The Best Image Editing Software

Adobe Elements 11, Lightroom 4, and Photoshop CS6

Adobe Elements 11, Lightroom 4, and Photoshop CS6

Your photos will look their best if you optimize them with some good image editing software.

Short list:

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 or 10

Adobe Photoshop CS6 or CS5

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 or 3

For editing your photos, it is hard to beat Elements, Photoshop, and Lightroom, all from Adobe.


Adobe Photoshop is THE image editing software among professionals. It is arguably the best software available. It can do amazing things. You will find Photoshop in the art department for almost every publisher that deals with images, and it is far and away the most popular with professional photographers. When I need the more advanced features that Elements doesn’t have, I use Photoshop. The only kicker? The price tag which is north of $600. But for most professionals, there is no substitute for Photoshop. CS6 is the latest and greatest version.


Photoshop Elements is one of the best (if not THE best) of the image editing software programs in the $100 price range or less. It is the “lite” version of Photoshop. I use it regularly. Version 11 is the latest version although version 10 is still very good if you can find it at a significant discount. Elements will give the you many of the basic features and tools of Photoshop and provides all of the image editing features that most photographers need.

The latest versions of elements are color space aware. This is a big plus since working in the Adobe RGB (1998) color space is better for many purposes than the sRGB color space. The latest versions of Elements come with Adobe Bridge so you can batch handle files, including renaming files, batch adding your copyright notice to the exif data, and exporting the cache when burning to CD or DVD. If you ever decide to move up to the full version of Photoshop, the learning curve will be a little easier.


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (usually abbreviated to “Lightroom”) is a relatively new and different kind of software. It is really several programs (called modules) seamlessly combined into one terrific program. Lightroom allows you to import, edit, manage, and share your photos. The image editing features aren’t as extensive as those in Photoshop, but the features grow with every new version and they are adequate for most photographers needs (with the exception of the pros).

One of the huge strengths of Lightroom is the image management tools which allow you to keep track of all of your photos on multiple drives and discs. Many pros use Lightroom to keep track of their photos and do basic and intermediate image editing, and use Photoshop for the advanced image editing.

If you get Lightroom, you may not need Elements. If you want to use image adjustment layers, you will need Elements. If not, Lightroom 3 will probably be all you will need.


You can buy this software at a discount at my photography store (powered by Amazon with Amazon’s terrific prices, ordering convenience, and guarantee).


It will be much easier to learn how to use this software if you have a well written guide book. You can find Elements, Photoshop, and Lightroom books here and here.