Review of Adobe Photoshop cs

Adobe's latest Photoshop numerically would have been 8, but has instead been called "cs" short for Creative Suite. While still the traditional king of the image editing products and, of course, fully functional as a stand alone product, it is also a component of two product configuration suites. I am not going to be discussing these suites. I am going to review Photoshop cs as I have done former editions of Photoshop as a stand alone product from the perspective of the home professional and semiprofessional user who is not part necessarily of a production or design team. After you read the review, or even before, you might want to download the tryout version from the Adobe website so as to see for yourself how these new additions to Photoshop function.

The system requirements for Windows are:

  • Intel® Pentium® III or 4 processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® 2000 with Service Pack 3 or Windows XP
  • 192MB of RAM (256MB recommended)
  • 280MB of available hard-disk space
  • Color monitor with 16-bit color or greater video card
  • 1,024x768 or greater monitor resolution
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet or phone connection required for product activation

The requirements for the Macintosh are as follows:

  • PowerPC® G3, G4, or G5 processor
  • Mac OS X v.10.2 through v.10.3
  • 192MB of RAM (256MB recommended)
  • 320MB of available hard-disk space
  • Color monitor with 16-bit color or greater video card
  • 1,024x768 or greater monitor resolution
  • CD-ROM drive

In this review, I will discuss what is new in this version, some of the other changes that have been made, and the ease of use of the new features. Photoshop is now bigger than ever. Even its file size output can be bigger. Photoshop cs is capable of producing files that are 300,000 pixels by 300,000 pixels and up to 56 channels per file.

The adobe manual has a What's New in Photoshop cs section. It is broken down into subsections such as Photoshop cs for all users, for Photographers, etc. I will follow their outline in describing what is new and comment upon it as I go along.

Photoshop cs has some enhanced additions from Photoshop 7 such as the beefed up file browser and some new additions such as an easily created web photo gallery.

The enhanced file browser can be accessed through a button on the top right of the tool bar. In the screen capture of the file browser below, you will notice many of its new capabilities. The file browser can search for files using editable metadata and can also be used to edit metadata. Notice the tab on the bottom left. There are good articles on metadata on the Adobe website

The help menu has been changed so it is customizable. In addition, Adobe still left it so that one could search the data base as well as find through specific categories the help needed.

Many more functions can be automated in Photoshop cs than could be in Photoshop 7. PDF slide presentations are a snap to create with many variables being able to be added such as different transitions between the slides. Also, web photo galleries can be created automatically. Like the PDF presentations, they, too, can be customized in many ways.

Automate Commands PDF Presentation Slide Show Web Photo Gallery

These are only some of the new additions that Adobe has listed under the What's New for General Users.

There is a wide range of new material under What's New for Photogrpahers from in putting raw data from digital cameras, to some new adjustments such as Photographic filters and a shadow/ highlight enhancer.

There is a list of supported digital cameras on the Adobe website. Since my older camera, an Olympus D600-L, is not supported, I cannot comment on the features. Instead, I will refer you to the more in-depth document on the Adobe website.

Supported Cameras

EOS 300D (Digital Rebel/Kiss Digital)
PowerShot 600
PowerShot A5
PowerShot A50
PowerShot S30
PowerShot S40
PowerShot S45
PowerShot S50
PowerShot G1
PowerShot G2
PowerShot G3
PowerShot G5
PowerShot Pro70
PowerShot Pro90 IS

FinePix S2 Pro

Valeo 6
Valeo 11

Konica Minolta

Coolpix 5700
Coolpix 5000 with firmware version 1.7

C-5050 Zoom

The Photographic filters enabled the user to manipulate the image as if he or she were actually using a filter. A screen capture of the palette is pictured below along with the screen capture of the shadow/highlight enhancer which is found under adjustments.

Photo Filter Shadow/Highlight Adjustment

Notice how the jaguar to the left's color remains almost the same while the color of the one on the right is noticeably lightened. This was accomplished by sliding the shadow slider. Similar effects to the adjustments created by the shadow/highlight enhancer can be created by using the curves and levels. However, using the latter two would necessitate more steps.

Before After

Other adjustments have been enhanced in Photoshop cs. Replace color has been enhanced and a match color command has been added. Notice the new eye droppers in the Replace Color palette. One can change the color sample from the image as well as with the sliders as previously.

Replace Color Match Color

Match color can be used to neutralize a cast to an image. When the Neutralize Box is checked, the image cast is removed. Of course, as can be seen, the Matching Color Command can also perform more functions.

Before After

Match color can also be used to match the color of one photograph with another. The before shot of the egret was used as the source to change the color of a different egret shot. Notice the three different pictures below.

Source Egret Before Egret After

I did a straight color match using the egret at the left as the source. I did not change any of the dials. Notice how the background and beak of the egret image on the right match the one on the left. However, also notice how the feathers of the bird on the right are now tinged with pink. Through adjustment that could have been neutralized.

Little has been added to the traditional Adobe set of filters. However, Adobe has made some major changes in how they are set up and what can be accomplished with them. The information on the traditional Photoshop filters has been expanded to show all the other filters in the particular category. While this is useful, it is very slow to open to preview mode on large files (over 300MB on a P4 Win 2000 machine with 1GB RAM). On traditionally smaller files such as those of about 25 MB, or under, the filters usually opened to preview mode very quickly; however, on an 8MB file I had a number of instances where the preview mode also opened slowly. The effects of the filters, though, was immediate. There is also a Filter Gallery so that the effects of multiple filters can be viewed. However, I found the directions for stacking filters a little confusing until I realized that the new layer icon at the bottom right of the palette next to the trash can was the key to adding new filters.

