Adobe’s next version of Photoshop — CS6 — is now available as a free download in beta form. The update packs in a lot of new features, but it really feels more like a reboot, with a redesigned interface and several features ported back from Photoshop’s sister product, Lightroom.
So what’s new? As our friend Jesus Diaz over at Gizmodo says, the biggest changes are the fixes to the basics. Crop is now undoable at any time, just like in Lightroom, and Photoshop also gets Lightroom’s shadow and highlight tools which pull details out of the dark and light parts of an image without make it look all HDR-y.
There’s also a new tool: content-aware patch. This lets you clone out or repair a part of the image using another part of the image. The difference between this and regular cloning it that you don’t have to be very accurate, and Photoshop’s algorithms do all the tricky blending work for you.
Other photo features are iris and tilt-shift blur, wide angle correction, basic video editing and a neat one called skin tone selection, which automatically separates people from the background by detecting their skin color.
These, and all the other new features are powered by a new engine under the hood. It’s called Mercury, and it means that you can apply effects in real time and see the results. This could save a lot of time.
I’m downloading it right now, And I’ll surely play around with it and maybe open it up for weird jobs from time to time (in another life, I was a graphic designer, so much of Photoshop is carved on my brain). And for image professionals, this looks like an amazing update.
For the rest of us, though, I’d probably still recommend the excellent Acorn image editor. You know how most people only ever use a handful of Photoshop’s features? Acorn is that handful of features.
You can download the beta now from Adobe Labs. It weighs in at close to a gig.