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Product: Photoshop CS3 Extended (Version 10)
Company: Adobe
$969.00 (Extended), $625 (Regular)

Review By: Andre Da Costa

I have used Photoshop since version 4 and it served me quite well throughout the years until I acquired version 7 back in 2002. Since that release, Adobe has upgraded Photoshop a couple times, adding the “CS” moniker to indicate its tighter integration across the product line which consists of numerous applications today, from Illustrator, the leading vector-graphics application, to Flash, the technology that redefined web graphics acquired by Adobe along with Macromedia Corporation in late 2005. For this review we will take a look at the new Photoshop release called Photoshop CS3 Extended.

New Features:

  • Smart Filters Add, adjust, and remove filters from an image without having to resave the image or start over to preserve quality. Nondestructive Smart Filters allow you to visualize changes without altering original pixel data.

  • Quick Selection and Refine Edge tools Make selections in a snap. Loosely draw on an image area, and the Quick Selection tool automatically completes the selection for you. Then preview and fine-tune your selections with the Refine Edge tool.

  • Advanced compositing Create more accurate composites by automatically aligning multiple Photoshop layers or images based on similar content. The Auto-align Layers command quickly analyzes details and moves, rotates, or warps layers to align them perfectly, and the Auto-blend Layers command blends the color and shading to create a smooth, editable result.

  • 2D and 3D measurement tools Extract quantitative information from images with new measurement tools. Easily calibrate or set the scale of an image, and then use any of the Photoshop Extended selection tools to define and calculate distance, perimeter, area, and other measurements. Record data points in a measurement log and export data, including histogram data, to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

  • Streamlined interface and palette management Maximize screen space for editing while keeping essential tools accessible. Palettes are now arranged in convenient, self-adjusting docks that can be widened to full size or narrowed to icons or even a thin, self-revealing strip at the edge of your monitor.

  • Better raw-image processing Process raw images with increased speed and superior conversion quality using the Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in, which now adds support for JPEG and TIFF formats; new tools including Fill Light and Dust Busting; compatibility with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom™ software; and support for over 150 camera models.

  • Enhanced Vanishing Point with 3D support Edit in perspective on multiple surfaces — even those connected at angles other than 90 degrees — with the enhanced Vanishing Point, which also lets you measure in perspective; wrap graphics, images, and text around multiple planes; and output 2D planes as 3D models.

  • Enhanced 32-bit high dynamic range (HDR) support Create and edit 32-bit images and combine multiple exposures into a single 32-bit image that preserves the full range of a scene — from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights. New image-processing and alignment algorithms deliver superior results. And with Photoshop CS3 Extended, you can even edit 32-bit images using brushes, filters, blending modes, transformations, selections, tools, aspect ratios, and more.

  • Nondestructive editing Edit nondestructively with new Smart Filters, which let you visualize different image effects, and Smart Objects, which let you scale, rotate, and warp raster and vector graphics — all without altering the original pixel data.

  • Rich painting and drawing toolset Create or modify images with a wide assortment of professional, fully customizable paint settings, artistic brushes, and drawing tools.

  • Faster, more flexible asset management with Adobe Bridge CS3 Organize and manage images more efficiently with next-generation Adobe Bridge CS3 software, which now delivers improved performance, a Filter panel for easier searching, the ability to group multiple images under a single thumbnail, the Loupe tool, offline image browsing, and more.

  • Wide range of supported formats Import and export an even greater range of file formats, including PSD, BMP, DICOM, Cineon, JPEG, JPEG2000, OpenEXR, PNG, Targa, and TIFF.


Adobe Photoshop CS3 was installed as a component of the Web Premium suite. Setup was straightforward and simplified: accept license agreement, enter product key and wait. The suite took over an hour to complete and I’m not surprised, as it comes on a DVD with a total of 12 components. I assume if you are installing just Photoshop it’s a lot quicker. Next up was Activation which was straightforward, with no issues, I chose to activate over the Internet, although you have the option of doing it by telephone. Windows XP Professional SP2 was used as the target platform for this review, however Windows Vista x86 is also supported.

