THE GOOD

Unrivaled collection of photo editing features:

If there were ever a product that could be described as the "industry standard," it is Adobe Photoshop CS6. With a seemingly endless number of features, Photoshop CS6 holds a clear advantage over every other professional photo editing software. If you can't find a feature in Photoshop, there's a good chance that it simply doesn't exist.

Extensive assortment of graphic design elements and effect filters:

Photoshop CS6 definitely crosses into the area of feature overload, but that's a good thing when it comes to photo editing software because you will not be limited when using CS6. Photoshop CS6 has endless amounts of features when it comes to painting tools, drawing options, and effects filters. Dozens upon dozens of options appear in each category, so if you don't care for one of the presets, then you can customize your own option.

Completely customizable interface:

When dealing with the massive selection of features offered throughout Photoshop CS6, finding exactly what you are looking for can be a daunting task. To help combat potential information overload, Adobe has developed a surprisingly clean and clear interface. In fact, the display's appearance is so simple that it almost disguises the high level of functionality in the software. If you don't like the way the information is presented, you can change nearly everything about it. You can manipulate the positions of the menus (both dockable and floating) and the menu configurations by dragging and dropping. However, while it's possible to automate repeated tasks with Photoshop CS6, it's not as intuitive as you would expect from a product of this quality.

Unmatched help articles and video tutorials:

Although the initial learning curve can be steep for some people, Photoshop has extensive video tutorials and help articles to get you up to speed and keep you there. The amount of tutorial videos is downright staggering, and they run from anywhere between a few minutes to 30 minutes. On occasion, you may have to sit through a short advertisement when the video starts up, but that is a small price to pay for the value of the videos. Even if you are a Photoshop pro, you just might learn a tip or two by going through the tutorials.

Nice selection of content-aware tools:

Photoshop CS6 has a number of tools that automatically perform specific functions to a photo by taking into account what is actually on the image. For example, say you have a photo of three deer standing in a field. One of the three deer is partially cut off in the photo and you decide you want to remove that deer. The tool will actually replace the deer you cut out with what it perceives should take its place. So you will then automatically have a perfectly placed section of grassy field where the deer was once standing in your photo. Once you become more familiar with these tools, it can save time and effort, particularly during the manipulation stage of the process.

Can work with 3D images:

If you have the need for 3D, then the Extended version of Photoshop CS6 includes tools for creating and editing such images. Specifically, you can add, remove, or manipulate shadows, lights, materials, and paints. Also, this allows for simple compositing of 3D objects into images, the creation of 3D extrusions, and painting directly on 3D models.

Quantitative image analysis:

The Photoshop CS6 Extended version also makes it possible to perform the quantitative data extraction necessary for detailed image analysis, including full DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) file support. Unfortunately, this means little to the average professional photographer because it's primarily used in scientific and medical fields, but it's nice to know if this interests you.

THE BAD

Lacks advanced image processing, organization, and file management capabilities:

File management for Photoshop CS6 is handled by Adobe Bridge, which is the digital asset management software that is packaged with Creative Suite. Adobe Bridge can be used as a customizable panel within Photoshop, although it does link back to the main program for some features, such as batch image processing and generating contact sheets. With Bridge, you have access to the tools you need to import files, sort and filter images, create slideshows, and upload to Web albums. You can also add and sort basic metadata tags, including picture rating, keywords, and categories. For more powerful features, like geotagging and facial recognition, you will need to use an external program to reach the advanced level of functionality.

Simplistic video editing functionality:

Photoshop CS6 provides only the most basic video editing features, such as trim, transitions, and a timeline. Adobe addresses this limitation with their Premiere Pro CS6 product, but it comes at a significant additional price tag. For those with heavy video needs, this will be well worth investigating as the Standard and Extended editions of Photoshop CS6 will likely leave you frustrated in this area. However, it's likely that you are buying CS6 to edit photos and not to primarily edit videos.

The price tag:

With the highest prices around, the value of Photoshop CS6 is directly tied to the degree of professional photo editing and image analysis you need. Unfortunately, the fact that most photo editing professionals believe you can't call yourself a professional photo editor without using this product means that you must be using CS6 to be taken seriously. That value alone can be priceless for many.

