Login or Join Now

Upload your photos, chat, win prizes and much more

Username:
Password:
Remember Me

Can't Access your Account?

New to ePHOTOzine? Join ePHOTOzine for free!

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Software Review

Join Now

Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!

55% OFF new PortraitPro 12 - use code EPHZROS414.
Category: Adobe Photoshop
Product: Adobe Photoshop CS4
Price: £323.00
Rating: 4.5 out of 54.5 out of 54.5 out of 54.5 out of 54.5 out of 54.5 out of 5

Adobe Photoshop CS4 - After being blown away by the mind-boggling feature-set of Adobe Photoshop CS4, Matt Grayson takes a look himself.

Posted:
Print Article Add Comment Add CommentJargon Buster: Off Jargon Buster: Off

After 18 years of being so good at what it does it earned its own generic trademark, will Photoshop keep ahead of the game as it moves into adulthood.

Skip to Verdict

Adobe Photoshop CS4: System requirements

Windows

  • 1.8GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows Adobe Photoshop CS4Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (certified for 32-bit
  • Windows XP and 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Vista)
  • 512Mb of RAM (1Gb recommended)
  • 1Gb of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on flash-based storage devices)
  • 1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card
  • Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • QuickTime 7.2 software required for multimedia features
  • Broadband Internet connection required for online services

Notable Upgrades from CS3:

  • New Adjustments panel
  • New Masks panel
  • Content aware scaling
  • Extended depth of field
  • Fluid canvas rotation
  • Smoother panning
  • Smoother zooming
  • Support for colour-blind
  • 3D object painting
  • 3D object/property editing
  • 3D animation
  • 2D conversions to 3D
  • Volume rendering

Mac

  • PowerPC G5 or multicore Intel processor
  • Mac OS X v10.4.11-10.5.4
  • 512Mb of RAM (1Gb recommended)
  • 2Gb of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on flash-based storage devices)
  • 1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card
  • Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • QuickTime 7.2 software required for multimedia features
  • Broadband Internet connection required for online services

Adobe Photoshop CS4: Overview

Adobe Photoshop CS4
The new Adjustments panel allows localised editing such as exposure and contrast using global tools.

It appears as Adobe are evolving they're getting better and better. CS3 showed us new features such as non-destructive smart filters, quick selection, 3D compositing, enhanced RAW image processing and HDR support.

The new Creative Suite is designed to meet different challenges such as effective collaborations between designers and developers, embracing new media, reinventing publishing and embracing the explosion of connected media. In fact Chad Seigel, Group Manager for Creative Suite said: "Adobe are trying to break barriers and integrate all products."

Changes to Photoshop CS4 include an improved interface with the entire application enclosed in the frame which means dual monitor users can have more than one application running. The workspace switcher is for swapping between applications such as Camera RAW 5 and Bridge.

Welcome improvements appear in the form of the zoom ratio which is less likely to show jagged or pixelated lines and also boasts a flicker free zoom. Rotating the canvas can also now be done without jagged lines and the brush size can be previewed on the document. This means that when the tool is placed over the image it can be moved in size and allows you to see it before you use it.

Adobe Photoshop CS4

The dodge/burn tool will adjust the areas you require without affecting the surrounding areas.

The Dodge/Burn tool has been improved so when you're adjusting the shadows, midtones or highlights the tool won't impose on the other two. When adjusting the saturation on the sponge tool it won't move out of acceptable gamma.

Adjustment has a dedicated window with all the tools found in the area such as levels, curves, brightness & contrast and exposure. The preview window is in the tab instead of a new window that overlaps the image. This means your picture can be viewed in its entirety and as an added bonus tools such as curves can be adjusted directly on the image for localised amendments.

The icons are simplified for efficient use meaning you can see what you want to do a lot faster than before.

One part of the existing features that's been improved upon is the clone tool. When your area is selected by stamping on it, a preview of the selected area will show on your brush. Meaning if you're cloning small detail items or subjects such as bricks, this allows you to line them up easier.

