BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Jodi M. Walsh
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/7/2007

Editing Software: Photoshop, Elements, etc.

I've been using Corel Paintshop Pro for the past 2 years and feel very comfortable with it, but I've been considering getting Photoshop to be able to do more things. Should I go with PS Elements or should I go to a full version of Photoshop? Oh, I have a small portrait business that is growing, so I would consider myself semi-professional.

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7/29/2009 6:14:07 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hello Jodi,
You can download 30-trial versions of anything from Adobe. You should take a look at Lightroom 2 as well. It is priced between Elements and Photoshop and will do most quick editing tasks easily but you will still get the best overall editing software with Photoshop.
I have been using Photoshop for about 8 years and I am more comfortable using it over any other software. It is a huge program and even after 8 years, I use only a small portion of its capabilities. Elements also has the ability to use layers and a combo of Lightroom and Elements may be all you will need, and you can get both of these for less than the price of Photoshop.
Download the trial versions and play with them for 30 days, then decide what you like.
Hope this helps,

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7/29/2009 8:56:33 AM

R K Stephenson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/5/2007
  I second Carlton's response and would only add one other consideration. Photoshop comes with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), which is an inexpensive alternative to Lightroom2. Quite often I do everything I need to do in ACR and don't even need to open PS.
It used to be true that the ACR in Elements was not the same product in PS. (Don't know if that is still true.)
But Lightroom 2 plus Photoshop is an unbeatable combination.

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7/29/2009 11:50:10 AM

Julianna J. Collett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/22/2008
I tried both Corel and Elements on a trial basis. I liked Corel far more but went against my gut and got Elements 7 because I thought that it was what "everyone" was using and I could get some actions as well. Take into consideration that I am a computer novice but I have yet to be able to figure out how to install actions (nor has my computer-savvy 16-year-old), and I find that I use my Olympus Master 2 Raw and only venture into Photoshop if I absolutely have to. There is still a lot of going back and forth and I have been looking at Lightroom 2 as a more user-friendly option!

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7/29/2009 12:26:55 PM

Jodi M. Walsh
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/7/2007
  Thank you for the responses. I have lots to think about. One question, though: What is Lightroom? I did a trial of PSE 7 and I found it very different from Paintshop so I went back to Paintshop, but it's definitely frustrating when everyone else has Adobe in some form.

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7/29/2009 1:13:49 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2008
Elements 6 was unable to run actions. I never used version 7, but I bet it's not able to either. Actions are a benefit of a more expensive version of PS.

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7/29/2009 1:41:55 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Jodi,
Lightroom is an organizational and editing software that many wedding and portrait photographers swear by because it allows you to quickly organize, edit and post the finished images easily. I use Bridge and Photoshop CS3 w/ACR to organize and process my images, but I rarely have to do a lot of images at the same time. Lightroom has the ability to process Raw images (without needing PS & ACR) and do the most critical edits all within its software. Wedding photogs who go and shoot 500+ photos love the speed & quality they can process their images.
Again, I would download the 30-day trial versions (Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom 2) and see what works for you. You might start with Lightroom 2 and see if this is enough for you. You may want to try one at a time so that you don't get overwhelmed with trying to figure out all three at once. And again, Lightroom will give you enough to do most tasks.
Being a Photoshop user, I agree with RK in that I do most of my Raw processing in ACR. I have played with Lightroom but do not see the need for the way I work, and since I have paid $600 already for Photoshop, it's hard for me to justify spending an additional $300 for Lightroom.

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7/29/2009 1:47:09 PM

Jessica Jenney
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/2/2005
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  Check this out:

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7/30/2009 11:37:50 AM

Jodi M. Walsh
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/7/2007
  thank you for the link Jessica. that was another question I had, whether you could use actions or not.

i'm on vacation now but i'll be testing out lightroom once i'm home.

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7/30/2009 12:36:55 PM

Allen W. Harry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2007

Like you I struggled for the "right" answer. I have been using Lightroom since it came out, now at v2.0, and it is unbeatable. The fact that your original files are never altered (non-destructive editing), the camera raw engine is the same as in ACR 5.0, downloading and sorting is a snap, etc etc. Try it first, if you get into doing more graphics work, then you will want to look at Photoshop CS4.
Another nice thing is that Lightroom integrates automatically into CS4 when you need that full PS capability.

