Adobe Photoshop CS

$649; $169 upgrade. Also available as part of Adobe Creative Suite Standard, $999, and Adobe Creative Suite Premium, $

Adobe’s flagship digital editing application is so ubiquitous these days that it has become a verb, as in: “don’t worry about the telephone pole in that photo – I’ll Photoshop it out.” And deservedly so. It’s hard to imagine working with photos without using Photoshop or its junior sibling, Photoshop Elements.

The newest upgrade to Photoshop, Photoshop CS (for “Creative Suite”) incorporates a number of features which increase its power and ease of use. Pros will appreciate its support for 16-bit images, the new Layer Comps feature (which allows graphic designers to create variations on a design by saving different combinations of layers within the same file) and the histogram palatte which now updates itself dynamically as you make adjustments. Photoshop CS also adds built-in support for digital camera RAW data files from more than 50 camera models, a boon for higher-end photographers. A Camera Raw 2.2 update issued on April 23, 2004 adds support for eleven additional cameras.

Photoshop CS’s File Browser, which now has its own button on the Toolbar, has gained improvements that make it easier to organize, find, view and work with images. You can now add customizable metadata (information about each image) to help find images more quickly, resize the “light box” preview window to any size simply by dragging its borders, and flag images to select only the ones you want to work with. You can also sort images by all sorts of criteria, which is especially useful when working with large image collections.

My favorite new feature is the Highlight/Shadow function, found under Image>Adjustments. This new adjustment automates the finicky and too often unsuccessful task of bringing out detail in over- or under-exposed portions of a photo without messing up the properly exposed parts. In most cases a single click makes a huge improvement; the settings can also be fine-tuned. The Highlight/Shadow adjustment works so effectively that it sent me rummaging for old photos with exposure problems that I’d pretty much given up on. Every photo I tried it on was improved dramatically. It’s another amazing bit of Photoshop magic.

Other new features include Match Color, which lets you create consistent color between multiple images, Text on a Path, customizable keyboard shortcuts, and export to Macromedia Flash format. It all adds up to a worthwhile upgrade, and a recommended purchase for anyone serious about working with digital images.

Photoshop CS, along with ImageReady CS, its integrated web production software, can be purchased alone or as part of Adobe’s Creative Suite integrated bundles.

– Elsa Travisano
Adobe Photoshop CS
System Requirements: PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor, Mac OS X v.10.2 through v.10.3, 192MB of RAM (256 recommended), 320 MB available hard-disk space, color monitor with 16-bit color or greater 1024x768 or greater monitor resolution, CD-ROM drive.
Copyright ©2004 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the May 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.