Getting Started 

Adobe is using a new marketing theme around the CS3 release; this is evidenced by the new colourful palette of icons used by various programs. The classic Photoshop eye (version 1.0 to 7.0) and rooster feather introduced with the first version of CS have been replaced by a serious blue square icon with capital P and common S; this also applies to the rest of the Adobe product line up. The interface still retains its familiar look with a few changes here and there. The immediately identifiable Toolbox now has an option to be set to an elongated vertical tool box and all palettes such as Histogram, Colour and Layers can now be minimized as contextual menus to efficiently gain more screen real estate while still being able to access common features you use most often (Adobe calls this Docking Panels). It’s not like Word 2007’s Office Fluent, but revolves around the same idea of access to hidden features with simplicity. The palettes also are muted, featuring grey-brownish frames that speak of a more cohesive and professional user interface. Products in the CS3 collection that also feature this unified look and feel include Flash and Illustrator.  A major focus of this release is clearly around the designer’s user experience and getting the job done easier, and the updated interface truly reflects that. The palette commands still work as they did in previous versions there are no compatibility issues that I am aware of, so Photoshop gurus should adjust quickly while welcoming the changes for the better.

Photoshop CS3 Extended features tight integration in areas of Video, 3D-Rendering, Animation and of course improved Image editing and analysis.

New Features 

Smart Filters – Simply, non-destructive image editing. Adobe and Apple have both included some elements of this feature in their respective digital image management products, Light Room and Aperture. In Photoshop you can add, adjust and remove filters from an image without having to duplicate or resave it or even create a new project from scratch. This preserves the quality of your work allowing you to experiment without barriers, so feel free to touch any pixel without feeling guilty you will lose its originality forever. You can easily turn them on or off or edit them after the filter has been already been applied, all without altering the original Photoshop image.

3D rendering is also a big feature of this release and SKU in particular, the ability to integrate a combination of 2D and 3D content makes it possible to explore new areas once only available to individuals with high end hardware or powerful software such as Maya or 3D Max. There is support for a number of formats that import and export with relative ease including 3DS, OBJ, U3D, KMZ and COLLADA. The array of formats supported provides interoperability with most rendering packages such that users may focus more on content and less on compatibility issues. In addition to the various 3D formats mentioned, Photoshop Extended also supports video, so you can easily import and work with industry standard video formats such as Flash video )with Flash installed), MPEG-4, QuickTime, MOV, 3G, FLC, H.264DV, and AVI. Areas where these features can be applied include time based painting and cloning video frames and the ability to process image sequences without the need for a primary application makes it not only a time saver but a truly impressive tool for reducing the complexities that usually exist when working with various file formats on a single project.

Since the release of Photoshop 7.0.1, Adobe released as a free add on the Camera Raw plug-in which gives professional photographers the ability to preserve their images at very high quality produced from high end digital cameras (over 150 camera models are currently supported). In CS3, performance has been greatly improved. I noticed that image conversion operations were much faster with higher quality results than previous releases. There is also support for image formats such as JPEG and TIFF, DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) and new tools such as Fill Light and Dust Busting, black and white adjustment/conversion tool, more cameras, split toning, vibrancy and more.


Fill Light - is used to reduce the contrast of a scene and to provide some illumination for the areas of the image that are in shadow. Dust Buster is used for erasing dust spots from an image with a single click

Enhanced Vanishing Point

First introduced in Photoshop CS2, this feature allowed editors to add 3D to 2D surfaces without the need to retouch content on a flat plane. The enhanced update in this release allows you to edit a perspective on multiple surfaces even at 90 degree angles, with support for wrapping graphics, text and images around multiple planes. You can then output 2D planes to 3D models. There is also greater control of perspective plane in the image, so you can edit multiple surfaces from the connected angle of the surface or via user-defined input for more precise results. This takes away lot of guess work and time required to achieve a particular effect because Photoshop CS3 understands the geometry of the object allowing you to focus on achieving the result without focusing on the underlying procedural intricacies that yield the desired result.

