While I’ve been playing around with the new version, the guys at Macworld Lab USA (Jim Galbraith and Brian Chen) have been busy running a few benchmarks on Photoshop CS3 on a few Intel Macs and some Power Macs. based on the previous generation PowerPC architecture. As you can guess, the new Photoshop CS3 shows a significant performance increase over the CS2 version emulated in the Roseta environment on the Mac Pro and MacBook Pros. In almost all the tests carried out the performance increase is practically double.
We have run three basic tests: open Photoshop CS3 with a 50MB file; run our standard suite of 14 tasks on a 50MB file, and run a batch consisting of rotating, resizing, and saving 100 photos.
The Mac Intel (Mac Pro and MacBook Pro) prevailed in all tests over its PowerPC equivalent (Power Mac G5 and PowerBook G4), although the quad-core PowerPC corresponding to the Power Mac G5 maintained an overall performance fairly close to that obtained with the new Mac Pro.
It is obvious that the main performance benefits of the CS3 beta will be more apparent among laptop users; a situation in which I have seen a real improvement, especially when performing operations such as complex focus on large images. But I’m honest when I say that beyond the open times Photoshop CS2 was always quite usable on my MacBook Pro. However, I never really spent most of my time in Potoshop while working with images.
The fact that I hadn’t spent all that time with Photoshop fascinated me until I started using beta CS3. I’ve been using Aperture for so long over the last year that it has caused long periods of time to go by without me using Photoshop at all (I’ve also been tinkering with Lightroom, another solid beta from Adobe). I have had conversations with other photographers about the extent to which products like Aperture and Lightroom (more geared towards material management than image manipulation) would influence Photoshop becoming a product with more limited appeal.
After a few days using the beta, I realized that this was not the right question. The question is “how will all these applications work with each other?” I am clear that, for the immediate future, Photoshop will be the best option for manipulating images that go beyond simple tonal correction. Add to the fact that neither Aperture nor Lightroom have selection tools, and Photoshop will continue to be indispensable. But what Aperture and Lightroom offer shows us something that I’ve been arguing for years: the real task is handling our digital materials. Ultimately, for the vast majority of photographers, complex image manipulation is a secondary (though no less important) function.
Over the next year, it will be interesting to see developments as Adobe and Apple review their key applications. Apple really needs to mold Aperture to be the central pillar in the Photoshop workflow. Now it is satisfying, but still needs more work. In some cases it seems as if Apple prefers that Photoshop does not exist, something that is not going to happen.
In the case of Adobe, the Photoshop improvement as evidenced by this beta CS3 raises some questions about the strategy with Lightroom, especially with the improvements made in Bridge CS3 (and which is part of the Photoshop beta). Is it Lightroom Bridge or vice versa? I know that the Lightroom team is working hard to produce a really great app for photographers, and personally I don’t want an overloaded “PhotoLightroom” (sorry, “Photoshop PhotoLightroom”), but I think you need to dig a little deeper into Lightroom if you want. compete with Aperture (I know, I know. It’s a beta!).