Review of Photoshop Elements 12

What Suits my needs now – Photoshop Elements 12 or Photoshop CS6/CC

You can view these notes online at and also download them as a pdf.


What should I get? The expensive Photoshop (PS)  for $700 or the more economical Photoshop Elements (PE) for $100?

The answer to this will depend upon your present level of skill and what you want to do.

You may find that PE is fine for what you are doing now. Then as your skills develop and your interest in trying new things may lead you to using PS. The good news is that PS is the industry standard. The bad news is that you may have to get your grand children to purchase it for you.

I came across this explanation from  a website at

  1. “Photoshop is marketed for the professional market.
  2. . . .Photoshop Elements is the more affordable version of Photoshop. This software targets the prosumer (Google that one?) and consumer markets. It is geared towards the average consumers, digital scrapbookers, amateur photographers, etc.
  3. It is composed of simplified tools and menus so that users will find them easier to understand.
  4. In other words, Photoshop is suitable for creation and graphic design. On the other hand, Elements is more for photo editing.”

Which one to Choose?

For several years, computer users have been happy using the Auto Button to improve the photos that they have taken that may be too dark (under exposed) or too light (over exposed).

(Image 1 – smart fix auto box)

Image 1 - smart fis auto box

For most of us, this was all that we needed at the time. But as interest increased, and we realised that we could put the south end of a north facing horse onto a photo to replace the face of the divorced spouse, then we had to look for something more than just Picassa (PC users) or iPhoto (Mac users).

This is where Photoshop Elements became the introduction for many people to use selections if needed to make changes to images. there was also the fact that in Quick Edit mode, all that was needed to understand what was happening, was a visual series of boxes that showed you the effect of the slider on what you were editing. Whether it was:

  • Smart fix,
  • Exposure,
  • Levels,
  • Colour,
  • Balance,
  • Sharpen

(Image 2 – sliders and boxes)

Paint Image 2.1 - sliders and boxes

From looking at the diagram, you can see that the levels for midtones, shadows and highlights now can be adjusted in just three steps.

When we did this in the previous article using Photoshop, it was more like ten to twenty  steps to complete the same adjustment. But it was a lot more interesting and fun being able to work with the histograms and different channels. If you need to refresh your memory, you can find that article here. Scroll down to Part 2 – Using Adjustment Layers for Levels. All will be revealed.

So we have one example that shows how even though PS is more of an effort to learn, you may find it worth the effort for the high degree of control that it can give you rather than just moving a single slider in PE.

Photo Organiser

I love the Photo Organiser in PE 12. This feature alone is almost enough to make you go out and buy PE 12.

After several years of creating separate folders for original files and project files, there would be times that I felt I was losing my mind. My expert system was not too crash hot.

With PE 12 you can automatically save all your changes in the same folder as the original file. What is even better is that you can show the original and the changed file side by side so easily with just one click of a button.

This shows up a lot better in colour, so have a look at the website ( again to see it

(Image 3 –  side by side)

Side by side in PE 12 with just one click!

Side by side in PE 12 with just one click!

Other considerations

Please keep in mind that I am still on a rapid learning curve with PS. And that it was only in the last week that I began to use PE 12. So there will be several skills that I may not be familiar with in PS just yet. So the PE 12 way of doing something sometimes feels like magic.

Here are some links to help you make up your own mind. Listed from best down to helpful:


This is meant to have been a short review of my  initial reactions to PE 12 after trying for a few times while working my way through the course called Up and Running with Photoshop Elements 12.

If you are just getting started with editing your own photos, then go out and buy PE 12 and learn how to use all the features.

When you find out about a PS feature that is not in PE 12, it may be time to consider PS CS6 as a student version from your grand child to you as a Christmas present (Officeworks for $178)


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