Filter Gallery
Plastic Wrap Filter
Plastic Wrap Filter Photoshop 7

As stated previously, few new native filters have been added to Photoshop cs, however, a new lens blur filter has been added I did a few tests using this filter and changing parameters. I did not see a great difference. However, I believe it possible to get a special effect using it. It certainly gives a lot more options than does a straight Gaussian blur Photoshop filter.

Jungle Original Jungle Gaussian 1.2
Lens Opening Triangle Lens Opening Octagon

When one resamples an image (changes the size as well as the number of pixels) Photoshop cs has added two new methods. For making pictures smaller Bicubic with sharpening and for making images larger Bicubic with smoothing. I resampled an image using both bicubic and bicubic with sharpening. When it was blown up 1200%, one could see that the pixels were slightly sharper in the one with sharpening. However, for detailed work, I will still do it manually so I can control the level of sharpening. When I created all the screen captures and had to resample the images, the bicubic with sharpening did not sharpen the new smaller image enough and I had to use an unsharp mask in addition. However, below are pictured the two images of a hawk's eye blown up 1200%. On the web image, the difference is not visible. It was very slightly more visible prior to inserting it in the document.

Bicubic Bicubic with Sharpening

Another new command to streamline work is the Crop and Straighten command. Once again, I found that I preferred to do it by hand as I have done it in previous versions of Photoshop. This command created many images from one image as can be seen in the images below.

Original Image Generated Images

Histograms can now be used to monitor work as an image progresses by means of the histogram palette. Thus, one can continually monitor one's progress using different criteria such as luminosity, color, etc.

Histogram with Colors as the Chosen Setting

Another feature of the Automate Command, described earlier in the review, helps create Panoramas. It does this through the Photomerge Command Before this addition, one had to use another program or do it by hand. One can do it automatically or just set it up and do the final composition manually.

Picture #1 Picture # 2 Automatic Panorama
Manually Finished Panorama using Photomerge Command

Finally all core Photoshop features are available to 16-bit images giving a new depth of color to an image. Of course, with 16-bit images file sizes will be larger.

The creation of Layering Comps can be a big help to graphic designers and to others who want to make a number of changes in an image, but don't want to save a number of images. In the What's New for Graphic Designer, the creation of Layering Comps is discussed. Basically in the Layering Comp palette, each new snapshot corresponds to a change in the image. See the table below for examples.

Change 1 Change 2 Change 3

A feature I have always wanted was to be able to write text on a path from within Photoshop. Finally it is here. Although the directions were not crystal clear, it did not take long to figure it out. One can do it with shapes, and various path making tools.

Adobe has beefed up the video capabilities of Photoshop cs. These changes are aimed at removing the "guesswork from designing for DVD, video and film." It also is aimed at increasing the integration with software such as Adobe Premiere and After Effects.

Adobe has included the ability to work with non-square pixel documents, added an Export Layers to Files Command, and more which I am not familiar with since I do very little work with animation outside of specific programs. Below are some of the menus showing the new features. Notice in Pixel Aspect Ratio, the setting Square

Video Format
Pixel Aspect Ratio

ImageReady has also been augmented. But in this review, I am concentrating on Photoshop without an emphasis on web design. For more in-depth information on the new features of ImageReady cs see Adobes Overview document toward the end.

However, there is one function in ImageReadycs that I want to demonstrate. That is the Export to Layers Command. I found this was an interesting command because it could work in various ways. Notice that when the background is included in the export, the composition of each layer includes the element on the individual layer + the background. While ImageReady states that its file size limit is 40MB, I performed this task using a 72 MB file and it worked perfectly.

Layers of Jaguars and Hand Image Export Layer's Menu

First notice the layer set up for the Jaguar and Hand Image above. Then notice the background choice circled in red and how it applies to the images below the "menu" images.

Original Without Background Selection With Background Selection

In addition to working with the program and manual, when I review a program, I usually browse in the appropriate forums, inthis case the Photoshop forum on the adobe site. The link is to the forum page. One needs, then to choose the appropriate program and operating system. When I browse on a forum, I look for issues that are repeated on a frequent basis. I found one in particular which was the size of the file in Photoshop cs compared to other versions. While it seemed that technicians from Adobe tried to explain the reason for this, the explanations seemed hard to follow. I am not saying they are incorrect; but that they did not explain it clearly enough for me to understand it. I opened a large file in both Photoshop 7 and cs. In the former it was 316 MB while in the latter it was 370 MB. I did not change any file attributes. However, both opened very rapidly on my P4 with 1 GB ram under win 2000.

One note that is sort of out of context, but to me was important. I had my brushes' presets setup as I liked in Photoshop 7 and wanted to bring them over to Photoshop cs. They came over perfectly.

Another place I look for information is in the readme file. When I looked, I was dismayed to find out that thumbnail icons for psd files were no longer supported through operating system folder windows. If in a window one has View set for large Icons, the image will no longer be available. I used this feature a lot. However, if one has View set for Thumbnails, the image is still visible if created in a Photoshop version prior to Photoshop cs.

Win System with Photoshop 7 Win System with Photoshop cs

For the home user, the choice whether to upgrade is yours (obviously!) To me Photoshop 7 was one I considered a must if possible. While Photoshop cs has nice enhancements, and again, I am not speaking about designers who work in teams or necessarily need a "souped up work-flow", I consider the upgrade to be one I would balance with other needs. This is not to say this upgrade is not good. It works excellently and the additions work well. If you have a digital camera on the list, then this upgrade has much more drawing power. Mine is not on the list, and most of the updates I could easily live without even though I enjoyed using them and will use them in the future.