Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended Edition

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended Edition


Adobe has hit the market with the latest version of its multi-application Creative Suite software package. Adobe Creative Suite CS3 is available in six distinct collections that are skewed to emphasize suitability for professionals in Web, print, multimedia and photographic endeavors, with the top of the line Master Collection earmarked for “all of the above.”

Of particular interest to photographers is the latest derivation of Adobe Photoshop, available in a standard edition and an upmarket extended version. The standard version includes substantial enhancements and improvements to features found in Photoshop CS2. And while the standard edition contains most of the features and improvements that photographers will want, the new Photoshop CS3 Extended version adds 14 new features for enhancing creativity, improving work flow and efficiency and for increased compatibility and functionality with other media such as web and video/3D/motion production. We took the opportunity to take the Extended version for a spin, particularly to explore its user-friendliness and its value to the photographic community.

For the photographer, Adobe Photoshop CS3 (both versions) includes better raw image processing with (according to Adobe) increased speed, superior conversion quality, improved plug-in support for JPEG and TIFF formats, new tools (Fill Light and Dust Busting) and support for over 150 camera models. New also are Smart Filters, which enable the adjustment, addition and removal of image filters without altering the pixel data or the quality of the original image. Quick Selection and Refine Edge are two new tools that add speed and accuracy to the often frustrating experience of selecting specific areas of a photograph while excluding unwanted image data. A new black-and-white conversion tool offers greater control over the color-to-grayscale conversion process, allowing for more precise tonal values and tints and providing the option to create and save custom presets.

Advanced compositing features help align multiple layers (or images). The Auto-Align Layers command analyzes and moves, rotates or warps layers to align them accurately. The Auto-Blend Layers command then blends the color and shading of each layer to create an easily editable result.

Other noteworthy features include Photoshop Lightroom support (Lightroom is a separate application offered by Adobe for importing and managing digital images) for smooth integration between the two applications; improved Photomerge technology (for stitching photos into horizontal or vertical panoramas); and enhancements to printing controls.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 also brings full native support to the latest generation of Intel® processors powering Windows XP and Windows Vista PCs. It is also written to take full advantage of the newest Apple computers utilizing Intel processors, although it also runs smoothly on the older PowerPC Macs. In a retail environment, the introduction of full native support for Intel processors should be promoted as a very worthwhile reason to purchase at least an upgrade to Photoshop CS3, especially for owners of Intel-based Macs. Accessorizing the sale of Photoshop CS3 with a RAM upgrade does both the customer and the retailer’s bottom line a favor.

Photoshop CS3, like its Creative Suite-mates, requires at least 1GB of RAM to operate efficiently. On a PowerMac G5 with 1.5GB of RAM, it ran quite expeditiously.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended is included in Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium, Web Premium, Production Premium and the Master Collection. It is also available as a standalone, in both upgrade ($349.00 list) and full ($999.00 list) versions. Of course, there are significant savings in purchasing Photoshop CS3 as part of one of the Creative Suite packages. The Design Premium collection, for example, features another five major applications, InDesign CS3, Flash CS3 Professional, Illustrator CS3, Acrobat 8 Professional and Adobe’s newly acquired Dreamweaver CS3 as well as additional applications and utilities for a list price of $1,799.00.