Why Photoshop Elements 11 Is the Best Version of Elements Yet


Photoshop Elements 11 was just announced and I wanted to write a quick post about it, because I just got finished updating the Photoshop Elements Book for Digital Photographers (I co-write it with Scott Kelby each year). From working on this book, and the new version of Elements each year (for the past 6 years), I’ll make the call now… Photoshop Elements 11 is the biggest upgrade for photographers that I’ve seen yet.

Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?
The biggest question I hear is should I buy the full version of Photoshop or get Photoshop Elements instead. Years ago, it was pretty clear for me to tell most people that they need Photoshop. But over the last few years, I’ve found myself telling more and more people to buy Elements instead.

What Does Photoshop Offer That Elements Doesn’t?
Okay, so what does Photoshop have that Elements doesn’t. The list is actually huge so I’m not going to list it all. I’m sure there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of features. However, as a photographer, just starting out and wanting to make your photos look better, I think the list of which features you’ll actually need becomes MUCH smaller.

  • Better Camera Raw: Photoshop CS6 has A LOT more features in Camera Raw. Now, I probably don’t use 60% of those extra features, but I do use some of them often (like Vignetting and Lens Corrections). That said, I do my raw editing in Lightroom. So if you’re a Lightroom user, you don’t care much about camera raw in Elements, because you’ve got access to all the same Photoshop CS6 stuff in the Develop module in Lightroom.
  • Smart Objects: I gotta admit… I do use smart objects in CS5/CS6 a decent amount. Not every day, but I do use them often enough that I miss them when I’m in Elements.
  • Channels: Photoshop has a Channels panel and Elements doesn’t. We used to use channels for selections and various color correction or sharpening techniques. But honestly, I haven’t opened the channels palette in Photoshop in over a year (other than to do tutorial demos). As a photographer, I think channels are pretty much dead. I know lots of people still use them, but trust me… there’s better ways to do most things you’re doing in that palette.
  • HDR: The full version of Photoshop has built in HDR merging. It’s actually well done too. For me, I don’t do a lot of HDR anymore so it’s not a huge selling point for me. Elements does have an “Exposure Merge” feature which is HDR-ish. But honestly (sorry Elements), it is nothing close to HDR and it doesn’t even merge exposures that well so I’d recommend to never use this feature.
  • Certain Content Aware tools: Photoshop CS6 came out with some improvements in Content Aware technology. It’s got a content-ware move and extend tool now. Since CS6 came out, I have yet to use them in my real world photography editing. That’s not to say I won’t. I’m sure I’m going to come across a photo they work perfectly for, but right now they’re not vital tools in my photography editing toolbox.
  • Adaptive Wide Angle Lens Correction: I shoot a lot of wide angle photos so this feature (which is new in CS6) is very useful for me. Right now, Elements has the same Lens Correction adjustments that Photoshop had before CS6.
  • Paths and the Pen Tool: Not a photographer thing. So unless you draw, no need to worry about this one.

What’s the Same Between Elements and Photoshop?
Okay, so that’s the things that are different (well at least the ones I think are really important to a photographer). So what’s the same?

  • Sharpening – Elements has pretty much the same sharpening tools that Photoshop does.
  • Camera Raw Basic Panel – the Basic panel in Elements 11 is the same as the Basic Panel in CS6 and Lightroom 4. Remember, 80-90% of the work I do to my photos is done in the Basic panel. It’s got the same new sliders (which I think are considerably improved over earlier versions).
  • Selections – This is my favorite enhancement in Elements 11 (probably because I wrote a book on the topic in CS5). Before Elements 11, selections in Elements were horrible. There was no way to make complex selections like we can with the Refine Edge dialog in Photoshop CS5 or CS6. However, now in Elements 11, there’s a killer Refine Edge dialog, and selections are now just as powerful as they are in Photoshop CS5 or CS6.
  • Retouching Tools – Yep, Elements has the same Clone, Healing and Spot Healing Brush tools as Photoshop does – even the same Content Aware option too.
  • Layers – Layers and layer masks are pretty much the same in both.
  • Image adjustments – Elements has most of the same image adjustments that Photoshop does. At least most of the ones I use a lot like Levels, Photo Filter, Hue/Saturation. And you can even add them as Adjustment Layers with masks.
  • Creating Panoramas – Elements let’s you create panos just as easy as Photoshop.

