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Wednesday, 24 September 2008


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Frankly, with LIghtroom 2 and CS3 I don't feel the need for anything new. I also could not easily decipher just what can't-live-without features that a $200 update will buy me with CS4. (Does anyone else think that Photoshop has reached its practical limits?)

Of course update is inevitable; that's the nasty truth about software. Pay-up or die. But, at least for now, I think I'll live dangerously and risk being an antiquated social outcast with CS3.

Not 64-bit on the Mac, unlike Lightroom.




I felt the same way about CS2 until my employer updated me to CS3 without informing me. What a difference that made! I couldn't imagine still using CS2 now.

Then again, I'm one of those people who likes to upgrade to the shiny new thing when I see it. Now if only I could find someone to buy my car so that I could afford that 5D Mark II, then I could worry about the Photoshop Tax for this year.

Great! But not so if you live in UK - £207 upgrade on Amazon UK, $197 on Amazon USA. The dollar is now worth more than the pound? Perhaps its time to think about making do with CS2 again....

Great! But not so if you live in UK - £207 upgrade on Amazon UK, $197 on Amazon USA. The dollar is now worth more than the pound? Perhaps its time to think about making do with CS2 again....

I only use Photoshop for the occasional picture that needs a masked edit. And Lightrrom can almost do that now (the local edit brushes aren't quite as convenient for large areas).

Sooooo... I think I'll pass this year.

The last Adobe product I bought was Elements 3. I use Capture Nx, totally sufficient for my particular purposes, which is a slow considered workflow, with very little pixel level manipulation and no batch output of hundreds of event photos etc. NX also has a periodic tax, though very modest one compared to Photoshop, and a clunky interface, but it's very powerful and much more than a raw converter. Maybe I'm missing something but ignorance is bliss and I like my prints.

And one of the best things about Capture NX is the pleasure of giving these giant Potatochop upgrades a pass.

No, joking aside, you are exactly right. Photoshop Tax is the perfect name for it.

I'm just fine with CS3 but if I want to be able to use new cameras in ACR in the future... well, garsh! Better get out the checkbook.

Does this mean we can get CS3 at a reduced cost, now that CS4 is coming out?

I have never had a full copy of photoshop. When I got back into photography (about 2.5 years ago) got Photoshop elements 5. Now have also, and learning Lightroom 2.

But that means I will be paying the periodic Lightroom tax now, i guess :)

As someone who's moved from the PC to the Intel Mac, I'm somewhat peeved that Adobe don’t let me upgrade and switch platforms. Why?

As a humble amateur photographer the real Photoshop is well above my needs, but there are just odd things I like (over consumer software) and justify the alternate upgrades (I’m on CS2 and planning for CS4). Does anyone have a good take on this 16-bit printing? Will it work with any printer given the correct driver or is it hardware dependent? As a film user who scans native 16-bit images (eat your heart out you 12 and 14-bit DSLR users!) it sounds interesting……

Mike Jones

Using a raw workflow, I hardly ever use Photoshop itself -- almost everything gets done in Bridge/CameraRaw.

Unfortunately, when Adobe releases a new Photoshop, they also release a new CameraRaw to which you cannot upgrade from the previous version. (If you want the latest CameraRaw, you *have* to upgrade the whole Photoshop package.)

With the 5D Mark II coming (pre-ordered!), CameraRaw would require an upgrade to support its raw format. BUT: what you can do is download the "DNG Converter" tool from Adobe (for free), when it is updated to support the new raw files, which will generate DNG files that can be read by any version of CameraRaw (or any other software that supports it, such as LightRoom).

Having been a user of Photoshop for a long time, the installation process for upgrades when changing hardware has become a real PIA:
a) Install PS 5.5 (my first full PS version)
b) Upgrade to CS2 by reinstalling
c) Upgrade to CS4 by reinstalling (CS4 will not upgrade from 5.5 according to the docs)

There has to be a better way.

Frankly, Photoshop is becoming less and less important for photographers. Most of the adjustments that Lightroom can't do can be done just as effectively in PS Elements, or any of the miriad of sub $100 competitors.

On the features page for Photoshop CS4 the upgrade price is listed as US $199, but clicking on the link takes you to the upgrade page where the price is listed as US $234. This looks like the same scam as the Lightroom 2 upgrade. Have I missed something? I can't find any way in which it would be possible to order the upgrade for US $199 (although, like most other commenters, I'm not in a hurry to do so). The ploy seems cynical and unethical.

