It should come as no surprise that the answer to, “what is the best Photoshop software?” is, “it depends.” Figuring out the different editions of Adobe’s flagship photo editing software can be a little confusing for the uninitiated.

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Even the most basic edition, Photoshop Elements, delivers amazing photo editing results; especially amazing for the modest price. You can use it straight away for simple photo touch-ups, enhancements and corrections, but it is also sophisticated enough to require some degree of instruction in order to master its advanced features.

It would be a mistake to think of Photoshop Elements as a chopped down version of Photoshop CS5, for it is certainly not that. After all, Photoshop Elements probably has eighty percent of Photoshop CS5 features at a fraction of the cost. Arguably, it has ninety nine percent of the critical features you really need.

For photo editing, the main difference between Photoshop Elements vs CS5 editions isn’t so much what you can do, rather, it is how you do it. Photoshop Elements offers powerful features that are simple to understand and easy to use. The Photoshop CS5 edition, too, offers very powerful features, but you have a lot more control over fine-tuning the details of how they are applied.

Photoshop Elements 10 for PC & MAC

Photoshop CS5 for PC (download)

Photoshop CS5 for MAC

More control doesn’t necessarily mean Photoshop CS5 is better than Photoshop Elements. It doesn’t merely mean that you can control more detail, it means that you must control the details.

Indeed, Photoshop CS5 brings a lot more flexibility and additional capabilities, such as CMYK color models, animated GIFs, and customized scripting, but with those abilities comes the requirement that you manage the deep level of details which Photoshop Elements manages for you automatically.

Best Photoshop Software For the Price

Both of the Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop Extended CS5 editions come with eye-popping price-tags, especially as compared with the very affordable Photoshop Elements edition, so it’s important to understand what you want to do before deciding to buy one.

For the casual user or scrap-booker Photoshop Elements is almost certainly the best Photoshop software to buy. It is affordable, and packed with more than enough features for the casual user.

If you’re a professional photographer or print designer you’ll possibly find the Photoshop CS5 edition is the best Photoshop software for you; however, this isn’t absolutely true in every case. It is entirely possible for you to use the Photoshop Elements edition productively for years before you encounter a problem Photoshop Elements isn’t suitable for dealing with.

When or if you ever do hit that roadblock, Photoshop CS5′s masking layers, absent from Photoshop Elements adjustment layers, will likely be the first new feature that draws you into the Photoshop CS5 edition.

If you’re a professional web designer you very likely will want to consider the Photoshop CS5 edition. Its Slice Tool allows you to carve up your web design into the major sections of your website, add tags, and then export it for further development in your HTML editor. You are likely to find this feature indispensable.

Both Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop Elements allow you to export an image for web publishing, but Photoshop Elements has no feature comparable to the Slice Tool.

Photoshop CS5 vs Extended CS5 is easier to explain than Photoshop Elements vs CS5. For the professional video editor, the Photoshop Extended CS5 edition has everything Photoshop CS5 has, and adds video editing and a host of 3D imaging tools: enhanced ray tracing, realistic light transitions, shadow creation, 3D merge and scene compositing, and 3D workflow, to name but a few.

Best Photoshop Software For You

At risk of oversimplifying an answer to a complicated question, the best Photoshop software edition for you breaks down this way:

  • Photoshop Elements is for the casual user, scrap-booker, and professional photographer who values simplicity and automation over detailed control.
  • Photoshop CS5 is for the web designer, serious photo hobbyist, and professional photographer doing large sized prints, or who values very detailed control even at the expense of simplicity and automation.
  • Photoshop Extended CS5 is for the serious 3D or video hobbyist, cross-media designer, and professional video editor. If your focus is 2D photos and graphics, then this isn’t the best Photoshop software edition for you.

If in doubt, get the edition one level down, in price, from the one you are considering; otherwise, you could end up paying a lot of money for features you might never use. The best Photoshop software for you is the one you know you need. Adobe offers discounted upgrades all the way from Photoshop Elements through to the Photoshop Extended CS5 editions, so there is really no reason to guess using your wallet.

You’ll pay a little bit more in total going the upgrade route than you would if you went straight to a higher edition; however, in contrast, you’ll pay a lot more if you end up getting a higher edition than you really need. Get the one you know you need now, then upgrade later only if you need features in the pricier editions that you can’t live without.


Photoshop Extended CS5 For PC

Photoshop Extended CS5 For MAC

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