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Photoshop CC iconAdobe Lightroom 5 iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

Adobe recently released a Lightroom companion app for iPad called Lightroom Mobile, along with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.4 and Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 and a corresponding DNG Converter 8.4 update. All are free updates for current licenses of the software; update links are at the end of this article. The updates also include the usual bug fixes and add support for new cameras including the Fujifilm X-T1, Nikon D4S, and the DJI Phantom for you quadcopter jockeys. As usual, the update also adds more Camera Matching color profiles and Lens Profiles. For more details, go to:

Lightroom Mobile for iPad

Stealing the show from the Lightroom 5.4 and Camera Raw 8.4 updates is the introduction of Lightroom Mobile. The feature list has been publicized widely, but digging a little deeper reveals certain benefits and limitations of the real world Lightroom Mobile workflow. I’m writing an article about those, but until that gets done here’s a brief overview.

Lightroom Mobile

The initial release of Lightroom Mobile works best as a way to let you use an iPad to apply Pick/Reject flags and make basic edits to images synced over the Internet from a collection in Lightroom 5.4 or later on your computer. Lightroom Mobile provides raw editing, and that alone sets Lightroom Mobile apart from most iPad image editors. Lightroom Mobile doesn’t sync raw files to your iPad; it syncs Smart Previews which is a very good thing because Smart Previews use less storage space on your iPad and take less time to sync images over the Internet while still enabling edits to raw data.

At this time, Lightroom Mobile is not set up to import raw images directly from a camera to an iPad, even though that’s what many would expect. Also, you can’t currently use star ratings or apply keywords or other metadata. Tom Hogarty of Adobe explains the app’s initial feature set in the Lightroom Journal blog post The Field Triage Opportunity for Lightroom Mobile. It’s clear that we are to think of Lightroom Mobile as version 1.0, and to expect more in the future. If you account for that, what Lightroom Mobile does do right now is a good start.

As an introduction, I like Richard Curtis’s Lightroom Mobile Deep Dive. This is the article where I learned that when you sync through Lightroom Mobile, you can view and present all of those images in your web browser by signing into Creative Cloud at lightroom.adobe.com. Having all synced images viewable over the Web has workflow advantages and security implications that are worth reflecting on.

Lightroom Mobile is free to download and install, but to sync with Lightroom on the desktop you need a Creative Cloud subscription. Also, for now it’s available only for iPad on iOS 7 (iPhone is next). These requirements have disappointed some users. Personally, I’m happy that Lightroom Mobile runs great on my old iPad 2.

Again, I’ll expand on some of these topics in future articles.

New features in Camera Raw 8.4

The Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 blog post I linked above describes new features for Camera Raw including:

  • Before/After preview feature. This replaces the Preview checkbox, and works sort of like the Before/After feature in Lightroom.
  • Pet-Eye Correction. No joke…when the eyes of dogs, cats, and other animals are blown out in flash photos, they require different correction than red-eye in humans. This new feature lets you quickly simulate dark animal eyes, and includes an option for creating movable catchlights in the eyes.
  • Shortcuts for resetting Develop sliders. And new options for selecting all or no checkboxes when synchronizing settings.
  • Fill Image option for the Radial Filter. This makes the Radial Filter area cover the entire image area, which is useful if you prefer to create image vignettes with the Radial Filter instead of using Post Crop Vignetting.
  • Shortcut for aspect ratio toggle between horizontal and vertical for the Crop Tool or Straighten tool. Simply press the X key, as in Lightroom.
  • Built-in lens profile indicator. If Camera Raw automatically applies a metadata-based or built-in lens profile to the image, the Profile panel now indicates this.

Metadata (built-in) lens profile in Adobe Camera Raw 8.4

A metadata-based lens profile is not the same as the lens profiles that Camera Raw and Lightroom use to compensate for lens defects visible in images from the camera. You may see the built-in lens profile indicator appear for raw files from some compact cameras, because it is so difficult to built a compact lens that is fast, sharp, and undistorted while remaining affordable. Some camera makers have realized that if they allow for more lens distortion and chromatic aberration, they can push harder toward the other lens design goals while reducing size and cost. You don’t normally see the extreme distortion because the camera automatically compensates internally when you shoot JPEG, and if the camera comes with raw conversion software its software applies the correction too. But this means a truly raw image from such a lens would look severely distorted compared to a JPEG from the camera, and for this reason Camera Raw always applies a metadata-based profile to it. If you then make changes in the Lens Correction tab, that is an additional stage of lens correction. You have no control over whether Camera Raw applies a metadata-based profile.

