Adobe’s Photoshop CS3 Beta; Adobe Opens Photoshop Beta Testing To CS2 Users Page 2

Another highlight is the Quick Selection tool in the toolbox on the left of the work area, that can now be set as a single vertical row or as the old-fashioned double row box. Quick Selection is a much more effective version of what was introduced in Elements, without the colored brush effect, but with a new Refine Edge dialog tool that can also be used with other methods of selection like Color Range. This is a very good tool for portrait and wedding photographers doing group shots. One person in a group shot invariably has their eyes closed and another a goofy look on their face. The old way to work was to do a series of exposures, hoping to get one with everyone looking good. Well, you still have to make a series of exposures, but now in CS3 you can select two files, put them in layers, align them automatically, and clone between the layers to get a final photo where everyone in the group really looks good.

Making selections of irregular shapes within an image has always been a challenge, especially when using a mouse to move a cursor on screen. Few want to go to the trouble and expense of a large tablet. So for years various software developers have tried with limited success to create a masking utility that is easy to use, and effective. CS3's new Quick Selection is both easy and, with the help of the Refine Edge dialog, produces a very accurate selection of even very difficult image objects.

If you have not experienced working with a beta version of an application it can be very frustrating compared to a clean, complete release version. This became an issue (also called a "bug" or an "incomplete") when I attempted to try out a tool I use a great deal to clean up Kodachrome and black and white scans--the Spot Healing Brush. This useful tool has been revised and refined, but sadly, on the Intel Macs, the screen cursor option doesn't show the size of the brush, which makes spotting much too mysterious. (Editor's Note: This also occurs in the beta when using paintbrush to "cut" layer masks.) But despite this glitch, which I am sure will be fixed quite soon (and might be already fixed when you read this), the work I did with the Spot Healing Brush is much cleaner working and efficient. Another "issue" or bug not publicized caught me unawares. Apparently, installing CS3 had the affect of causing my CS2 to revert the Color Settings to default, and without knowing it I processed several files in sRGB rather than Adobe RGB. Oh well, it is a beta, after all.

CS3 has a new preview-type Print dialog that has all of the essential selections required to do serious, color managed printing in a well organized and handy arrangement. But the really new capability that photographers should appreciate is the preview window that's a bit bigger and fully interactive. It not only confirms the image placement on the page, but also displays what the image should look like relative to the printer profile selected--will wonders never cease?

Evaluation & Conclusion
Adding everything up, the increase in overall speed, as well as many refined and efficient features make this version worthy of upgrading from CS2. There are quite a few things, like the much improved raw processing and black and white conversion functions, that should be further incentive for an upgrade. If nothing else, trying out the beta is a no-cost way to know for sure whether the upgrade is something worthwhile for you. So, who gets the most out of this? Adobe, in a more thoroughly tested beta, or users who get a no-cost preview before committing and an early use of some neat new features? It's a toss-up. If you venture into beta testing before release there really isn't all that much to lose.

Of course I had to have some fun working with Adobe's Photoshop CS3 beta, so I used Quick Selection on three butterfly close-ups, cleaned them up and balanced the image values between the three, then copied each and overlaid them in layers to create a single composite image. Nothing great about that accomplishment other than it was all done in finished form between lunch and a coffee break. In the past I've whiled away more than a full day making such a simple composite image. In the future when working with CS3, the question might be: how will I ever keep busy in my spare time?
© 2006, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved