The arguments over Adobe's subscription plans aside, what else has Photoshop CC got to tempt new users and upgraders? For a start, it has two new ways to achieve sharper images. One is an all-new Smart Sharpen tool designed to maximise clarity and reduce noise, and the other is Adobe's new Camera Shake Reduction tool. Photoshop CCSmart Sharpen in action
It analyses the direction of movement ('trajectory') and then attempts to reverse the blur digitally. On Adobe's sample images it works really well, but not all shots provide the right kind of blur, so don't expect it to be a fix for every shaky shot.
Photoshop CC's 'Intelligent Upsampling' feature helps you scale up pictures for big prints without the image degradation normally associated with upsampling, and means you no longer have to turn to third-party plug-ins like OnOne's Perfect Resize. You don't get any more detail, but sharp edges are better preserved.
But the biggest cluster of new features centres on Adobe Camera Raw 8, Photoshop's companion RAW conversion tool. In fact, you can now carry out so many everyday photographic enhancements in Adobe Camera Raw that you may need Photoshop itself less and less. By the time the photo opens in Photoshop, you'll have already done everything that needs doing.
For example, the new Radial Gradient tool can be used to highlight the focal point of your picture by darkening, blurring, desaturating or otherwise subduing the surrounding areas. It comes with grab handles you can use to change the shape and size and a central 'pin' you can drag it around with. It's very good, though it could do with a wider feathering range to blend in the effects more subtly.
And the Advanced Healing Brush is very effective too – you can how 'heal' irregular areas by painting over them, whereas previously you could only heal circular areas. It's not as sophisticated as the Clone Stamp and Healing tools in Photoshop, but it can cope with simple touch-up jobs very easily.