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Can someone, in a nutshell, tell me exactly what I'm missing out on by not upgrading to any version of Photoshop CS? What is about CS that will offer me more flexibility in design, or make the work easier?
the main differences for me are:
1. adobe bridge ... this is a kind of viewer, a bit like thumbnail view in windows explorer (except much more of course) that you can drag and drop pictures into photoshop with.
2. perspective shifting tool - not sure what the proper name is, but you can straighten buildings up and things - very handy.
3. perspective cloning - also very handy for touching up photos, infact for editing out whole chunks of unwanted stuff from pics ... quite easy for a non artist to use as well.
... i bought my cs2 on ebay quite cheaply as cs3 is out now (a brand new, sealed, boxed, full retail version)
We have Macromedia 8 and Adobe CS. For web design, I use ACDsee to select and maybe crop pictures, for the rest I do all things with Macromedia Fireworks.
Tried Photoshop for that a few times, was not very happy about it (too complicated to figure out for complete beginner). Besides, Photoshop is designed to give high quality printable products, while Fireworks is designed to adjust images for use on the web (reduce file size while minimizing quality loss). The new Adobe CS3 still has both programs, although they downplay Fireworks presence.
So rather than upgrading to Photoshop CS3, maybe consider getting fireworks or the complete Macromedia 8 from before Adobe bought it, should be cheap now.
For the rest, I would stick with what I feel comfortable with unless I knew I was missing something really essential.
As far as changes, here is what wikipedia says about CS3:
Photoshop CS3 is marketed with three main components of improvement over previous versions: "Work more productively, Edit with unrivaled power, and composite with breakthrough tools." New features propagating productivity include streamlined interface, improved Camera Raw, better control over print options, enhanced PDF support, and better management with Adobe Bridge. Editing tools new to CS3 are the Clone Source palette and nondestructive Smart Filters, and other features such as the Brightness/Contrast adjustment and Vanishing Point module were enhanced. The Black and White adjustment option improves users control over manual grayscale conversions with a dialog box similar to that of Channel Mixer. Compositing is assisted with Photoshop's new Quick Selection and Refine Edge tools and improved image stitching technology.
CS3 Extended contains all features of CS3 plus tools for editing and importing some 3D graphics file formats, enhancing video, and comprehensive image analysis tools, utilizing MATLAB integration and DICOM file support.
The upgrade is not that much moolah and once you master the interface, you will be upset that you waited so long to do so...
So, to answer your question, from one web designer to another, there has been immense value with every upgrade of Photoshop except maybe Version 7. Upgrading almost every version also makes the learning curve more manageable. I can imagine the changes between V 6.0 and CS3 could be overwhelming and frustrating.
Sometimes good things result when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Change is good. Upgrade. You won't be sorry.