This morning Adobe Systems announced the newest incarnation of their Creative Suite family – CS4. The Creative Suite comprises of a vast array of products, however most importantly for us photographers, the Photoshop program. Adobe’s last update to Photoshop (CS3) disappointed many with respect to the number of significant feature upgrades and developments. Additionally, the inability to use newer versions of Camera RAW (ACR) on CS2 angered many users who needed to upgrade to CS3 just to process RAW files from their newer cameras. Although the same thing will happen with the coming of CS4 (newer versions of ACR will not be compatible with CS3), perhaps the other newer upgrades and refinements will make users a bit happier about the necessity to update their software.
- Adjustment panel – a refinement of the adjustment layer tab, this new menu enhances and simplifies the use of adjustment layers for performing highly-precise and non-destructive adjustments and enhancements to your images. The new panel layout will include basic presets for common adjustments and allow users to set their own presets for performing one’s own common adjustment preferences in less time!
- Masks Panel – a new addition to the software. As opposed to creating masks by hand in previous versions of Photoshop, this panel allows the user to quickly create, edit, adjust mask density, easier feathering and more precise selection capability.
- Extended Depth of Field – Are you having difficulty getting everything from front to back in focus? With this new feature, just take multiple images at different focal points of your subject and have Photoshop merge them together into a composite that retains sharp focus front to back while preserving color & tone. Note – This function will not replace the use of a Tilt/Shift lens, but can work very well in a pinch!
- Better Printing – Photoshop CS4 incorporates a new soft-proofing window along with better color management tools that will work more precisely with your monitor’s calibration, your paper profiles, and your printer’s software driver.
- Improved Inter-Connectivity – Photoshop will now communicate better with it’s sister program, Lightroom, to offer more flexibility and smoother workflow for the processing of your RAW camera files. You will now be able to make selections in Lightoom to pull into CS4 to do panorama stitching and HDR conversion directly from your RAW files rather than having to process them into TIFFs first.
- New Camera RAW – The new version of ACR will support localized RAW editing capability. The significance here is huge. It is always desirable to do as much touch up as you can while your image is still in its RAW state. Once your RAW file is processed and rasterized any editing you do will begin to ‘smash pixels’ in your final image output. If the file can be corrected just about all the way in the RAW state, minimal pixel-smashing is then required in post-processing, thus yielding a superior final document.
Once we get our hands on the new software, demonstrations of these new techniques will begin appearing on this site. Beyond that, we will be planning a workshop based around getting more out of your images with Adobe Photoshop sometime in Winter 2009. Check back often for that announcement.