THE DETAILS

Details
Free Trial 30 days
Platform Mac, Windows
Price $999
Upgrade Cost N/A

FEATURES

Title
  • 16-Bit Image Editing You can edit 16-bit images.

  • Add Grain/Noise You can add graphical identification metadata to your images.

  • Advanced Color Image Operations You can perform color image operations such as color correction, color zones, color transfer, and vibrance.

  • Audio Editing You can perform basic audio editing within the software.

  • Black-and-White Conversion You can convert a color image into a black and white image using any number of methods.

  • Blend You can blend areas of an image together.

  • Blur You can soften the detail of an image.

  • Collage You can create a collage of images.

  • Color Adjustment Tools You can use a tool to replace missing color or match existing colors.

  • Color Management You can maintain color quality as an image moves from device to device.

  • Color to Grayscale You can convert a color image into a black and white image using this specific method.

  • Control Points You can use control points, a series of small squares placed on the edges and corners of a rectangular selection, to modify a selection by dragging the small squares as needed.

  • Distortion Control/Correction You can reduce pincushion and barrel distortion effects.

  • Effects You can add general effects to an image.

  • Exposure Adjustment You can adjust the exposure of an image.

  • Filters You can use any of the standard filter types to alter images.

  • Generate Mosaic Images You can create a single large image made from a number of other smaller images.

  • Gradients You can create smooth transitions between adjacent colors.

  • Image Correction You can brighten shadows, fix unwanted flash, and repair backlight effects.

  • Image Zoom You can enlarge or shrink the view of the image, in part or in total, as needed.

  • Layers You can make changes to images on individual sheets that can be stacked to form the combined image. Each layer can be adjusted without changing the other layers.

  • Masks You can protect certain areas of an image from being modified.

  • Nondestructive Editing Environment You can make changes to image without altering the original version.

  • Photo Text Entry You can type right on the image you are working on and see the text in real time.

  • Post-Processing Effects You can create effects after processing to include framing and vignetting.

  • Reshaping, Manipulating, and Resizing You can enhance, enlarge or reduce images, cut images to predefined or custom formats, and measure and mark image content.

  • Retouch Brush You can remove blemishes, dust and other unusual elements from images while maintaining its integrity.

  • Saturation/Warmth You can control the strength and warmness of a color

  • Selection Options Once you have made a selection, you can set aspect ratios, adjust selection sizes, move selections, turn the selection into a mask and/or add feathering to the edges.

  • Selection Tools You can use different tools to select an area of the image to work on, including the circle, square, wand, and/or lasso.

  • Sepia Enhancement You can add a sepia (brown-gray) tone to an image.

  • Shadow and Highlight Adjustment You can control the levels of shadow and highlights in your image.

  • Sharpen You can enhance the detailed edges within an image.

  • Support for Custom Palettes This software supports custom color palettes.

  • Templates You can create project or metadata templates.

  • Text Effects You can add effect to text, such as drop shadows, 3D, perspective, curved text, and path text.

  • Transformations You can trim, skew, scale, flip, mirror, rotate, and/or add perspective to an image.

  • Watermarks You can create savable, personalized, and usually semi-transparent watermarks for your images.

  • Color Mixer You can mix and save colors for later use.

  • Custom Brush Options You can change your brush options, including size, shape, and type.

  • Drawing Modes You can enter into different drawing modes within the software.

  • Floodfill Options You can fill in an enclosed area with your choice of color.

  • Layer Blending Modes You can control how different layers blend with one another.

  • Paint Brush You can paint color in several ways, such as airbrush, watercolor, and oil brush.

  • Pencil You can use a pencil tip for more detailed painting.

  • Pen Tablet Connection You can use pen tablets to control specific drawing actions within the software, including pressure, direction, orientation, and more.

  • Shapes You can create different shapes, such as dots, lines, ellipses, rectangles, circles, and Bezier splines.

  • Tools You can use multiple tools such as stencil, crop, panorama, and distortion.

  • Mix Brush You can have multiple colors on one brush.

  • Papers You have a choice of paper options on which to draw.

  • Change Default Templates The set of templates at startup can be changed.

  • Configurability You can modify and/or expand the overall interface to fit your needs.

  • Create New Transparent Image You can create a new image with a transparent background.

  • Customizable Workspaces You can modify individual workspaces within the interface.