I'm pretty sure that advertising like this in New Zealand would see Adobe investigated by our Commerce Commission, and I think they'd be obliged to honour the lower price.

Dear Folks,

I think these two links are useful for quickly finding out what is significantly different about CS4: in particular, the video snippets and screenshots in the first link are very informative:



Beyond that, haven't used the program yet, so I don't want to try in the dissect the faults and merits of the changes. *IF* I understand what I'm seeing in the video snippets, there are some very, very significant and important things going on here. Doesn't mean I do.

To Mike Jones' questions: sometimes Adobe has offered crossgrades and sometimes they haven't. Unless there's something stated on their website that says explicitly that they don't any longer, don't assume that the lack of such a visible option means it isn't available if you ask. E-mail them. Good luck on this, and let us know what you find out, please!

The 16-bit printing intrigues me although it's gonna be a while before I can check that out. I am reasonably certain (90%) that there are across-the-board deficiencies in digital printing's gradation and tonality that are of note and are due to 8-bit workflows. I am entirely uncertain how many links in the chain need to be fixed before that goes away. Potential bottlenecks are the software, the operating system, the driver provided by the printer manufacturer, and the printer firmware/rendering engine. So I don't know if Mac OSX 10.5 plus Photoshop entirely addresses the problem (which would be very cool) or if they're simply laying the foundation for printer manufacturers to solve the rest of it (in which case sometime in the future would be very cool but right now it's irrelevant).

Re: some confusion I've seen about memory management, here's the short form: if you're running Windows, using a system that can accept more than 4 GB of RAM, and work on images that start out at 100 MB or larger (or use LOTS of layers), then 64-bit memory management will be a big win for you. If you don't meet all three of these criteria, the impact will be minor.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com

Like Charles, I do 99% of my work in ACR, and the one thing (OK, two) I really wanted and had to go into Photoshop for will now be added to CS4: the gradient layers and the brushes. Woohoo!

And there are some other little things too: vignetting is applied to the cropped area (great for me as I generally crop to 4x5) and when you rotate a picture the actual picture rotates, not the frame (this seems like a feature that should have been there in CS0.0001). I was reading the previews yesterday and getting way too excited for what is, in essence, a bunch of well-placed 0's and 1's.

I, for one, will have to upgrade. Once that's done I can start bitching about why Adobe doesn't sell ACR as a separate program.

Adobe does have a program to let you change your license to a different platform.

Anyone done an analysis on what is in this for photographers? For example, the black and white conversion stuff added in CS3.

Not £207 in UK - Adobe's own store has it at £163.32 inc. 17.5% VAT - that's £139 ex VAT == $256 vs $199 bought on Adobe's US site.

As Fazel says, the bad thing for mac users is knowing that CS5 has been sort of promised in a year or so and is needed to make use of our brilliant 64bit operating system and up to 32GB RAM.

Still having not bought into lightroom, the upgrade gives a lot of the non-destructive features, for less money, so I'm in.

PS- for Mike Jones, it has been possible to switch platforms during an upgrade - many people have done so ( I think Adobe ask them to swear that they will not use windows again ;-)

I bought Photoshop once, version 4, paid about 500 bucks.

From then on I either borrowed, copied or downloaded the newest flavor.

I'm sorry but 1000 Euros!?!?

I might be a pirate but Adobe is a thief!

>> Re: some confusion I've seen about memory management, here's the short form: if you're running Windows, using a system that can accept more than 4 GB of RAM, and work on images that start out at 100 MB or larger (or use LOTS of layers), then 64-bit memory management will be a big win for you. If you don't meet all three of these criteria, the impact will be minor. <<

A minor addendum to Ctein's capsule summary - you need to be willing to switch to 64-bit Windows to get access to the extra RAM. That means some folks who could really use the extra headroom will be stuck between a rock and a hard place - some scanners that generate very large files use drivers that are not compatible with 64-bit Windows, and some industrial-grade scanner programs don't support 64-bit Windows either. The Nikon Coolscan 9000 and Silverfast Ai in particular come to mind.

Adobe doesn't make Photoshop for Linux. (I would regard an announcement from Adobe that they were about to start as one of the Signs of the Apocalypse.)

ufraw, a graphical front end for dcraw, works a treat, though, and 16 bit printing has been around for ages in CinePaint. On the rare occasions that I can't do what I want in ufraw, the GIMP has let me do was I was trying to do. (Generally getting rid of fringing.)

So no tax, but there are probably about eleventy-six things I can't do, or not as easily. One presumes this comes out even.

