There comes a time
in every Mac Power user's life when you say to yourself, "can I survive with
only iPhoto?" Yes fellow Mac-aficionados, I do have an iLife, and iPhoto is
an important part of it. Do you really need anything more than iPhoto? Recently I
took up the challenge to test out one of the applications in Adobe's CS line, Photoshop
CS. The CS stands for Creative Suite; however in the about Photoshop window, you
will see version 8.0 listed.
Adobe Photoshop CS is the premiere photo editing software on any platform, however
it is recognized as the fastest photo editing software when optimized for the G5
processor. Before I get into the product itself, I want to explain some of the other
software titles out there that may seem on the surface to be in competition with
Photoshop, and how Photoshop really is in a league of its own.
iPhoto by Apple Computers - $49 with iLife: It can do some basic photo touch up and
cropping. The key word here is basic. The design of iPhoto is photo management: All
photos in one handy place. iPhoto is integrated within the iLife suite of software.
However, if you need to correct more than red-eye with your photos, then it's time
to move on.
GraphicConverter: This shareware product allows you to do a lot of powerful things
as far as photo editing goes. Yet with all the filters and special effects that it
supports, this product falls far short of being a professional photoediting tool.
PhotoStudio: a product that Apple has been giving away recently with purchase of
the .mac service. This product has some interesting filters and special effects;
however, the image editing is limited at best.
Photoshop CS is designed as a High End Professional title, but many of its features
can be easily tapped by the average user.
Photoshop has been around for quite awhile. I used a copy of it back in the early
1990's for use with a scanner. The quality and features packed into Photoshop CS
truly will take even the novice into territory once reserved for photo restoration
experts. Photoshop CS provides the capability to work with a large variety of image
formats natively using the powerful tools provided.
US $649.00 Full
US $169.00 Upgrade
- 17" iMac 800Mhz
512M Ram w/Superdrive
- OS X 10.3.X
Mac System Requirements
- PowerPC G3, G4, or
- Mac OS X v.10.2 through
- 192MB of RAM (256MB
- 320MB of available
- Color monitor with
16-bit color or greater video card
- 1,024x768 or greater
- CD-ROM drive
Photoshop CS uses the standard Mac OS X installation interface. It was a snap,
and I was able to get started right away.
I found that Photoshop has some brilliant interface enhancements for Mac users. One
such enhancement is the scrubbable count up/count down feature. instead of placing
a value inside a box, you can "scrub" or move your mouse along the words
of the value you wish to increase or decrease. Next move your mouse and the value
will change. I like being able to customize my setup and have the browser come up
automatically. It makes it helpful to find the project that I'm working on. If you
are used to using other Adobe products, then you will find that this operates pretty
much in the way. (ie. Toolbar on the Left and floating pallets on the right).
Another interface feature that I really like is the presets and brushes on the Toolbar.
This makes it easier to select the tools you need quickly. For all you keyboard shortcut
folks, all menu commands can be made into keyboard shortcuts. Even if you don't use
keyboard shortcuts very often, this feature is great for repetitive tasks.
Speed and Stability
If you're like me and have an older Mac, then you fear bogging your computer
down with some large high-performance software. While I haven't loaded this software
on my iBook to check the performance on a G3 at 300Mhz, I am watching it perform
on a G4 800Mhz. I believe that it is excellent in its ability to handle files, but
I believe that all the software programs, including photoshop have a problem with
large JPGs. And it is understandable, since it is a compression (JPG) , and to work
on those files decompression is required. I believe I ran Photoshop through its paces.
In one specific case I scanned an 8x10 old black and white photo that I desired to
restore and preserve. I scanned it at 600 dpi, and it was definitely took some noticeable
time to render and manipulate that file. Never the less, I was impressed that I could
operate music, email, web browsing and still have photoshop running without a hitch.
Photoshop is a full photo editing package, but it's more than that. Photoshop allows
you to create your own canvas and cut and paste images together so that you can do
some real photo art.
Here's a short summary of some of the features:
- Import - Import directly
from a scanner, or other sources.
- Keyboard Shortcuts
- Define the actions you do the most with shortcuts.
- Numerous Adjustments
- Several functions for adjusting your image settings, such as auto/manual color,
contrast control, etc.
- Layers - This allows
you to place multiple images in the same window without either one affecting the
other, and apply blending and merging options.
- Filters - This allows
you do things to the photo you can only dream of from an artistic expression, with
the ability to preview and undo affects you don't like. Filters will blur your images
or sharpen them, or remove noise from a photo. Some filters can let you do things
such as give your photo a charcoal look and feel, or you could create a mosaic look.
Each one of the filters is highly alterable giving you several different nuances.
- Histograms - This
is a great feature because it allows you to see the quality of the photo that you
are working with. This really makes a difference between a 12 bit image and a 24
- Action History -
Another unique feature that really impressed me is the ability to go back several
steps. Photoshop records each action that you do and stores it in a list. You can
go back step by step, several steps at once, or even move those actions around within
the list to change the effects.
- This feature allows you to brighten dark areas and darken lighter areas of a photo
simultaneously. This was my favorite feature, most useful for improving my photos.
- File Browser - Work
with a file without opening it up using Photoshop's improved file browser.
- Vector Graphics -
Photoshop now includes some vector graphic tools, including the ability to create
- Text Manipulation
- Write text on your images and place the images within the text, similar to those
fancy vacation postcards.
