Adobe Photoshop CS6 review

Price when reviewed

Photoshop CS6 now provides a full-screen Adaptive Wide Angle dialog dedicated to the task of straightening the undesirable bulges and distortions associated with wide angle shots. Where possible, this picks up on the lens angle metadata in your photo and then allows curves to be drawn directly onto images, which it then straightens as if by magic.

The Blur Gallery offers three new types of effect: a uniform or graduated Field Blur, elliptical Iris Blurs and the popular band-of-focus Tilt-Shift Blur, which is the secret behind those shots where real city scenes are made to look like surreal toy towns. In each case all the key adjustments are managed interactively, on-canvas. The only reason to turn to the control panel is to manage the bokeh – the character of the out-of-focus area. Portrait photographers are going to be in heaven.

Adobe Photoshop CS6

Local knowledge

Such global adjustments are important, but Photoshop really comes into its own for hands-on local control. Normally, this requires a selection to work with, and CS6 provides a handy new option in the Color Range dialog for selecting skin tones, complete with optional face detection. It’s ideal when you want to adjust the colour quality of a portrait scene without affecting the subject.

The standard Photoshop workflow would next involve tweaking such selections with a non-destructive adjustment layer selected from the Adjustments panel. Now all adjustment settings are handled in a Properties panel, which allows quick toggling between filter and mask parameters. There’s also a new Color LookUp adjustment, which can be used for a host of special effects, from applying pastel hues to simulating colour film negatives.

Adobe Photoshop CS6

Less obvious, but more regularly useful is the Auto setting in the three main tonal adjustments: Curves, Levels and Brightness/Contrast. Previously, Photoshop made its suggestions based on individual channels; now it compares the current photo to an internal database of photo types and weighs up overall brightness and contrast accordingly. It also adds points to its suggested tone curve, making it easier to fine tune.

Fine tuning

The rest of the changes would seem to come under the umbrella of tweaks and small changes, but improve usability hugely. The Layers panel can be filtered to show pixel, adjustment, text, shape or smart object layers, among others. It’s also possible to simultaneously apply effects and blend modes to multiple layers or groups, and duplicate them with the Ctrl-J shortcut (perhaps the single most welcome feature in the whole release).


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes

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