What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Adobe Photoshop?

By Kevin Lee

3D graphics, advanced layering and tons of effects filters are just a few of the goodies you’ll find in Photoshop programs. Photoshop CC, the latest version as of July 2014, introduces exciting new features that can turn you into a digital imaging guru. Even though Extreme Tech calls Photoshop CC "the best image editor in the world," there are a few disadvantages to using an application that has many advantages.

New User Interface

You’ll work more productively and faster and more efficiently in Photoshop’s enhanced user interface. Adobe added new workflow enhancements such as a more advanced Color Panel and fast access to brushes that you use frequently. Photoshop CC is also compatible with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Reshape Reality

Photoshop’s Content Aware technology is not magic, but some industry experts call it that. Introduced in Photoshop CS5 and carried over to Photoshop CS6, it can help anyone remove unwanted objects from photos quickly. As Adobe notes, improvements to content-aware tools in Photoshop CC help you "create seamless, realistic results like never before."

Sync Your Settings Worldwide

Many image editing programs allow you to save your favorite settings and preferences. Photoshop goes a step further and stores them online in your Creative Cloud account. With all settings online, you can sync them between multiple computers connected to the Internet. One disadvantage is that you can’t tell Photoshop to sync settings and preferences automatically – you must do so manually.

Photoshop Cures the "Shakes"

Photos can come out blurry if your camera shakes when the shutter snaps. Photoshop’s Shake Reduction filter sharpens blurry photos caused by rotational, zigzag and other types of motion. The filter can also sharpen text in pictures that are blurry because of unwanted camera motion.

Additional Noteworthy Advantages

If you resize images frequently, you’ll love Photoshop’s intelligent upsampling feature. Use it when you need to make small images larger while preserving their sharpness and detail. The powerful new Camera Raw filter enables you to use Camera Raw tools to make lighting, color and other types of corrective adjustments to any type of image. The new Smart Sharpen filter helps you create high-quality images that have minimal halos and noise.

Expect a Learning Curve

One of Photoshop CC’s greatest advantages -- the complex user interface – may also be one of its biggest disadvantages if you’re a novice trying to figure out how to draw a simple rectangle. You’ll spend time learning how to find and use features, but extensive online help speeds up the learning curve.

Cost, Pricing and Ownership

Because Creative Cloud requires a monthly subscription, you never really "own" a copy of Photoshop – it’s more like leasing. You must also sign up for an Adobe account to use Photoshop. Although the monthly cost is low compared to the purchase price of earlier Photoshop versions, some people prefer to own their software instead of rent it.

More Power Than You Need?

If you don't need all the advanced features Photoshop provides, you'll save money by using a less expensive or free option such as PaintShop Pro or Paint.Net. Because these programs have simpler user interfaces, you may be able to perform many tasks without pulling out a help manual. A great way to explore your options is to test drive Photoshop CC with its 30-day free trial.