Adobe Photoshop - best version for relative beginner?


TPF Noob!
Jun 13, 2013
Reaction score
Greenville, NC
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hi all,

I hope this isn't posted anywhere else but if it was, I apologize.

I've been using basic editing software for my photo's for years now. I really think it's time to step it up and buy Adobe Photoshop.

I'm just super confused as to where I should start. I want something basic/to the point but also want it to be able to do some cool stuff.

Can anyone recommend a good starting point version of Photoshop? I have 0 experience with Photoshop but do know how to edit in other avenues.

Any help is appreciated.
Well best place to start is Photoshop Elements 11 - whilst it is stripped down it will do lots of cool stuff and generally works well for most photographers needs. Considering your experience level that you mention its likely the best option and is also not too expensive in cost.

If you want something more photography focused then Lightroom 5 is a popular option - more expensive and lacks some of the specific editing features; but it has a wealth of options and for many photographers will do most if not all of what is needed. IT also features good library and organising features that can be a major bonus long term. You can also output photos direct from it into photoshop (elements or full) which can then be further edited if you need to.

Photoshop CS is now only sold online as part of their creative cloud setup and thus if you want it you have to pay a subscription either annually or monthly to get access to it - earlier versions are still sold, but still command a very high price.

You can demo all the software direct from the Adobe website for 30 days so you can try them all out and see what suits you needs
Best is relative. Options to look at are Elements, which you can get stand-alone for cheap and will give you more power than you need to edit images. I don't recommend Photoshop to beginners because there's no point in spending that much for something you won't even get 1% out of. If you want, get a free trial or sign up for a month of the cloud service, but Photoshop is a heavy tool that you'll need some training to make worthwhile. Also, CS is part of the cloud and soon Adobe will stop making/supporting stand-alone software and you'll be required to rent their software, including CS. If you buy CS, you'll only be able to sit on it so long before you'll have to get into the rental cloud. Elements is not part of the cloud so you can buy the stand-alone version and keep it without a subscription.

Cool stuff is also relative. I don't know what you think is cool. That could mean filter effects or PS techniques. Since Adobe is the industry standard, most filters and plug-ins work with it, so you'll have an easier time finding plugins and help for Adobe than with other stuff. And if you move to pro Adobe software, some of the Elements skills will carry over to CS. Alternatives like Paint Shop are just cheap ways for amateurs to feel like they're part of the digital editing world. They don't have much relevance in the pro world and what you learn there may not carry over to pro software, and it may not be compatible with top plugins. Also, if you go to professional training resources, they don't cover alternatives if you want to learn new tricks or techniques. It's pretty much only Adobe.

Lightroom is great but it's not a CS replacement. It doesn't have the layer and pixel editing power of CS. It's handy for organizing and doing quick edits on RAW files.
I got PSE 11 for $79.99 and it does all the photo editing I could want. You can start with this version and if it doesn't cut it then you can always upgrade.
I have no idea what you consider "cool stuff". What have you been using before? How are you limited by your current program?

I would probably start with Photoshop Elements, unless there is a specific feature that you are looking for that is only found in full blown PS. Elements is a pretty powerful program with a much lower price tag than full blown PS. I would only upgrade to the full version of PS if there are specific things you are looking for that Elements lacks.
Adobe Lightroom 5 plus Photoshop Elements 11 is what I use, and between those two you can do most everything.

Stepping up to the full Photoshop sounds tempting.... a lot of what you are paying for are tools you probably will never even know exist in that package. Also keep in mind you can't buy Photoshop anymore, you have to subscribe to the creative cloud. So, $20 a month a month forever for PS in the creative cloud, or $79 for Elements 11 plus $150 for Lightroom 5 as a one time expense.
Just to throw out another option is Perfect Photosuit, it is very user friendly. You can buy it as a whole or individual moduals, it has PhotoShop and Lightroom plugins also.

Perfect Photo Suite 7 - onOne Software

No matter what program you decide to go with youtube will be your friend for learning and instructional videos.

Most reactions