Adobe Photoshop: All Cloud, All the Time
Update: May 28, 2013: Photographers around the world have been reacting to Adobe’s move to the Creative Cloud. It sounds like the company might have something in the works in response to complaints and concerns. http://blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/our-move-to-creative-cloud-an-update/
Hang onto your current version of Photoshop, keep those Creative Suite disks safe, ladies and gentlemen, because Adobe announced at Adobe Max what we knew was coming. Adobe Photoshop (and other components of the software formerly known as Creative Suite) will be subscription-based only and have now been re-branded as CC products.
So forget Photoshop Creative Suite; it’s now Photoshop CC.
Launched in May, 2012 and originally marketed as a way to deliver software updates and improvements on a more regular schedule, Adobe has updated Photoshop and other applications on Creative Cloud—updates that were allegedly going to be incorporated into the standalone Creative Suite software when the next perpetual license version (CS7) was released. At least that’s what we were led to believe when CC was first launched.
But that’s not going to happen. While CS6 will continue to be “supported,” we don’t know for how long. Obviously, you’ll be able to use your current version unless or until you update your operating system to a version with which it’s not compatible (although Adobe might keep CS6 compatible with updated operating systems but we and they don’t know for sure). At this point, Photoshop CS6 users will be able to update to ACR 8 (Adobe Camera Raw) when it becomes available since Adobe is still selling CS6, but it will be only for new camera support and not for the new features that will be available to CC subscribers via the same update (see the Photoshop Features section below). However, one can expect that there will come a time that the only way to get ACR support for new cameras will be by subscribing to Photoshop Creative Cloud (CC).
ACR started out as a $99 (I was mistaken; ACR was never free) standalone download until the next new Photoshop release came along, then it was rolled into the full version. Once it was incorporated into the software application and no longer available as a standalone app, users had to upgrade to the latest Photoshop release in order to gain ACR support for new cameras, a practice that has always been annoying—and costly—for those who update their gear on a regular basis.
With standalone, perpetual license software, users can—and do—legally (with limitations) transfer or sell their license key/disks and use the money from the sale to purchase a newer version of the application or suite that is not available at an upgrade price. (Note that it is not legal to use the license that you sold to quality for an upgrade price.). That won’t be possible with Creative Cloud. Granted, we don’t know if CC subscriptions can be transferred but there would be no reason to do so unless you simply wanted to opt out of using the software.
On the plus side, you can still install the software on two computers and since CC is cross-platform, you don’t have to purchase Mac and Windows versions as you would with Creative Suite in order to cover both platforms in your workflow.
Obviously, the main benefit is getting software updates and improvements on a regular basis and we’ve listed some of the latest updates below. And the subscription model makes good sense for those individuals and groups who want to take advantage of new and updated features as soon as possible.
How does it work?
You need to download and install the apps on your computer and that’s where the software lives. Your current version of Photoshop, or other CS applications, do not have to be uninstalled; they’ll continue to work even with CC software on the same computer (there have been some issues with CS6 reverting to a trial version after the CC install but Adobe should have fixed that issue by now). And, you do not have to be online for CC to work.
However, you do have to connect to the internet to verify that your license is still active. We’re still trying to clarify some requirements with Adobe since details have changed a little since the launch. What we do know is that you will be asked to connect to the web to validate your software licenses every 30 days. Those with an annual membership will be able to use the software for 99 days without logging on.
That’s a minor annoyance for those who work in a studio or at home where an internet connection is always at hand. What about photographers who sometimes travel to remote locations for long periods of time? They may be out of luck unless they have a standalone version of Photoshop installed as well.
The best Creative Cloud pricing is based on an annual subscription. You’ll pay more for month-to-month leasing of the software. Prices also depend on how many applications you want to access, whether you choose an individual or team membership or are a student or teacher.
Adobe is currently offering special promotional prices for current Creative Suite users. If you have a serial number or have registered your CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS6 product (Photoshop or the entire suite, for example), your first year will cost $10 a month with an annual contract. Access to a complete subscription for CS6 users is $20/month for the first year; $30 for CS3 and later.
Other pricing ranges from $20/month to $70/month. For pricing options, click here.
30-day trial versions are available.
Photoshop CC New Features
The latest version of Photoshop CC, which will be available to subscribers in June, will incorporate the features found in Photoshop Extended as well as a number of other new options.
One of the hot new features is Camera Shake Reduction. This tool is designed to work specifically on blur caused by camera shake. It’s not a miracle worker, so don’t expect to get a sharp image if your lens didn’t lock in focus or your subject was moving. However, in our briefing with Adobe, this tool is very easy to use and seems to work quite well at bringing images back into focus. And, the deblur can be applied selectively to multiple areas.
Along with Camera Shake Reduction, Photoshop CC offers a completely revamped Smart Sharpen function and Upsampling options. Larger, resizable dialogue boxes for sharpening features make it much easier to fine-tune adjustments. There are a number of great online Photoshop classes that go into great detail for how to use these new features.
Adobe Camera RAW 8 brings with it (for CC subscribers only) the same Upright, Advanced Healing Brush and Radial Gradient tools that are available in the Lightroom 5 Beta. More importantly, Camera Raw can now be used as a filter so you can easily apply ACR adjustments to any layer of an image or even a video.
In addition, Photoshop now works in concert with Behance, a social network photo sharing site. By integrating Behance, users can more easily share and comment on images and projects without leaving Photoshop.
To see some of the new features in action, check out these videos on Camera Shake Reduction and Terry White’s Top 5 Features in Adobe Photoshop CC.
The Bottom Line
We’re living in an increasingly cloud-based world but Adobe’s bold move to a subscription-only model may be too bold and too soon for many photographers and designers. Not every photographer—whether a pro or a hobbyist or somewhere in between—can afford (or wants) to commit to an ongoing cost for software. How many of you update Photoshop every time a new version is released? Or are you more likely to update every other version or so, making your major software investment last 2-3 years? My guess is that many—or perhaps most—of you reading this article fall into the latter category.
While the math may work in favor of, or come out equal to, purchasing a perpetual license version of Photoshop for one year, over the long haul, those who, in the past, haven’t updated regularly for standalone versions will have to dig into their pockets more frequently. Or, for the time being, switch to Lightroom. (When I asked during a briefing, I was told that Lightroom 5 will be available in a standalone, shrink-wrapped version. But who knows for how long?)
Of course, Creative Cloud ensures Adobe a continuous revenue stream and even the stock market sees this as evidenced by the rise in Adobe’s stock after the announcement. And that’s good for Adobe, but is it good for Photoshop users? Maybe for some, especially given that updates and new features can be rolled out and delivered on a regular basis. Adobe claims that more than 2.5 million people have subscribed to Creative Cloud in the first ten months of its existence, so the company is doing something right.
It’s definitely not good for all of us. I guess what bothers me most is that choice has been taken out of the equation.
What do you think? Will you be subscribing to the Creative Cloud?