I have been waiting in the wings, so to speak, for quite some time on the topic of upgrading Photoshop. Because I do a lot of other design work in programs like Illustrator and even occasionally InDesign, it’s quite a bit more costly for me to upgrade than if I were just buying Photoshop.

Anyway, I finally broke down and purchased a brand new (okay, refurbished… But brand new to me!) Mac Pro, which uses the Intel chips. Only CS3 runs natively on Intel chips, and the thought of my software not running as quickly as it could on my brand new (…to me) machine bothered me. So I found a really good deal on Creative Suite Design Premium CS3 and bit the bullet. Hard.

After the jump, a list of my first impressions, tips, and a selection of articles from other places that may be helpful for anyone making the transition to CS3… Which I highly recommend.

First, things that I noticed, and that I like about the CS3 programs:

  • The new interface layout. Right around CS1 I started to wonder if Adobe wasn’t falling directly into the bloat trap, which is when a software maker adds new features and makes changes to their software simply to be able to release a new version. I no longer think that Adobe is a victim of this awful malaise. The new interface with its docked palettes, collapsible toolbox, and minimized palette buttons is really a joy to use.
  • Blazing fast on Intel Macs. CS3 runs faster on my machine than CS1 or CS2, despite a larger resource footprint. Although I had some problems with CS3 when I first tried it, subsequent updates have fixed those snags (one of which was a real show-stopper) as well as made the application much more responsive.
  • Cool new features. Let’s not overlook genuine new features such as vector smart object layers, support for GIF animation (just like ImageReady used to have; now integrated directly into Photoshop), and even 3D layer objects, which I haven’t even tried, but hey, it just sounds cool.

Some remaining snags:

  • There actually is a bug in free transform that is annoying to me. It has to do with using the arrow keys to adjust the rotation angle of a free transform with the cursor in the angle box up at the top. It usually doesn’t work and the cursor jumps out of the box onto a random place on the screen. It’s really weird. Adobe responded to my bug report incredibly quickly and told me that it is a problem on Apple’s side and that they were working together to fix it. Amazing. In the words of Mrs. Doubtfire, “help is on the way, dear!”
  • Actually that’s it. I love CS3.

I found some articles, too, that were helpful.

  • Bob Johnson at Earthbound Light wrote about the newly expanded (or just newly mangled) print dialog in Photoshop CS3 and how that affects his color management workflow I thought that was pretty interesting.
  • This article on Zoom In Online goes over several of the biggest new features of Photoshop CS3 that you should take a look at.

If there’s anything else you think we should know about Photoshop CS3 (or heck, any of the CS3 applications), especially as relates to photography, leave them in the comments!