Adobe Photoshop does more than the casual user needs to do, but reviews say it's by far the best photo-editing software for graphics pros. The current version, Adobe Photoshop CS4, is easier to use than its predecessor, and that's its major advantage. The editing features have not been significantly upgraded -- though the redesign might help users find features that they never knew were there. Even so, there's still a steep learning curve -- not surprising when you consider that few photo editors offer professionals and serious enthusiasts so many tools and so much power. One that does is GIMP, which is free. However, GIMP can even be more challenging to use, especially for someone accustomed to how Photoshop handles many tasks.
For those who don't need every tool at their disposal, experts say Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (*Est. $275) -- originally developed to speed up workflow for Photoshop users -- has enough editing prowess that some pros use it instead of Photoshop for most of their photo-editing needs. For typical users, Adobe Photoshop Elements (*Est. $100) delivers a good balance between photo-editing capabilities, ease of use and cost. If you need even more tools that Photoshop provides, Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended adds additional tools for working with 3-D images and video.
We found the best reviews of Adobe Photoshop CS4 at PCMag.com, CNET and PopPhoto.com. Mac users will be interested in the report at Macworld as well. The review at DigitalOutbackPhoto.com also adds some helpful insights. Only a handful of users have reviewed Adobe Photoshop CS4 at Amazon.com.
PCMag.com calls Adobe Photoshop CS4 "a highly compelling upgrade" with "awesome powers" and gives the software its Editors' Choice award. The review cites many major improvements over its predecessor -- making it easier, for example, to change just one part of an image.
Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4, Galen Fott, Nov. 6, 2008
CNET says usability improvements in Photoshop are commendable and adds that the editing tools are powerful. However, for upgraders, Lori Grunin writes there's little that can be done in Adobe Photoshop CS4 that couldn't also been done in its predecessor and further complains about slower speeds and higher memory usage.
Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4, Lori Grunin, Nov. 24, 2008
This review finds that Adobe Photoshop CS4 not only adds power compared with Photoshop CS3, but unlike previous upgrades, it also has made the program easier to use. Some of the most powerful tools -- adjustment layers and masks -- are now easier to use, even for a beginner. Elsewhere on the site, you can find an article naming Adobe Photoshop CS4 as the American Photo Editor's Choice for image-editing software for 2009.
Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4: Hands On, Debbie Grossman, Dec. 16, 2008
Since this site is aimed at advanced photographers, it's not surprising that Adobe Photoshop CS4 heads the list as the top tool for photo editing -- partly because of all the useful plug-ins available. This review focuses on the main improvements over Photoshop CS3, so it's especially useful for anyone wondering whether or not to upgrade.
Review: Photoshop CS4, Uwe Steinmueller, Sept. 23, 2008
Lesa Snider King reports that Adobe Photoshop CS4 makes great strides in improving usability. She notes some other improvements, such new RAW file tools, but adds that some old features, such as the ability to produce contact sheets, have been stripped away.
Review: Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4 and CS4 Extended, Lesa Snider King, Oct. 22, 2008
More than 30 users have reviewed Adobe Photoshop CS4. Opinions are split. Some are enthusiastic about it, while others much less so. Customer and technical support issues seem to be common.
Review: Adobe Photoshop CS4, Contributors to Amazon.com