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Adobe Creative Suite 5 review

£2,700 inc VAT for Master Collection

Manufacturer: Adobe

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) features revamped versions of its leading arts, design, video and animation software - plus two new web-design applications, Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder. Here's everything you need to know about Adobe CS5.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) features revamped versions of its leading arts, design, video and animation software - plus two new web-design applications, Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder. Here's everything you need to know about Adobe CS5.

Adobe's Creative Suite 5 has just been announced, and here we have all you need to know about the new collection of creative tools, including step-by-step guides to the main applications. It's expected to be on the shelves by the end of May, featuring revamped versions of its leading arts, design, video and animation tools, plus two new web-design applications, Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder.

Latest: Adobe CS6 review

The suite features new tools to improve your art (such as Photoshop CS5's new 3D extrusion tool Repoussé), and mundane but useful productivity aids (such as InDesign's Gap tool) that make using the suite that bit smoother.

Behind the scenes are some seriously ramped-up components, such as 64-bit After Effects and Premiere Pro to make animating and editing faster than ever, and at last a 64-bit Photoshop for Mac (Windows went 64-bit with CS4). In today's time sensitive workflows that means more than any amount of whizzy features.

With each new version, Adobe tweaks Creative Suite's interface to make the applications work more smoothly, both on their own and together. In version 5, these include a new Mini Bridge, a slimmed-down version of Bridge that works within Photoshop CS5, Photoshop CS5 Extended, and InDesign CS5, providing image access and management.

As before, you can buy most applications individually, as a bundle (Web, Production, and Design bundles), or as a Master Collection, featuring everything.

Adobe Photoshop CS5

For more on Photoshop, read our Adobe Photoshop CS5 review. Photoshop seems to introduce a 'wow' feature with each version. This time round there's more than one. Digital artists are well served with the Mixer brush, a new paint system with a 'wet canvas' method for picking up multiple colours on a single tip, and mixing and blending them with the underlying hues on the canvas. The Content-Aware Fill tool removes elements from an image, magically filling the space with matching lighting, tone, and noise.

Adobe Photoshop CS5

The Refine Radius tool makes creating accurate selections of intricate elements such as hair more achievable.

More than ever, Photoshop is a tool for digital photographers. The Lens Correction filter provides quick camera- and lens-specific correction for three common lens-related aberrations: geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. For 3D workflows, there's the Adobe Ray Tracer (ART) 2.0. This progressively renders 3D scenes with an option to re-render after a pause, or perform selective renderings.

Another significant feature is Repoussé, which lets you quickly extrude text to create logos and 3D artwork. Once a model is created, you can use new tools to easily load a material and drop it into different meshes. Also new, the Shadow Catcher feature lets you easily generate and adjust a shadow on the ground plane of a scene.

For further realism, you can use an HDR image to light your scene, or create depth-of-field effects by adjusting the zone of sharpness with the new Distance and Blur controls.

NEXT: Adobe Illustrator CS5 >>

Adobe Photoshop CS5 review

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Expert Verdict »

Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II recommended), Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
Windows XP/Vista/7
2GB of RAM (4GB or more recommended), Mac OS X v10.5.7 or v10.6.3
24.3GB of available hard-disk space for installation
additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash-based storage devices)
1280x900 display (1280x1024 recommended) with qualified hardware-accelerated OpenGL graphics card, 16-bit color, and 256MB of VRAM
Adobe-certified GPU card for GPU-accelerated performance in Adobe Premiere Pro
visit the Adobe Premiere Pro system requirements page for the latest list of supported cards
DVD-ROM drive
QuickTime 7.6.2
Adobe Flash Player 10
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

So is Adobe Creative Suite 5 a must-buy? That all depends on your needs. In CS4, Adobe seemed to concentrate on improving integration between its applications. This time round, the focus is on improving each individual app, and the decision over whether this is a must-have upgrade for you or not depends on how much you will benefit from the special new tools of each program. Some, such as Roto Brush in After Effects or the Gap tool and Split Columns in InDesign, promise to be huge timesavers. Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill also offers a quick way to carry out a common task, while the new brushes it shares with Illustrator which mimic real paint effects will have a big impact on the digital art scene. Many will benefit from the ability to explore iPhone app development in Flash. Other changes, such as the move to 64-bit for After Effects and Photoshop for Mac, offer a big enough performance boost to convince many a wavering creative.

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