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The new features make it very much worth the upgrade; especially if you are using CS1 or earlier.

Software Review: Adobe Master Collection – Photoshop CS3 From Adobe Systems

This is the first of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Creative Suite 3 (CS3) Master Collection. When Adobe released CS3 earlier this year, they not only released single version products, but also six separate suites of products. They are Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Standard, Production Premium, and Master Collection. You can go online to compare what is contained in each version. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

What do you need to run Adobe Photoshop CS3? On Windows you need an Intel® Pentium® 4, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon®, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor, Windows XP SP2 or Vista, on Mac, PowerPC® G4 or G5 or multicore Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.4.8 – 10.5 (Leopard), 512 MB RAM, 64 MB Video RAM, 1,024×768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card, 2GB hard drive space and DVD-ROM Drive.

The release of Photoshop CS3 marked the first time in Photoshop's history that Adobe released two versions of the product. The standard Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop CS3 Extended; the latter being targeted to professionals in film and television, manufacturing, architecture and engineering, and medicine and science industries.

Image Courtesy of T. Michael TestiPhotoshop CS3 is the graphics editor that is developed and published by Adobe Systems and currently is the market leader for commercial bitmap and image manipulation. Originally developed by Thomas Knoll, and later with his brother John Knoll, the first version of Photoshop was released in 1990. Photoshop CS3 is version 10 of the product.

Photoshop CS3 is a raster graphics editor. That is, it is an editor that allows users to paint and edit pictures on a computer screen and save them in one of many popular raster file formats such as JPEG, PNG, GIF and TIFF. The other popular image editing format is a vector format. Adobe Illustrator is a vector image editor.

So what is new with Photoshop CS3?

• Much more streamlined interface – With CS3, Adobe maximizes the work area by making the arrangement of your workspace much easier to manage. The tools palette is now in a single column arrangement and the other pallets are in self adjusting docks. This allows for more room on the screen for your work.

• Stacks and Filters in Adobe Bridge CS3 – While I will cover Adobe Bridge in a later installment, in Photoshop CS3 it comes with a three-column layout with saved workspaces and faster performance. You can stack related images into a single thumbnail which provides for easier browsing. You can also filter your views based on dates, metadata, as well as other criteria.

• Quick Selection Tool – While there has always been the ability to extract areas from within an image, in Photoshop CS3 they have made it much easier to choose the image area with the Quick Select Tool.

• Refine Edge – reinvents the Feather feature in prior versions of Photoshop. It improves the quality of a selection's edges, and allows you to view the selection against different backgrounds for easier editing.

• Non-destructive Smart Filters – is one of the really great features in this version that allows Photoshop filters to be applied in a non-destructive manner. This means that you can re-edit your filter changes. Because Smart Filters have their own Layer Mask, you can use the mask to filter exact spots on the image. You can also scale, transform, and filter your images in a non-destructive workflow.

• Camera Raw 4.x – offers new image processing abilities that correspond to the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom program and shares the same Adobe Camera Raw processing engine. These include Recovery, Fill Light Controls, and Vibrance adjustments. The other big improvement in ACR 4, is that you can now edit non-raw images such as JPEGs and TIFF  directly.

• Adjustable Cloning and Healing with Preview Overlay – While the Cloning tool and Healing brush have been available in prior versions, in Photoshop CS3 they now have enhanced capabilities. Now you can precisely position the destination for the brush stroke as well as offset width, height and rotation for the source area.

• Black and White Conversion – is now much easier and much more powerful with an adjustment that allows you to quickly remap the colors in your image to monochrome. The slider settings let you set the proportions of the color components that are used to create the black and white conversion.

• Improved Curves Adjustment – will allow you to make precise color corrections with much less work. You can use the new color-correction presets included with Photoshop CS3, or create your own to use over and over.

• Vanishing Point 2 – Improving on the Vanishing point plug-in you can now wrap images around multipoint surfaces connected at any angle.

• Automatic Layer Alignment and Blending – will let you create advanced image composites; that is combining the best parts of multiple images of the same scene to create one best image. See the image below.

• Zoomify Export – allows you to export full resolution images to the web. Using the Zoomify technology you can let your viewers zoom in on details with minimum delay. Effectively, you image stays small, letting the page load, then if your visitor wants to see more they can zoom in with ease.

• Improved Printing – now incorporates more print options such as being able to set the paper orientation and printer model directly within the dialog, or go directly to a Print Online service. Also the print preview image is color managed so you can better see what you will print.

• Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Integration – Photoshop CS3 is fully integrated with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, so any changes you make in one are compatible with the other.

Photoshop CS3 Extended Edition also has improvements in almost every module.

• Every thing in the Standard edition – All of the same features as listed above come with the extended version.

• 3D Visualization and Texture Editing – now gives you 3D support that allows you to easily place, manipulate, and create composites using your 3D assets. You can now open your 3D Models as 3D Layers and manipulate them in 3D space in a Photoshop document.

• Motion Graphics and Video Layers – It used to be that those in the film and video industry could only export frames as still Photoshop files, now you can edit a video on a frame by frame basis, or add a layer to the video and create edits that will appear on every frame.

• Movie Paint – brings the ability to paint, retouch and use pixel level editing to every frame of a movie file using the complete set of Photoshop tools.

• Measurement and Data – Photoshop CS3 now gives you the ability to use quantitative data as well as the traditional qualitative data. That is, by defining the scale of an image using a known value, you can then set up the measurements you wish to take in the image, and Photoshop CS3 Extended will take all of the measurement and present them in a tabular format.

• Measurement and Data – Once you set a scale on your image, you can then use the ruler tool to measure distances between objects.

DICOM Support – has the ability to open multi-frame files, open multiple frames as individual layers or as a single layer of tiled images. You can preview the metadata in the file, as well has the option to remove patient-identifying data from the metadata.

MATLAB Support – now eases the difficult task of visualizing the results of MATLAB processing routine results with interoperability with the MATLAB command line.

• Image Stack Processing – not to be confused the thumbnail stacks in Adobe Bridge, Image Stacks in Photoshop CS3 Extended refers to a new level of automated processing that can be applied to a series of images contained in the layers of a Photoshop Document.

After two years, this version of Photoshop is not the biggest upgrade in the history of Photoshop, but there are enough features, that make it a very welcome upgrade. Some of my favorite features are the new interface, the much improved Camera Raw image processing. I like the Smart Objects, but would like the ability to link a Mask to a Smart Object. I also like the upgrades to the Curves adjustments, Layer Alignments, and the Zoomify Export is really cool to work with. Since I also play with 3D, I like that as well in the extended version.

In my opinion, the new features make it very much worth the upgrade; especially if you are using CS1 or earlier. Should you get Standard or Extended? That really depends on the usefulness of the added features and your ability to spend an additional $350.00 USD for a new version, or $150.00 more for an upgrade.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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