Adobe's latest Photoshop sports a streamlined workspace and powerful new tools that solve old photographic challenges
By Lewis Kemper
With every new version of Photoshop, photographers always ask, "What’s new that will be useful to me?" With the release of CS3, the answer is lots! Brand-new features do things that were previously impossible in Photoshop, and refinements make existing features more flexible and powerful. Let’s look at the new features first.
The Streamlined Interface will be the first new feature you see when launching the program. There’s a new single-column toolbar (although you can easily change it back to two columns if you want), and there are new docking palettes. The new interface takes a bit of getting used to, but it offers the flexibility to make your desktop more efficient and gain more screen real estate for your images.
Smart Filters will make life much easier for photographers. In the past, filters weren’t editable—once you applied one, it was a permanent change, and if you wanted to apply a filter locally rather than globally, it was a multiple-step process. Convert for Smart Filters is a new command under the Filter menu. When you apply this to a pixel layer, it turns the layer into a Smart Object. When you run any filter on that layer, you get a "sub" layer containing a layer mask and an editable link back to the filter dialog box so that you can reedit the filter at any time. You also get an icon that opens a Blending Options dialog box so that you can change the blend mode of the filter. This is helpful because you can now set the blend mode of the sharpening right with the layer.
Black-and-White Conversion is a new option in the Adjustment Layer list. When you open the dialog box, you’re given the option of converting your color image to black-and-white using several presets that mimic using color filters on black-and-white film. Or, if you choose not to use a preset, you can adjust any of six color sliders (Red, Green, Blue and Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) to influence the grayscale value of those colors in the conversion to a black-and-white image. This is, by far, the easiest and most controllable method for converting color to black-and-white.