Running Time: 20 minutes
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Review
Adobe Photoshop is used by MANY different industries; Graphic Designers, Video Editors, 3D Rendering, Photographers, and Professional Retoucher. This Adobe Photoshop CS6 Review is from the point of view of the Professional Retoucher. My needs are based solely on taking an image from Camera RAW, to a Printable High Quality Image. I am interested in making the Retouching easier and faster, while not making it Automated. I need to stay in complete control.
As a Professional Retoucher, I have very specific needs. Unfortunately, Adobe continues to make a single product for everyone. As I have said for many years, I desperately wish they created separate product divisions. Personally, I have no need for video editing tools, or 3D rendering. I have no need for Automated this, and Computer controlled that. "Hands Off" Retouching is what Elements is for, the beginner. I want Professional tools that allow me to do Professional Retouching. No more, no less.
In This Episode:
Transcript: Podcast – Episode 012
I am looking for Photoshop CS6 to make my work look better. I look forward to every new version in hope that it comes out with one or two new tools that really adds to my "Wow" factor. Something that I could not have accomplished, without the upgrade. For example, interior architecture was a down right pain in the ass until Photoshop CS5 introduced the Lens Correction Tool. I jumped all over that.
If you know me at all, it should come as no surprise that much of this Adobe Photoshop CS6 Review will to be be a major let down. Nothing new I wanted was in there, and filled with a ton of changes I could not care less about. I have been criticized for my sharp opinions, but I do not plan on changing the way I think about Photoshop CS6, just because more people are viewing this blog daily. "If you haven't pissed someone off today, then you haven't said anything relevant". I live by that quote.
The problem, is that from a Retoucher's perspective, changing the color of the palettes, and moving the tools around, is not adding to my skills. I found nothing that made me jump out of my seat, that grabbed my attention, and made me a believer. Adobe Photoshop CS6 should be passed up as an upgrade for a Professional Retoucher. Design, 3D, and Video got all the love this time around.
Here is my experience with the Photoshop CS6 Upgrade:
- Icon looks Neon in the Taskbar. Hard to not notice it. I miss the old Icons for all the products, Pre-CS Series. I find them ugly now. While this is subjective, I have always been entertained by the Beta release Splash Artwork over the years. Right now, it's a cat silhouette made of words. Soon, it will be something dull and drab, once again.
- When Photoshop CS6 opens, the dark interface I do not like. However, i can see the benefit, and will try it. My general impression though, I find the standard light grey easier to read. Something about the dark interface does not appeal to me, but I know if you are sitting in a dark room, and you want minimal interface distractions, then this would be the way to go. In the end, I will likely put it back the way I have been using it for past 20 years.
- I love the way it (finally) asked to import previous settings. All my palettes jumped right into place, except for the new or replaced ones, but this is to be expected.
- By selecting the "New in CS6" Workstation, it moves my palettes so I can see what is new this time around. Since I am a photo retoucher, I can completely ignore the Timeline and 3D Palettes. Character, Paragraph and their styles can go, I am not a designer.
- At this point, Photoshop CS6 locked up on me. I now need to quit and restart. Not a good start, I am afraid. I haven't done anything yet, and already my brand new MacMini is crashing. Joy of Joys.
- I don't use Bridge, and hate the way they continue to force it down my throat. I will now remove the Mini Bridge Palette. The Custom Brush and Brush Presets look the same as before. I never really used them anyway. As a retoucher, I use a round brush, with various softness. I'm easy.
- A big change I see is that the Adjustment Palette has been split in two. There is now an Adjustment Palette which has the same group of icons, and a new Properties Palette with the options. At first I was perplexed by it. The basic concept is one that I had thought of before myself, although not quite how I envisioned it to be executed. The Properties Palette changes depending on the layer selected. So, if it is an Adjustment Layer, then you get the Adjustment Options. This is a better solution than the previous versions, as I always hated the way that the icons would disappear when you were on the Adjustment Layer, and only the options would be displayed until I clicked off the layer. This solves that odd interface problem.
- The Adjustment Palette added a wonderful new icon, that I will never ever use, called Color Lookup. On the surface, it seems to load predesigned color and Tone adjustments. It works along the same theory of 3rd party tools such as Nik Photo Effects. You can select items like Blacklight, Sepia, Foggy Night, etc. It just distorts the color and contrast of the image. I am sure Photographers will play with it, and other 3rd parties will develop for it. But as a retoucher, it's just more clutter.