- Custom Brushes -
Create your own brushes and trade them with others.
This list goes on and on! Truly, Photoshop shines in the fact that you have very
user intuitive tools allowing you to combine some drawing style elements and photo-touchup
elements all in one powerful package.
New in Photoshop CS
Some of the newest features include:
- A file browser for
quickly and easily looking for images to edit
- The ability to replace
colors within a photo
- Highlight and shadow
adjustments - one of the coolest improvements
- Ability to type on
a curve (normally an illustrator function)
- The ability to work
with animated graphics
- The ability to change
information for multiple files simultaneously using the browser interface
These are just a few
of the features and improvements that have been incorporated into Photoshop CS. One
important thing to mention is the tutorial disk that comes with Photoshop CS. If
you are a novice like myself, you will find that this tutorial is a terrific complement
to helping you unleash the power that Photoshop CS contains. Photoshop is a very
complex program, and understanding and learning each feature is a very time consuming
process. I highly recommend using learning guides to help you get the most out of
the product because there are so many features, you can easily become frustrated
without some help from the experts.
- File Browser
- This is slightly
similar to viewing files in iPhoto, except it is really browsing your hard drive.
What is nice about this feature is that you can edit multiple documents simultaneously
with regards to metadata relating to the image files. Additionally, it makes it much
easier to find and manage your true image files.
- Color Replacement
- This is a very cool
feature. Not only does it help you correct red-eye, but it helps you to match skin
tones and other colors within a picture. For example, if you want to alter a photo
by replacing one person with another, you can use Photoshop's color replacement feature
to easily match skin tones; that way you won't have a different tone on the face
from the rest of the body. You can even use the color replacement feature to tint
a photo to a particular color. This is simply a fantastic feature. Photoshop CS makes
it possible to wash a color onto an image without loosing your texture or darker
Photograph before color replacement
Photograph after color replacement
- Highlight and
- This is one of the
coolest improvements. This is the feature that will save your tush when you have
a photo that the lighting simply didn't work too well on. This particular tool allows
you to only bring up the lighting on the shadowed/dark areas, and tone down the brighter
areas. I think that this will definitely take the place of the contrast/brightness
controls for most people. Expect lots of other software to attempt to "create
their own version of this feature."
- left side is before, right side is after
- Ability to type
on a curve
- New in Photoshop
CS is the ability to type on a curve or on any curved surface. This was a capability
only found in illustration/vector graphics type software for a long time, and now
it is available in Photoshop CS. At first I had difficulties moving text around on
a circle, but after some practice, it did a fine job. This functionality does not
make Photoshop an Illustrator replacement; however, it is nice to be able to have
text wrap on objects within Photoshop.
this is Typing Text All Over the Place."
- Animated graphics
- Using tight integration
with a program called ImageReady (a separate application included on the Photoshop
CD), Photoshop CS allows you to move between two programs seemlessly without worrying
about ruining files that are open in one program and not another. You can output
a number of formats, such as Flash graphics or animated GIFs.
Becoming an expert at Photoshop and learning the massive amounts of features
is no easy task. It doesn't happen over night for anyone. Adobe provides an excellent
video introductory training CD as part of the software. It was more impressive than
any help products that I have personally ever seen come with a software package.
Even though I am usually successful at doing the myriad solutions with many of the
software packages that come my way, Photoshop really requires that extra bit of training.
This training CD really comes through and helps you get going with the software.
I know that I am merely a novice in the Photoshop world, but I know I have the tools
to be dangerous.
Adobe really need to lower the price of this software to make it more accessible
to the entire computer community, because $650 is out of reach of many who can barely
afford to purchase a computer. Another option is to provide a toned down version
of Photoshop CS and provide a pricing structure that serves both the high-end users
and the hobbyists.
It would also be nice if Photoshop was better integrated with Apple's iPhoto. When
I work on files within iPhoto, I can easily and seamlessly integrate them into iDVD
to create a slideshow. This would be advantageous in Photoshop as well, as I would
like to be able to work with an online library of images and not have to worry about
the compatibilities of going back and forth.
All the standard features that you've come to expect out of Photoshop are still
there in CS. You have great control over brushes and filters. You can manipulate
and change your images like never before. You can work with a large variety of file
formats. Improved Layer support has been added to this version, as well as improved
text handling, such as writing on a curve. Adobe continues to support the Mac community
with writing Native Mac OS X software that beats out the performance on comparable
equipped PCs. There is no doubt that for many people, Adobe products are for high
performance creative professionals.
The creative control that Photoshop CS provides is the ultimate experience for the
digital photographer. Having interfaces with your scanner, tablets, and other accessories
as well as the ability to create extraordinary art has never been so easily accessible.
Whether you are preserving old family photos or working to design the next Andy Warhol
gallery, this software will live up to the task and out perform your expectations
at every turn.
Finally, take the time to work with Photoshop and learn it. You will become a big
fan. I have impressed my family and friends with the amazing photo restorations that
I have been able to accomplish. I'm not a professional artist, yet the tools within
Photoshop CS make me feel like one. You will too!
- File browser
- Fantastic color replacement
- Text wrap for any
- Fast image rendering
- Excellent training
CD and tutorials
- A bit pricey for
the home consumer
- No integration with
- Steep learning curve
for less computer savvy individuals
4 1/2 out of 5 Mice