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Photoshop Elements versus Photoshop which for the Professional?

My PSE 1 disc on left and CS5 box on the right

I started with Photoshop Element 1 (PSE) back around 2001? Switched to PSE 2  and upgraded to PSE6 after it came out. In May of 2010 I bought Photoshop CS5 and got certified in it in July! Doing professional work I’ve been using PSE successfully for approximately 10 years! So why did I switch to the more expensive Photoshop CS5 program?

In two words–BATCH PROCESSING! After switching to digital capture in 2009 (I shot film, scanned the negs and processed my images prior to this) I found I needed to do multiple processing to images in multiple directories which took much too much time to do by hand.  Specifically I needed to:

  • Colorcorrect multiple images and adjust exposure prior to Downsizing them.
  • Create a folder and edit out the images not needed.
  • Create PSD files in order to save adjustment layers (so could retouch and alter effects easily later).
  • Create Jpg files files for final print output that would be uploaded to my lab via online.
  • Create 1024 pixel images to burn to DVD for client viewing.
  • Create 600 pixel copies for uploading to my internet web site.
  • Watermark all client and low rez images.

Photoshop Elements does have some batch processing functions but it is very limited. If I wanted to have  more custom looking files for upload, I found I had to do it by hand in PSE. One photo session that I had really opened my eyes as it took more than 3 hours to process 60 images (with all the previous mentioned work) and get them ready for client viewing! Had I had CS5 it would have only taken me a matter of minutes to do this same chore.

A personal rule of mine was that I was not going to pay over $100. for a software program. Photoshop CS5 retails for $695. Not to mention the learning curve it would take to get up to speed with the more expensive program! I decided to purchase a British Program that had superior batch processing to PSE. I bought PhotoPlus X3 from serif.

Took me about two weeks to learn to create the batch actions (mini program of sequential file commands) in PhotoPlus. Great. Now I don’t have to buy Photoshop! Then one day my computer crashed and all saved batch action programming was lost!! Ouch!! This is the one flaw in Photoplus. As I did not write down how I created my commands and there was no way to save them outside the program.

In Photoshop CS5 I can save my “actions” to a different folder or disc so that if for some reason my computer crashes loosing my action commands, I can re-install them without having to reprogram them! Plus there are many self made actions on the internet for free download or purchase.

To meet my rule I ended up selling a film camera I had for approximately $1000 on ebay. I purchased the extended version of CS5 which cost about what the camera sold for. So I did not pay, I traded for the program–in my mind!!


If you want custom looking work and create multiple sets of files for proofing on DVD and to the internet I highly recommend getting Photoshop CS5 to save time and therefore money. Else you may be able to get by with Photoshop Elements as I did for several years.

Click here to see a more extensive review article on photoshop CS5 compared to PSE

Click here to see a review of Photoshop Elements 9

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