What Version of Photoshop is Best for an Amateur Photographer?

For an amateur photographer, choosing a Photoshop suite entails deciding between Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements. Elements is not, contrary to some opinion, a scaled-down version of Photoshop. It is its own photo editor, built from the ground up as a cousin and alternative to Adobe Photoshop. To answer the question at hand, however, it is fair to say that whether you should choose CS or Elements depends on what you are planning on doing with your photos.

The Advantages of Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements, now in its eighth generation, is a simpler editor than Photoshop, offering easy-to-use tools for basic tasks: red eye removal, distortions, and tint application, for example. If you plan simply on performing basic editing tasks on a routine basis, Elements is probably the way to go.

Elements has some other features that make it more useful to the end-user than your average photo editor. As with all Photoshop products, Elements is integrated with Adobe's Photoshop.com online applications, which offer remote photo editing and management, along with 2 GB of free storage for pictures. Elements also has a photo organizer, which gathers your pictures and movies in a library on your local computer. Further, Elements has built-in templates for photo books, scrapbooks, greeting cards, and slide shows, features which the amateur photographer will appreciate.

The Advantages of Photoshop Creative Suite

Photoshop CS and CS Enhanced may have a steeper learning curve, but their advantages lie in their expandability and depth of offerings. An investment in CS, as well as greater drain on the wallet, will entail more time spent learning how to use Photoshop and how to make its filters, tools, and effects work for you. CS offers a lot more room to grow than Elements, and may better benefit the user interested in expanding his or her repertoire and learning new skills, rather than simply editing and managing a library of photos.

In terms of learning those new skills, countless websites and books offer tutorials and how tos for the full version of Photoshop. A simple Google or YouTube search will yield numerous step-by-step instructions for how to use the different features and functions of Photoshop. In fact, information about many of Photoshop CS' features can be found within the Steve's Digicams knowledge base and on the forums. Photoshop CS offers a broader horizon than Elements and offers a means to arrive at it.

A Few Tips

A few bits of advice should be followed when investing in Photoshop software, whichever version you choose.

First, buy the newest version you can reasonably get your hands on. Older Photoshop software is cheaper, but will have less compatibility with extensions and modern image formats.

Second, seek bargains. Adobe occasionally drops their prices, and third-party stores will sometimes sell Photoshop software for cheap. A student version of Photoshop is available, and all higher education students are eligible to purchase it.

Third, Don't set your mind to something your wallet can't support. Instead of spending more than you can afford, buy a scaled-back or older version and enhance it with free or cheap add-ons and extensions. Do your research before investing and save your money.

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