Adobe’s cloud-based subscription program, called Creative Cloud, now has a price tag: $50/month with a minimum one-year agreement. Subscribing will get you access to the latest version of Adobe’s popular programs (e.g. CS6 and Lightroom 4) without the pain of shelling out big bucks for buying the boxed version and subsequent upgrades. In addition to receiving updates to the programs as soon as they’re released, you’ll also be given 20GB of cloud storage that can be used for syncing your work.
Your photos look better processed in Lightroom 4. Period. [...] The improvements in Lightroom’s Development module are so significant, and so much better than what we’ve ever had before, that I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find most anyone still using Lightroom 3 in just a few months from now. In fact, if they didn’t add another feature, it would still be worth the upgrade just to get better looking images.
You can watch a walkthrough of new the new module here, or play around with the new engine yourself by downloading the free Lightroom 4 Beta release. This is also great news for Photoshop users: the same engine is coming to Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Camera Raw.
Here’s a cool sneak peek at some of the new features coming to the next version of Adobe Camera Raw. The adjustment brushes will have powerful new options for local adjustments, including temperature, tint, and noise. We also get to see the new dark interface that’ll come by default with Photoshop CS6.
Although the new, rewritten processing engine for ACR7 isn’t available to the public, it’s the same engine found in Lightroom 4, which just became available as a free public beta download a couple weeks ago.
Adobe caused a stir last November after changing its upgrade policy to only cover one version back instead of three. This meant that only Photoshop CS5 owners would qualify for the upgrade price on CS6 when it’s launched, leaving CS3 and CS4 owners the not-so-nice option of buying the CS5 upgrade before buying the CS6 one. Perhaps in response to the angry customer response, Adobe announced a “special offer” for CS3 and CS4 owners today:
[...] we want to make sure our customers have plenty of time to determine which offering is best for them. Therefore, we’re pleased to announce that we will offer special introductory upgrade pricing on Creative Suite 6 to customers who own CS3 or CS4. This offer will be available from the time CS6 is released until December 31, 2012.
We’ll find out just how much of a discount those users will receive once CS6 is released. It also appears that Adobe isn’t planning to restore the old upgrade policy — today’s announcement is more of a one-time fix for angry customers.
Last week we reported that starting with Adobe CS6, only people who own the previous major release of the software (i.e. CS5 and above) will be eligible for upgrade pricing. Needless to say, Photoshop users are’t too happy about the changes, and now National Association of Photoshop Professionals president Scott Kelby is weighing in. In an open letter to Adobe, he writes,
While I understand that Adobe needs to make business decisions based on how it sees market conditions, I feel the timing of this new pricing structure is patently unfair to your customers (and our members). Here’s why: You didn’t tell us up front. You didn’t tell us until nearly the end of the product’s life cycle, and now you’re making us buy CS5.5 for just a few months on the chance that we might want to buy CS6 at a discount when it’s released. Otherwise, we have to pay the full price as if we were never Adobe customers at all.
Kelby also makes a plea for Adobe to either start the new policy with CS7 or to offer a tiered upgrade structure in which upgrade price is based on how recent your version is. That definitely makes more sense than having CS4 users pay full price to upgrade to CS6.
If you’ve been waiting to upgrade Photoshop CS3 or CS4 to CS6 when it’s released sometime next year, here’s some bad news: the upgrade price won’t apply to you. Starting with CS6, Adobe will be enforcing a new upgrade policy:
[...] we are changing our policy for perpetual license customers. In order to qualify for upgrade pricing when CS6 releases, customers will need to be on the latest version of our software (either CS5 or CS5.5 editions). If our customers are not yet on those versions, we’re offering a 20% discount through December 31, 2011 which will qualify them for upgrade pricing when we release CS6.
The existing policy is that customers with software from three versions back quality for upgrade pricing. For example, owners of CS2, CS3, and CS4 and upgrade to CS5. Buying the full version of Photoshop CS5 right now costs nearly $500, while the upgrade is only priced at ~$150.
Early beta versions of Photoshop CS6 (codenamed “Superstition”) have already made it into the hands of testers, and information about changes and new features is slowly starting to emerge. AppleInsider has published some screenshots of the new program, which apparently comes with a darker, Aperture-esque user interface. There’s a number of new features geared towards working with 3D, a mysterious new “Remix Tool” inside the healing brush pallet, and a “Perspective Crop” tool. There’s also new auto-save options that help you save your work automatically in the background.
At this point, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be seeing Image Deblurring appear in CS6. Adobe is rumored to be shooting for a CS6 launch around May 2012.
Still think Adobe’s Image Deblurring technology is fake? Check out this before-and-after comparison showing what the feature does to one of the most famous camera-shake photos in history: Robert Capa’s D-Day photograph of an American soldier landing on Omaha Beach. Read more…
Here’s the current state of imagery: still cameras can shoot HD video, video cameras can capture high quality stills, and data storage costs continue to fall. In the future, it might become commonplace for people to make photos by shooting uber-high quality video and then selecting the best still. However, as any photographer knows, selecting the best photograph from a series of photos captured in burst mode is already a challenge, so selecting a still from 30fps footage would be quite a daunting challenge.
To make the future easier for us humans, researchers at Adobe and the University of Washington are working on training computers to do the grunt work for us. One research project currently being done involves training a computer to automatically select candid portraits when given video of a person. The video above is a demo of the artificial intelligence in action.
Adobe’s amazing Image Deblurring demo was the star of the Sneak Peeks event at Adobe MAX 2011, but it was just one of the many demos shown that night. Another interesting photography-related demo was for “Pixel Nuggets”: a feature that lets you search a large library of photos for features (e.g. people, landmarks, patterns, logos). Read more…