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Photoshop Elements 11 vs. Photoshop CS6

Photoshop Elements 11 vs. Photoshop CS6

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 vs. Photoshop CS6

A powerful image can instantly communicate your organization's message on your website or blog. A collection of inspiring images can make a great presentation even better.

If you're going to work more effectively with images and don't already have an image-editing tool, you might consider Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 11. This newly updated image- and video-editing bundle runs on Windows machines or Macs, and is now available to eligible nonprofits, charities, and public libraries through TechSoup.

Choosing the Right Software

TechSoup also offers professional-level image-editing software from Adobe: Photoshop Extended CS6. Over the past few years, Adobe's added a number of features to the Elements line that bring its capabilities even closer to the full version of Photoshop. Certainly, organizations can use either of these products to create professional-looking images. So which one is right for your organization?

Elemental Effects

Photoshop Elements 11 and Premiere Elements 11 includes what most organizations need in an image-editing program. Users can remove red-eye; adjust colors, lighting, contrast, shadowing, and highlights; create composites from multiple photographs; and perform most other standard image-editing tasks.

The Elements interface now includes three editing modes called Quick, Guided, and Expert that provide a step-by-step process for beginners or allow advanced image editors to get right down to work.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 interface

The Elements products also include a common Organizer that allows you to easily tag and find photos (similar in function to the Bridge application used in the Creative Suite programs).

Adobe Photoshop Elements Organizer

All of these features should be enough to create great-looking photos for a website, online photo library, or even basic printed outreach materials like pamphlets and flyers.

When to Go Pro

Elements lacks support for CMYK coloring (the type of coloring used for professional printing), so you won't be able to create images for truly professionally printed outreach materials. It also lacks 16-bit support, for the most part (something that probably only professional photographers would care about).

In contrast, Photoshop CS6 includes advanced Photoshop features such as:

  • Channel Mixer and Color Balance for making precise image adjustments
  • Support for automating Photoshop tasks through scripts written by developers
  • CMYK coloring for preparing images for professional printing

Photoshop CS6 is significantly more complex and thus more difficult to learn – it doesn't have the guided edits that make Photoshop Elements easy to use. Plus, it requires a fairly robust computer with at least 1 GB of RAM and a decent video card.

If your organization doesn't need truly professional image-editing functionality, you probably don't need Photoshop CS6. Further, the Extended version we offer on TechSoup features really advanced tools for mapping 2D images in 3D space, editing 3D and motion-based images, and analyzing images with measurement and counting tools.

That said, you won't be able to use Elements for designing logos, digitally painting, or doing the professional graphic design work you might see from the Photoshop wizards on the Internet.

TechSoup Admin Fees

Since Photoshop Elements 11 and Premiere Elements 11 is available for a $22 admin fee from TechSoup versus a $90 admin fee for Photoshop CS5 Extended, most organizations are able to save a considerable amount by requesting a donation of Elements.

Plus, the Elements bundle includes Premiere Elements video editing software, which is a useful program on its own for telling your organization's story with moving images. Maybe you can use the software to take home the grand prize in this year's TechSoup Digital Storytelling Challenge!

Note that non-bundled, standalone versions of Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements aren't available through TechSoup.

In-Depth Comparisons

If you need granular details on which features are included in Photoshop Elements vs. Photoshop CS6 before making your decision:

Training Resources

If you want to learn more about either version of Photoshop, you can request a one-month subscription to Atomic Training through TechSoup. This donation provides access to online video courses for over 150 software applications, including Photoshop Elements 11, Photoshop CS6, Premiere Elements 11, and many other Adobe products.

Since Photoshop is such a widely used application, there are a variety of free tutorials, training, and help resources available online if you decide you need the full version and have time to learn the software. You can start at Adobe's own Learn Photoshop CS6 tutorials on Adobe TV. 

Other TechSoup Resources

You can also discuss these two products in our forums: Photoshop vs. Photoshop Elements. Have you used either or both? Share your thoughts on how you've used either product as well as any tips or tricks for getting the most out of image-editing software.

Carlos Bergfeld
Product Content Manager, TechSoup Global

  • Too bad Elements is "out of stock"