Do You Need Photoshop CS6? Just PSE? Neither?

Summary – A follow-up to today’s earlier Adobe black Friday sale post where a comment was left asking what PS CS6 could do that PSE couldn’t. Here’s my reply in case you missed that exchange.



Question –

Can PSE 12 really replace PS CS6? What can’t you do with it?

Answer –

PSE does (per Adobe) 85-90% of PS. I have CS2 and never use it since PSE + LR5 (+ plug-ins) handle my needs just fine.

Here’s an excellent article on the question of what PS can do & not PSE (& vice versa – scroll down to “Compare Photoshop CS6 vs. Photoshop Elements 11” – very slightly out of date since the offer is for 12). The article also adds LR to the mix. If you own LR or are considering it, a better version of the original question is can LR + PSE 12 replace PS CS6. And – don’t forget to include features of other software you may own (like the Nik Collection) and how they may fill some holes.

Only you can determine whether there’s a “does &  doesn’t do xyz” in that list that is essential for what you do. If you find such items, I’m sure that I & other readers would appreciate hearing back. Like, for myself, PSE’s lack of full 16 bit image processing would be a problem were it not for using LR in combination with the Nik Collection for example. A specific place where this comes into play is with HDR Efex Pro – in case you didn’t know why of the entire Collection, this one program won’t run in PSE (HEP needs 16 bit). But that’s no reason to buy the full CS6 – HDR Efex can run stand alone and/or can be called from LR.

One other thought as you scan the comparison. If you see an item missing from PSE that’s important – Curves jumps right out – ask yourself whether you don’t already have Curves else where. In my case it’s in the Nik Collection in several places (CEP4 for example) and LR. So, even though it’s in PS and not PSE, that difference may not matter depending on what other programs you have and how they fit in your personal workflow. For me, even if PSE had Curves I’d never use it there – for me, PSE is simple a convenient means for compositing images, adding text and acting as a plug-in host.

Also consider that PS CS6 will eventually be outdated by the cloud version. LR & PSE are available without subscribing to the cloud.

Bottom line is that CS is overkill for me (and I suspect most amateurs – and pro’s even). Check it out & let us know your take on the comparison as it affects your processing. Looking forward to your reply….


Bottom bottom line – If you shoot Raw and make proper in-camera captures the vast majority of your images will need nothing more than what LR (or equivalent) can do – and most of them will need very little of that even.


Subscribe (see sidebar). New posts daily.

  • No sidebar? Click here or the blog title at the top of this page.

Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

  • Or – “Follow” in your admin bar, displayed at the top of the screen, for logged-in users.

4 thoughts on “Do You Need Photoshop CS6? Just PSE? Neither?

    • Agree – especially since much of the full PS has nothing to do with photos. Fine if you’re a graphics artist, but photographer – not so much.

    I NEED PS6
    and all the other tools because I made ONE shot and now I never again have to leave my warm and cosy room to take another shot. For the next decades I´ll be busy with this one shot exploring all the menues and settings and nuts and bolts included in Photoshop.
    If the Creator had had PS he would have never touched something impure like clay to create a beeing with an own will!
    Nothing compares to these meekly pixels that can be bend in any direction again and again.

    Eeh – just kidding

    • Glad you added that “kidding” – else we all would have taken you seriously So can Adobe sign you up for the entire CS suite?? That would keep you busy until your clay’s warranty expires – as long as that one SHOT isn’t picture perfect..;-)

Comments are closed.