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Adobe Photoshop CS5 review



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Adobe Photoshop CS5


Our Score


Review Price £586.74

Adobe Photoshop has been the industry-standard image editing software for two decades now, and is used by professional photographers, artists and designers all over the world. Despite the best efforts of competitors such as Corel Paint Shop Pro, Apple's iPhoto, and the open source GIMP, there really isn't anything that comes close to Adobe's flagship product in terms of features, performance or quality.

There isn't much that comes close to the price either; the full version of Photoshop CS5 for Windows PCs costs over £600, while Photoshop CS5 Extended (which adds video and 3D handling functions) costs close to £900, and the whole Creative Suite 5 package, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, Fireworks and more, can cost over £1,600 depending on which version you choose. If you already have Photoshop CS2, CS3 or CS4 you can get the upgrade package for around £185, which is still expensive but slightly more affordable. Since it is always an issue that gets mentioned in the comments section, I'll also register my protest at the usual Dollars-for-Pounds price equivalence. In the USA the PC version of Photoshop CS5 costs around $600, which is roughly £400 in real money. I've read Adobe's official explanation for the massive price differential, but it doesn't take any of the sting out of being charged 50 percent more for the same product.

CS5 is the twelfth version of Photoshop. After 20 years of development and this many versions, most programmers would have run out of ideas, and updates would just be minor patches. Not so for Adobe though; this latest version of Photoshop contains many new features and major improvements, certainly enough to make users of CS4 seriously consider an upgrade. The new feature everyone is talking about is of course the amazing Content-Aware Fill, but other equally significant improvements include sophisticated new selection tools, improved HDR image creation, new painting tools, automatic lens correction, the novel Puppet Warp feature, and perhaps most importantly for photographers, vastly improved Camera Raw processing, including new noise reduction algorithms.

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July 5, 2010, 9:26 pm

The US/UK pricing is a little beyond a joke.

In the US, the PC upgrade DVD can be bought from B&H, NY for $180.99, no tax, free shipping.

Over here, amazon.co.uk is pricing it at £186.59.

How is the final price more in £ than $ when the exchange rate is currently 1.51? VAT does not account for this differential!

If this is the cost of maintaining an office in the UK, then could Adobe please close it and support UK users from the US assuming we then get to pay their prices?


July 5, 2010, 9:50 pm

Only EA sports can match Adobe for non essential product releases. A grubby world without Photoshop could be such a beautiful place.

Chris Hamer

July 5, 2010, 10:30 pm

You can not compare Apples Iphoto to photoshop. They are completely different programs. I do love photoshop and its integration with all other Adobe programs, also their are thousands of tutorials online :)


July 5, 2010, 10:41 pm

Whenever the outrageous difference in price of hardware or software between UK and US is mentioned, various mitigating factors are often cited. But in fact it has nothing to do with VAT, other taxes, average salaries or costs of doing business.

Having ruled out the other explanations, I have deduced the real reason: If you view the United Kingdom from space, you can clearly make out the word "Mugs" stencilled in big bold letters across the island.

Martin Daler

July 6, 2010, 12:33 am

Where did the notion that a supplier has to look at his costs when setting his prices emerge from? Surely any supplier charges as much as he can get away with (I would!). The idea that they would ever strive to reduce their asking prices to below what the market will pay is fanciful.


July 6, 2010, 2:20 am

and just how does £600 justify an 8/10 for value....ridiculous. How many of these features do we really need to justify £600 over something costing £50 or free for that matter eg something like Gimp


July 6, 2010, 2:55 am

I'm looking forward to Canon releasing their iPF CS5 print plugin just in time for PS6...



July 6, 2010, 4:07 am

Well, medicines are a lot cheaper in the UK (and EU) than in the US. I suppose this is the market's way of equalising things.


July 6, 2010, 12:14 pm

@lensmann - using that example we'd all be buying Photoshop from India then where most medecines made by European pharmaceutical companies cost a fraction of the price we pay.

Photoshop can be purchased via download - isn't this price differential just the sort of thing the glocal digital economy was supposed to help stamp out? Let's not even get started on iTunes pricing - songs in the US must be cheaper quality....


July 6, 2010, 2:46 pm

In judging 'what the market will pay' (@Martin Daler), Adobe has found and now exceeded my pain threshold, and I suspect this holds true for many 'serious amateurs'. I justified the original purchase price of Photoshop CS to myself on the basis it was only of the same order as an SLR lens.

But £185 for an upgrade, when Adobe push these things out every 18 months?

And obviously this pill is all the more bitter when the disparity between US and UK pricing is highlighted, particularly as I have not benefited in any way from Adobe's UK presence and would be perfectly happy getting my upgrades as downloads from the US.

