As well as major improvements to the core Photoshop program, the Adobe Bridge file organiser and image browser program that is installed alongside it has also received a major upgrade, with a number of very useful new features. The interface is now completely configurable, so different elements can be positioned left, right, top, bottom or middle. Searches can be filtered by multiple parameters, multiple images can be previewed at the same time, and there is now a virtual Lupe magnifier for checking focus on previewed images. As well as this the whole appearance of the Bridge interface has been overhauled.
Photoshop isn’t for everyone, and the more advanced it becomes the more it passes out of the reach of the everyday consumer. CS3 is the most advanced yet, and certainly the most capable image processing and editing software on the planet, with features that many professional users will find invaluable. Anyone who upgraded to CS in 2003 but held off spending money to upgrade to CS2 probably made the right choice, but I would say that CS3 holds enough new content to make that upgrade worthwhile. The question of whether it is worth upgrading from CS2 is another matter entirely. The faster performance, greatly improved RAW processing and new image adjustment controls are almost worth it on their own, and the improved compositing, and smart filters are nice bonuses. Personally I am particularly pleased by the improvements to Bridge, because it is my main program for sorting and organising my huge library of photos, a task which is now even easier, so if I hadn’t already got a review sample copy I probably would buy the upgrade myself. I think for me the deciding factor is the camera RAW processing, particularly because if Adobe follows its usual pattern, it will quickly cease supporting CS2 with new Camera RAW updates.
If you need the 3D and video capabilities of the Extended version, and can afford the extra £300, then you probably already know more about this than I do so I’ll leave you to it.
However it has to be said that the average user looking for a nice easy-to-use image editor should avoid it like the plague, unless they wish to spend the next two years learning how to use it properly. Fortunately the huge price will serve to deter those for whom it was not intended.
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