Photoshop CS, perhaps one of the creative industry's most important applications, has been updated with features for the general Photoshop and ImageReady user, but this release also has features that appeal to different segments of the creative markets. Specifically, Photoshop and ImageReady include new features or enhancements for photographers, graphic designers and Web professionals.

Photoshop CS contains many productivity enhancements such as an improved File Browser; the ability to create, edit and save keyboard shortcuts for menu items, tools and palette commands; search, edit and customize file metadata; track you edits with the History Log, which automatically tracks your editing steps and the time spent on each file for billing purposes; enhanced scripting using custom or new built-in scripts; improved colour management; and more.

Photoshop allows photographers to control raw camera data with a new Camera Raw plug-in, which is incorporated directly into Photoshop CS. The Camera Raw plug-in features new colour calibration controls, batch processing through the files browser and support for more digital cameras.

Photoshop CS sports a new feature called Shadow/Highlight Adjustment. Have you ever taken a picture that was overexposed or underexposed? Of course, Photoshop offers users ways to correct the image, but it is often time consuming even for the most skilled Photoshop user, especially if there are multiple images in different lighting situations that must be adjusted.

Shadow/Highlight Adjustment fixes the exposure problems while maintaining midtones. The tool features a default setting for a quick and easy fix and advanced settings for professionals that want a bit more control over their work.

Photoshop CS also allows 16-bit editing (all core Photoshop features are now available to 16-bit images including layers, filters, painting, text and shapes); match colours across layers and images; view histograms anytime; create lens blur effects; photomerge for automatic panoramas; and more.

Photoshop allows users to work with images up to 300,000 by 300,000 pixels, with up to 56 channels per file, giving graphic designers a huge workspace. You can now also work with nested layer sets, allowing users to organize images with up to five layers of nested layer sets - these nested layers are preserved when exported to Illustrator CS.

Adobe also included some new features and enhancements for the Web professional. Many Web designers prefer to use Photoshop for their images, but Macromedia's Flash for different aspects of designing their Web sites. Photoshop CS users can now export directly to Flash with preserved vectors and dynamic text including embedded fonts. You can export each layer to its own Flash file, allowing each file to be opened in Flash as its own symbol, on its own layer.

Other enhancements targeted to the Web designer in Photoshop CS include a more flexible interface; variables for dynamic content; export layers to files; and better HTML output.

The Adobe Creative Suite is considered by Adobe to cater to the professional level designers, therefore Adobe Photoshop Elements will not be updated at this time. Considered a consumer level application, Elements will remain at its current version of 2.0 and will not adopt the CS moniker.

A standalone version of Photoshop CS costs £515 (£605 inc. VAT); with an upgrade at £125 (£146 inc. VAT).

Read the December 2003 (on-sale October 23) issue of Macworld for full reviews of the Adobe Creative Suite applications.

Adobe Creative Suite bundle details

Adobe Illustrator CS new features

Adobe InDesign CS new features

Adobe GoLive CS new features