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Photoshop CS4 - Is It Worth It To Upgrade?

Published: 21/10/2008
By: larry

I quit my Photoshop 12 step program and have been using Photoshop CS4 since last Wed (10/15). This version Adobe has a download distribution so PS addicts don't have to wait for the mail system to get our updates.

The big question is CS4 worth $199 to update? Well as I see it, there aren't many real estate photographer must have features in this version. Here's my condensed assessment of the most obvious new features (there are actually many more than I list here):

  1. User interface has significant improvements- Tabbed window interface
  2. Navigation and OpenGL - Speedy, smooth zooming. This is pretty cool actually but you may be able to live without it.
  3. Greatly improved dodge and burn tools- Dodge and burn tools now work with "tone protection" which prevents dodge and burn from changing the tone of an image. If you use dodge and burn extensively this could be important to you.
  4. Camera RAW 5.0 - Allows color modifications to selective portions of an image.
  5. Panoramic vignette removal - Photomerge now will remove lens vignetting automatically making  photomerge stitching even better if you can believe that.
  6. Depth of field blending - As a macro photography enthusiast this is fantastic but it's not something you will use on real estate photography.
  7. Content aware scaling - This is, as Deke McClellend says, "Jaw dropping"! This allows you to smush or stretch photos and only low detail areas of the photo are distorted. I've used this on a portrait but since the detail on real estate photos typically has a pretty uniform level of detail this probably is not a big real estate feature.

Recommendation: Unless you are completely hooked, like me, and can't live without the latest PS upgrade this is not a real estate photographer must have version.

12 comments on “Photoshop CS4 - Is It Worth It To Upgrade?”

  1. Did the install/upgrade process improve at all? I spent 3 days trying to figure out why my upgrade to CS3 from CS2 didn't work right. Ended up having to remove every Adobe program from my system, then install CS3, then install the ancilliiary stuff. It was a nightmare...

  2. Chester- The online install process went smoothly for me (I don't have the install DVD yet). They have a new Adobe Air based install process and the download and install when very well in the background while I was doing something else. I can't compare it to the upgrade from CS2 to CS3 because CS3 was a new install for me since I'd just moved to the Mac when CS3 came out.

  3. Gotcha. Not sure if the Mac had install issues or not, but Windows sure did.

    Of all the stitching tools out there, would you say that you like the Photomerge in Photoshop the best? Or at least for the price (given that it is included with a program you already own)?

  4. Chester- If you are just stitching rectangular panoramas from a few shots Photomerge in Photoshop is just fine but Photomerge is not intended for 360s. If you are shooting 360s, PTgui is the only way to go (see:

  5. The only thing that tempted me was the 64-bit Vista support but at $599 for the Creative Suite 4 Web Premium upgrade I think I'll sit this one out and put the money towards a new lens.

  6. As Alan pointed out, if you have purchased Photoshop in a bundle it will cost $600 to upgrade and you can NOT just upgrade Photoshop. That's Adobe's "unfair" upgrade policy.

  7. I was surprised too that I coudn't just upgrade Photoshop- that I had to buy a whole Suite upgrade. Bummer. I may put those dollars towards 24-70 Nikkor instead.

  8. Larry,
    If you only have photoshop you can indeed upgrade for $199
    but if you have the suite which includes illustrator, indesign and photoshop -- you must upgrade the whole suite -- you cannot just upgrade the photoshop part. I spent over an hour on the phone trying to convince the adobe sales rep to let me just upgrade the photoshop part and he never budged from the "adobe policy". He freely admitted it was all about the money, and that they had to make money too. I told him I never use the illustrator or indesign but no amount of persuasion had any effect.

  9. John- Yes, if you have a suite license, the only upgrade you can do is to upgrade the suite, not just one component.

    I purchased a Photoshop license because that's because that's all I've ever used in the past. Since I also use Dreamweaver and now do my books in Indesign and am starting to do more and more video and am looking at Premier, the whole suite is looking better and better. Next year I may just purchase a Suite license.

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