Allen Harry

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8/11/2009 12:35:47 PM

Lynn R. Powers   Jodi,

PSE7 comes with ACR and will accept RAW files from your 50D. Adobe has updated ACR to v5.4 which is a free download. I make 12X18 prints from PSD made from RAW images and have no need for TIFF. They take up too much space and are seldom needed. Photoshop, i.e. CS4 will cost you $700 unless you can get it at an educational discount. BP unfortunately does not qualify for it.

If you are like me and take a variety of photos for yourself and not commercially LR2 is not needed. It is however an excellent program for the professional photographer used in conjuction with either PSE7 or CS4.

Better photo does have classes for PSE which I recommend you take. With your previous knowledge learned from using Corel you should find the transition rather easy.

Best of luck deciding.


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8/11/2009 1:56:43 PM

Dan W. Dooley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2005

Don't short change PSP for it is a very capable editing tool. If you are comfortable with it, you will be able to do anything with it that someone using Photoshop will be able to do. I say that because though I don't have any direct experience with PSP, I have a close friend here who uses it and he is a pro photographer and finds no shortages with it.

Ok, so it will not directly work with your camera RAW files. Whether that should be the criteria for wishing to look for another tool, is something to think about. I use PS CS2 and it will not directly work with my 40D RAW files. I don't consider that a problem. I do my RAW editing in DPP (which comes free from Canon). Again, it's a matter of personal preference of course and once I have converted the RAW file to TIFF, I then open it in PS for any additional work I might need to do to it. More often than not that simply consists of cropping and sizing.

I tried Lightroom for awhile and though it is very powerful tool, there are some things I don't like about it. No gripes agains't the program but it did not suit my "style" of work, so to speak. It is great for managing large numbers of files and would be good for someone doing bulk work. I never do that. That aside, the tools for editing are very powerful.

One thing I dislight in comparison to DPP is that it does not recognize (or doesn't seem to) camera presets. I use the Faithful mode which is set in my 40D. I have also upped the sharpness in the mode to full. DPP recognizes that and when I open a RAW file, it is in the DPP Faithful Mode and the sharpness, contrast, saturation, and white balance match what was set in the camera. In LR, everyhing is set to neutral so I have to repeat every "level". There may be ways to preset all of this but I didn't find that.

Yes, moving from DPP or LR to the editing program is a step but even if you edit RAW in Photoshop or Paintshop, there is still a step involved in moving from the RAW file to the JPG or TIF editing phase.

On Elements. I tried it once and found it to be mostly elementary. It is something of a condensed version of PS so moving from PSP to Elements you would be moving down a step tool and capability wise. It might be all you need but I think you've got a good editor in PSP.


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8/12/2009 2:37:48 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  This is really a frequently asked question. My pat reply is that if you don't know which to get, get Elements. Get Photoshop at 10 times the price when you are sure you know why you are getting it. But I also have to agree with Dan. PSP is a capable editor. In fact, I edited a book by an author writing on PSP, and I never used PSP before the editing. It is pretty amazing how similar the products are, or I'd never have gotten through the edit.
All that said... NO MATTER WHAT software you choose to use, you have to learn it to get the most from it. Most people dabble at the surface, and then wonder why less expensive programs can do the same things they do in an expensive one. Learning the software will require effort, time, and practice.
Any of these programs are tough to learn to use to their utmost. Lots of people pump Lightroom based on ease-of-use, but frankly ease usually means you are giving up control. I do not use Lightroom, and I don't feel that I need it. There is nothing it will do for me that Photoshop cannot.
As far as Elements being "elementary" and not running actions, I don't think these positions are accurate. I wrote several books on how to use Elements as an advanced editing tool, and part of that is based on the program running actions. Most of the things that people say you can't do in Elements can be done ... you just need to know how. Elements users can get free tools from my Web site that add in many of the more powerful features: The tools are actions I created in Photoshop to run in Elements.
If you do decide to get Photoshop, save the money and DO NOT get the Extended version. That is $300 more for tools you will likely never use as a digital photographer. Most people seem to want to pay the extra $300 because they get more. You get 3D tools, analytics, and a few other things. The Extended version is for specialty needs, not for image editing.
I hope this helps!

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8/20/2009 11:10:26 AM

Jodi M. Walsh
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/7/2007
  Thank you all for your responses.

I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't planning on switching completely to another editing software. I guess the more I've thought about it... it seems that Photoshop will always be out of my price range and I'll probably supplement PSP with Elements.

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8/20/2009 11:50:13 AM

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