The mask panel can allow you to select an area which can be manipulated and even inverted which is good for selective colour images.

One of the more amazing features is a content aware cropping facility. It works by first masking the areas you wish to retain in the picture. The image can then be resized and the parts that are protected won't be cropped into. The program will start to remove areas in between which is an amazing feature to see and use.

An improved blend layer mode has been added and is a useful tool for techniques such as focus stacking. The program will adjust the exposure and colour automatically so there's no need to mess about first.

Adobe Photoshop CS4
The original image has a small focus area just above the wheel on the wing.
Adobe Photoshop CS4
Taking various images with adjusted focus points allows them to be blended.

The images have to be loaded in as layers and highlighted. Once that is done, go Edit>Auto blend layers and the images will be composited together. This can take some time so be patient.

It can also be useful to create HDR images if you prefer the ones without the ethereal effect that most systems produce.

Bryan Hughes, Photoshop Product Manager, is adamant that this isn't a HDR tool though, as it doesn't give a full high dynamic range in all areas so the familiar ethereal look of a HDR image is absent. He did add that if need be, it could be described as a clipped version of HDR.

Adobe Photoshop CS4
The auto blend can be used for HDR style shots although the dark area on the side of the building had to be boosted in curves.
Adobe Photoshop CS4
Extended edition supports 3D images capable of adding decals and graphics to surfaces with any gloss effects of paint. You can also cut out sections and paint inside.

Photoshop CS4 Extended also features 3D support. Two dimensional images can be changed to 3D by giving them x, y and z co-ordinates and these images can also be wrapped around imported 3D images. Photoshop CS4 also works in conjunction with Google 3D warehouse where thousands of 3D images are available to import. Merging a 2D image onto a 3D image is very easy with the only command being the Merge button. The 2D layer will then acquire all the 3D attributes such as decay detail, colour and reflections. The 3D image can be manipulated as well and you can also enjoy features such as creating cut-outs, adding detail or changing colours to the interior of the cut-out.

RAW processing has been extended and improved on yet again. localised adjustments can be made such as exposure compensation, contrast and saturation. It handles all the main brands but when I tried to import a Sigma .x3f file, it couldn't recognise it. Nor could it recognise the newest RAW file from Panasonic that I tried to import from the Lumix DMC-LX3. Updates will no doubt be available for the Panasonic but the Sigma is a relatively old model compared to the program.

As an added bonus, a feature has been added for help with people who are colour blind. Colours in Photoshop CS4 can be adjusted for true colour blindness.

One thing I don't like is the removal of the quick tools from the image window bar. When you've opened an image, right clicking on the header bar will bring up five options of duplicate, image size, canvas size, file info for metadata and page set up. I used these a lot, especially file info and to find it's not there adds time to my workflow.

ePHOTOzine managed to ask Bryan Hughes what features would benefit the typical ePz reader who is the serious enthusiast. He said: "RAW conversion and adjustment has increased performance and Photoshop CS4 has an overall friendlier user interface."

"Because don't deal with hardware the program is compatible with older computers unlike programs such as Aperture which only work with the newest Macbooks" he added. Definite applications are difficult to pinpoint as everyone is different but he summarised that users "will get further with Photoshop CS4."

Of course he's bound to say that, but there's no denying the awesome power, functionality and feature set of the new Photoshop.

On the same day of the announcement, ePHOTOzine acquired news that Microsoft were considering axing Windows to concentrate on Midori, the internet based platform. We asked him how it would affect Adobe if this happened and if they would have to make any major changes from a programming point of view.

After he'd picked his jaw up off the floor at the news, he admitted he couldn't possibly surmise on something speculative and incomplete as the news was at the time. However, he did end saying: "Adobe will be at the forefront of whatever route Microsoft take."

Adobe Photoshop CS4: Verdict
At the press release for Photoshop CS4 I was bursting with excitement when I saw the features it could do. The newest features such as the auto blend and content aware croping feature are astounding. I also enjoy using the localised adjustments on Lightroom 2 so it'll be really beneficial on Photoshop CS4.

