Ars Technica reviews Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended: ‘A worthwhile update’

Adobe Photoshop CS5“Photoshop turned twenty years old this year. That may seem like nothin’ but a number, but when you look at the Mac platforms it’s migrated to and from, and the fact that it’s had 12 versions, Photoshop’s twenty years have seen a lot of changes for one application,” Dave Girard reports for Ars Technica. “From System 6 on the Motorola 68000, it was then ported to PowerPC, then to OS X, then to OS X Intel, and now to Cocoa and 64-bit. All this while adding the features that make it the meaty image editor it is today. One look at the laundry list of major additions in CS5 makes it clear that Adobe isn’t anywhere near done with the product.”

The new feature list is unrelenting:
• Wet media brushes
• Content-aware fill and heal tools
• Improved masking/chroma keying
• Camera RAW 6
• Puppet Warp
• Mini Bridge
• Data-based lens distortion correction with custom lens profiling application
• Local adaptation tone-mapping
• Faster realtime 3D engine
• Repoussé 3D features and HDR image-based lighting
• New floating color picker and eyedropper

Girard reports, “Of course, all of these features also appear in the Windows version, which has had 32- and 64-bit flavors since version CS4… This update is not going to please people with multi-core machines—multithreading is still very poor in CS5, and there is no use of the GPU for filters. It isn’t trivial to thread filters and, considering the 64-bit Cocoa transition and wealth of new features, I didn’t expect CS5 to also have pervasive multithreading. But it’s bad enough to warrant mentioning. Obviously, given the very low times that some filters take to execute on the very large 16-bit file in the benchmark, it’s not needed everywhere. But on things like HDR processing, complex and slow filters like lens blur definitely need it… One plea for Adobe: if you add GPU-accelerated filters, please use OpenCL. Premiere’s new Mercury engine and GPU filters are CUDA-only, so users with those shiny new Radeons with tons of stream processors are out of luck.”

“The interfaces built with AIR have different widgets since they are basically Flash applications,” Girard reports. “Adobe probably would never have been able to get a simultaneous 32-bit/64-bit OS X and Windows version out this year without a cross-platform development kit. The flip side is what Apple claims as their defense against allowing cross-compilers for iPhone/iPad apps: the results lack consistency of user experience, and the things like window layering that you get for free with native components don’t always work right.”

Despite those niggles, Girard reports, “Photoshop is still just a great program and CS5 is a worthwhile update for a broad cross-section of users. My complaints are about minor issues—things like the low-res preview in HDR Merge Pro or window layering with AIR filters—can be addressed in a x.1 update without really slowing people down in the meantime. Nine thumbs up.”

Full review – recommended – here.

22 Comments

  1. I stopped at CS3 because I didn’t feel there was enough to justify the upgrade to CS4 for me. I do like a lot of the new features in CS5, so will probably be ordering the upgrade after my tax refund gets in.

  2. “…the Windows version…has had 32- and 64-bit flavors since version CS4…multithreading is still very poor in CS5, and there is no use of the GPU for filters…One plea for Adobe: if you add GPU-accelerated filters, please use OpenCL. Premiere’s new Mercury engine and GPU filters are CUDA-only…The interfaces built with AIR have different widgets since they are basically Flash applications,…the results lack consistency of user experience, and the things like window layering…don’t always work right.”

    Don’t buy it or upgrade to it. You’ll only encourage those fucking assholes by doing so.

  3. If PS allows me to get my 3 hrs of processing done faster, I’ll be buying the upgrade. I have a Pixelmator licence but I haven’t touched it. Can Pixelmator run actions? Or is the Shadow and Highlight tools as good, selection tools? Yeah will be blowing some cash on an upgrade from 3 to CS5

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