Here’s a 6-minute video from PiXimperfect that looks at the difference between the Levels and Curves functions in Photoshop. While the two may seem similar in purpose, there are some very clear differences between them.
An analogy instructor Unmesh Dinda gives is a comparison between a standard calculator and a scientific calculator.
Levels is your “normal” calculator, performing basic functions like adding, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Curves is like a scientific calculator. While it’s more complicated to use, it can perform more advanced functions and calculations.
You can achieve everything Levels can do by using Curves, but you can also add points to the curve itself, brightening or darkening particular areas of tone in the image.
We previously featured a video that looks at how you can actually use Curves to benefit your processing workflow.
Don’t forget to check out the full video above to see the exact comparison between the two functions, including a handy eye-dropper function that allows you to be more precise with your edit.