Look at the noted upgrades box and see if you'll use all those extra features. Add to that the efficient zooming and 89 percent less drag on the mouse making it move across the screen faster.

Bear in mind that the list is for the Extended version which supports the 3D applications. If you don't need those then don't bother with Extended but as far as I'm concerned this new version is the best one yet.

Adobe Photoshop CS4: Plus points
New Adjustments window
Use dodge/burn without affecting other areas
Auto blend feature improved
Content aware cropping
Pixel grid for editing individual pixels

Adobe Photoshop CS4: Minus points
Can be slow in areas
Quick tools from image window have been removed

FEATURES


PERFORMANCE

OVERALL

 

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended costs around £887 or about £323 as an upgrade. Take a look at the Adobe website here for more details.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Standard costs around £570 or about £163 as an upgrade. Take a look at the Adobe website here for more details.

 


Explore More

Athentech Imaging Perfectly Clear Photoshop Plug-in

Perfectly Clear Photoshop Plug-in Review

Daniel Bell tests the Athentech Imaging Perfectly Clear Phot...

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Software Review

Adobe Photoshop CS5

An in-depth look at the new features of Photoshop CS5 - the ...

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Software Review

Adobe Photoshop CS3

At last a version of the mighty editing program that won’t s...

Join ePHOTOzine and remove these ads.

Comments

stuwhitt
stuwhitt  91354 forum posts United Kingdom
23 Sep 2008 - 9:38 PM

Pity Adobe again tries to mislead us again by quoting the estimated street price minus VAT, which is not a problem providing its made clear that the price is exclusive of VAT which its certainly doesn't, so its obvious that Adobe haven't listened to those photographers who protested at the pricing of CS3 despite saying they are listening

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links 
24 Sep 2008 - 9:15 AM

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

MattGrayson
24 Sep 2008 - 9:15 AM


Quote: Pity Adobe again tries to mislead us again by quoting the estimated street price minus VAT, which is not a problem providing its made clear that the price is exclusive of VAT which its certainly doesn't, so its obvious that Adobe haven't listened to those photographers who protested at the pricing of CS3 despite saying they are listening

I noticed that too, so made sure that the prices above are inclusive of VAT. Smile

MattGrayson
24 Sep 2008 - 9:41 AM


Quote: Pity Adobe again tries to mislead us again by quoting the estimated street price minus VAT, which is not a problem providing its made clear that the price is exclusive of VAT which its certainly doesn't, so its obvious that Adobe haven't listened to those photographers who protested at the pricing of CS3 despite saying they are listening

I noticed that too, so made sure that the prices above are inclusive of VAT. Smile

Last Modified By MattGrayson at 24 Sep 2008 - 9:42 AM
nickh158
nickh158  5 England
24 Sep 2008 - 6:26 PM

Eight Hundred And Eighty Seven pounds??? Will anyone other than those who can write it off as a business tool actually be able, or willing to pay for it?
OK, I`m going to make a controversial comment here:
It`ll only be a matter of weeks before all the photo mags start producing articles which make use of the new features of CS4. As usual, it will appear that life isn`t worth living unless we all own this marvellous piece of software. The trouble is that very few will be willing, or indeed able to pay such a ridiculous sum for a download (or CD). However, CS4 will be cracked and available for nothing within hours of release, if not before.
I believe that is how the vast majority of amateur Photoshop users will get their copy of the software. Between them, photo mags and Adobe`s pricing policy passively encourage piracy. Me, I don`t use CS; I bought Lightroom, Elements 6, Photomatix Pro 3 and DXO 5, all for much less than the cost of this over-inflated program, which seemed overpriced at £600, let alone nearly £900. Personally, I think magazines should cut right back on Photoshop CS articles and concentrate on the software that the majority can afford: Elements or PSP for example. Adding insult to injury, Adobe charge more for CS in Europe than in the US. Apparantly because they can.

