Adobe Photoshop CS2 Software Review

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Photoshop 8 (CS) was a major upgrade from 7 and the first time Photoshop was introduced as part of the integrated Creative Suite. Photoshop CS2 is a major upgrade from CS with significant new features really making it a must-have upgrade. The two CD set includes the install disk, plus a one-hour highlight training CD from Total Training.

What's New?

Once you have the program installed, check out the very handy review, "what's new in CS2" found under Window/Workspace. This highlights features new to CS2 in all the menus. It's a really good way to familiarize yourself with changes from previous versions.

The Bridge

Possibly the biggest change to CS2 is the arrival of a whole new file browser. Dubbed "the bridge", it launches independently from Photoshop and can be used to navigate files in any of the Creative Suite applications. It allows you to easily organize thumbnails and folders, have multiple browsing windows open at once with various views (details, thumbnails, filmstrip, etc). It also allows thumbnail resizing on the fly — very handy. You can also assign labels and ratings. By default labels are given the names of their corresponding colors, but you can change them to something more useful like "personal", "events", "portraits" etc. To customize ratings simply adopt a system that works for you. You can then sort by label or rating, and in fact, filter by label or rating to show only the best photos labeled ''portraits'.

Noise Reduction

Noise reduction, which applies selective blurring and sharpening filters to reduce the "grain" in digital photos taken at very high ISOs. Previously this had been available in third party applications such as Noise Ninja, but now you can find it under filters.

Select Multiple Layers

Another key feature is the ability to select multiple layers at once, using ctrl-click and perform actions on them as though they were a single merged layer. You can also command-drag the selection tool to select multiple layers as you would multiple objects in a page layout program like Quark.

Healing Brush

Out of all the new tools in Photoshop CS, the one that made me the most friends was the healing brush. Crows feet be gone! Wrinkles away! Weird odd splotches no more! But one of the annoying things about it was that if you didn't watch where you were going you could retouch someone's crows feet with a pair of lips. The instant healing brush looks at the area around what you're trying to heal and figures out how it should look.

WYSIWYG Font Views

The font view is now WYSIWYG — I have trouble understanding why any programs still have non-WYSIWYG font menus. But now you can see the word "sample" (admittedly not as good as the word "brachypolemius" for determining the characteristics of a font.)

Lens Correction Filters

Adobe definitely had digital photographers in mind when they included the exhaustive lens correction filters now available for fixing many common types of lens distortions such as barreling and pincushioning, as well as chromatic aberration, a color shift common in lower quality lenses.

Vanishing Point

This is one of the coolest additions to CS2 — the Vanishing Point allows you to cut and paste within an image while retaining perspective. Huh? Imagine that you have a photograph of a kitchen with black and white checkered tile extending towards the camera. If you want to extend that checkered pattern a few feet further the lines on the tile wouldn't match if you simply cut and paste — they'd be smaller at one end than the other. With this feature you can cut and paste tiles all you want and keep the perspective.

Smart Objects

CS2 allows you to reference original vector graphics and camera RAW files and import them. These will scale from the original files as your PSD scales because they reference the original document. Meaning if you lay out a poster for 8×10, using Smart Objects, then resize the whole thing to 32×40, your vector smart objects won't pixelate.
You can also "flatten" a number of smart object layers into a single smart object which retains the smart object characteristics.

Smart Guides

Smart Guides are a useful nifty little feature that helps you align objects. You used to line up two boxes on a page, you'd drag down a guide line from the ruler, but Smart Guides automatically creates temporary guidelines that makes alignment a snap.

HDR high dynamic range

One of the few things we miss about film photography (apart from the head rush from the chemicals) is the f-stop choices that could be captured in a single exposure,. With digital photography, it's more like two instead of four or five. So extremely contrasty scenes like dappled shade or a brightly lit stage and a dimly lit orchestra pit are a nightmare to expose digitally. CS2 will automatically create HDR (High Dynamic Range) images from your bracketed multiple exposures, automating the process.


If you spend any significant time in front of a computer working with images, you'll find the upgrade to CS2 a huge time saver.


Memory: 320MB (384MB recommended)

Monitor resolution: 1,024×768, 16-bit or higher

Installation requirements: CD-ROM drive; Internet or phone connection required for product activation


Minimum Processor: Pentium III

Operating System: Windows 2000 SP4 or Windows XP SP1 or SP2

Hard drive space for installation: 650MB


Minimum Processor: PowerPC G3

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.2.8 (10.3.4 or higher recommended)

Hard drive space for installation: 750MB


  • Many powerful new features
  • The Bridge integrated file browser
  • Bundled with useful training disk
  • Integrates with other apps in the Creative Suite


  • High price
  • Still no "paste as new image" option
  • Resource hog


    A great upgrade packed full of powerful
    new features that really just lacks a new image paste option to be a terrific can't-live-without product.

    Kyle Cassidy is a video artist and network engineer and co-author of Enterprise Internetworking and Security.

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