The newest version of Photoshop is almost ready to ship. As with previous releases this venerable image editing software ships in two versions Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended. And so comes the age old question. Should I upgrade or not? Now I’ve never been one to advocate upgrading just for the sake of upgrading. Unless you teach and need to remain current regardless of the benefits, it really pays to keep your wallet at bay as you read through the new features. They may indeed be awesome, but are they applicable to your needs and workflow?
Photoshop CS4, in particular, was an upgrade that I found hard to recommend to photographers. Sure, there were some new interface additions and high quality tools added to Camera Raw. But on the whole, CS4 was built to lay a solid foundation for big changes to…CS5.
And now that it is here, I can honestly say that CS5 is a very significant upgrade for photographers. If you’re still using CS3, there are a whole slew of interface enhancements you’ll have to get used to, but the results will be well worth it. And even if you’ve been happy with CS4, this new version has quite a few “must-have” features.
Do a lot of retouching and/or restoration work? The Content-Aware heal and fill will literally save you hours of work. The Refine Edge feature has been completely overhauled and for the first time its possible for mere mortals to separate hair from a background with professional results.
The correction of lens defects such as chromatic aberration and optical distortion has now been made automatic via lens profiles which Adobe has made available, along with a free utility, so that users can create and share their own lens profiles.
Adobe Camera Raw has gotten a complete overhaul of its demosaicing algorithms, which means that a great raw processing engine has gotten even better. You’ll see finer image detail and lower noise. There’s also the ability to mimic the addition of film grain that is actually quite believable.
There’s a new Puppet Warp feature that allows you to reshape and reposition objects in a photograph. Heresey to some, manna from heaven to others.
Is HDR photography your thing? The new and HDR Pro and HDR Toning tools are head and shoulders above anything Adobe has done in this area.
If you like to paint, the brand new Mixer Brush mimics the wet into wet painting technique used by masters like Van Gogh and Monet.
And Mac users, for the first time get a 64bit version of Photoshop that can directly access every single ounce of RAM you have installed on your system. Did someone say memory upgrade?
In short, if you’re running CS3, I salute you. You resisted the marketing reach of Adobe and their partners and continued on with getting top notch results. But now the time has come to lay out some hard earned cash. The new tools and enhanced productivity will literally change the way you work in Photoshop, and for the better.