BitDepth 556 - December 26

Adobe Systems generously makes a public beta of Photoshop available for the first time...
Merry Christmas from Adobe
Photoshop CS3
Times Square may be busy, but the new version of Photoshop can tame its palettes into a tidy bar. Image by Mark Lyndersay.

Adobe Systems isn't known for its generosity. The California based company made its fortunes from the PostScript page description language which enabled the desktop publishing industry, its expansive type library, and a growing collection of software products which address the creative professional's space with the same thoroughness that Microsoft brings to its business customers.

But the company doesn't mess around with its revenue stream. Every major update to its products has followed a clockwork cycle of 18-24 months between releases which arrive accompanied by a cost that has driven profits into the billions.
You might get the idea then, that this isn't a corporation that is known for giving anything away, even for a short time.

But lately, that's exactly what Adobe has been doing as it courts the growing market of professional photographers, first with a public beta of a new product for professionals to manage RAW files called Lightroom, which has been available for download for months now and in a stunning move, with its flagship product, Photoshop.

On December 15, Adobe released the first public beta of Photoshop, now in its tenth revision. Unlike Lightroom, this isn't a product that is in active development, seeking the input of potential users. Photoshop is a mature product in its seventeenth year with a whole new audience paying attention to it.
Just as serious photo hobbyists created their own darkrooms to dabble with the type of control that made professional photos look so special, the most adventurous among the new legions of digital photographers are also realising that virtual darkrooms can make a difference to their work.

That makes for a heated market and Adobe is wisely paying attention to the changing dynamics and offering a product that is increasingly focused on improving and managing digital photos.
The Macintosh of the download of the new Photoshop beta also addresses a major problem the product has faced on Apple's computers since the migration of Macs to Intel processors, a major slow down of Photoshop on the newest Macs that did not afflict Aperture, Apple's entry in the digital photographer sweepstakes. The public beta of Photoshop has been rewritten to take advantage of these new chips while retaining compatibility with older systems.

The new release of Photoshop, now dubbed CS3, makes some compelling improvements to the interface, making it easier to tame Photoshop's many tool palettes and give more monitor space to your image.
New cloning and selection tools add flexibility but require changes to the way you work, and the long overdue black and white adjustment brings a formerly arcane way of adjusting colour images for optimal black and white quality out of the dark shadows of the Channel Mixer.

Bridge, a file browsing and management addition to Photoshop has been working out in the coding gym and inherits many of the best features of Lightroom, while keeping an eye on the more useful features of Aperture. Managing large batches of images is faster and easier in the new Bridge.
Camera Raw has also rubbed shoulders with Lightroom, picking up tinted adjustment sliders that give more intuitive feedback on colour adjustments and add some of Lightroom's adjustment tools. This version of Camera Raw will now also open a JPEG file for adjustment.

There's more to explore in this free preview of Adobe's upcoming revision to Photoshop, but be warned, the download is large, particularly for the Macintosh users who will benefit the most from it if they are using a new Intel powered system.
The update also feels just a little more sluggish on older systems and the software seems to have been built for Vista-ready PCs and Intel powered Macs.

To activate the preview after download, you must have a valid serial number for Photoshop CS2 and the public beta will run until Adobe releases the commercial version of the product in a few months. If you have no serial number, the product will run for two days.
Now that sounds like the Adobe we've all learned to live with.

CS3 is a 337MB file for the PC and a 685MB "Universal" disk image for the Mac. Download the CS3 beta here (you will have to register to be able to access the download). <>

The go here to get a serial number for the beta product...

Then visit the National Association of Photoshop Professionals for a comprehensive roundup of the new features...
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