You are looking to buy a photo editing program, and you have heard from many of your friends, or online, that Photoshop is the best. Yet, when it comes to the price tag you are a little weary, and you’re not sure if you should go for the cheaper Photoshop Elements.
While Photoshop Elements does contain around 90% or higher the same functionality as Photoshop, the differences between them and the usage you expect from the program could easily influence your decision.
If you are looking to be a graphic designer, whether for freelance or just for fun, then Photoshop is the best choice. It contains more tools and more control over the document, so you can be sure to tweak every part of your creation until it is perfect. It includes the pen tool, used by graphic designers the world round. This little tool, which might seem drab at first, is one of the most useful, and most used, by this category of people. It allows you to make points and lines without having to rely on your shaky hand for the same result (easily draws curves, angles, anything you need). You also have better shadow and light controls over the document, as well as ways to make light and shadows that Photoshop Elements cannot compare to. So for the graphic designer, I heavily suggest regular Photoshop.
What about the common household user, just looking to tweak photographs a little, or take care of red eye? For this category, save the couple hundred and go with Photoshop Elements. The extra functionality included within Photoshop is too pricey and you will rarely use it, if it all. Photoshop Elements can easily brighten or darken photos, do basic graphic design work for birthday invitations or simple business cards, and is a good program for people who are usually not graphic intensive in their work. So if you are looking for a powerful photo editing program, Photoshop Elements is the way to go for you.
Artists are another category of users that are reliant on Photoshop. Though meant only for graphic design, there are plenty of tools, like brush tools, that allow you to become a digital painter with enough skill. So where do these users fall? Really either. All the ones I have seen say that while Photoshop is great, all the tools they need are in Photoshop Elements. If you can draw with a mouse, as many digital painters can, or if you prefer to use a tablet mouse and draw with a digital pen, then the pen tool function of Photoshop is unneeded. The extra light and shadow controls? If you are good enough with blending color, then again your skill makes the extra Photoshop functionality rather useless and a poor waste of money. So if you are beginning, maybe the full power of Photoshop would be good, but for the experienced you should still with Photoshop Elements. It has everything you need.
It all comes down to what you want it for and what you plan to create. So think about your needs, compare them to the above, and make your selection.