danlezano
danlezano  8 United Kingdom
25 Sep 2008 - 10:02 AM

Hi Nick, I agree that the price of CS4 is very, very high but I'm sure Adobe would justify it with R&D costs etc. I think you're being a bit harsh on photo mags - certainly hours anyway. Our 5-min Photoshop article is based on using Elements rather than Creative Suite & we always, where possible, put in panels that explain how to produce an effect on other versions of the software.
I also think it's very unfair to say photo mags promote piracy just because they review expensive software. Piracy is another word for theft, so it's almost like suggesting if we test expensive cameras or lenses that some readers can't afford, we're promoting they go out and steal it. Are you suggesting Matt & the epz team are promoting piracy/theft because they've reviewed CS4, of course they're not. I agree it's very frustrating that this software is so expensive, but it's cutting edge stuff & like the best of anything, Adobe knows that there will be many people who'll be willing to pay for it. One idea for you, if you really want it, why not go on a suitable photo-course as you can legitimately then buy & use a student version of the software, which are available for much less.
By the way, I know that some mags seem like they're unofficially endorsed by Adobe because they're full of features on them, we're not - we don't even have Adobe advertising. My comments are purely from the point of view of an enthusiast photographer and a magazine editor who shares some f your frustrations regarding pricing, but hopefully I've provided a little bit extra for the debate! All the best,
Daniel Lezano, editor, Digital SLR Photography.

stuwhitt
stuwhitt  91354 forum posts United Kingdom
25 Sep 2008 - 9:29 PM


Quote: Eight Hundred And Eighty Seven pounds???

Don't forget that the price quoted is for CS4 Extended, CS4 Standard will be considerably less and to be honest is all the majority of Photographers, Professionals included will ever need.

MattGrayson
26 Sep 2008 - 9:06 AM


Quote: Quote:Eight Hundred And Eighty Seven pounds??? Don't forget that the price quoted is for CS4 Extended, CS4 Standard will be considerably less and to be honest is all the majority of Photographers, Professionals included will ever need.

That's a point well made. I'll add the standard costs to the review as well.. Smile

stevekhart
26 Sep 2008 - 2:42 PM

Sounds like a point release update to me, not a full blown version upgrade. I think the biggest feature of the upgrade (and not mentioned above) and probably the reason for the release is the 64-bit OS support.

nickh158
nickh158  5 England
29 Sep 2008 - 1:31 AM


Quote: Hi Nick, I agree that the price of CS4 is very, very high but I'm sure Adobe would justify it with R&D costs etc. I think you're being a bit harsh on photo mags - certainly hours anyway. Our 5-min Photoshop article is based on using Elements rather than Creative Suite & we always, where possible, put in panels that explain how to produce an effect on other versions of the software.
I also think it's very unfair to say photo mags promote piracy just because they review expensive software. Piracy is another word for theft, so it's almost like suggesting if we test expensive cameras or lenses that some readers can't afford, we're promoting they go out and steal it. Are you suggesting Matt & the epz team are promoting piracy/theft because they've reviewed CS4, of course they're not. I agree it's very frustrating that this software is so expensive, but it's cutting edge stuff & like the best of anything, Adobe knows that there will be many people who'll be willing to pay for it. One idea for you, if you really want it, why not go on a suitable photo-course as you can legitimately then buy & use a student version of the software, which are available for much less.
By the way, I know that some mags seem like they're unofficially endorsed by Adobe because they're full of features on them, we're not - we don't even have Adobe advertising. My comments are purely from the point of view of an enthusiast photographer and a magazine editor who shares some f your frustrations regarding pricing, but hopefully I've provided a little bit extra for the debate! All the best,
Daniel Lezano, editor, Digital SLR Photography.