Camera Raw vs. Lightroom feature parity

Should Lightroom users be concerned that Lightroom 5.4 doesn’t have new features? No, because some of the new features in Camera Raw 8.4 appeared in Lightroom first, such as the Before/After view and pressing the X key to swap the crop aspect ratio. Adobe continues to add features to Camera Raw to bring it closer to Lightroom, as I wrote about in my article Camera Raw 8.2 vs Lightroom 5.2: Latest Releases Shift the Balance.

But Camera Raw 8.4 also has some new features Lightroom doesn’t have yet, such as the metadata-based lens profile indicator and the Fill Image option for the Radial Fill filter.

These differences aren’t just academic. Many people ask whether they should build their workflow around Lightroom or Camera Raw, and knowing the differences helps clarify the decision.

Compatibility

Important: At the time this article was published there was a problem with Camera Raw 8.4 and Bridge CS6. If you run into this, manually install the build of Camera Raw 8.4 provided by the link in the Adobe tech note Camera Raw 8.4: no metadata or Camera Raw edit in Bridge CS6.

Camera Raw 8.4 is available for both Photoshop CC and Photoshop CS6 (as well as Adobe Bridge CS6 and CC). Consistent with current Adobe policy, Photoshop and Bridge CS6 get Camera Raw 8.4 bug fixes and support for new cameras, but not the new features.

Creative Cloud updater showing Camera Raw 8.3 update

As announced earlier, Camera Raw and DNG Converter now require OS X 10.7 or Windows 7. If you have an earlier operating system you can go only as high as Camera Raw 8.3.

If you’ve been using the Release Candidate (RC) versions of Camera Raw that were released by Adobe Labs earlier for public testing, you should install these final versions because there have been some changes from the RC versions.

How to get the updates

To update Camera Raw from Photoshop, start Photoshop and choose Help > Updates.

To update Lightroom, start Lightroom, choose Help > Updates, download the installer, and run the installer.

or:

To update both Camera Raw and Lightroom through Adobe Creative Cloud: Start Adobe Creative Cloud if it isn’t running, and it should indicate that an update is available for Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom.

You can also download standalone installers for Lightroom 5.4 and DNG Converter 7.4 from the Adobe Product Updates page.

Lightroom updater

Typekit iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

Uncertainty about how much Adobe Creative Cloud depends on Internet connectivity makes some users wary of signing up. We already know that annual subscribers can run Creative Cloud applications for 99 days in offline mode before having to revalidate the license online (30 days for monthly subscribers).

But I started to wonder how that works with Typekit fonts. Access to the Typekit font library is a valuable Creative Cloud feature because you can sync any of thousands of TypeKit fonts to your desktop and use them in any application (they’re not just web fonts). Of course, you can’t simply copy the fonts to just any computer and use them; because Typekit fonts must be validated by the Creative Cloud servers they work only for licensed Creative Cloud users.

Which leads to this question: If you synced Typekit fonts from Creative Cloud to your desktop, and you need to edit documents that use Typekit fonts when no Internet connection is available, do you still get to use those fonts or do they disappear along with the Internet? This is a big question because losing access to fonts can make it impossible to edit design-intensive documents.

Fortunately, the answer is the one we want to hear: Typekit fonts you’ve already synced to your computer will continue to work even if you don’t have an Internet connection. When you’re offline, Typekit fonts are kept accessible by the Creative Cloud desktop application; that’s the software you use to install and validate Adobe Creative Cloud tools and services such as applications and fonts.

Creative Cloud desktop application and TypeKit

I originally thought Typekit fonts didn’t work without the Internet, but later realized that was only because I had quit the Creative Cloud application. (I have a habit of shutting down processes such as Creative Cloud and Dropbox when I don’t need them.) But as long as the Creative Cloud desktop application is running, your Typekit fonts will continue to be available in your applications whether you are online or offline.