  • Dockable Panels You can dock and undock individual panels from the main interface.

  • Dual Monitor Support You can work on this software on multiple monitors.

  • Editable menu shortcuts You can edit menu shortcuts.

  • Filter Preview You can preview filter changes in real time before applying the filter to the image.

  • Panels The software consists of paneled units, such as a color picker, tools, or gradient panel.

  • Scriptable File Management The software provides a method to script the program.

  • Support for Pen Tablets You can use pen tablets to control general actions within the software.

  • Viewing Options You can view images in multiple ways.

  • Virtual Memory Management The software manages the virtual memory of the computer so as to not over-stress the entire system by taking up too much of the resources.

  • Screen Capture You can capture (save) an image from your screen.

  • Tethered Capture You can save live images on your camera directly to your computer.

  • Help Articles A set of detailed articles are available to help learn and understand the software.

  • User Guide A user guide is available to help learn and understand the software.

  • Video Tutorials Video tutorials are available to help learn and understand the software.

  • Webinars Webinars are available to help learn and understand the software.

  • 32-Bit Image Editing You can edit 32-bit images.

  • Animation You can create basic animations from your images.

  • Base-Level Image Operations You can perform adjustments to the image, such as demosiac, highlight reconstruction, exposure controls, and base curve.

  • Basic Video Editing You can perform basic video editing functions, such as creating a still image, picture control, trim, and save.

  • Blur Adjustment Tools You can use tools to perform actions, such as Gaussian Blur and Unsharp Masking, in order to adjust the detail of the image.

  • Chromatic Aberration Tools You can automatically detect and correct chromatic aberrations, which are colors on the boundaries between dark and light areas.

  • Compositing You can splice together separate images or parts of images, in order to form one combined image. Panoramas are a specific type of compositing.

  • Content-Aware Tools You can use tools that automatically adjust to the content that you are working with.

  • Gamma Correction You can adjust the middle tones of the image.

  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) You can combine multiple photos at different exposure levels into a single photo.

  • Histogram Correction You can use the information from the software's histogram to help color-correct your image.

  • Image Post-Processing You can adjust your image after processing through split toning, high pass filters, low pass filters, lowlight vision, and/or bloom.

  • Image Scaling Methods You can resize your digital image with scaling methods, such as nearest neighbor, bicubic smooth, bicubic sharpen, and lanczos in order to address the inherent tradeoff between efficiency, smoothness, and sharpness.

  • Image Slicing You can cut up your image in any number of ways.

  • Layer Management You can copy, link, edit masks, and/or group layers.

  • Lens Correction You can adjust your image for lens defects.

  • Noise Reduction You can remove noise and grain from an image.

  • Panoramas You can create panoramic (wider) images from a series of individual images attached side by side.

  • Perspective Control You can correct a certain type of distortion where an object that you know to be a straight line appears curved in an image, by automatically adjusting the curve back into a straight line.

  • Professional Color Image Operations You can perform color image operations such as channel mixing and color profile management.

  • Special Effects Filters You can add special effects to the image through the use of vignette filters, metallic filters, distortion filters, Orton filters, and/or custom filters.

  • Spot Removal You can correct a zone in your image by using another zone as a model.

  • Tone Image Operations You can modify the tone of an image through tools such as tone curves, levels, fill lights, zone systems, and tone mappings.

  • Trim to Shape You can trim, or punch out, the area of the image that you want to work on with a specific shape or edge.

  • 3D You can add 3D effects to your images.

  • Books You can create a photo book with the software.

  • CD/DVD You can save your images to a CD or DVD.

  • Cloud-Based Storage You can publish (upload) your finished images to a cloud-based service for storage or sharing.

  • Preview Your can preview your images before publishing them in some form.

  • Printing You can print your images.

  • Send via Email You can create appropriate images and send images via your email.

  • Slideshows You can create slideshows.

  • Web Galleries You can create HTML or Flash-Player-compatible galleries with your images for upload onto the Internet.

  • Screensaver You can create your own screensaver.

  • 8-Bit Image Editing You can edit 8-bit images.

  • Brightness You can lighten or darken an image.

  • Color Balance You can adjust the colors of your image so that the more neutral colors are correct.

  • Color Depth You can adjust the color range possible in an image.