- Back to the Properties Palette. As mentioned, if you select an Adjustment Layer, you now have the options displayed in the Property Palette. If you select a Mask, the property window turns into the (now missing from the menu) Mask Palette. It behaves the same as before with access to Density, Feather, and the Mask Edge and Color Range Palettes. I'll say one thing for the Properties Palette, it is cleaning up various cluttered options, and putting them into a single box.
- After the upgrade, my Actions were not imported. Boo! I wonder how many carefully crafted actions have now been broken?
- Another great new feature that must be disabled immediately, if not sooner, is the Filtering of Layers option. It seems that you can choose to see just Adjustment Layers, or just Pixel Layers, or just Text Layers, etc. The options keep going with filtering by color, mode, effect, etc. The reason this is a PISS POOR idea, is because people are going to be accidentally having layers hidden, and not even realizing it. This is bad enough for a Photoshop professional, but ameratures are just going to get flat out confused, and otherwise lost. Bad, bad, bad. Not to mention the fact that it now adds more to the cluttered interface that I will need to ignore. I organize my layers into a Grouped Folder Structure. I have no problem finding what I am looking for.
- Onto the Tool Palette. There is a newly added Perspective Crop Tool. Since this option was already available in Photoshop CS4 and CS5, as part of the Crop Tool itself, making this it's own icon is just more clutter being added, to cater to people who haven't bothered to learn about all the Photoshop Tools in the first place.
- The Content Aware Move Tool (Not grouped with the Move Tool?!?!) Failed in every attempt I made to use it. More Crap. I hate that Content Aware nonsense. I have never… EVER… had Content Aware do anything useful for me. If the situation is simple enough for this tool to work properly, I could easily do it myself. Go put this tool where it belongs, in Elements. As a Professional Retoucher, I need more control than this will provide.
- The new HDR Toning takes several existing tools, and puts them into a single dialog box. It combines Exposure, Shadow and Highlights, Vibrance and Curves Tools. This creates several issues for me. One being, another tool I will never use. Additionally, It turns non-destructive Adjustment Layers into a destructive dialog box. For the same reason that I don't like the Shadows and Highlights; once you click "OK", the damage is done.
- There is a new Type Pull Down Menu. Since Photoshop is not a Text Layout program, I find the addition of this to be a little overkill. However, I know that Graphic Designers will benefit from this addition, so I can not criticize it much.
- There is a new Oil Paint Filter that is about as useful as the WaterColor filter. I'm not sure why it was left "out in the open" in the filter menu. I would think putting it into a subfolder makes more sense. Again, as a Professional Retoucher, this is not anything I will use.
- Adaptive Wide Angle Filter looks to be an extension of Lens Filter. While I love the Lens Filter, introduced in CS5, and use it regularly, I'm not sure yet if the Wide Angle adds additional functionality that I would use. Further testing in a real world environment is needed.
- While I am at it, i notice that the myriad of Artistic Filters have been relegated to the "Filter Gallery", while other filters like Noise and Sharpen are left to remain out in the open. Finally, something to actually clean up the clutter. Thank you.
- Under Proof Setup, there appears to be a Color Blindness option. Is this really how Color Blind people see colors in the world? How strange. Of course, I have no idea why I need that as a Proofing option, but there you go.
- Automatic Save Recovery looks like something that could be VERY beneficial. I know that I can work for 40 minutes and suddenly realize I have not saved yet. Assuming this works as promised, this seems to be the single most important addition to Photoshop CS6.
- Save in Background… does this mean I can keep working while I saves the file? That sure would be a time saver. While most of my stuff saves in 30 seconds to 2 minutes, I have had layered monsters take 20 minutes. I'm just saying, this would add up through the course of a day, at 2-5 minutes each save. If this is not how it works, then it should be added.
- In the Preferences, I noticed Disable Compression of PSD Files… Why?!? I turn on TIF Compression for everything. Starting with a 16MP Camera, going to a 16-BIt File with dozens of Layers, my files have become amazingly large. Besides, PSD files have a size limit of 2GB. TIFs will support 4GB. You should be using TIF anyway. So, who really cares?
- Camera RAW 7.0 has some major improvements. In fact, I hated every version up to this one. It now uses the same engine as Lightroom 4.0. Finally, I was able to make sense of the interface, and get some positive results. Unfortunately, you can only do one image at a time. This is, of course, to get you to buy Lightroom 4.0. I recommend Corel Aftershot Pro for Beginners, and Capture One for Professionals. But, that's just me.
