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The best new features in Adobe Photoshop CS4, from a photographerBridge and Camera RAW in detail
If you're a photographer, you probably have an old version of Photoshop you're happy using. Here are some good reasons why you should upgrade to Photoshop CS4. Most photographers out there have probably been using Adobe's Photoshop for some time. My journey to discovery with Photoshop started years ago with version 5.
I stepped up to version 6 when it came out and to save some money I've been skipping a version before springing for the latest one. So this article is aimed at you folks who have CS2, CS3, or an even earlier version of Photoshop but have been holding off upgrading for some reason.
First off, when we talk about Photoshop nowadays we have to include the other programs and utilities that come with it, the major tools being Bridge and Camera RAW. Photoshop CS4 also comes with some other tools like Kuler, Device Central, Drive, Extension Manager as well as 25 other supporting components (26 counting Camera RAW).
Bridge - In Part 1 of this review, I'll cover Bridge and Camera RAW. Adobe Bridge is your main interface between your files, Camera Raw and Photoshop.
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Bridge is a customizable file manager all unto itself and has a much nicer interface than Windows Explorer or Mac's Finder. With Bridge you can import images directly from your camera, memory card (using a card reader), or from a folder on your drive. You use Bridge to tag and edit the metadata in your photos. You can winnow down through your collection of images to find just what you're looking for by using Bridge to search your database using keywords or sets of keywords such as 'Sunset,' 'Beach,' 'Brunettes,' or 'Huntington Beach' and 'Fire Engines' You can also filter your search by image data - which camera or lens you used, a particular f-stop, ISO, shutter speed, or by file type (JPEG, TIFF, NEF, CR2, AVI) and so on. Once you rate the images they can also be located that way - Ratings (1~5), Labels (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple).
Stacks - Just like in Lightroom you can group images into stacks to speed up a visual search through your photo collection.
Speed - Bridge is faster, uses less system resources, and has faster previews. Bridge isn't suddenly as fast as the comicbook hero the Flash but any speed improvement saves you time sitting in front of your computer so you can be out making more money by shooting or just enjoying more time with the family.
Interface - Bridge's interface is more customizable than ever and has built-in views that are easy to switch among:
Lock Thumbnail Grid - Its a small feature but if you're like me and you were sick and tired of seeing the top and bottom-most thumbnails cut off then you'll like Lock Thumbnail Grid. What it does is change the size of the slide the thumbnail is part of (picture with info below) so that you will never see them cut off again. No more tiny movements of the window slider to see the the rest of the slide. Yea!
One key Full Screen mode - by hitting the Space Bar you can quickly switch to view your image in full screen mode.
Collections and Smart Collections - Another crossover from Lightroom, Collections lets you group photos using your own criteria. Say you want to group all your family photos, Photos taken from your trip to Italy, you can put them into a collection no matter where those photos reside in your computer. Smart Collections is even better since it will update the smart collection whenever new photos are added to your computer. So if you make a second trip to Italy, tag it so when importing and it will be added automatically to your original Italy Smart Collection.
WorkSpaces - Bridge has several built-in work spaces such as Essentials - (Ctrl+F1), Filmstrip (Ctrl+F2), Metadata (Ctrl+F3), Output (Ctrl+F4), Keywords (Ctrl+F5), Preview (Ctrl+F6), Light Table and Folders (the last two have no Ctrl+F key combo).
The major new tool in this group is the Output workspace which is used to help you in laying out a webpage gallery or output to an PDF document. Several templates for Web and PDF come with the software and I'm sure you'll be able to find more online as people start creating and sharing their own designs.
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