Adobe may not care about pricing out 'serious amateurs'; they may be fairly confident that their core market of creative professionals will keep on throwing money at them no matter what. Though with most companies under pressure to cut costs, expensive upgrades of software that already does the job may not be deemed essential (my previous employer was still this year putting Visual Studio 6 (1998!) on their developer PCs as it was all that was needed for the development they engaged in).


July 6, 2010, 4:14 pm

Glad to see Mini-Bridge. I avoided using Bridge because it was such a resource hog.

It may seem small, but to me the biggest improvement was in CS2 (I think?) when they started using docked panes instead of free-floating windows in programs like Premiere in After Effects.

It made such a difference in usability for me! But then again, I'm a fussy designer - the type that gets his page formatting spot on before typing anything :-S


July 6, 2010, 8:57 pm

If you have children of school age Adobe CS5 can be had very cheaply from student software sites. I have purchased software for my daughter from software4students.co.uk.


July 6, 2010, 10:29 pm

I believe that Adobe only offer discount to University students on production of an acceptance letter. The licence also expires once you graduate. It's a lot more restrictive than the Microsoft offer.


July 6, 2010, 10:54 pm

Martin Daler: That was my point. The reaction to these prices elsewhere would be "HOW much? F**k right off" and an even higher level of piracy. They simply charge what they can get away with, and they can get away with charging far more here - we must be idiots.

In an ideal world, there would be a serious alternative - especially for the "advanced amateur" market - but there isn't (sorry but PSP doesn't cut it). So with no real competition, there is no incentive for Adobe not to completely take the piss with their prices.


July 7, 2010, 12:28 am

is there an actual advantage of this over GIMP? if the answer is 'it is slightly easier to use' then that is not £600 worth of answer.

and iphoto as a competitor to photoshop are you kidding me? and you people at TR wonder why people comment that this site is becoming an outlet where apple can to no wrong


July 7, 2010, 4:11 am

@Jay - I assume that the article meant to say that iPhoto is a competitor to Adobe Bridge, but the way it's worded makes it sound like it's a rival to Photoshop.

If you are using a Mac, and want a cheap alternative to Photoshop, I highly recommend Pixelmator ( http://www.pixelmator.com/ ). I wish there was a cheap Windows equivalent, but Paint.NET is too limited, and I didn't get on with Paintshop Pro. Guess I'll have to try Elements.


July 7, 2010, 5:57 pm

@Pbryanw - Have you not tried gImp? Also a good equivalent to PainshopPro is Serif's PhotoPlus (http://www.serif.com/photoplus...


July 7, 2010, 7:30 pm

@Corzair - I've tried Gimp but found the interface a bit hard to use. Will have a try of PhotoPlus - looks promising - many thanks for the link and info.


July 8, 2010, 4:03 am

@Pbryanw - No problem

btw in the upcoming release of GIMP verios 2.8 there will be an optional single-window mode

which should make it quite a bit easier to use on windows :)

see: http://arstechnica.com/open-so...

Cliff Smith

July 9, 2010, 10:12 pm

OK, I'll cough to the iPhoto/Photoshop comparison. I don't own a Fisher-Price My First Computer and haven't used one in years, so I asked a friend who has one what a good image editing program for the Mac was and she suggested iPhoto. I apologise for the sloppy journalism, but at least I didn't have to get my hands dirty.

As for GIMP, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants near-Photoshop levels of versatility but hasn't mugged an investment banker recently. If you full-screen the main window you get something that works just like a single-page interface. I'll be reviewing the next version when it's available. Here's my review of GIMP v.2.6: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


July 11, 2010, 12:50 am

Look forward to the upcoming GIMP review, I hope it does become easier to use on Windows. I recall using GIMPshop (looking at the 2.6 comments) but I can't remember why I stopped using it?

Just wanted to say thanks to Corzair. Hadn't heard of PhotoPlus before it was mentioned here, and it's turned out to be a good cheap(er) alternative to Elements for me. Tried the free SE edition and am now going to purchase the full, X3 version. You can get it for just over £20 which was a good price for me.


August 31, 2010, 9:12 pm

As ndav says, you can get it a lot cheaper as a student, either from software4students or Adobe direct, both cost the same and you have to verify with Adobe either way anyway. All they required from me was a scan of my NUS card and then they sent it out.

It's a great deal, £186 for Photoshop Extended. You don't have to be a Uni student (I'm only in 6th form), the requirements are:

* attending a primary or secondary school, university, or college

* enrolled full- or part-time with a valid student ID

Not sure about the licence running out, but once you've got it, they can't force you to uninstall it!

Still not as good as some of Microsoft's deals, (theultimatesteal.co.uk is a good one) but not too bad!

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