I've used Picture Window Pro on my PCs for quite a few years now and am content to let the PS incarnations come and go. It's under ninety bucks and the upgrades are free. They also have a great forum on site where most any question will be answered within a day. www.dl-c.com is worth a visit.

I am a dedicated user of Photoshop CS. Not to mention Nikon Capture 4.2!

The Photoshop tax (nicely put, Mike) would not be intolerable were it not for the fact that nowadays we find ourselves paying the DSLR tax periodically, and also the PC/Mac tax every 3-4 years or so.

It all adds up. And I used to think Agfa Portriga paper was expensive...

Maybe some of you diehard Photoshoppers who think that life can't exist without it could take a look at my site and tell me which pictures could be improved, and how, if I were to switch to using it...

(And if anyone really thinks about doing that, consider first that photography is art and I, as the originator of my art, have the final say as to how an image should look).

Epson 7880 (and many of their K3 magenta inkset printers) has 16-bit drivers in Beta from Epson using CS3 on intel Mac are out right now. Don't know what difference it makes, but I am pretty happy with the results I am getting.

I am no Adobe fanboy, but if you aren't using Photoshop, your photos will suffer in the long run. There are just so many tools to attack a photo, I can't imagine life without it. The tabbed interface is a god send for those of us used to working on dozens of photos at a time, so I for one, welcome the upgrade, it's worth every penny to me.

I'm with Donald (24th Sept) on this one. I'm sick of telling Adobe their rip-off policy outside the US does them no good. Quote "You may be wizards in computer design but absolute idiots when it comes to selling the stuff".

Mike, Adobe does let you switch platforms. Call support and tell them you're switching. They'll have you fill out a form with your serial number and swear to delete the program, destroy the media and leave your first-born (or your grandmother or your favorite camera) as a hostage. Then they'll charge you for shipping new media for Mac with a new serial number. I think I paid about $20 to get it shipped to Toronto.

It was a royal headache and took way too long, but they'll do it. I have also complained extensively about having to go through this process, since they do online registration of Photoshop, they already allow you to run it on two machines (albeit not at the same time), and there's no good technical reason why you couldn't run it on OS X and Windows at the same time.

Thanks to "Mike and the Mechanics" on the advice regarding transfering from PC to MAC. I see the light.
I'm still confused over 16-bit printing, but I side with Ctein in thinking digital prints could be improved, and this is a way. Mike Chaney (on Steve's Digicams) suggested it wasn't, but his explanation was that DSLRs were themselves so restricted in colour it didn't matter.... this was in Dec 2006.

Mike Jones

Mike Jones: As mwg pointed out, Adobe will cross-grade you on CS3. I don't know if anything has been announced about the CS4 policy yet. Yes, it's more hassle than it should be.

As for 16-bit printing, it's Mac only, 10.5 only and requires a 16-bit capable printer and driver. Ones I know of are the Epson x880 series (vivid magenta K3 inks - drivers in beta), and the HP B-9180 and Z series (Vivera inks - drivers available today).

Will you see a huge difference when printing 16-bit? That depends on your image, color management workflow, and particular printer / media / ink combination. If you're expecting to see a huge difference when printing on newsprint, you'll be very disappointed. If you're expecting subtle differences when printing on the best media available, you've probably got the right idea. I'm interested to hear what ctein has to say once he gets his hands on it.

Also note that you don't HAVE to buy the latest version of Photoshop to use the latest cameras. There's the (free) DNG converter http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/ which gets updated with ACR. Photoshop CS and Elements 3 can open DNGs.

Disclaimer: I work for Adobe, on Photoshop, specifically on the printing code. Decisions about pricing are so far above my pay grade that I have nothing useful to say about them.

Dear MJ,

I couldn't say whether or not there are color rendition problems with some DSLR's, but the problem I'm talking about doesn't have anything to do with the camera. I first noticed it in 2003 when Michael Reichmann and I did a photo outing together and we compared the results of me photographing on Fuji Reala (645 format) and him photographing with a Phase One back on a Contax 645. Michael's digital prints lacked a certain gradation compared to my darkroom prints. Where I was reproducing subtle differences in tone and color, he was getting uniformity.

When I did high quality scans of my film and printed them digitally, I saw a result similar to his. The digital prints definitely lacked subtleties the darkroom prints retained. I observed this over several different makes and models of printer and with a variety of image sources. That led me to conclude that it had nothing to do with the original photograph and was likely a general workflow issue.

