Adobe Photoshop CS2 review: Adobe Photoshop CS2

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The Good Supports Camera Raw 3.0, DNG, and 32-bit HDR--all vital to pro photographers.

The Bad Advanced features require top-end hardware.

The Bottom Line If you're a professional or ambitious amateur digital artist, we highly recommend Adobe Photoshop CS2.

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8.0 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 9
  • Support 7

Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 2.0

When it comes to professional digital image editing, Adobe Photoshop CS2 stands head and shoulders above the competition. Available for PCs running Windows 2000 and XP and Macs running OS X, Photoshop CS2 includes new features that make it well worth the price of the upgrade. As part of Adobe Creative Suite 2.0, Photoshop CS2 integrates better than the old version with Illustrator CS2, GoLive CS2, and InDesign CS2, thanks in large part to Adobe Version Cue 2.0 and the new Adobe Bridge file-management applications. On its own, Photoshop CS2 gives professional photographers a good reason to upgrade, largely because of the new version's support for Camera Raw 3.0 and Digital Negative images and tools to reduce noise and optical lens distortion. Web designers will also appreciate that more elements of Adobe ImageReady CS2 are integrated within Photoshop CS2. Those folks wanting only to catalog and clean up snapshots for family albums, however, should look to Apple's iPhoto (part of the iLife suite) or to Corel PaintShop Pro 9.0 instead. But if you're already running up against limitations within those basic photo apps or you want to create original digital art, we think Adobe Photoshop CS2 is worth the price. Installing the entire Creative Suite 2.0 requires four CD-ROMs' worth of data, but you can select elements or individual applications to ease the burden on your hard drive. Previous versions of Photoshop can also coexist on the same computer if, say, a print publisher is using an older version and you need to make certain that your images are truly backward compatible.

Photoshop CS2 is busier, with more options, and requires at least a 19-inch monitor.

As Photoshop's feature set has grown, so has the complexity of its interface. Fortunately, you can customize the interface to create your own personalized work space. Last year, with Photoshop CS, Adobe introduced the concept of multiuser interfaces, allowing one or more users to save and return to custom colors, tool, and palette layouts. Photoshop CS2 provides task-based, preset work spaces for Web design, painting, and image analysis. In addition, Photoshop CS2 also enables customization of both its menus and keyboard shortcuts. Even with all this customization, however, we recommend a large monitor--at least 19 inches--to view Photoshop CS2's entire interface and still have room to work on an image.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 is a serious image-editing package, with advanced features beyond what the casual user will want or need. For example, in this release, Adobe introduces features targeted toward professional photographers moving to an all-digital work flow, such as support for 32-bit High Dynamic Range (HDR) images, allowing you to merge multiple exposures of a single image into one composite image. Along with Camera Raw 3.0 support, which lets you edit and process multiple raw images simultaneously, there's new support for the Adobe-backed Digital Negative (DNG) standard, a new archival format for the raw files generated by digital cameras. Pro photographers will also appreciate new tools such as Reduce Noise, which Adobe claims will increase a camera's useful ISO range, and Optical Lens Correction, a nifty tool that compensates for some common lens distortions. There are a few features aimed at amateurs, including red-eye correction and a spot-healing brush, which can erase people or objects from a photo and which works across all layers.

The ability to manipulate multiple layers with ease is a welcome improvement in Photoshop CS2. New Smart Guides, allowing you to align items across different layers, should also save you from always clicking within the Layers palette. Smart Objects, yet another new feature, lets you nondestructively edit Illustrator artwork. And, finally, there's a long-desired WYSIWYG font menu in this release.

Photoshop CS2 now has WYSIWYG font menus--at last, you can keep your Lucidas straight.