Curves and Color Balance adjustments in Photoshop Elements 11


TPF Noob!
Dec 30, 2011
Reaction score
Palo Alto, CA
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I have a smaller question in the realm of that oh-so-common Photoshop vs Elements question.

Most of my Photoshop experience is Lightroom 3, which I've had for a couple years now. I love it, I'll definitely upgrade when it starts to feel really obsolete (and when I get a new computer that can handle it ;) ).

As for an editor, I've been bouncing around Photoshop CS trials and working on school computers and found certain tools very handy, such as Curves and Color Balance. I figured it's time I got something of my own, and I wanted to cut costs and get Elements. I have the trial for 11 right now and... I was frankly a bit underwhelmed by the tonal adjustments. For one thing, I can't seem to find the old Curves tool, where you could fine-tune the color curve and use high/low/mid eyedroppers to get the tone just right. Also, the typical color balance tool I had gotten used to in the past for dropping overpowering magenta etc. seems to be missing as well. Levels doesn't seem to have changed, which is good, but there's this rather superficial "Adjust Color Curves" tool which doesn't allow the same amount of control.

Am I just missing something here? Is this the way all Photoshop/Elements are going, or are these a few of the differences between the two?

I still qualify for the student discount for another two years at least, so my gut feeling is that if Elements is so far off then I should pay the $200 for the student version of Photoshop CS6 Extended (I don't believe they do just Photoshop CS6 with student pricing). What I see fairly commonly, though, is that Elements 11 is supposed to be amazing. I use Lightroom almost every other day, and if I have it Photoshop maybe once a week. I think the Cloud is pretty rotten when I'm not making a full time salary though..

Thanks for the help,
Since Elements is a consumer grade product, Elements has only a fraction (about 40%) of the tools, capabilities, and functions the professional grade CS 6 or CC have.
Previous versions of Elements haven't included a Curves panel. There is a Levels Adjustment layer option however.

You are correct that only CS 6 Extended is offered as a Student Edition.
There is a student discount for Photoshop CC for $20 a month. The $20 a month gets you the entire Creative Cloud suite, which for non-students is $50 a month.

The single application monthly charge for just CC is $20, but there is no student discount.

How many soda pops, coffees, or energy drinks would you need to skip to = $20 a month?
Thanks for your response, Keith. I knew Elements was Photoshop lite, but I didn't realize it was only down around 40% (at less than 40% of the cost though, it makes sense). I just hadn't seen any articles comparing the two that brought up the fact that Curves wasn't in PSE.

As for CC, you make a fair point ;). Plus, CS6 Student is actually $350, so all of a sudden CC is making more sense. How does the payment schedule work? If I decide I'm not using it enough can I just unsubscribe for a month?
Their web sites say it's a 1 year commitment, but you can do a 30 day trial for free.

I thought CS 6 Extended Student Edition was $250?

CS 3, CS 4, & CS 5 Extended Student Editions were only $199.
$199, now that's not a bad deal! I just confirmed on Adobe's website, $350 for Extended. A pretty hefty sum, that's nearly a year and a half of CC subscription.
I just got CC student for $20/mo. Its automatically charged to your credit card every month... its so worth it though.

Most reactions