Measurement and Precise selection Tools

The improved Measurement tools allow you obtain more precise results when measuring 2D images or 3D objects. You can easily calculate distance, perimeter, area and other measurements with the Photoshop Extended tools. Once the measurement information is recorded you can log and export data, including histogram data to a spreadsheet for further analysis. Photoshop CS3 also provides detailed editing, which makes selections a lot easier. For instance you can loosely draw on the image area you want to select, and the Quick Selection tool will automatically complete the selection for you. You can then preview and further fine-tune your selection with the Refine Edge for cleaner results.

Multi-Layer Select, Layer Comps and Smart Objects

First introduced in CS2, Multi-Layer Select allows you to keep imagery, illustrations and type on separate layers, while applying edits to them as a group. This is done by clicking or drag-selecting directly in your artwork. This approach allows you to easily select objects without having to figure out which layer they are on. Layer Comps is a snapshot of a state of the Layers palette. Using Layer Comps, you can create, manage and view multiple versions of an image in a single Photoshop file. You can then import only one file into Illustrator layouts (for example), while maintaining access to your entire object.

Smart Objects preserve an image’s source content with all its original characters, so that any scaling or effects applied to it in Photoshop are non-destructive. This means that when you modify your document, Photoshop re-renders Smart Objects based on their source data. You can create a Smart Object from a pixel or vector based art work.

Still Ready for the Web

In prior versions of Photoshop, Adobe provided the ImageReady solution which was once sold as a separate product to compliment Photoshop for web designers. With the release of CS3 ImageReady has been discontinued. For users who use Photoshop stand alone for preparing images for the web, you might ask, what will I do now? No need to worry, Photoshop CS3 integrates ImageReady functionality already and supports color panels, optimized slices with HTML export and flexible compression.

More integration and flexibility equals more creativity

If you are user of the Creative Suite, you will appreciate the ‘roundtrip’ capabilities of CS3 release. Using the compositing features of Photoshop, you can develop a mock-up of your prototype website and easily bring it into Dreamweaver or batch-create images by cutting the page into logical slices. Photoshop CS3 also features stronger support with its new siblings such as Flash CS3. You can import native Photoshop files right into Flash with relative ease. Elements such as layer hierarchy blend modes and layer effects all remain intact. Text preferences can be set along with the ability to automatically create movie clips during the import process.

Enhanced 32-Bit high dynamic range support (HDR)

Create and edit 32-bit images and combine multiple exposures into a single, 32-bit image that preserves the full range of a scene – fr0m the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights. In Photoshop CS3 Extended, 32-bit images can be edited using brushes, filters, blending modes, transformations, selections, tools and aspect rations plus more.

Improved Printing

Publishers will appreciate the streamlined printing experience in Photoshop CS3. With fewer steps, designers can easily achieve better results with enhanced print quality and color management. In addition, larger print preview windows and a centralized control dashboard provide better document visibility and fine tuning capabilities to aid designers in making final adjustments prior to publishing.


Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 90%
Features: 95%
Ease of Use: 95%
Price/Value: 88%
Overall: 91.6%

It’s obvious I have touched only on the new features of Photoshop CS3. A powerful release on its own, it also shines when combined with its industry standard siblings. Photoshop remains an indispensable tool not only for traditional photographers and designers, but also for industries such as architecture and medical imaging where image analysis is becoming ever more important. The new work flow capabilities offer multiple users of the Creative Suite the chance to focus on the design process and less on the tool’s idioms in creating the design while meeting the expectation of customers who demand quality output on time.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 91.6%
Version Reviewed Photoshop CS3 Extended
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points Better Video Support
Improved Performance
Customizable & Streamlined Interface
Powerful 3D Manipulation
Tighter integration across Creative Suite especially with fellow applications such as Flash and Dreamweaver
The Bad Points Steep Learning Curve
In The Box

3 DVDs – Applications, Content, Video Workshop
Adobe CS3 Web Premium and Standard Workflow Guide

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System Requirements

Intel® Pentium® 4, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon®, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor

Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista™ Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit editions)

512MB of RAM

64MB of video RAM

1GB of available hard-disk space (additional free space required during installation)

1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card

DVD-ROM drive

QuickTime 7 software required for multimedia features

Internet or phone connection required for product activation



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