This has led many folks to the kind of adjustments I described in this column: "How To Improve Digital Print Tonality" ( http://tinyurl.com/yrc8jj )

I am *guessing* that a great deal of the problem can be attributed to 8-bit data streams. In an ideal world, where each of the individual grey value is set perfectly, eight bits is almost enough to produce perfect tonality in an ordinary reflection print. Close enough, anyway, that any loss of subtle tone separation wouldn't be at all obvious. The problem is that it isn't an ideal world. The information in the original photograph usually gets massaged to some degree in your image processing program. Any kind of curve reshaping or color adjustment squashes some parts of the tonal scale (for one or more colors) and expands others. Even if you're working in 16 bits originally, so you're retaining the value separations internally, when that gets outputted it is all truncated to eight bits, so stuff gets lost.

Printer profiles make this problem even worse. Of necessity, they severely warp the tone and color space. Many parts of the space are very heavily squashed, others are very heavily expanded. This produces the most accurate tone and color rendition, but the precision goes all to hell. Think of it as the three-dimensional equivalent of a picket fence histogram. The net result is that while you're starting off with full 24-bit color, what your printer is actually putting out probably runs between 15 and 20 bits worth of color. The values are very carefully positioned so that contouring and aliasing are minimal to nonexistent; that's part of a good profile. But subtle intermediate values have been obliterated in the translation.

Anyway, that's my hypothesis, and I emphasize it is only a hypothesis. I have not been equipped to run experiments that would confirm or refute it.

Unfortunately I do not own one of these state-of-the-art printers for which they are or will be 16-bit drivers; the most advanced printer I have is an Epson 9800. Unless Epson decides to back-engineer 16-bit drivers for that, I'm not likely to be able to test this out.

I imagine that Bill Atkinson may very well look into this (See "Within the Stone-- the Backstory" ( http://tinyurl.com/357xu5 ). I will e-mail him at some point and find out if he's going to explore the 16-bit stuff. If he is, I would consider his the final word on the subject. He sets the standard for printer profiling (I mean that literally).

~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com

Haven't seen too much positive regarding Photoshop in these posts, so I'll add my 2-cents. I love it. Couldn't live without, and I make that admission without reservation.

I'm not a huge fan of these minimalistic incremental upgrades any more than anyone else, but it's a price I'm more than willing to pay to help me realize my photographic vision.


There are a few things I've figured out about 16-bit printing:

In the case of Printer Manages Colors from Photoshop, on some printers at least, 16-bit printing makes a noticeable difference in the output. I suspect this is due to less banding (or combing) being introduced as the printer driver pushes around the colors during the color-management phase.

In the case of Photoshop Manages Colors, the difference is smaller. This is because when PS would mash around the colors to get to the printer profile, we would work in the same bit-depth as the image. So with a 16-bit file, the main color-correction step happened with deeper data, leading to less banding.

And as with your comment on digital print tonality, print-time sharpening is necessary to counteract the softness introduced by ink-jet printers (and that's another step where you want to be working on 16-bit data). Deciding how much sharpness to add is tricky, but Bruce Fraser wrote a book on that.

As for the benefit of 16-bit printing, I think it's safe to categorize it as a relatively small benefit today. But as the printer manufacturers continue to improve their inks, media and color profiles, plus more-than-8-bit monitors and display cards start to hit the streets, 16-bit printing will become more important.

Frankly, Adobe is one of those companies that make it hateful to pay for original software. Three years ago I decided to buy CS2 instead of just pirating it. Adobe's prices in Europe are outrageous, sometimes double than in the USA, and so I bought my copy online to an big American reseller. They swore me no problems would arise in Europe. Well, last week I sold my camera with CS2 as an enticing gift. Yesterday the purchaser phoned me to complain that he had bought CS3 and Adobe refused to update because of CS2 being bought in USA! Apart of what I was promised, nothing on the contrary was stated in the EULA, AFAIK.

Now I've wound up as a cheater, the Adobe Reseller as a swindler, and everyone is unhappy, but Adobe.

Never again, I swear.

Dear Dave,

Erm, not talking about print-time sharpening. Print tonality has nothing to do with sharpening.

I think you may have been thrown off by the use of 'unsharp masking' to improve tonality. Check out the radius on the tool-- at 50-60 pix, 10-15% strength you're not sharpening detail, you're slightly magnifying variations of each pixel from the mean. Exaggerates microcontrast.

Very different issue from sharpening for output.

pax / Ctein


Sharpening in general increases contrast at some scale. My point was that it's another operation which can introduce banding if it's not done on 16-bit data.

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