they need or want to use to finish the job. I think statements like “If you don’t use photoshop, you aren’t a pro” are silly.
    But, this is coming from a hobbyist that doesn’t own photoshop and has an untouched free copy of PSE.
    There are times when I kind of want to goof around and make funny or creative ideas come to light, and having PS would certainly make it easier, and other than someday wanting to try focus stacking and giving the Brenizer method a good go, I really don’t have much of an interest in PS. I doubt I will ever purchase it, or a creative cloud account (or whatever they call it).



    Photoshop Elements 1.0 came with my Nikon CoolPIX 5700.  Later I got version 4, 6, 7 and 8 before moving to CS5.  Since changing to CS5, I have not followed changes to Elements.  My motivation for changing was 16 bit editing and the much more robust Adobe Camera Raw.

    I still have Elements 7 on this machine and 8 on my notebook.  I sometimes use elements for batch resizing.  The screen looks a lot like CS5, there is a toolbar down the left side and menu across the top, with a set of boxes down the right side containing the open controls.  The rest of the screen is picture.

    Layers work slightly differently in Elements.

    It’s not that Elements can’t do what you need.  It’s that CS or CC can do what you need slightly more easily and with slightly better results.   It’s much like a Rebel or 50D, compared to a 5D or 1Dx, an 18 Mpx rebel lets me take lots of excellent shots but there are a few shots that are just more fun or easier to do with a 5D or 1Dx.



     I sometimes use elements for batch resizing.

    Why?  That’s a job for Bridge.


    Why?  That’s a job for Bridge.

    The files are already 8 bit JPEG, it’s easy to set up and does a sufficient job, quickly with no fuss.  And, there is no additional cost to me, I had Elements before I got CS5.  You can also batch resize in CS5, there are lots of ways to do it.  The way I know of that uses Bridge actually passes the job to CS5.


    From the article on this site The DOs and DON’Ts of Editing:

    You can’t create professional images without professional software. If you are serious about your craft you need to invest in the right tools for your trade. Would you take your film to Walmart to get processed instead of a custom lab? I’d hope not. Get yourself Adobe Photoshop (not Photoshop Elements, not Picasa, not Windows Photo Editor, not Gimp, etc.) and learn how to use it. Some people also use Lightroom in addition. You can sign up for Adobe’s Creative Cloud for an inexpensive monthly fee, and you can get a Lynda.com membership for cheap to learn your program thoroughly.”

    Well, I guess the author of that article believes that the only software worth its salt for a professional is full Ps.



    there is a point in getting the right tools and in this case it is PS. It is the industry standard, it has the most power under the hood and the best support so why get something less. PS is expensive but then so is all photographic stuff


    If one is shooting weddings and other parties, portraits or sports professionally, why would they need anything other than Lightroom to process their RAW images? What specifically is a pro in those situations doing with Ps that they can’t do with Elements?


    Some professionals shoot to JPEG and hand over their files without looking at them.  Some shoot to JPEG and use Photo Mechanic to sort their files, only handing over the top so many, based on contractual obligation.  Some shoot to raw files and use Photo Mechanic to sort and convert before handing over their selection.  Some swear Lightroom is the only tool they need.  Some use Photoshop.  Some use GIMP, some even consider GIMP better.

    I don’t think I have looked at Lightroom since 3, at the time, it could not easily print photos the way I wanted to print them.  Photoshop could.  Lightroom contains virtually the same ACR as Photoshop, so if most of your editing is done on raw files before conversion, they are equivalent.  If you do much editing with layers, Photoshop is probably the tool.

    If you are a professional and really believe GIMP is better, you might as well use it.  If you are a professional and use GIMP because it is free and Photoshop requires payment, consider that the payment is smaller than the sticker price because you can deduct it from income before taxes, so you save the income tax, which varies based on your tax bracket.  As there is a company behind Photoshop, there may be the perception support is easier to get.


    so, I guess the answer is … use what you want if it gets your job done. And also I spent probably $2,000 over the years on photo editing software that I have barely ever touched. LR5 and Pse8 with E+ are my mainstays.


    CC, do you find Photo Mechanic is a more effective program for your needs than Lightroom? I’ve never used it… does it come with ACR, and can you perform basic edits as in the LR5 develop module? I prefer the LR5 all-in-one approach, but perhaps I;m looking at it the wrong way….?

