Maximum PC Staff Jul 02, 2010

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Review

At A Glance

Ansel Adams

Huge assortment of new tools including Content Aware Fill and Puppet Warp.

Bryan Adams

Content Aware Fill can't handle crowded backgrounds; non-upgrade version is very expensive.

Finally, enough features to justify the upgrade

After 9.5 versions of Photoshop (Windows wasn’t supported until PS 2.5 ) it’s easy to become jaded about Adobe’s stalwart photo editor. Fortunately, Photoshop CS5 gives us something to get worked up about all over again.

Packing more than 250 new features, Photoshop CS5 is an amazing upgrade capable of performing a wide range of tasks we’ve never seen before, while simultaneously simplifying the trademark tasks we’ve come to know and love.

Case in point: the Content Aware Fill tool, a hybrid between the Clone Stamp tool and the Patch tool, that allows users to selectively remove any part of an image and replace it with a suitable, blendable background. Using a newly developed algorithm that can stitch together multiple parts of a surrounding background image, Adobe has developed a groundbreaking tool that can make objects in an image seemingly disappear into thin air. When it works, it’s truly a sight to behold.

Content Aware Fill, a new addition to the Spot Healing Brush, can quickly and easily remove parts of a photo and replace those parts with a blendable background.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work all the time. Complex or layered backgrounds tend to generate some iffy results, but these minor miscalculations can usually be tended to with a little touch-up work with the Clone Stamp tool.

Additional new features include an updated brush system offering more customizable options, including brush shape alterations and brush tip options—a major plus for graphic designers. Puppet Warp, a new addition to Adobe’s transformation toolbox, consolidates a ton of transformation tools into a workable, grid-based interface that allows you to place points (or strings, if you will) of articulation anywhere on an image and drag and pull along those predefined points. You can even add points of articulation to an image of a person or animal and move its limbs realistically, as long as you’ve isolated the subject onto its own layer.

Responding to complaints about CS4’s subpar high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities, Adobe has revamped its HDR features with a new system known simply as HDR Pro. HDR Pro can hastily compile and create impressive HDR renders using multiple images, in conjunction with a refined set of Vibrance, Exposure, and Detail settings for added depth and color. On the simpler side, CS5 offers a new feature known as HDR Toning, which allows the user to create a realistic-looking HDR composite out of a single image by tinkering with some new color-treatment settings.

The new Refine Edge tool allows you to make insanely detailed selections, including individual strands of flowing hair.

When used in conjunction with tools like the Quick Select tool, Adobe’s new Refine Edge tool allowed us to make some of the most detailed selections we’ve ever experienced, picking up on even the most minor details, like strands of hair or leaves on a tree, with some quick and easy brush strokes. The new Mini Bridge app makes organizing and consolidating photos a snap, without the hassle of actually having to minimize Photoshop. Other minor upgrades include a grid-based cropping system (adhering to the rule of thirds), a refined zoom tool, automatic lens corrections, and the very handy option to define your own layer defaults, just to name a few.

Photoshop CS5 is a polished and complete program, with more than enough new features to justify the $200 upgrade from CS2 or higher. People who are brand-new to the program will have to pony up $1,000. At that price, it’s definitely a tool for professionals, or at the very least, advanced amateurs. But whether you’re a professional photographer, graphic designer, or just a hobbyist, there are more than enough tools bundled into this software to keep you busy for years to come.

Adobe Photoshop CS5

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