Hi Dan,
I certainly wasn`t suggesting that magazines actively promote piracy; However, by containing articles that suggest that Photoshop CS has features that are indispensable, said articles may lead people to go for a pirated version, simply because they believe that they "need" it. I know quite a few people who have Photoshop CS and not one has paid full price. I wonder how many of those who read your magazine have paid several hundred pounds for their copy of CS. Very few I expect. But few would dare to admit it.
Professionals can write the cost off as a tax loss; Most amateurs would probably baulk at the idea of spending a great deal of money on something they can get for free, albeit illegally. As for the cost being justified on the basis of the expense in producing the software; Cobblers!. Each iteration of CS has maybe one or two features that are new. Also, how can Adobe possibly justify charging Europeans a much higher price than US citizens, simply because they feel they can get away with it. That`s rank profiteering as far as I can see. Paint Shop Pro costs £79. Is Photoshop really so superior that it`s worth almost ten times as much. Is it worth nearly ten times as much as Elements? Of course it`s not; It`s just that Adobe mainly sells it`s product to pros, who don`t need to worry about the cost. Piracy is a thorny subject and I`m sure many of those that own dodgy copies of CS would never admit to it. However, most magazines are aimed at amateurs. Most magazines also have CS articles which are much more comprehensive than those on Elements or PSP.
And a free copy of CS is only a couple of clicks away.

Tony_W
Tony_W  6128 forum posts5 Constructive Critique Points
1 Oct 2008 - 1:07 AM


Quote: One idea for you, if you really want it, why not go on a suitable photo-course as you can legitimately then buy & use a student version of the software, which are available for much less.


Dan,
I've looked into this and you need to be enrolled on a degree course to qualify. All good for degree students but not so good for lesser mortals. If you know of any other courses that qualify please tell.
Cheers,

Foxfire
Foxfire  9322 forum posts United Kingdom
1 Oct 2008 - 12:23 PM

I am also disgusted that they are selling the PS cheaper on the US site than they are doing in the UK, I mean UK press without VAT.

That standard sucks. Sadly many of the photographers who can afford this software. have a substantial income and a saving of £100 here or there does not bother them as much as the rest of us. That is why we have not seen a great protest from British photographers Pro or Amateur.

Foxfire
Foxfire  9322 forum posts United Kingdom
1 Oct 2008 - 12:28 PM


Quote: Quote:
And a free copy of CS is only a couple of clicks away.

OK, email me the link....LOL

Foxfire
Foxfire  9322 forum posts United Kingdom
1 Oct 2008 - 12:32 PM


Quote: . That is why we have not seen a great protest to Adobe, from British photographers Pro or Amateur.

.....and I should add photographic magazines, as Adobe pays them nice adversing fees.

Also I ask, how independent are the reviews of any photo magazine

Tony_W
Tony_W  6128 forum posts5 Constructive Critique Points
1 Oct 2008 - 5:52 PM

Not sure how independent the reviews are but PC Pro withheld their A List award from Adobe Acrobat because it was judged to be too expensive for what it did compared to other similar software packages. A stand held by one magazine. Now all we need if for others to follow suit and a competitor to bring out something as good for a lot less. Maybe then Adobe will stop being so greedy.

trivets12
trivets12  101144 forum posts
2 Oct 2008 - 4:45 PM

Tony, You don't need to be on a degree course for the student version. I bought CS3 last year and I am on a critical care diploma pathway for my other job as a nurse. All I sent was a letter from the college confirming my student status and they supplied CS3. I also bought LIghtroom the same way.
Hope this helps
Trudy

Duncan_E
Duncan_E  7199 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
3 Oct 2008 - 11:26 AM

On a related note, Corel have reduced the price of Paint Shop Pro PHOTO X2 standard edition to £49, while selling PSPP Ultimate X2 (comes with lots of free extras) at the old price point of £79. As PSPP has lots of photo correcting features built in that even the mighty Photoshop doesn't cater for (lens correction, digital camera noise removal, purple fringe fix, chromatic abberation removal, skin smoothing!), then its a far better choice for the amateur photographer. And considerably cheaper. Pros of course, will prefer the integrated workflow of Photoshop/Lightroom etc and can simply write the cost off as tax deductible.

mikeparker
7 Oct 2008 - 2:15 PM

Tony, Trudy is absolutely right - i am only doing a 35 week evening course at my local college but will qualify for the educational discount - i think even the 10 week course guys qualify!!