As with Creative Cloud applications, you’ll have offline access to Typekit fonts as long as you were signed into your Creative Cloud account the last time you were online. But a key difference is that Creative Cloud applications will work just fine when the Creative Cloud desktop app is not running whereas Typekit fonts will not. Even when you have an Internet connection, you still need to run the Creative Cloud desktop app to keep Typekit fonts active.

Possible resource issues

Running the Creative Cloud application all the time may be an issue for those concerned about battery life and keeping CPU cycles available. Some users report that Creative Cloud sometimes consumes more CPU power than expected when idle; and on OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Creative Cloud is sometimes listed as an Application Using Significant Energy under the battery icon in the menu bar.

Creative Cloud using significant energy

Those observations have caused some to quit Creative Cloud when not using Creative Cloud applications. But if you want to be able to use Typekit fonts in your documents, for now you must let the Creative Cloud application continue to run. Adobe regularly updates the Creative Cloud desktop application and may be able to improve its power management over time.

Photoshop CC iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

(Updated April 7, 2014)

Want a non-subscription license for Photoshop or any other CS6 software? Better get it now.

As Adobe has continued to advance their transition from traditional perpetual licenses (pay once per major upgrade) to Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions (monthly payment for more frequent enhancements), users who don’t want a subscription wonder how long they can continue to buy perpetual license versions of Adobe Creative Suite 6 software.

Adobe has previously stated that CS6 will be sold “indefinitely,” which in the short term means CS6 is still available, but in the long term that won’t mean forever. Somewhere between “indefinitely” and “forever” is an end date. While Adobe has not announced an exact end date, statements Adobe made in their Q1 FY2014 earnings conference call on March 18, 2014 indicate that “indefinitely” will soon mean “no” for channel sales outlets.

During the conference call, Mark Garrett, Adobe Executive Vice President and CFO, said “As a result of Creative Cloud success across teams and enterprises, we will soon end general availability of CS6 perpetual licensing in the channel. This decision is consistent with our comments last December when we stated we expected no material revenue from perpetual licensing of CS6 in the second half of fiscal 2014.” Mr. Garrett also said “Looking to the second half of the year, in the coming months we are planning a major launch of our Creative products and the removal of legacy CS6 products from the channel.” (The Adobe fiscal year ends on November 30.)

After this article was first published, an Adobe PR representative reached out to clarify that the above statements don’t affect direct sales to individuals or education, only software in the reseller channel. More details are in this official statement:

“Adobe will no longer sell Creative Suite 6 via the Cumulative Licensing Program (CLP) and Transactional Licensing Program (TLP). This change will be applicable across the commercial segment worldwide, as well as the government segment (with the exception of Japan); there is no change for education customers. Note that CS6 products will remain available for individual purchase via electronic download on Adobe.com, as well as via licensing for education customers. Acrobat and other Adobe products sold via CLP and TLP will remain available.”

Even though CS6 will continue to be sold to individuals and education, concerns may arise about how long that will continue to be true given that CS6 channel availability will already be limited later this year. For now, if you want to make an individual purchase of CS6 software, you can still find it at Amazon, Apple, and other direct (not channel) or educational sales outlets. On the Adobe website the page for buying CS6 software is not easy to find, so here’s a direct link for the entire suite, individual products, full versions, and upgrade pricing:

Creative Suite 6 software for sale on Adobe.com

Photoshop CS6 available for purchase

Photoshop CS6 still available for purchase at the time I wrote this article

If you’re a Creative Cloud user, the last part of Mr. Garrett’s statement indicates that a “major launch of our Creative products” is in the cards for the second half of 2014, so that sounds like something to look forward to.

You can read the complete Adobe Q1 FY2014 Earnings Call Script (PDF) at the Adobe Investor Relations website. You can also read the transcripts of both the presentation and the Adobe Q&A session that followed, at Morningstar.

Among other tidbits from the conference call was Mr. Garrett’s news that “…Q1 reported Creative revenue from subscriptions and ETLAs [Enterprise Term License Agreements] exceeded reported revenue from perpetual licensing for the first time.”

It’s unclear to me whether the timeline for removing perpetual licenses from availability applies to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. While Lightroom is included in Adobe Creative Cloud, it never used the Creative Suite 6 branding and is also still offered as a perpetual license. Adobe has not announced any plans to convert their entry-level Elements line to a subscription model, and if they consider Lightroom to be in the same general category they might decide to continue offering a perpetual-license version of Lightroom as an entry point to Adobe software. On that we’ll have to wait and see.

