A first look and brief review
Ever since Adobe announced they were moving away from a conventional licensing model to a monthly/annual subscription based system, I have been mulling over whether or not the upgrade is worth what for me is extra expense.
Like many other out there, I do not generally upgrade a software package unless it adds significant benefit or due to a hardware change forces the upgrade. Adobe may say that overall their new subscription model will be cheaper for many, in my opinion it may not be for allot of others.
The main application I use from the Creative Suite is Photoshop although I use InDesign and Illustrator frequently.
First off, I have found CC to be very much CS6 with a few added extra’s. I have been running the package on a Virtual Machine to keep it away from my CS6 install, plugins and actions. Running it on a Virtual Machine is not the best way to get an idea of speed but I must say, it seems pretty quick when rendering large 24MP files.
The installation process is now handled by an updated version of the Adobe Application Manager now simply called Creative Cloud. It gives you access to your purchased applications, trials of applications that are not part of your subscription, the creative cloud sync, a new Font / Typekit and Adobe Behace.
There are no obvious options when install the applications, you can change the install location, language and a few other settings by clicking the settings icon in the top right corner.
Something that I found interesting is the application sizes. Having installed Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere and Dreamweaver, I was left with very little hard drive space. After a little investigation, I found the the CC apps are between 300 and 700mb’s larger than their CS6 counterparts following a clean install. Photoshop CS6 uses around 513mb’s and CC 997mb’s, Bridge CS6, 234mb’s and CC 313. This is something to be mindful of if installing the suite on a computer with a small SSD or if hard drive space is at a premium. My total install of CC was 2.23GB’s large than CS6!
So whats new?
There have been updates to Camera Raw and Sharpening tools and a number of additional filters/plugins. This is by no means an extensive list, its a few of the widely publicized features that I have taken a look at.
1. Camera Raw
When I installed CC this morning, Adobe Camera Raw version 8 was installed along side. Throughout the day, there have been a number of updates downloaded and installed and I am now running ACR version 8.1.
The workflow option window has seen some minor changes with the option to now resize your images before Photoshop even handles them.
There is a new radial filter with the same controls as the graduated filter already present adding more control over adjustments.
I have tested the noise and sharpening functions within ACR with a few low light shots and have found that whilst there is a slight improvement over ACR 7.x, the improvements are not that noticeable.
The biggest difference with ACR and one that I think many photographer will find useful is that you can now reload ACR from within Photoshop, whilst working on the image. This gives you the full pallet of tools from exposure, white balance, vibrancy and noise reduction to name a few. I can see this new feature getting a thumbs up from many.
2. Camera Shake Reduction
The camera shake reduction tool sounds great, but dont be fooled. I have tried to work several images though it, from low lit church interiors to an iPhone portraits. I have found that the tool works best in well lit images with low levels of noise.
It will not save every shot and is a feature that I am not jumping up and down in joy about.
If you have applied any amount of sharpening to an image before attempting to use this tool I have found the results to be pretty poor.
The same goes for noise reduction. Its best to remove as much noise as possible, run the tool and then reassess the noise levels, they may need reducing again, shadows and blacks seem to come out very noisy after.
3. Smart Sharpening
The smart sharpening tool has also been updated and seems to work very well. Compared to CS6’s Smart sharpen tool, this new version produces some impressive results with much lower noise levels than the CS6 version.
The window has been updated to include all the controls in one screen. The shadow and highlight functions seem to be more accurate and the new noise reduction slider works well.
My one complaint would be that the preview window does not accurately represent the end result. I found that it was showing halo’s around objects that after applying the sharpening were not present.
4. Image Resizer
The image size tool has undergone a few changes. There is now a ‘Fit To’ option with the most common presents found with. The most important update for me is the ‘Preserve Details (enlargements)’ addition. I create allot of posters and canvas art and have found that this feature works very very well. I upscaled an A5 image to A3, printed it and was very impressed. It handles sharpening, noise and detail management really nicely to produce very usable results.
5. Lens Correction
I have not read anything about the lens correction tool being updated but it seems to run allot smoother and faster the the version in CS6. Bearing in mind that I am running CC in a virtual machine, I would expect it to run even better in a normal environment.
6. Crop Tool
Again, I have not read anything about the crop tool being updated but it seems to have a smoother mouse action when tilting the crop.
Having only used Photoshop CC for a day I cannot really give a full overall conclusion. However, I have carried out tasks that I could in CS6 and found some of the new features and updates useful.
The ability to reopen camera raw within Photoshop and made additional changes is a huge bonus. The smart sharpener is also a very welcome update as are the image resizing features.
Overall the application runs well and I did not find anything that I did not like, its everything we have become accustomed to in CS6 with a few new features.
I will continue using all the packages for the full 30 day trial before deciding whether or not to upgrade and I would recommend anyone considering the upgrade to do the same.