Elements for Beginners
Before Elements 11, I would have said I didn’t care for the “Quick” and “Guided” stuff that Elements had. I barely covered it in my book each year because I just didn’t think it was a good place for a beginner to be. I always felt that by the time you figured out the Quick or Guided Edit modes, you could have learned to do everything in the main editor window instead. But I have to say that they changed the whole look, feel and layout of Elements in version 11. And I think the “Quick” and “Guided” modes are much more intuitive. If you’re a beginner, I think the Quick mode is a great place to start. But I also think you’ll progress to the Expert mode much faster than you think.

My Advice to Some One Looking to Buy Elements or CS6?
I get the question many times during the day at my Lightroom seminars. “Should I get CS6 or Elements”? My first question back to them is what do they want to do with their photos. For starters, they already have Lightroom which is what I think all photographers should start with. At that point, they usually say they want to do some quick retouching, maybe some more focussed dodging and burning with the Brush tool and a few adjustments. Honestly, coming from a guy who makes a good part of his living teaching Photoshop CS6, I have a hard time telling them to buy the full version of Photoshop. If all you want is layers, cloning, healing, brushes, masks, sharpening filters, and maybe panorama stitching then Elements will work just fine for ya’.

But the one thing I always recommend… there’s a free 30-day trial. Download it and give it a spin for 30 days and see what you think.

  • http://gravatar.com/craigl303 craigl303

    I think that you left out what is for me and other photographers a very important feature that’s present in PS, but not in PSE: the ability to work on 16-bit files. There are several printers that are capable of printing a 16-bit image. Also, even if the final output is to an 8-bit image or to the web or e-mail, why compress in a lossy manner to a jpg until you’ve done all of the work on an image? PS keeps all of your options open.

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      I never use 16-bit and my prints come out just fine :) I’ve compared with 8-bit and nobody could ever tell the difference. You’ve pointed out a techie thing that most people will never need nor notice in their photos.

    • Nathan Chilton

      Though you are indeed limited to working with 8-bit files, that does not mean you are limited to working with JPG files. You can (and I do) do all your work in layered PSD/TIFF files and export to JPG when you’ve done all of the work on an image. Plus, I do as much as possible in Lightroom, before the file ever gets to PSE, so even the conversion to 8-bit doesn’t happen until after brightness/contrast, noise reduction, and other operations have been made to the original 12/14-bit RAW file.

  • Dennis Zito

    Matt,

    Thanks for the update on Elements 11. I think I’ll give it a try for my Laptop. I have CS6 on my iMac, but my Laptop is a PC and don’t have the money to buy a PC version of CS6 or get a power mac. I think elements could at least let me do some stuff out of LR on the road. I’ll give it a try!

    Thanks,

    Dennis

  • http://grangecameraclub.wordpress.com grangecameraclub

    Thanks Matt, as usual you have put the options in a way that we can understand. Most of my group have Photoshop CS3 and are dithering as whether to up grade. My current advice is LR4 and Elements, so I am glad to say that nothing changes.

    • Zabrina Carlson Tipton

      Thank you for posting this grangecameraclub–this is exactly where I sit with LR3 and Photoshop CS3. With the monthly fee for CS6, it has had me at a block on what to do. After much reading, a group talk with fellow photographers last night and then coming across Matt’s post and then your reply, I am now going to upgrade to LR4 and purchase Elements 11. I can open CS3 if I get homesick for it! :)

      • Nathan Chilton

        I use LR4 and Elements 11 and I’m quite happy with this combination, especially since I also purchased Elements+, which unlocked additional functionality in Elements 11 (specifically for it’s ability to enable Elements to expand grouped layers, which are often present in purchased templates).

        Before you upgrade to LR4, you might want to wait for LR5 to be released (which will probably be in less than a month). I don’t know how Adobe handles upgrades, but there might be a chance that they’ll let you upgrade straight from LR3 to LR5. I’d hate for you to spend the money to upgrade to upgrade twice, if it isn’t necessary. It may be that Adobe will require you to pay for both, but hopefully not.

