There are many possible software packages and editing programs to choose from. But which one is for you?
One option is to try them all and see how you get on. It’s lengthy and expensive, and no one wants to do that. You don’t need to either.
We’ve done it for you. In this article, we look at Adobe Photoshop Elements vs Lightroom CC, so you can choose between them without any hassle.
What Is Adobe Lightroom
Lightroom was the second program, after Photoshop, that Adobe created for photographers. It allows you to complete non-destructive edits on your work.
Although not as all-encompassing as Photoshop, Lightroom lets you do most, if not all image editing. For layers, masks and heavy duty editing, you’ll need Photoshop.
There is no reason why you can’t use both Photoshop and Lightroom together. Exporting images from one to another is not only possible but very effective and simple.
What Is Adobe Photoshop Elements?
Most of you are probably sitting there wondering what Photoshop Elements even is.
Photoshop Elements is a program you have never heard of. Originally, Elements came packaged alongside Photoshop 6.
It was purposely packaged for photographers. Opposed to Photoshop, which was never marketed solely for photographic usage.
In terms of features, PSE has similar tools to other editing software packages, albeit simplified.
Adobe Photoshop Elements Vs Lightroom Classic CC
You will notice from using Photoshop Elements that it feels much like a simplified Adobe Photoshop. One could say that Elements is a trade-off.
It gives you a friendly interface while eliminating advanced functionality.
I like to think of Photoshop Elements as the love child of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. It mixes both together while dumbing it down for the average user.
Comparison 1 – Target Audience
When it comes to Adobe Photoshop Elements vs Lightroom Classic CC 2019, the first area we need to look at are the target audiences.
Lightroom Classic CC 2019
In the beginning, there was Photoshop. This graphic interface dealt with all sorts of professionals and users. Lightroom came from the overwhelming lack of a dedicated photo editing software.
Photographers, of course, could use Photoshop. And they could do everything they dreamt of doing inside the program. Yet, it was over complicated and very advanced, as it was the jack of all trades.
Many people lost interest due to Photoshop’s steep learning curve. Lightroom answered their prayers.
This program appealed to those who wanted to work fast. You could edit many images at the same time and even have a library of sorts. It was perfect, and much needed.
Lightroom was born at the beginning of 2007, which is recent when you think that Photoshop came out in 1990.
Photoshop Elements 2019
Photoshop Elements has been around since 2001, but you might not know about it. It has only been a separate program from mid-2018.
Previously, it came with Photoshop since Photoshop 4. Seen as the simplified version of Photoshop, it was designed to attract hobbyist photographers.
From a quick look at the website and program, it is definitely geared to the family-friendly photographer. The person in your family that captures all the photographic and video memories.
There are templates, slideshows, filters and sharing options. These all point to fun images rather than anything else. You can, of course, use this program to correct white balance or crop images.
Here, videos are the different aspect. Although you can upload, edit and export videos in Lightroom, it doesn’t mean it’s the fastest or easiest solution.
Both programs have a library of sorts, allowing you to quickly find your images. In Lightroom, keywords are king. Photoshop Elements also uses a media gallery, but keywords are non-existent.
Comparison 2 – User Interface
Lightroom Classic CC 2019
Lightroom Classic CC went through many changes before settling on what it is now. There is so much more you can do with this editing software than you may realise.
There are seven (yes, seven) layouts that all offer you something different. We call these modules.
The library module is where the library is in full swing. In this module, you’ll see all the locations and folders on the left. Keywords are on the right and images in the viewer strip at the bottom.
You can’t apply any editing in this module. But you can edit the metadata, apply presets and take full control over your organisation.
The develop module is where all the fun happens. Here, you get to apply any and all adjustments to your images, either locally or globally.
The locations and folders turn into presets and collections. The metadata and keywords turn into basic and more advanced adjustments.
this is where you will spend most of your time, tweaking images to your own particular wants and needs.
NB: The only learning curve I had to experience with Lightroom was knowing the difference between the Library and Develop modules. It was confusing and ‘clunky’ trying to apply things such as keywords over many images.
There is one way to do most things, and if you don’t get it, it can become frustrating.
Lightroom 4 introduced geotagging in the new Map module. Here, you can see or mark where you took your photos. Photos already tagged with GPS coordinates will automatically appear on the map.
You can drag images captured without GPS information directly onto the map from the Filmstrip. You can edit location details and other metadata in the panel at the right.
The Book module delivers an array of layout and type tools. These help you create photo book designs that you can upload directly from Lightroom for printing.
They can even be saved to PDF and printed on your own printer. You can work with a multi-page preview of your book layout, or view single pages in the Book module’s central work area.
In the Slideshow module, you can create stylish presentations from any image collection in your library. The images in your collection appear in the Filmstrip.
You can choose which photos you wish to include in your slideshow. Dragging thumbnails allows you to change the order in which they will appear.