IanA
IanA  103048 forum posts England12 Constructive Critique Points
10 Oct 2008 - 9:12 AM


Quote: Also I ask, how independent are the reviews of any photo magazine

Totally independent! Having done reviews for a number of them, I have never been asked, coerced, bribed or had my arm twisted in anyway to affect the outcome of my tests!
For one, I don't think it would do any mag's reputation any good if they were seen to be bias or say things that aren't true, so honest reviews are, imho, the order of the day.

Ian Smile

liversalts
liversalts  11 United Kingdom
12 Oct 2008 - 1:03 PM

Hi I couldn't help but smile at this article, as i remember a few years back when i attended a photoshop talk by the late great Barry Thomas. At the start of his lecture he asked the audience who was using the current version of Photoshop. The entire audience raised their hands, he followed up by asking who had paid for their copy and almost the whole room lowered their hands to which he grinned and advised users to try purchasing Elements etc

psiman
psiman  10551 forum posts Wales
15 Oct 2008 - 4:02 PM

Talking about Adobe's pricing being screwy, I'd like to know the logic behind charging £5 more to download the CS4 upgrade than post a boxed version!

Samark
Samark  5 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2008 - 10:33 PM

I like the sound of the new version, but can I upgrade from CS2?

I don't buy every incarnation of anything, but do like to upgrade when I feel there is sufficient enhancements to warrent it - it's too expensive to do it the other way!!

robdebank
robdebank e2 Member 5164 forum postsrobdebank vcard United Kingdom
30 Oct 2008 - 3:55 PM

I've now been using Photoshop CS4 Extended along with Lightroom 2.15 for a few weeks now. They are both very good, with several very useful, but not essential upgrades.

Whilst Photoshop CS4 is now a huge 1.2 gb install, it runs at much the same speed as CS3 did.

Noting all the above comments about the prohibitive cost, I agree whole heartedly that Photoshop CS4 is far too expensive for the average amateur photographer.

Disregarding both the ethics & legality of the situation, these and virtually every other piece of software ever written, are 'freely' available online, if you care to look hard enough.

robdebank
robdebank e2 Member 5164 forum postsrobdebank vcard United Kingdom
30 Oct 2008 - 4:59 PM

I've now been using Photoshop CS4 Extended along with Lightroom 2.15 for a few weeks now. They are both very good, with several very useful, but not essential upgrades.

Whilst Photoshop CS4 is now a huge 1.2 gb install, it runs at much the same speed as CS3 did.

Noting all the above comments about the prohibitive cost, I agree whole heartedly that Photoshop CS4 is far too expensive for the average amateur photographer.

Disregarding both the ethics & legality of the situation, these and virtually every other piece of software ever written, are 'freely' available online, if you care to look hard enough.

ALLENH
ALLENH  564 forum posts United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 - 12:19 AM

I have the paid for version of CS4 I just wish that I ould have found the free version on the web LOL I think that I have paid for ( Students Version ) was a good deal LOL. Mine is the Extended version BUT I cannot find any tutorials on the extended bit of it, they will probably find some way of charging for a separate tutorial or a new book LOL

woodfordp
woodfordp  5 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2009 - 8:18 AM

Re: the education discount, you can also be an employee of an educational (must be a recognised FE or HE) institute to quality for adobe discounts. I have had this in writing from them in the past if you contact them via their online support. I am sure most people know someone who works at a school, college or university... or is studying full time at a college or uni?...

From the Adobe site:
"Qualified end-users include full or part time students enrolled at accredited Higher Education Establishments, full or part time faculty and staff employed at accredited Education Establishments and students enrolled at an accredited primary or secondary school providing full-time instruction."

CS4 Extended Education = £228!

- Original Poster Comments
- Your Posts

Add a Comment

You must be a member to leave a comment

Username:
Password:
Remember me:
Un-tick this box if you want to login each time you visit.