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Photoshop CS4 new features for photo editing

The new version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 is stuffed with new features and enhancements, but what does it offer photographers? I asked Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Photoshop product manager at Adobe, what photographers (and Photoshop jocks) are most excited about in the new version. Here are his picks:

Camera Raw

Camera RAW 5: The Camera RAW plug-in enables users to read more than 200 proprietary RAW files, but the buzziest new feature is the ability to read JPEG and TIFF files as well. This enables you to apply a single filter or adjustment to a batch of mixed RAW and JPEG or TIFF files.

Graphics acceleration: The Bridge CS4 utility now uses the computer’s graphics card for acceleration, which will sharply speed up performance. Many computers in the last couple of years have shipped with beefier graphics cards, in part because of the demands of Windows Vista. This feature takes advantage of those more powerful cards to display images faster and to provide smooth zooming. Note while GPU support gives the perception of speed, it’s not a replacement for adequate amounts of RAM.

64-bit support: Photoshop CS4 now supports 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, which can recognize as much RAM as you can strap onto your PC’s motherboard. So if you have 64-bit Vista, you’ll get faster performance by adding RAM.

Ease of use: Adobe aimed to simplify common procedures by determining the best way to carry out a task and bringing it to the top of the user interface. And that means that you can make tweaks without going deep into the menu subsystem. For example, a task like adjusting skin tone is now quick and easy, and the application remains “live” while you do so.

Content-aware scaling: If you follow photo-editing apps, you have probably seen demos of Photoshop CS4’s new content-aware scaling (if you haven’t, here’s the demo-candy.) The whiz-factor is sky-high, but you can also use content-aware scaling to achieve more mundane objectives, like making an 11-by-17-inch photo fit into an 11-by-14-inch photo frame, or scaling images to fit on your cellphone.

For in-depth reviews of Photoshop CS4, see these evaluations on CNET and PC World.

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