Photoshop CS4 – Indepth Guide to What’s New
It seems like we just got into our groove with Photoshop CS3 and now CS4 is out and everyone is wondering if its really a signifigant upgrade or not. I just spent the day with the folks from Adobe to get a deep dive into the entire CS4 family and let me just say, one day was not nearly enough time to learn about everything. There are very cool changes in virtually every product in the entire suite. Today we are going to go deep into Photoshop CS4 and find out what some of the new features are and try to explain in layman’s terms what each of the new features can do for you.
The Adjustments Panel
Working with adjustment layers has always been a serious tool for hardcore Photoshop geeks, now this has been made much simpler with a new adjustments panel. This can be used to easily adjust Curves, Levels, Hue/Saturation, Vibrance, and more. New On-Image controls allow you to adjust colors in the image without the guesswork of trying to match a complex color. The panel features a wide range of modifiable presets for each type of control and more than 20 preconfigured, customizable starting points are included.
New to the masks is the concept of Density and Feathering to control how much of the mask is used. This is a huge improvement from before where deciding you wanted more or less effect would require constant redrawing of the mask.
Improved Dodge, Burn, and Sponge Tools
If you are a big fan of the dodge, burn, and sponge tools, one of the big issues in the past is that they could sometimes affect the color underneath in odd ways. The new versions of these tools work in a much more natural way and help you to make the adjustments you want while retaining tonal quality.
Improved Image Aligning and Panorama tools
CS3 has some really good photo merge tools and panorama tools, but CS4 takes these tools to all new levels. The improved algorithms improve blending, vignetting, and geometric distortion which results in much better final images. The blending tool can take multiple images of the same shot using different focal points and combine them into a single image with a greater depth of field.
Ok, this is some wicked cool sh** right here. What happens when you want to scale an image that has people in it? The people can get severly distorted ruining the new image. With content aware scaling, you can size an image and retain the original sizes of key elements like people. Using this you could change a horizontal image to a vertical image and the people or key objects in it will look the same while scaling the remaining parts of the image in a very natural and usually undetectable way.Â When you see this in action, you will simply be amazed at what it can do.
Fluid Canvas Rotation
If you use a Wacom tablet or just need to view the world a little differently, you can now easily rotate the canvas around to make it easier to work on a it. Rotating the canvas does not affect the rotation of the actual image, this is simply a tool to make it easier for you to work on images by being able to look at it from different angles.
Smooth Pan/Zom and Flick effects
Some people may think that the new smooth pan/zoom and “flick” effects are just for show, but as you begin to use them you will see how much nicer it is to smoothly zoom in and out of an image and be able to toss the image around as if “flicking” it with your finger. The built-in physics engine makes this new way of dealing with images much more natural.
I have always hated Bridge, I’m not afraid to admit it, it was slow, real slow, painfully slow to start up and slow to use. Even on my new quad core system with a nice video card, I still didn’t like Bridge. But get ready you fellow Bridge haters, Bridge is one sweet tool now. Not only is Bridge faster, but it has been improved in a number of areas. There are several new views such as Carousel view which makes working with large numbers of images signifigantly faster. Bridge now also has a PDF-based contact-sheet creator and preview along with web gallery tools. Bridge has certainly grown up and is more integrated into the majority of the CS4 tools besides just Photoshop.
Take the Develop module tools from Lightroom 2.0 and put them all into Camera Raw and you now have Camera Raw 5. And I do mean virtually all of the tools like port-crop vignetting, the gradient filter tool, and the local adjustment brush tool. Unfortunately, Lightroom Develop presets are not available in Camera Raw.
Smarter Smart Objects
Smart Objects were introduced with CS4 and made a huge impact on how you dealt with new objects. With CS4, Smart Objects can now accept perspective transformations.
64 Bit Support (Windows 64 ONLY)
As a HUGE shocker to long time Macintosh users, the advantage this year goes to 64 bit Windows systems. Apple changed a bunch of things without telling Adobe and thus Adobe had to pull 64 bit support out of the Macintosh version. Are Mac users going to have to switch to Vista 64? Not really, only the heaviest of users is going to see much of a performance difference according to sources at Adobe.
Live Preview for Clone Stamp and Healing Brushes
As cool as the cloning tool and healing brushes are, the results have always been somewhat black magic, you just never really knew what you werew going to get. The new versions of these tools provide a live preview for easier and more precise cloning and healing results.
Availability and pricing
Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended is now available in North America for an estimated street price of US$999. Adobe Photoshop CS4 will be available for an estimated street price of US$699. Both can be obtained directly from Adobe or through Adobe Authorized Resellers.
To order directly from Adobe, visit the Adobe Store at www.adobe.com or call
Licensed owners of Photoshop CS3 Extended, Photoshop CS2, or Photoshop CS can upgrade to Photoshop CS4 Extended for US$349.
Licensed owners of Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS2, or Photoshop CS can upgrade to Adobe Photoshop CS4 for US$199.
Licensed owners of Photoshop 5 or 6 can upgrade to Photoshop CS4 Extended for $899 or Photoshop CS4 for $599.
Licensed owners of Photoshop CS3 Extended, Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS2, or Photoshop CS are also eligible for special upgrade pricing to certain editions of Adobe Creative Suite 4.