        LR5 has some really exciting improvements and you can play with the beta for free until the end of the month. The most exciting improvement from my perspective (as a laptop user), is that you can store your photographs on an external drive and (after building the “smart previews” in the catalog on your laptop) you can leave the external hard drive behind and work on all your photographs, fix white balance, add vignette’s, dodge/burn, remove dust spots and blemishes, etc — all without needing to have that external drive with you! Then you just go back to your home/office/studio, reconnect the external drive, and you sync the changes back to your original files. I’m always running out of space on my laptop, so this, to me, is an extremely exciting development!

        • Zabrina Carlson Tipton

          Nathan,
          Hello. Great Information and I thank you so much for sharing. I will wait on the LR5, but happy to read that you are happy with the LR4. They may charge for both upgrades, but would rather wait to see. After heading over to Adobe.com I did click and read about the Elements+ and will be going that route as well. Glad you are happy with that too! The external hard drive being left home and you can still work on the images is a definite plus! I will be sure to build the smart preview on my laptop!

          Thank you so much for your post and your consideration on smart money decisions. I am very appreciative!
          Truly,
          Zabrina

          • Nathan Chilton

            You are very welcome, Zabrina!

            I am eagerly awaiting the release of LR5 so that I can upgrade my current working catalogs to work with it. I am playing with the LR5 beta for personal photos, but all my professional work is still in LR4 catalogs. I’m really looking forward to freeing up all that space on my laptop hard drive. In fact, LR5 might even make it practical for me to upgrade my hard drive to an SSD, since I won’t be needing as much local storage anymore.

            :-)
            –Nathan

        • Nathan Chilton

          Good news, Zabrina!

          Lightroom 5 is now available for purchase and the price for an upgrade from any of the previous versions appears to be the same ($79). http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom.html?promoid=KAUCD

  • Keri

    I find Elements & Lightroom the perfect combination for me, having lightroom gives you all the ACR features that full photoshop has plus it gives you a decent organiser unlike the PSE one

  • http://gravatar.com/dougsundseth Doug Sundseth

    Another important (to some) difference between PS and PSE is that PSE lacks CMYK support. Not a problem for most people, but if you’re working with a print house, CMYK can be necessary.

    When asked for a recommendation, I have been known to ask, “Do you need CMYK support?” If the answer is “What’s CMYK?”, I suggest Elements. 8-)

  • http://www.pixeltraining.net Armando Martinez

    I agree Matt. I’ve been telling new photographers to start with what I call the $250 Digital Darkroom, Lightroom 4 & Elements. Pretty much all most photogs need.

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Hey… I kinda like that. The $250 Digital Darkroom. Beware… I may steal it ;)

  • Barbara Meredith

    I have Lightroom -4 can I buy Elements Seperatly ? I’m a Noivce and Wanting to learn More about Photography and I believe it’s all in the Editing I could be very wrong?

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Yes, you need to buy Lightroom and Elements separately. Lightroom will open photos into Elements just as it will into Photoshop. Good luck!

  • John Sawyer

    Matt, what do you think about the need to upgrade to 11? I have Elements 10, but not certain about this upgrade. I’ve heard it may not be necessary. Any thoughts there? TIA

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Hey John. First off, you should know I’m an extremely sarcastic person and I say this in a very joking way… ok ready… Did you not just read the post I wrote? ;)
      It’s the best version of Elements yet. I’ve been writing a book on each version of Elements for the last 6 years and this is definitely the best version for photographers. All joking aside, for $79 I’d make the upgrade in a heartbeat. The new Camera Raw stuff and the selections are worth it alone. I guess if you don’t use either of those things then maybe not. But if you do, it’s a must have upgrade.
      Hope that helps :)

      • John Sawyer

        Thanks Matt. I can appreciate a good sarcastic sense of humor. No problem here. I’ll give the 30 day eval a look. Thanks again…John

  • Stephen Kennedy

    Thanks for the review Matt! I use Elements myself with Lightroom 4.0 on my small travel laptop and full blown Photoshop on my Desktop. Just recently bought Elements 10 for my daughter along with LR 4 and told her this is all she needs (well I also got her Snapseed for PC). One other note is that Elements works with most of the Photoshop Plugins that I use as well (Nik Color Efex Pro 4, Topaz and OnOne stuff).

