The Bottom Line
Photoshop has long set the standard for image editing, and Photoshop CS4 raises the bar, with a number of new and improved features, including a more organized interface and more versatile image editing and image management tools. Unfortunately, although the Windows version includes 32-bit and 64-bit versions, Adobe chose not to offer a 64-bit version on the Mac side. It's tempting to dismiss Photoshop CS4 on that basis, but it offers too many attractive features to hold a grudge.
- More efficient non-destructive editing.
- Improved raw image processing.
- Enhanced color correction and image editing tools.
- Better image management with Adobe Bridge CS4.
- No 64-bit Mac version.
- Steep learning curve.
- Requires a minimum of a G5 and OS X 10.4.
- Available in Mac and Windows versions.
- Available in several Creative Suite configurations as well as standalone products.
- Tightly integrated with other CS4 applications.
- Imports and exports hundreds of file formats, from common to somewhat obscure.
- Creates PDF contact sheets with Adobe Bridge CS4.
- Improved integration with Lightroom 2.
- Sleeker, more efficient interface.
- Adjustments panel simplifies non-destructive editing.
- Attractive upgrade pricing from Photoshop CS, CS2, and CS3
Guide Review - Review of Adobe Photoshop CS4
For most Photoshop users, upgrading to the latest version is almost always a given. Unless your budget is suffering from upgrade fatigue, upgrading to Photoshop CS4 is a good choice. If you're in the market for your first professional level image editor, opting for Photoshop CS4 is a no-brainer.
There is one caveat if you're upgrading. Unlike Photoshop CS3, this version won't install on a G4 Mac, which may be a deal-breaker if you weren't planning to upgrade your hardware this year. But let's face it; if you're going to use a high-end image editor, you want hardware that can keep up with it.
Photoshop CS4's interface got a major overhaul, which is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that it takes getting used to, because many tools and options aren't where they used to be. The good news is that the redesign was long overdue, and once you get over the shock, you're likely to appreciate all the thought that went into the changes.
Bridge CS4, Photoshop's bundled media browser, also benefitted from an interface overhaul. It's easier to switch between thumbnail and larger versions of images now, although it's still sometimes difficult to compare fine details in images.
The new Content-Aware Scaling feature lets you resize an image selectively, without distorting the main subject matter.
The improved Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools work more quickly yet with a lighter and more accurate touch.
The Adjustments panel puts many non-destructive editing tools at the top level for easy access, instead of in multiple dialog boxes.
The new Rotate View tool lets you rotate images like you would rotate a piece of paper or a canvas to draw or paint, with no pixel distortion.
Other new or improved features include tighter integration with Lightroom 2; a tabbed interface that puts tabs for many tools and all open documents across the top of the workspace; support for OpenGL (OpenGL 2.0 graphics card and a minimum of 128MB RAM required); support for multi-touch gestures on the MacBook Air and some MacBook Pros (OS X 10.5 or later required).