Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 review
Of all the Creative Cloud apps, Photoshop has been around the longest and accreted the most features. It sprawls across photo adjustment, retouching, montage, illustration, vector drawing, fine art, video editing, medical image processing, web graphics, animation, modelling and 3D printing, not to mention the endless other tasks to which it’s put regularly but for which it’s not intended.
This doesn’t stop Adobe thinking up new features to shoehorn in every year – even more often than every year, now that we have the subscription model. However, it would be fair to say expectations of mind-blowing innovation are muted. This time, there are a few additions to the image editing toolbox and a mixed bag of workflow changes, particularly for app and web designers.
Thanks to Adobe’s acquisition of the huge Fotolia library last winter, you can now find and buy stock images and video from Photoshop’s Libraries panel. Watermarked comps are ready to use and can be auto-replaced with licensed copies. Prices are keenly competitive with rivals like iStock, at £7 for any image, £24 for 10 images per month or £180 for 750 (£144 if paid annually).
However, there are no extended licences, exclusives or multi-seat plans, and Adobe insists truculently that if you use the same image for two clients you must license it again (although a subscription would make that meaningless). Early days, I suppose.
The new filter for 2015 is Dehaze. When you break the rule of not shooting into the light, but not so dramatically that anything interesting happens, you get low contrast and a disappointing picture. Dehaze is Adobe’s solution. It’s only available in the Camera Raw module (on the Effects tab), but it can be applied to JPEGs or other image files, via Filter | Camera Raw Filter, as well as to raw images on import.
Dehaze is also available in Lightroom, but not in Premiere, where it could be equally handy. You can actually grade video using Camera Raw within Photoshop, but I didn’t try Dehaze this way, since any filter that uses frame-by-frame analysis risks flicker (hello, Auto Color), and because editing video in Photoshop is for hipsters.
I tried Dehaze on several raw shots and found the results reasonably pleasing. Like third-party equivalents, such as DxO ClearView, it evidently uses a process similar to Shadows/Highlights, but the halo artefacts that you have to watch out for with that filter are very well controlled.
More noticeable is a tendency to hue-shift or desaturate a band of colours in the midrange. The rogue tones sometimes look as though they’ve been legitimately pulled out of the original image, sometimes not.
Compare the wind farm image corrected using the Basic sliders and using Dehaze: the latter produces a reddish stripe across the sky. A single Amount slider is all you get; there’s no advanced mode for tweaking. When it works, it’s a shot-rescuer, but it doesn’t work every time.
You can add grain on the same tab of Camera Raw, and, now, along with Uniform and Gaussian noise, within all the Blur Gallery filters. This saves the extra step of adding noise after an image’s original grain is smooshed out by your fancy blur effect.