There is an old joke about the small-town photographer who got Photoshop and advertised photo editing to his community. A widow came in with a picture of her late husband and wanted the photographer to remove the hat. The photographer realized it would not be a difficult task but needed to know what side the husband parted his hair on. The widow said, “You will be able to tell when the hat comes off.”
The new content-aware tools of Photoshop CS6 may not be that good yet but they are amazing. Picking up a tree and moving it to the other side of a landscape and not being able to see where it came from is wild. The biggest issue with this is the time it takes. Moving a lighthouse to the other side of the sand dune took almost 45 seconds with a fast Macintosh. It’s a great feature but plan on taking some extra time when you need it.
It’s one of the best reasons that you should go download this beta version of Photoshop CS6 free from Adobe Labs. The download requires a membership with Adobe, but it’s free, and if you don’t have one yet, shame on you.
Other changes in the software are immediately noticeable; when the download finished and I opened the program, the black interface made me think for a moment that I had opened Lightroom by mistake. Once my eyes adapted to the dark, I saw that the interface was remarkably similar to CS5. The only other big change is they got rid of one of the top option bars, freeing up 70k pixels.
The new Mercury graphics engine makes most PS tasks happen a lot faster. Most of the time wasters—rendering, saving, and opening new files—are cut by at least half. Using filters becomes joyous with live rendering.
The interface provides a huge advantage with HUD messages for almost any tool selection. Coordinates, sizes, and angles all just appear with the mouse pointer.
CS6 also introduces video editing to Photoshop for the first time. While this video editing will not replace Premiere or Final Cut, for a quick edit of iPhone video it works great.
The download is free and using the program will remain free until the official release of the suite. Once the full version is released, the beta version will die. So download it now and give it a whirl.