- Field Blur, Iris Blur and Tilt Shift have been added to the Blur menu. Unnecessarily, they took up space to add 3 additional names, for the same tool. More clutter. However, I do like the new filters. I found that while the options appeared to be limited, they were easy to control. I can, of course, achieve the same results myself manually, however, when things are made easier, and the results are what I expect them to be, then I'm all for that.
- I am bummed that they omitted the Anti-Lens Shake they were talking about a few months ago. I was really looking forward to it. Don't get me wrong, I expected it to work about as well as the Content Aware garbage, but I'm just saying; I wanted to try it. Ah well.
- I did find that complex tools like Liquify are in fact faster than previous generations. I never used them, but I know many do.
- I noticed that the Mac Specs say you need v10.6.8 or v10.7. Well, so much for legacy support. This also omits every Mac that we have in our studio. Why didn't we upgrade to v10.6x? Well, if it's not broken, don't fix it. These are production machines, and we avoid causing un-needed damage, or invest time in OS upgrades.
- The new Lighting Effects Palette is another that I would never actually use. I guess designers might use it once in a while, but it's mostly it seems to be for 3D people, I would imagine.
- The updated Patch Tool still needs to be destructive, so this limits it's usefulness. In fact, that alone makes it unusable for me, except in the most rare situations. I avoid the Patch tool; not that I don't like it, I just don't want to work on the same layer as my background. When it comes to cloning around Lens Flares, or other gradients, the Patch tool can not be beat.
Photoshop hit it's retouching peak already. With the addition of the Healing Brush and the Lens Corrections Filter in the past few versions, there is little more I can even think to add. It's all added fluff that will not make me a better retoucher. Here are some suggestions that WILL make me a better retoucher:
- Still Missing: A Simple White Point Adjustment Palette – The only tool I actually wanted, is still MIA. I hate you. I want one that simply lets me pick a white point with the eye dropper, then temperature and tint. Simple, effective. Guess I need to wait another year and a half to try again.
- The ability to Disable all the tools, palettes, and pull downs that add to the clutter, that I will never ever use. Maybe they can have a quick option in the Preferences to remove all the tools and pull downs that start with the words Magnetic, Auto, Magic or Quick.
- Forget about Camera RAW as a separate program, I only get to use while Importing. I want the RAW file to be the very first Layer, with all the Camera RAW options in an Adjustment Layer above it. Yeah, you heard me. Why am I only able to edit that RAW data once? Maybe I want to tweak it later on? I don't see why I shouldn't be able to. Don't forget, the biggest benefit to using a RAW processor, is the ability to have all the various correction options in a single tabbed window, that I can quickly skim across. Photoshop CS6 is made up of various Tools, Palettes, Layers, and whatever else scattered all over the interface. Remember at the beginning, I said I wanted it simpler, not harder, and leave me in control. This would achieve that in a huge way.
- Rearrange and hide items in the Tool Palette work my Workspace. Half of them I never use, but need to Shift-Key to scroll through the group.
- Remove old, unsupported file formats. When was the last time someone needed to save as an Amiga IFF or Scitex CT?
- Better serve each target market as 4 different products, using the same base engine/tools, then turn on/off options based on the industry. Similar to what QuickBooks does.
In conclusion, if anything, you should be spending your money on an updated RAW Processor. In recent years, the RAW processors have been coming along by leaps and bounds. If you do not have the most current versions, you are missing out. I was just asked to go back and pick up some old images, that happened to be edited with older versions of Capture One. I remember the problems I had while working on them, and with todays version, I was able to quickly make adjustments I was not able to do before.
Sadly, as a Professional Retoucher, I have to say that you need to pass on Adobe Photoshop CS6 upgrade. The only viable reason you need to spend on the upgrade, seems to be the Automatic Saving feature, and maybe the updated Camera RAW. Now, I hate to be such a downer. I really wanted to be excited to use the updated version. Unfortunately, Adobe wants to expand to the 3D and Video industry, leaving the Professional Retouchers behind. I can only hope that the next version adds to our capabilities, as it has in the past. In fact, if you look back over the years, you will see all the best features were introduced in the odd numbered versions.
You may download the Photoshop CS6 Demo for yourself, and see how you think the upgrade works for you.
I hope you are able to take my Adobe Photoshop CS6 Review with a grain of salt. I only wish they made a new product that simplified the interface. It has really gotten out of control.
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