The Print module offers a range of preset templates and all the layout tools you’ll need. It allows you to quickly prepare any selection of images from your library for printing.
The photos in your collection show up in the Filmstrip, where you can select the images you want to print.
In the Web module you can build, preview, and then export/upload your own website to showcase your photos.
As in the Slideshow and Print modules, the Template Browser in the left panel group offers a wide range of preset gallery templates. These are previewed in the Preview panel at the top of the group.
Photoshop Elements 2019
Photoshop Elements has a different approach. With this interface, there are three layouts available to you. As I said, those who use Photoshop will find Elements easy to use.
The three layouts possible are Quick Edit Mode, Guided Edit Mode and Expert Edit Mode. These are great if you don’t need the complexity of the Expert Edit mode.
Quick Edit Mode
This layout will only give you a few simple tools. It is the simplest edit mode, used for quick and minor actions.
You will find tools such as Red Eye Removal, Whiten Teeth Tool (what?!), Spot Healing Brush and the Crop Tool.
These, apart from basic settings adjustments such as Exposure, Levels and Color might be all you need.
Five minutes here will leave you with an image or two. Whereas it would take four or five times longer to do the same things in Photoshop.
Guided Edit Mode
This layout is somewhat different to the Quick Edit Mode. The side panel tools that offered you the simple settings are gone, leaving the hand and zoom tools behind.
This layout is for specific corrections and effects. By using the Touch Ups and Effect settings, you can create old-fashioned images or use vignettes.
Adding a sepia tone to an image here would take a few minutes of tweaking. The same editing in Photoshop, but the method is a little more complicated and less obvious.
Expert Edit Mode
The Expert Edit mode lets you take control over every element of your post-processing workflow. The effects on the left have been drastically improved.
Some of these tools are the same as what you would find in the Quick Edit Mode. they will also be familiar if you have worked with Photoshop before.
The tools divide into five areas. ‘View’, ‘Select’, ‘Enhance’, ‘Draw’, ‘Modify’. If you are looking for color settings, you’ll find them at the bottom.
As the name suggests, this area is for those photographers who know what they are doing. There is less guidance as you would find in the ‘Guided Edit Mode’.
Comparison 3 – Pricing
If you are an avid user of Adobe products, you might be confused with their recent updates. A year or two ago, Adobe changed the majority of their programs to a Creative Cloud subscription process.
Lightroom Classic CC 2019
If you still use Lightroom 6 and feel like it’s finally time for an update, then you need to pay per month. You get many more updates, at no extra cost.
These can be difficult to keep up with, especially if you like to use tutorial videos. They might be giving you processes that have moved, changed or no longer exist.
The Creative Cloud has its benefits, but the big plus for Photoshop Elements is that it isn’t part of it. This might mean fewer updates, but a one-off cost is better than a monthly plan.
Right now, if you wanted to download and use Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, you need to pay a minimum of $9.99 a month. This is the Photography Plan option.
This does come with a simpler, more mobile version of Lightroom (CC), and 20 GB of cloud storage. You can opt for more storage, at an extra cost of $10 per month.
Photoshop Elements 2019
Photoshop Elements comes at a one-off cost of $99.99 for a full-license, not including tax. Upgrades come at $79.99, but I’m unsure how often the updates will be.
The huge benefit here is that, after a year, PSE will still cost you $100. Photoshop will set you back $119.88. After ten years, depending on your computer system, having PSE will save you over $1000.
In terms of drawbacks, you’ll need to pay for those updates. This is great if you only need a few different adjustments and tools.
Both programs offer a 30 day free trial.
When I wrote the Adobe Photoshop Elements vs Photoshop CC, it was concise and easy to see where the differences lay. Adobe Photoshop Elements was a simpler version of Photoshop.
Here, the lines are little more blurred. The problem is that Elements and Lightroom are very similar. They allow you to edit and share your work, while pulling your images from a dedicated library of media.
They both have presets of sorts, even if Lightroom’s are far superior, and way more wide-ranging.
What I will say is this. Lightroom is a lot more professional, and it will let you do almost anything you want. If you can’t find it in Lightroom, then Photoshop is your answer.
Adobe Photoshop Elements is easier to work with, and it has the hobbyist in mind. Lightroom has the professional in mind, with metadata and keywords to do the heavy organisation.
The price might be a big factor when it comes to your choice in program. Adobe Photoshop Elements is much cheaper over a long period of time.
At 10 months in, they both cost the same. But after that, Elements is basically free, if you don’t mind not updating the program.
For me, Elements is a little too basic. I love Lightroom, and I can’t imagine downgrading to a simpler product. This is due to the amount of time and effort I put into learning how the platform operates.
Sometimes I don’t make very complicated edits, but knowing I can export into Photoshop is a tool worth having.
Elements is more for the photographer who likes to photograph their family and friends.
Lightroom is better suited for the professional photographer. Definitely for those who use filters, and many sliders to achieve correct colour management. Their presets are unsurpassed.