Photoshop CC iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

If you use Photoshop CC on a Mac and it crashes when using GPU-assisted features like Smart Sharpen, you may need to turn off OpenCL support in Photoshop until the problem is fixed. Reports point to a possible bug in the Apple graphics driver for AMD/ATI GPUs in OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks. (Which means this crash may only apply to you if your Mac has that type of GPU in that version of OS X.)

The official Adobe help page for this issue walks you through the steps to disable OpenCL support in Photoshop:

Photoshop Help / Crash | Smart Sharpen

Here’s a picture of the option, since the Adobe help page doesn’t include one (click to enlarge):

Use OpenCL preference in Adobe Photoshop CC

It appears that a fix will need to come from Apple in a future OS X update.

This bug has also been discussed in posts in the Adobe Community forum for Photoshop (such as Crashes with PS CC on Mac OS 10.9.2), and on the Mac Performance Guide blog (2013 Mac Pro: Photoshop CC Filter Crashes Appear to be Due to Apple Graphics Drivers). The MPG article also refers to OS X 10.9.2 issues with with some external monitors such as the NEC PA series; I’ve also seen these problems.

Photoshop CC iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

If you thought the recent Adobe Photoshop CC 14.2 update seemed a little glitchy in some areas, you were right. Adobe has released Photoshop CC 14.2.1 with fixes that mostly address issues with the new features introduced in 14.2, such as Linked Smart Objects, Scripted Pattern Fills, and 3D printing. There are also fixes for older features like Generator and the some of the selection tools, and a stability fix for the Camera Shake Reduction filter when running on the 2013 Mac Pro (the cylinder).

For the full list of changes, see the Photoshop update post on Jeff Tranberry’s blog:

Photoshop 14.2.1 Update (2/18/2014)

How to get the update

To update from Photoshop, start Photoshop CC and choose Help > Updates.

or:

To update through Adobe Creative Cloud: Start Adobe Creative Cloud if it isn’t running, and it should indicate that an update is available for Adobe Photoshop CC.

Photoshop CC iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

Adobe Photoshop CC 14.2 is an update not to be ignored, especially if you use it on a Mac. You’ll get it either for the features or for the performance. The new features include Perspective Warp, linked Smart Objects, and 3D printing support. Performance enhancements include initial support for the GPU in the 2013 Mac Pro, and a fix that prevents OS X App Nap from slowing down Photoshop when it’s in the background.

This article covers some of the highlights from my point of view. For a link to several informative Adobe articles with videos, to learn how Adobe is resetting the clock on the trial version, and to learn how to get the update, skip down to the end of this post.

Adobe Illustrator CC and Adobe InDesign CC also received updates today.

Perspective Warp

Already demonstrated by Adobe in a “sneak peek” without being tied to a specific future version, Perspective Warp is officially part of Photoshop CC 14.2. Photoshop already has several ways to handle perspective. For many years people simulated perspective using the Crop tool to create a crude 2D warp. More recently, the Lens Correction filter lets you alter perspective of an entire image. But where the point of Lens Correction is to compensate for unwanted distortion, Perspective Warp is more of a creative tool that you can use to alter the perspective of parts of an image instead of the whole thing while keeping it believable. For example, it you want to composite two images in one document but their perspectives are different, you could use Perspective Warp to make the perspective of both images consistent. Here’s an Adobe video demonstrating Perspective Warp.

Linked Smart Objects

While Smart Objects bring a lot of power and flexibility to image editing, there’s always been the potential to use them for the types of documents you can build with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign, where imported content can be linked (to a file outside the document) instead of embedded in the document, and that content is easily replaced by pointing the link to a different file on disk. But up until now that potential has not been realized because Smart Objects could only be embedded.

The new File > Place Linked command in Photoshop 14.2 changes all that. Using that command adds the content to a Photoshop document as a linked Smart Object. It has the usual attributes of a Smart Object, but it lives outside the Photoshop file and is easy to manage. There is no Links panel as you would find in InDesign or Illustrator, but  the Layers panel now displays the status of linked Smart Objects. When a linked Smart Object layer is selected, the Properties panel gives you information about that object along with options for managing it, including a Reveal command so you can find the file on the desktop, update the content if the disk file has been modified, and replace the contents with a different file.