  • Mike Rodriguez

    Good post, and good thoughts, Matt. For people who hated the dark interface (I’m not one of them, but some really didn’t like it) upgrading is probably a no-brainer. But, I agree…the new Refine Edge and new ACR stuff are gold. I will say that if I only had Elements, I’d miss the ability to write actions. I don’t do it a lot, but enough that I would miss them. And I’m with you on the Smart Objects, too. I’d miss those.

  • http://atlandsendphotography.com Jeff Stephens

    Matt, does Elements 11 have the ability to auto-align layers? It was the one thing that is critical to me that was missing from 10.

  • Nandini Gupta

    Thanks, Matt, for the great review. You are right, the new UI makes it easier for users to learn Elements. We have also created some new getting started tutorials, which users can access from within the Help menu or directly using the following link:
    http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop-elements/topics/getting-started-tutorials.html
    For Premiere Elements, here’s the link to the getting started:
    http://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-elements/topics/getting-started-tutorials.html

  • Bill Munder

    Hello. I don’t know if this the spot for my comment. I have tried to find training for Elements 10 on Kelby Training and can’t find it. Will there be training for Elements 11?
    Really like your blog, always great stuff on it.
    Thank you
    Bill

  • Mika

    I installed a trial asap and what really annoys me is the clumsy interface. Those bold panels, huge font size and the bright interface. I’m not blind, Adobe! ;) On my MBP 13″ I struggle for every single pixel on the actual photo itself, so I’m not very fond of PSE’s interface layout. (Similar to the onOne products, but can’t wait for Perfect Suite 7, which solves my interface problems with their plugins)

    Matt, I wonder, if you ever heard about Elements+? You mention the lack of smart objects, channels etc. But for only $12 you can reveal these hidden features legally and gain pro features like curves and a lot more. Yet there is no version for PSE 11 out, but one can download a trial for v.10. (Honestly, I always wondered about PSE’s >1GB installation ;))

    Would love to hear you opinion on Elements+.

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Hi Mika,
      I’ve heard of Elements+. If you’re really into those features then go for it. I personally use very few of them. I don’t consider Curves “pro features”. I consider Camera Raw the pro feature because that’s what the pros are using. Curves is old technology. Channels are old technology. The newer features that Elements has (in my book at least) beats out most of those features that Elements+ allows you to unlock.
      That said, the Smart Object thing would be nice. Probably the only one on the list I would use regularly.

      • Mika

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Elements+. I don’t consider curves as a ‘pro feature’ either. I should have said: features contained in the CS versions of Photoshop.

        Having read a bunch of books from the Kelby Media Group I have to admit, a lot has changed for me and my thinking about archaic tools. Lightroom and some good plugins do the heavy lifting in post processing for me nowadays and only on “special occasions” I fire up PS at all.

        Waiting impatiently for your new book on PSE 11.

        • http://nathanchilton.com Nathan Chilton

          Elements+ is a huge benefit for me!
          I use Elements 9, which does not support layer groups. I have purchased many templates for producing announcements, albums, and other products. Many of these are “not compatible with Photoshop Elements” due to the fact that Elements cannot deal with grouped layers.

          Elements+ enables me to ungroup all of the grouped layers, and make use of templates that would otherwise be unusable in Elements!

      • http://www.eichlerphoto.com David Eichler

        Matt, I also disagree with your comment regarding Curves. I use this feature all the time, in both Lightroom and Photoshop, primarily for overall control of the tonal range. Perhaps most photographers don’t need this kind of control. However, I have done a small survey of some other professional photographers I know, and it seems that professional usage of Curves is alive and well. I am sorry, but I just don’t see how levels, or the other features that control the tonal range in LR/ACR can provide the degree of control that Curves does.

        • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

          Like I said David, you’re an “advanced” user. Most people simply don’t need the complexity that you’re speaking of. You can suggest that curves is “alive” but the fact is that it’s been replaced by better tools. It’s okay that you have the tools you like though. Totally fine. Just understand you’re battling more with familiarity, than you are which tool is actually better. If Curves works for you then I say continue to use it. But it doesn’t make what I wrote wrong. Just know that there are other (and usually better and more simple) ways to do it – so the average person (again who this post was written for) won’t need the tools you’re speaking of. Heck, I don’t even use Curves anymore, nor do I find it useful – so how can I teach the people I’m speaking to, to use it.

          • Misher

            Hi Matt,
            you said curves has been replaced by better tools. I’m curious, which one tools are better/newer in your opinion?

          • http://twitter.com/NathanChilton Nathan Chilton

            Of course, Lightroom/ACR already has curves, so unless you’re doing multiple layers of curves adjustments with specific masking applied to each layer. You’re already covered with LR/ACR.

          • Misher

            Yes, I agree about the LR/ACR. I probably didn’t precise my thought. I was asking about tools in PSE 11 not external programs. For example if I would like to do dodge&burn on some portrait using curves (two layers one brighter one darker) and than masking those layer. What could replace curves (beside levels – curves gives me more precision and some freaky tweak imho) in this operation?

          • Nathan Chilton

            Hello Misher,

            I’m sorry that I misunderstood. I have long since accepted the premise that Lightroom is the primary and first tool used by photographers and that PSE is only for those rare final touches which cannot currently be accomplished with Lightroom. I assumed that Lightroom was the first step in your workflow, which is why I mentioned it.

            However, PSE uses ACR as the first step in editing RAW files, and since ACR has curves, I suggested that PSE provides curves via ACR. If you want curves in PSE, a workaround might be to use ACR (which comes with PSE) to apply a brightening curve and create a PSD/TIF as the output. You could then repeat the process with a different (darkening) curve to create another PSD/TIF file, then combine the two files as different layers in a new PSD/TIF file, and add your masks.

            If you used Lightroom as the first step in your workflow, you could quite easily use an adjustment brush to darken shadows, and then a second adjustment brush to brighten highlights. Using the exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, and clarity sliders you can accomplish very similar things to what you might do with curves adjustment layers and you can then paint only the areas which should receive these adjustments.

            Now that Lightroom 5 is out, you may have even less of a need to mess with PSE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sbrener Steven Brener

    Great insights…I just wish that Elements had more adjustment layer types, like a real Curves adjustment layer. Corel Paintshop Pro has them.

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Just curious Steven – what are you doing with Curves that you can’t do with Levels. I personally haven’t opened Curves in years for Color correction and Levels does just fine to add some contrast.

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  • http://www.eichlerphoto.com David Eichler

    Paths and the Pen Tool “not a photographer thing”? Seems to me that pen paths are sometimes the best method for creating complex, precise masks.

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Sorry David. They’re not even CLOSE to the Refine Edge dialog for creating complex selections. Photographers simply don’t need those tools anymore.

      • http://www.eichlerphoto.com David Eichler

        Matt, see my comment below. But one other thing. I don’t understand your comment about the Refine Edge dialog. It does not make selections; it refines them. So, do you mean that the Refine Edge feature is now so good that drawing Pen paths is less efficient than using the other traditional selection tools for any situation a photographer might encounter? I have not found this to be the case for some technical problems I deal with frequently, as mentioned below. By the way, I have LR 4 and PS CS6.

        • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

          Two things David. You’re correct. Refine edge refines. I use the Quick Selection to make the initial selection. Next, as for the Pen tool being dead for photographers… it is. You may have a very specific thing you do with it, in which case I’d say maybe you should stick with what you know and do now. But if I polled 100 photographers on this site, I promise you that an overwhelming percentage would come back and have zero need for the Pen tool. It’s an EXTREMELY advanced tool and topic – and those that need it have advanced needs. So while it may not be “dead” for what your needs are – it is most certainly not a tool for the majority out there (which is the audience I try to write to). Hope that helps to clarify.

