Elements is LE; they changed the name to give it a more distinct presence in the marketplace. Last version of LE was 5.5 (similar to PhotoShop 5.5); Elements v1.0 could be though of as LE6.
For the most part, what's missing from LE/Elements are the tools and settings professional publishers need. PhotoShop also has some tools for web publishing and interacts closely with the other Pro software Adobe makes.
So, if you need a stand-alone image editing tool, Elements is probably fine for the vast majority of users. If you use other Adobe Pro apps, send jobs out to be published on professional presses, or do major web site design you might want to use PhotoShop instead.
Here's a quick guide to which one you should use (it refers to the PC version, which is pretty much identical to the Mac version).
"Elements is LE; they changed the name to give it a more distinct presence in the marketplace"
That's not completely true. Certainly Photoshop LE has been replaced by Elements. However, LE was identical to the full Photoshop with some functionality removed. Elements meanwhile was redesigned for the masses... the interface is somewhat easier and it comes with all kinds of guides etc.
The latest version of Elements is very good value and has easily handled everything I've thrown at it. If you can only get one cheap graphics app, it's the one.
from what i can tell, LE was a stripped down photoshop, Elements is different in that it grabs you by the hand and walks you through common tasks. i haven't actually used it -- i'm just going based on screen shots that i've seen in the past. btw, Elements should not be considered if you ever want to send anything to press as it does not support CMYK. (and neither does the GIMP, except through an experimental plugin).
There's also no Pen tool for clipping paths - a very important feature for those working in the design industry. If you need to close crop photos to import into page layout software, you'll need Photoshop. There are other features stripped out too, but I'd have to take a look at both applications again.
Mostly I meant that Elements is functionally identical to LE; it has essentially the same feature set, and replaced LE in the product lineup. Other posters are of course correct when they point out that the interface of Elements was reworked (automating such features as red-eye reduction, for example). Still, it's a reasonably seamless transition from either to PhotoShop proper, so not that much has changed.
To get a handle on Elements think JASC's Paint Shop Pro. It was the leading mid-range Windows graphics application while LE was kind of off the radar screen for PC users.
Everything in Elements that was reworked is designed to kill the competitive Paint Shop Pro. No real reason for the Mac version, as PhotoShop and Graphic Converter had already effectively killed the Mac's competitive low-budget image program (ColorIt!; $49), except to maintain X-platform compatibility.
By the way, if you want a low-cost alternative, you might want to check out ColorIt! and see where it's at these days. I used it for years (68030~PPC 604 days) and it was, at the time, almost identical to full PhotoShop feature-wise.
ImageReady is an application that's included with PhotoShop, so no, there are very few things you can do in Elements that match ImageReady (for preparing images for the Web). If you somehow had a copy of ImageReady it might (or might not) integrate as tightly with Elements as PS; not sure on that one.
The link gordguide provided covers almost everything. Also Elements lacks the bezier tool, and paths which was already mentioned.
I like Elements over other similar cost alternatives. Its clone tool, layer management and filters have great performance and usability on my G4. I use iPhoto for organization and sharing though.
Thanks for all the replies. I knew I could get my question answered here, and then some!
I'm just thinking about getting into some web design as I learned some HTML a while ago and would like to put it to some use. It looks like though that I will go the Dreamweaver/Fireworks route, plus Painter for bitmaps. Older versions of them of course
If you're thinking of getting into Photoshop Elements and Painter, it's worth taking a look at a Wacom Intuos tablet.
The 4x5 tablet sells for around $280, but it also comes bundled with the full version of Photoshop Elements 2 and Painter Classic. A really good deal. Intuos tablets are awesome for Photoshop as about 20 or more tools support pressure sensitivity. The Intuos support over 1000 levels of pressure sensitivity, is tilt sensitive and also has a lifetime warranty.
I think the 6x8 is about $500. Worth looking into if you do a lot of photoshop work. Click here for more reasons why to get a tablet. (No, I do not work for Wacom)
Just thought I'd mention to anyone considering getting Photoshop Elements.
Although this doesn't have anything to do with Photoshop directly, Re: Wacom tablets: I just though I would add to the Mayor's suggestion. If at all possible, stay away from the 5x4 tablet—there's anything wrong with it per sé. If you're just starting out in digital painting, it's adequate, however you may find that brush strokes will be shorter that you would like and may find it to suffocate your style.
Me personally, I wish they had a larger size of the 1st generation Graphire like they do for the Graphire3. Ah well, what can you do? I may be moving up soon.
Further to the informative posts previous.
Elements has no ability to work in CMYK ( for any sort of offset printing this is the mode you work in) also Elements has no curves for colour correction. After working in photoshop for years and recently teaching it, the lack of curves is frustrating and in the end make the program almost useless for me. There are also many tools and options from full photoshop not in Elelments . If you had never seen the full version you may not miss these things. If you are taking digital camera images and fixing them to print on your inkjet or to use on the web elements is a great deal. But for any one in the imageing business the full Wongo! CS is what you need. IMHO
In my limited experience with painter it is a major memory hog and doesn't play nice with other software. More crashes than a demolition derby. Later versions may be better. Also those I know who use it ,use it as a compliment to PSP and in no way a replacement. Not that you implied that but to make the point.
I have been at photoshop since ver 2.5 and I am still learning the potential of it. The 900+ or whatever bucks it costs may seem like a lot but it is amazing what can be done in it. Hopefully the cost would be recovered in work you get.
Good luck! My compliments to the range of replies you have recieved here. I have never seen so many to the point, informed people on one board before!
This might not help at all, but if money is a problem and you have a good newsstand in your town, try to find a copy of the British magazine Creative Arts. I've also seen it on another title that I can't remember, again from the UK.
Issue 07 of Creative Arts (probably a Jan or Feb edition) has a free copy of Deneba Canvas on the disk (version 7, runs inside Classic). The magazine should set you back less than $20.
Not as flexible as PhotoShop Elements but will do in a pinch, and has features PS doesn't have at all.
I could be wrong but I think elements is or was lacking layer masks this is a huge omission if you do compositing and digital illustration, lack of a pen tool is also very significant for graphics work...
As has been noted certain important professional tools aren't there - it's still a good program at the price