    My catalog contains roughly 71K images, and I’ve grown fond of the lightroom non-destructive editing process, but if there is a potentially more efficacious workflow out there, I’m willing to give it a go…


    The answer is indeed “whatever works for you”.

    I don’t use Lightroom. I downloaded the 30 day trial and loaded in a couple of day’s worth of photos to experiment with. Performance seemed pretty good but I couldn’t print the way I wanted to. Then I used Windows Explorer to move the photo files onto one of my storage drives. The next time I started Lightroom, it said it could not find my files and was deleting the information from its database! The result was all my edits in Lightroom were gone. Those two strikes against Lightroom were enough and I uninstalled it. I have never been a fan of proprietary databases because they usually end up costing me a lot of time when the developer issues an upgrade that uses a different arrangement.

    Lightroom is a browser that has ACR and some additional editing and printing features added on. Photo Mechanic is not an Adobe product. Photo Mechanic is pure browser.

    Photo Mechanic is a lot like ZoomBrowser EX, but it is faster when dealing with large numbers of large raw files. Photo Mechanic has sorting and filtering functions. If you choose a file to edit, it passes the file to the program you have assigned as your editor.
    I have used Photo Mechanic a couple of times when I had thousands of files to sort through and because they were all from a single shoot, they were all in the same folder. I have a folder per card when my program reads cards. These are aggregated into either a project folder, daily folder or monthly folder depending on quantity. Trips usually get a folder for each day, as do events and projects. Everything else usually fits in a monthly folder. ZoomBrowser EX came with Canon cameras prior to the 1Dx/5D Mk III, which shipped with a new browser, ImageBrowser EX. I like ZoomBrowser EX better, so I still use it most of the time.
    I attended a bridal show in January, and took 1001 frames plus half a dozen movies. If I open that folder in ZoomBrowser EX and scroll to the bottom, I have to wait almost a minute for the thumbnails to be created. If I had 5000 photos in the folder, I might as well go for coffee. As you scroll down, in a big folder like that, Photo Mechanic can still keep up. I have over 200K of digital files, but I try to keep less than 500 in a single folder. I have folders arranged by year, then month, then day/project/event. That works well most of the time. Weddings and trips sometimes result in 1K or 2K being in a folder. Weddings can be broken into pre-wedding, wedding, post-wedding, and reception, if I need to improve browser performance.

    Since I use Photoshop CS5 as my editor, raw files are handled by ACR and I get the XMP side-car files that hold the editing information. When selecting files to be edited, I use Bridge which comes with CS5. As long as I move both raw file and side-car file, together, I can use any tool I want, to move the files without offending some proprietary database. Over the years I have probably had a hundred photos where I wanted to save the editing information. Sometimes that has been done by saving intermediate JPEG files while using Elements, sometimes by saving a PSD file from CS5. Digital Photo Professional asks if you want to save your edits, sometimes I say yes, sometimes no. It writes the changes into the file, but you still have the original raw data so you can always go back and start over. If it only took a minute or two to decide on white balance, exposure, fill light, recovery, perhaps noise reduction and lens correction, then is there a huge need to save your edits? On the other hand, if you are doing editing in Photoshop and you have a composite with 10, 20 or a hundred layers, perhaps there is a point to saving your edit. Usually the PSD file is huge, but it saves your layer information so you can go back and continue editing where you left off. Most of the time, I finish a photo in a single session, produce a JPEG the size I need, print or post it and perhaps add it to the slide show my screensaver uses. Once done, I seldom go back and edit that photo again, so keeping editing information has never been a selling point I paid attention to.

    Over the years I have used various programs and had several different work flows. Even in a single editing session I may use different work flows. This is very evident at the moment because I don’t have CS5 configured to convert my wife’s G16’s raw files, so from last week’s photo session, my files are converted in ACR, and hers are converted by Digital Photo Professional, before being passed to CS5 for cropping and printing.


    I should probably point out that with each release of Lightroom, Adobe has added more editing features and improvements. Their goal seems to be to get most photographers away from Photoshop and into just Lightroom. ACR has amazing power so a lot of the editing I used to do in Elements is now done in ACR of CS5. Since the same engine is in Lightroom, the editing could be done there instead.
    I use CS5 for printing multiple images onto a single page with a lot of text with specific layout, very accurate lens correction, a layers exercise that processes a raw photo multiple times and combines the result — like HDR, focus stacking, creating moving GIF files, and blurring or changing backgrounds that have complex masking challenges. Most of the rest has been taken over by ACR.

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