If you are a home user or hobbyist, save your money and go with Photoshop Elements.
It has all the features of Photoshop that you are likely to ever need.
However, if you are planning to enter the graphic design or photography business, you will need to know industry-standard Photoshop, which offers many more advanced tools and productivity enhancements over Photoshop Elements.
Even though there is a greater knowledge requirement and initial cost for operating photoshop, the extra is well worth it and is clearly visible in the potential results.
GIMP is wonderful and 98% of what I use. However it isn't easy to learn - You have to look for reference material, watch youtube tutorials, find the replacement names and tools for the photoshop ones, etc. The GIMP Bible is a good resource.
It's very powerful, very in-depth and very free. But not intuitive.
Rik Image wrote: However, if you are planning to enter the graphic design or photography business, you will need to know industry-standard Photoshop, which offers many more advanced tools and productivity enhancements over Photoshop Elements.
So how did photographers manage before CS6 came out? Or CS5, or digital photography?
Personally I think that unless you're planning a career as a commercial retoucher or you 'style' is so heavily dependent on PS that your images are nothing without it, then the 'full' version of PS is overkill and a waste of money for the vast majority of photographers.
I 'get by' just fine with LR4 (mostly) and the occasional foray into Elements when I need to do a bit of extra work (liquify etc.).
KonstantKarma wrote: I have an older version of Elements (7, I think?) that I use just for filters like Topaz.
It doesn't appear to have dodge and burn tools, so I use GIMP for my heavier retouching.
Does the newer version of Elements have d&b?
I have used Elements since 2 and it had dodge and burn on tools, however on 9 which I use now to save space for added tools the dodge and burn tools have been added to the sponge tool spot on the tools. If you right click on the sponge tool it will allow you to switch the active tool to either dodge or burn tools. The liquify and several other tools are now stacked as well.