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Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Adobe Photoshop CS4

By Cliff Smith



  • Editors choice
Adobe Photoshop CS4


Our Score:


The much talked-about integration with OpenGL accelerated graphics is, to be honest, a bit of a let down. I had hoped that it would use the high-speed RAM and extra processing power to speed up rendering operations such as the Liquefy filter and large photo-merges, but in fact unless you're using CS4 Extended and working with textured 3D models, the effects are largely cosmetic. They're very pretty to be sure, but they don't do a huge amount to improve the operation of the program for day-to-day photo editing.

The most frequent application of OpenGL integration is in zooming images on the screen. The zoom action is now animated using OpenGL, giving the impression of a smooth continuous zoom in and out, but only when using the Zoom tool. While this does look very pretty in product demonstrations, in practice it's not a lot of actual use, because there is a slight lag as the zoom motion accelerates and then decelerates smoothly, making it impossible to zoom in to a precise magnification factor. In practice most people will continue to use the CTRL+ and CTRL- keyboard shortcuts to zoom images, as they always have. One useful addition though is the pixel grid which appears at the highest zoom settings. It helps to distinguish between adjacent pixels, handy if you have to make very fine adjustments to your pictures.

The other OpenGL function is a little more useful, but only under certain circumstances. If you are drawing or painting on paper on a desktop, it's natural to rotate the paper as you work to give a more comfortable drawing angle. It is now possible to do the same thing in Photoshop. Simply press the R button, and then use the mouse to drag the canvas round to the desired angle. This rotation is entirely non-destructive, and has no effect on the final image. I have found this feature useful when using a pen tablet for photo editing and drawing, but to be honest you can get much the same effect by rotating the tablet.

There is another immensely clever graphical trick that is incorporated into Photoshop CS4, a feature called Content-Aware Scaling. I first saw this technology demonstrated in 2007 in a YouTube video by the two guys that invented it, which has since received over a million views. I remember thinking at the time "If Adobe sees this they're going to hire those guys on the spot." It seems I was right, because their invention is incorporated into CS4.

If you resize a picture in one direction using conventional methods, people and objects in the image will become distorted in proportion to the scale of the change in size. What Content-Aware Scaling does is to look for lines of pixels that don't change much across the width of the frame, since these contain the smallest amount of useful image date. As the image is resized it then removes or adds pixels so as to minimise the change in the amount of information. The practical upshot of this is that you can shrink pictures by a surprisingly large amount in any one direction without causing figures or objects in the scene to become distorted. Of course the effectiveness of Content-Aware Scaling varies from one image to the next, but it is still a very impressive technology. See the sample pictures at the end of this review for an example of Content-Aware Scaling.


January 29, 2009, 5:40 pm

Cliff - The content aware scaling looks very clever, but can you say where something like this would be useful?

The example you show of the man jogging on the beach could be similarly achieved by cropping the image at the top. Admittedly, the new scaling feature has brought in some of the higher cloud detail that would be lost by a crop, but it has also introduced some strange loss of detail around the 'arrow-head' of the warning sign and the horizon. That would need some fixing using the clone brush and if you have to do that you might as well crop and clone in some of the clouds yourself.

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, but it feels like cleverness for the sake of it.

Brian ONeill

January 29, 2009, 9:49 pm

Well one example is images in banner ads. Ads are awkward sizes eg 468x60 so its good to be able to stretch images.

PS: Yes i know most people hate banner ads, i am just giving the example ;-)


January 29, 2009, 10:34 pm

Content Aware Scaling is probably not the sort of thing I'd use often but is so useful for instance in resizing an image to fit a particular ratio.

Good little video here too http://uk.youtube.com/watch...

I recently used it on a photo of two band members on stage that were slightly too far apart to make a good composition. I was able to move them closer very easily. Finished pic here http://www.underexposed.org... The original had far too much space between them.

Cliff Smith

January 29, 2009, 11:50 pm

I'd love to know what software they used to capture that video clip. I've been trying for weeks to find some a video capture program that will work with OpenGL output in Windows XP Pro, for video reviews and tutorials. Perhaps I should try a Mac instead...

Bob Rebecca

November 26, 2009, 6:48 am

Photoshop CS 4 Extended does so much more. See below.

Adjust images in half the time Use the new Adjustments panel and fluid on-image controls to make changes in less than half the time required using Adjustment layers, menu commands, and dialog boxes in previous versions of Photoshop.

Enjoy smoother rotation, panning, and zooming Simply click and drag to smoothly turn your canvas for distortion-free viewing at any angle. Gracefully navigate to any area of an image with ultra-smooth zooming and panning. Photoshop CS4 leverages newer computer processors for dramatic boosts in performance.

Bypass cropping and retouching with intelligent Content-Aware Scaling Use revolutionary Content-Aware Scaling to automatically recompose an image as you resize it, smartly preserving vital areas as the image adapts to different aspect ratios. Get the perfect image in one step without time-intensive cropping and retouching.

Composite images in seconds for panoramas or extended-focus photos Automatically stitch horizontal or vertical photos to create seamless panoramas using Photomerge® technology. Combine a series of shots with different focal points into a single color-corrected image with automatic correction for vignettes and lens distortion.

Easily apply localized changes to camera raw images Make localized changes—even gradient-based adjustments—to camera raw images with ease. Simply paint the area to be affected, and then using sliders to control the change. Corrections are nondestructive, so your original files are maintained in their pristine state.

OpenGL support lets you zoom through your images Independent research shows that support for newer computer processors in Photoshop CS4 Extended significantly speeds up panning and zooming on large images. Enjoy a smoother, more fluid work experience while saving valuable time.

Find, preview, and manage images with greater efficiency Discover faster performance and enhanced navigation tools in Adobe Bridge CS4. Operations from startup to handing off of images to Photoshop are faster, and convenient new workspace buttons let you instantly jump to the right display for every task.

I picked it up for a great deal where I got Photoshop CS4 Extended and Lightroom 2 for $100.00 and it works great at http://www.directsoftwareco...

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December 18, 2012, 4:20 am

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