          • http://www.eichlerphoto.com David Eichler

            Well, architectural and interior photography is a very technically demanding specialty that may tend to require specific kinds of retouching that are not necessary for other professional genres. However, it is most certainly a form of professional photography, and hardly an obscure one.

            However, let’s take another professional specialty: product photography. Say you want to drop in another background behind a subject, but at lot of tones of the subject are very similar to those in the background, and there are areas where there are not strongly contrasting boundaries between the subject and background. The Quick Selection tool would have a very hard time selecting the subject (I mean, close enough for the Refine Edge Feature to do its work), even with repeated revisions via addition and subtraction. In such cases, I would go straight to the Pen tool.

            In any case, regardless of your audience, I don’t think that it is right to make such a blanket statement.

  • Barbara

    Did PSE 11 get the patch tool?
    And can you now record actions?

    Thanks

  • http://www.eichlerphoto.com David Eichler

    Matt, I do a lot of interior photography, for which masking windows can be a common requirement. I have tried the other selection tools and, while they sometimes work well for simpler selection jobs, with more complex selections I frequently find them to require more work to refine the mask (whether with a brush or the Refine Edge feature, or both) than drawing a precise Pen path. Of course the Pen path will still require some refinement, but generally much less than when I use the Quick Selection Tool, Color Range, Lasso, etc. If you have an example or know of a tutorial you can point me to which addresses this specific type of selection task, using selection methods other than a Pen path, I would be glad to know about that.

    • Mika

      David, let me assure you that I believe that some of the old techniques like paths and channel masking still habe their place in this world. But you won’t find paths and the pen tool in Katrin Eismann’s book about Masking and Compositing either. It’s available as PDF download because it no that up to date anymore and only useful in “certain” situations, like you mentioned. Anyway, PSE is still more Photoshop than a lot of people can handle and if you focus on photography it is more than you will need. Raw conversion has become so powerful and the little fixes can be done easily in PSE.

  • Roel

    Hello Matt,

    when will your PSE 11 book be available at Amazon?

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      Probably late November or early December.

      • Roel

        Just in time for Xmas ;-)

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  • Tom Snyder

    Hi Matt! OK, I went from PSE 8 to PSE 11 & I’m waiting for your new book (which will probably explain everything!) In the meantime…I really miss the “Fill Light” slider I used in PSE 8 for Camera Raw processing. Here’s why: For real estate interior shots, I often had to reduce the exposure level to “pull” the window view. Then I would use the Fill Light & other sliders to compensate, and all together, come out with a pretty decent image. How would you handle that job in PSE 11, without resorting to layers & other operations? Tom

    • http://mattk.com Matt Kloskowski

      The Shadows slider is the new Fill Light :)

      • http://twitter.com/NathanChilton Nathan Chilton (@NathanChilton)

        Yes, Matt, but not exactly, is it?
        Is there a way to switch to an older process version in PSE11 (like you can in Lightroom)?

    • http://twitter.com/NathanChilton Nathan Chilton (@NathanChilton)

      I just purchased PSE11, so now I can answer this question. As Matt says below, “The Shadows slider is the new Fill Light”. However, the result isn’t exactly the same. You should get better results using the newest process (2012), once you get used to using the new controls.

      However, if you really want the old “Fill Light” slider, you can process the photograph using an older process (2003 or 2010) and you’ll have access to the old controls (including “Fill Light”). While in Camera Raw, just click the camera icon (on the right, below the histogram display) to switch to the Camera Calibration tab. From there, you can switch to an older process (such as 2010). Once you switch back to the “Basic” panel, you’ll see the Fill Light slider again.

      The newer process is better, but you can always revert to an older process until you’re comfortable using the new controls.

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  • Ted

    Hi Matt, I’m a big, big fan of ‘Photoshop Elements 5 Resotration & Retouching’ Any chance of a re-write for PSE 11 and maybe including a few more ‘advanced’ restoration techniques??

  • http://www.facebook.com/zita.allinson Zita Allinson

    nanajell@clear.net.nz How do I get a trial of elements 11 please not CS6 as keeps downloading

  • http://www.facebook.com/brett.ossman Brett Ossman

    What does Lightroom give me beyond Elements 11, especially for an amateur to semi-pro photographer (more amateur)?

