Skip to main content

Photoshop CS5 Extended Reviews

High Technology Product Reviews | Photoshop CS5 Extended Reviews
Arthur C. Clarke postulated that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," and every new release of Adobe's industry-standard bitmap image-editor, Photoshop, comes closer to proving that true. The newest, Photoshop CS5 ($699 to $999 list, $199–$899 list for upgrades), implements features that aid in selection, painting, and high dynamic range (HDR) photography, as well as a new capability that's as close to digital prestidigitation as we've yet seen. Photoshop CS5 may not be a must-have revision for every user, but it's an outstanding, easy-to-use, and—yes—magical release that shows Adobe isn't yet done changing the game.

Specifications
Type
Business, Personal, Enterprise, Professional
OS Compatibility
Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS, Windows 7
Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill
The most eye-popping of the changes here is Content-Aware Fill. Sound familiar? It should—Photoshop CS4 ($700 - $1,000 street, ) added Content-Aware Scaling, so you could resize images to reduce dead space, but preserve the content you cared about. Content-Aware Fill is that idea's logical extension, letting you excise certain elements while preserving the image's background. No, seriously: If an errant dog is marring your otherwise pristine capture of a green field, just select the dog, choose the option (it can be as easy as hitting the Delete key), and the dog disappears—but the field remains. The results aren't 100 percent flawless 100 percent of the time, but they're so outstanding in general that they may leave you wondering whether you'll ever again send out an imperfect image.

Another new Photoshop CS5 feature, while it may sound a bit more mundane, is hardly less practical when it comes to achieving that goal. Selection technology has been given a supercharge with improved edge detection and masking by way of the intelligent Refine Edge tool, with which even complicated borders (especially those containing fur and hair) can be captured with high accuracy and improved with only a few minutes of not-painstaking painting.

Photoshop's Camera Support
Other new functions give you expanded ways to deal with images either before or after importing. The Adobe Camera Raw 6 plug-in supports more than 275 camera models, and offers advanced editing tools for removing noise, applying new effects (like vignettes and grains), and sharpening at the earliest stages. The Lens Correction filter has gotten an update, and now offers better automatic and custom functionality. You can also use the Lens Profile Creator to set up scenarios that will automatically fix geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. The HDR Pro tool makes it easier to tweak over- and underexposed images to your satisfaction, whether you're going after something unnaturally photorealistic or a bit more artistic.

If you're even more openly creative, the Mixer Brush lets you treat your mouse (or Wacom tablet) as a real paintbrush, and your Colors panel as a real palette—you can define multiple colors on a single brush tip, blend them with what's already on your "canvas" at any level of dryness or wetness, and more. With Puppet Warp, you can "rebend" parts of an image around any axes you select, which may remove an extra layer of frustration from adjusting one little errant element.

Photoshop's 3D Features
As has been true for the last few versions, the Extended version of Photoshop CS5 puts an extra emphasis on 3D, though the changes this time around are a bit less extreme than they have been in the past. With Repoussé, you can easily convert two-dimensional artwork into 3D objects with any extrusion qualities you choose, and covered them with a variety of materials from the 3D Material Drop tool. Shadow Catcher even lets you create no-fuss shadows to accompany your images. Version 2.0 of Adobe Ray Tracer lets you pause and restart your rendering or perform selective renderings.

Photoshop's Other Enhancements
There have been lots of smaller (or at least less visible) enhancements, too. Cross-platform 64-bit support takes fuller advantage of current hardware, which is especially nice if you're working with big images or 3D projects. Don't like Adobe's layout of your design tools? Change it up any way you want with Configurator 2.0 (available as a separate download), which lets you create new panels using just the tools you want.

There are also the changes that have been implemented as part of Photoshop's JDI ("Just Do It") program of blasting through simple fixes (every so often, Adobe developers were be turned loose to work on smaller improvements for a day). These include the ability to move a selection while the active layer is hidden, a command for deleting all empty layers with scripts, the option to instruct Save As to always default to the folder in which you last saved an image (where has this been all my life?), the ability to create a new layer in your Photoshop document just by dragging and dropping a file onto it, an overlay grid for the crop tool that lets you see without guessing the nine different "sectors" of your crop so you may balance your trimming more easily—and a lot more.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 does share with its predecessors one major barrier to entry: its price. At $699 for the Standard and $999 for the Extended Edition, coming at either package new is a pricey proposition. Upgrade pricing is, of course, considerably more forgiving, and if you're buying Photoshop as part of one of the versions of the CS5 suite, you won't much notice the cost. If the changes in Photoshop CS5 may not necessarily scream "update" at those who just jumped on board the CS4 train a year and a half ago, for all other creative types it's a must-buy. Budding magic makers may even find Content-Aware Fill worth the cost all by itself. Photoshop CS5 is once again a shoe-in for PCMag's Editors' Choice award.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

HP Envy 14-1110NR Reviews

When I think of high-end mainstream laptops, brands like Apple's MacBook Pro, Dell's XPS, and Asus's U-Series are usually what come to mind. Another rising star in this category is the HP Envy 14-1110NR ($1,050 list), found at Staples. As its name suggests, it's the 14-inch version of HP's Envy line, lavished with features such as a glass-covered screen, a backlit keyboard, and some of the fastest components available. There are some lingering issues with the gesture touchpad, and the system is a little on the heavy side. Otherwise, the Envy 14-1110NR is a viable mainstream laptop for sophisticated users.


Design
Anodized aluminum is the recurring theme in HP laptops. The Envy 14 is covered in it, whereas laptops like the Asus U45Jc-A1 ($867 street, 4.5 stars) and HP Pavilion dm4-1160us ($849.98 list, 4 stars) only use it on the cover and palm rest area. The design concept is similar to the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz) ($1,199 direct, 4 stars), in th…

Latest Trends Xbox 360 (250GB)

Microsoft was the first to enter this current console-gaming generation with its original Xbox 360, a hulk of a system that beat both Nintendo and Sony to the punch. Despite the millions of Xboxes sold (or possibly because of it), the 360 line—encompassing the Xbox 360 Core, Xbox 360 Elite, Xbox 360 Pro, and Xbox 360 Arcade has been plagued by the infamous red ring of death, a fatal design flaw that caused some overheated Xbox 360 units to shut down and become inoperable. It also lacked built-in Wi-Fi (a feature that Sony's competing PlayStation 3 has included since it's launch), and the hard drive, which protruded slightly from the system, gave it an even bulkier appearance. Microsoft aims to remedy all of these ills with its latest $299.99 (list) Xbox 360 (250GB). Dubbed the "Xbox 360 slim" by both journalists and consumers, the redesigned Xbox 360 has the same horsepower, game library, and rich online experience as previous Xbox 360 models, but contains several ke…

Epson Stylus NX625 Reviews

The Epson Stylus NX625 continues the tradition of Epson's NX line's tradition as a modestly priced multifunction printer geared mostly to home use. It has some big shoes to fill, as the model it's replacing—the Epson Stylus NX515—is an Editors' Choice. Although the NX625's text quality doesn't match the NX515's, the new model is even faster (and more well-rounded) than its notoriously speedy predecessor, making it the new Editors' Choice for a home MFP in its price range.

The NX625 measures 6.7 by 22.2 by 17 inches (HWD) and weighs 13.7 pounds. A 2.5-inch color LCD anchors its tilt-up front panel. It has a 150-sheet internal paper tray and an automatic duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper. Both should add to its home-office cred. (The NX515 only offered a 100-sheet paper tray, and lacked the auto-duplexer.) The new model does lose a port for printing from PictBridge-enabled cameras or USB thumb drives, though it has slots that support …