  • Contrast You can adjust the level of difference between the bright elements and dark elements of your images.

  • Crop You can trim an image to a specific size or focus on an area of the image.

  • Drawing Tools You can draw or paint colors onto your image using a brush, pencil or other tools.

  • Flip You can invert the image either horizontally or vertically.

  • Picture Frame You can add a simple picture frame or border to an image.

  • Red Eye Removal You can automatically replace the red pixels with black pixels in photographs where red eye has occurred.

  • Resize You can make your image smaller or larger.

  • Rotate You can rotate your image.

  • Shapes You can add basic shapes to an image, such as a circle, a square, or a rectangle.

  • Undo You can go back in your process one step at a time.

  • White Balance You can adjust to correct for the effects of different light on the colors in the image.

  • Audio/Video Playback You can play video and audio files with the software.

  • Create Albums You can create albums in which to sort your images.

  • EXIF Overview Data You can use the image metadata, such as the date, GPS information, resolution, and other camera information that is included with the image file.

  • Image Labels You can label images.

  • Image Ratings You can rate images.

  • Image Viewer You can view images inside the program.

  • Metadata Tags You can use, read, create, adjust, and save metadata (text-based information related to your image) that travels in the image file.

  • Offline Photo Management You can manage your software when offline.

  • Thumbnails You can create thumbnails of your images.

  • Favorites Folder The software has an easily accessible, designated folder where you can include select images.

  • Image Search You can search for an image with a dedicated tool.

  • Automatic Collections The software uses metadata that automatically determines which collections your images may be sorted into.

  • Batch Editing You can edit files as a group rather than just individually.

  • Contact Sheet You can create a contact sheet of your images.

  • Extended GPS Support You can use GPS information beyond simple geotagging.

  • Image Conversion You can convert images into other file types.

  • Import and Edit RAW Files You can import and edit RAW files.

  • Create Image Lists You can create lists of you images.

  • Event-Based Image Management You can organize your images around events.

  • Facial Recognition Tagging You can have the software automatically determine the identity of people in your images.

  • Geotagging You can add graphical identification metadata to your images.

  • Image Analysis You can perform a detailed quantitative analysis of your images.

  • Image Caption You can caption your images.

  • Location-Based Organization You can organize your images around sites or places.

  • Side-by-Side Image Comparison You can compare images side by side.

  • Slideshow to Video You can save your slideshows in a video format.

  • Batch Processing You can process files as a group rather than individually. Usually this occurs when loading images in bulk.

  • File Export Preview You can preview the image before exporting the file.

  • Image File Transfer You can transfer images from multiple sources, such as digital cameras, video cameras, scanners, card readers, flash drives, and/or upload them to the Internet.

  • Renaming Template You can create a template to organize the naming of the images as they are processed.

  • Scriptable You can write scripts to deal with file management.

  • Automatic Image Backup The software automatically backs up your images, either locally or in the cloud.

  • Compare to Last Saved You can compare the current selected image with the last saved version.

  • Image Read Support You can use this software to read specific image file types.

  • Image Write Support You can use this software to write specific image file types.

  • Other File Formats You can use this software to read other file formats.

  • Palette Import You can import Palette file types with this software.

  • Video and Audio Read Support You can use this software to read specific video and audio file types.

  • Video and Audio Write Support You can use this software to write specific video and audio file types.

  • Archive Read Support You can use this software to read specific archival file types.

  • Archive Write Support You can use this software to write specific archival file types.

  • FAQ Page The company has a dedicated FAQ page.

  • Live Chat The company has live chat available.

  • Online Forum The company hosts an online forum.

  • Online Knowledge Base The company has a dedicated online knowledge base.

  • Phone The company has a phone number to call.

  • Social Media The company has active social media accounts to post questions or comments.

  • Email The company has an email address.

  • Adobe Flash Player The software can integrate with Adobe Flash Player.

  • Facebook The software can integrate with Facebook.

  • Flickr The software can integrate with Flickr.

  • Google Earth The software can integrate with Google Earth.

  • Microsoft PowerPoint The software can integrate with Microsoft PowerPoint.

  • Twitter The software can integrate with Twitter.

PRICING

Photoshop CS6 Extended costs $999 and has a 30-day, full-service free trial of the software. The Students & Teachers Edition is available for $249.

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