    • http://www.mattk.com/ Matt Kloskowski

      Way more control and settings for your raw files so you don’t have to open 10 different dialogs and layers to do it in Elements and a better Organization tool. Elements is where you’d go after you’ve Organized your photos, and edited your file in Lightroom and want to remove, say, a telephone wire or clone something out.

  • Pete Perry

    Channels is supposedly there if you know how to unhide the feature… I have yet to find it but, I’m looking.
    No channels means no Calculations and that’s not acceptable! I will not pay $600 more just to get calculations but, I will look at alternatives before giving Adobe my money.

  • Kristy Doyle

    This was helpful, just to clarify so if i plan on drawing anything at all Elements wont be able to do that for me cause i plan on taking a picture and i want to be able to draw it. Elements i s more a fordable and i’m just starting to build my graphic design portfolio.
    I want to be able to touch up my photos, give them cool effects and as well draw what would you recommend? Also if you could recommend a video editing software, i’ve editing videos before simple colour correction here and there but i would like to get into effects and if you know something other than after effects which looks scary where i’ll be able to add in effects that will be great as well.

    Also you mentioned Lightroom what exactly does that do just simple touch ups?

  • offthe back

    Hi Matt.I use PE 10,bought a couple months before PE 11 came out.any idea when PE 12 will be out or is it safe to upgrade from 10.Thanks!

    • http://www.mattk.com/ Matt Kloskowski

      Not sure exactly when PSE12 will be out. But if you look at the past releases from Adobe, PSE comes out every September :-)

  • Guest

    I’m still working in PSE 5 at home but have CS5 at work. The one big difference for me that looks like it’s been addressed between PSE5 and PSE11 is the layer mask. If the layer mask really is part of the Elements layer tools, there isn’t going to be a hole lot you can’t do efficiently with PSE11. Can’t wait to upgrade!

  • Nicole

    Gosh, I’m about a year past this article’s posting date but I have a burning question I think you’ll be honest about. I know I only want to get PSE but after reading multiple reviews online, I’m not sure if I should go with 11 or 12. The reviews all seem to be slated to version 11 being the best by far… what would you do if I was your sister and had given you a kidney when we were kids?

  • Nicole

    Gosh, I’m about a year past this article’s posting date but I have a burning question I think you’ll be honest about. I know I only want to get PSE but after reading multiple reviews online, I’m not sure if I should go with 11 or 12. The reviews all seem to be slated to version 11 being the best by far… what would you recommend if I was your sister and had given you a kidney when we were kids?

    • http://www.mattk.com/ Matt Kloskowski

      Well Nicole, I’d first thank you for giving away your kidney ;-)
      Anyway, version 12 is the same as version 11 with the exception of having a few more features. Any reviews you see from people not liking version 12, just means they were probably unhappy with the upgrade from 11 to 12 in terms of their cost/benefits if that make sense. But they’re the same program. Rarely would I recommend buying the older version of a program. Once the new version comes out, support, training, tutorials, etc… stop being created for the older version. As your brother, I say go with 12 ;-)

      • Nathan Chilton

        I’m glad you responded, Matt (how could you ignore the sister who gave you a kidney?!)

        I haven’t played with version 12, but from the specs I had concluded the same thing: it doesn’t look like a big upgrade from version 11. Since, I have version 11, I have 98% (my reckless approximation) of what’s in version 12 already.

        However, if someone doesn’t already have version 11, it would seem strange to choose the older version over the newer one. Version 12 actually has the “Content Aware Move” feature and a few other things, which I think would be nice to have. I would think the cost difference between 11 and 12 would be worth paying in order to get the latest features. (In fact, if I could upgrade from 11 to 12 for $15, I’d do it right now!)

  • Idaho_Spud

    Greetings Matt. I have both books and you have saved my professional bacon innumerable times; thank you.
    I now use PSE 11 and like it very much (other than the convoluted run-around opening Camera RAW).
    Speaking of; my images look great after tweaking in RAW, then much worse when opened in 11; what gives? Moslty noise-related distortion. I tried saving directly from RAW; no help. Maybe you can?