I’ve been a devout Photoshop user for over a decade. The first version of Photoshop that I ever laid hands on was 2.0… That’s pre-layers, and also the first version available for Windows! I started using it seriously around version 4.0 and I have kept up with nearly every version since then. I remember distinctly the addition of effects layers, shape layers, and the creation of the verb “to Photoshop” (which Adobe officially frowns upon).

Originally, I used Photoshop to create everything from promotional stickers and web graphics to letterhead and stationery. Eventually I moved to Illustrator for layout/drawing stuff, but Photoshop remains a huge part of my daily life. As the owner and sole employee of Fisheye Multimedia, I am called upon to repair and modify photographs for my clients and to manipulate newspaper layouts for framing. As a photographer myself, I spend hours upon hours in Lightroom and Photoshop, tweaking masks, adjusting curves, cloning and healing, and so on.

I am a very particular Photoshop user with specific needs and expectations established by years of use. Photoshop CS3 is a piece of crap.

I moved to Creative Suite 1 a good while after its release and it really fit the bill for me. Its adjustment layers and effects layers were immensely helpful in my professional photo restoration tasks and the program was about as efficient as I could expect it to be. When Creative Suite 2 was released, I was peripherally excited about its new features, but because I had no direct application for most of them, I didn’t jump on it. Creative Suite 3 was released six months ago and again I looked at the features and decided it wasn’t worth the trouble of rocking the boat… My very efficient and comfortable boat in which everything worked precisely as it should.

Then I bought a new computer. An 8-core 3GHz Mac Pro with five gigs of RAM and the 30-inch cinema display; the works. After six years with the same dual 1.24GHz G4, I figured it was time to go cutting edge. My G4 was cutting edge when I bought it, but then I watched the G5s come and go, and then the transition to Intel processors, and I felt a bit left out. My machine couldn’t even run Aperture because Apple made an executive decision that you must have at least a G5 to run it. Bummer!

With the new computer I thought I would finally upgrade Photoshop and give Creative Suite 3 a try. I’d heard a lot of great things about it from other photographers, notably my colleague Chris Blake. It seemed to work for them, so it should treat me well. I downloaded a trial.

In the defense of Photoshop CS3, I think the new GUI layout with the palette wells and everything else is top notch. It’s high time they made the floating palette system more efficient and I love the highlighting of certain menu items and re-arranging of palettes based on workspace presets. I was very excited at first, as I usually am when I get into some new software or hardware (nerds are so easy to please). That is, until I tried drawing something.

I agreed to do a quick cartoon logo for a friend’s up and coming e-commerce site, so I settled in to do some sketches. As I started to draw, I realized that the brush strokes were lagging behind my cursor as though my computer was too slow. Couldn’t be! I gave up on the project and did some research.

All I could find of any use was this thread.3bc3c251/90 on Adobe’s “User to User” forum. I do believe that the original poster of this thread had my exact problem, but nobody could produce any successful fixes for it.

Among the suggestions were:

  • Install the Force VM Buffering On/Off Plug-In from Adobe (Read Me)
  • Enable the “Bigger Tiles” Plug-In (included)
  • Set the “cache levels” setting 5 or lower (default is 6)

I tried each of these suggestions and none of them changed the responsiveness of the paintbrush.

Having exhausted currently available options on the painting score, I went to install my scanner. After installing the software, I was able to run it in standalone mode (I have an Epson Expression 1680) and scan images just fine, but the scanner itself never appeared in the File -> Import menu in Photoshop CS3.

From what I gather, either the scanner’s TWAIN interface software and/or associated utility application (EPSONScan) is not a universal binary (CS3 runs natively on Intel Macs) and Epson lied about it (because it says it IS a Universal, native Intel build).

Either way, I had reached a dead-end with CS3. Perhaps they will resolve these issues in the future (and I’m addressing both Adobe and Epson here). I’m really glad I didn’t jump on that $800 auction for CS3 Design Standard on eBay last week!

My solution was to go back to Photoshop CS2, which has thus far been 100% faster with everything, regardless of whether it’s running natively or emulated through Rosetta. I probably have eight cores running at 3.0GHz to thank for that, but I still wish that Adobe would get their act together and fix this laggy drawing problem in CS3 so that those of us who suffer with it can use their native (universal binary) version.