There are those who may wish for a full Links panel, but I can understand why Adobe didn’t add one. A Photoshop document is only one page, so typically there are relatively few Smart Objects to manage. Illustrator can have multiple artboards and InDesign can have up to hundreds of pages, so a full Links panel for those two applications makes more sense because many more objects are likely to be imported into them.

If you use a lot of Smart Objects, linked Smart Objects could potentially reduce the size of a Photoshop file by a significant amount compared to embedded Smart Objects. Photoshop templates that use placeholders are going to be a lot easier to work with now. In addition, if you manage photos or other files using LIghtroom or Bridge and place them as linked Smart Objects in Photoshop, when you edit those files outside of Photoshop (e.g., in Lightroom) you will now find it much easier to update them inside a Photoshop document. That’s a big reason that Linked Smart Objects is my favorite new feature in Photoshop 14.2.

3D printing support

I don’t do much with 3D but another major feature in Photoshop 14.2 is the introduction of support for 3D printing. If you bring 3D models into Photoshop to touch them up, you can print them to devices such as the MakerBot Replicator or to the Shapeways printing service. Adobe talks about it in more detail in the following article.

Photoshop CC Gets Physical: 3D Printing in Just One Click

Mac Pro (2013) support and OS X performance optimization

Adobe claims that Photoshop CC 14.2 supports the powerful GPUs in that mysterious black cylinder, the 2013 Mac Pro. Before you get too excited, read the fine print in Jeff Tranberry’s article (Photoshop CC 14.2 Update). Photoshop 14.2 can fully use one of the two FirePro GPUs in the Mac Pro, but not both (yet). Note that not everything in Photoshop lends itself to GPU acceleration, and some operations can be accelerated more than others. Adobe points out that even just one of the Mac Pro GPUs is more powerful than the GPU in any other Mac. (Similarly, while Adobe Premiere Pro CC now supports both 2013 Mac Pro GPUs for rendering, it doesn’t yet support both for previewing.)

Another performance optimization in Photoshop 14.2 has to do with OS X App Nap, a technology that tries to halt background processes to save battery life and hand over more resources to a foreground application. Unfortunately, as reported by Mac Performance Guide, App Nap was slowing down Photoshop when it was not in the foreground. Adobe now suppresses App Nap for Photoshop so that it runs at full speed at all times. They do not mention whether this is switchable.

Other (but not all) new features and enhancements

Adobe claims that Smart Sharpen is accelerated by supported GPUs more than it was before.

When you choose Edit > Fill, try some of the new additions to the Scripted Patterns option at the bottom of the Fill dialog box. For example, you can generate a range of trees by choosing the Tree script and playing with the settings.

Scripted fill: Tree

When I first wrote about Adobe Generator, I mentioned that there was no way to specify padding or export the entire canvas of a layer. Adobe notes that in 14.2 “Generator can export padding in image assets by using layer masks. Sounds promising, I just haven’t tried it out yet.

You now get up to 10 color samplers, the ability to edit all color samples in the Info panel at once, and a new Clear All option to remove them all at once.

Now there’s a one-click way to unlock a background layer. Just click the lock icon on it!

More details from Adobe

Adobe just published several articles about the new features in Photoshop CC 14.2. Here are links to them. The first two are the most important if you want a complete list of what’s in the update.

Introducing New Features in Photoshop CC (14.2)

Photoshop CC 14.2 Update – JDI features, Mac Pro/OS X 10.9 compatibility and notable bug fixes

How to adjust perspective in a photo (Perspective Warp)

Photoshop CC Gets Physical: 3D Printing in Just One Click

Photoshop Help / What’s New in Photoshop CC (January 2014)

How to get the update

To update from Photoshop, start Photoshop CC and choose Help > Updates.

or:

To update through Adobe Creative Cloud: Start Adobe Creative Cloud if it isn’t running, and it should indicate that an update is available for Adobe Photoshop CC.

Bonus! Trial version reset

In the Introducing New Features article by Adobe that’s linked above, Adobe mentions that they are resetting the trial period for Photoshop. This is pretty significant for those who haven’t tried Photoshop in a while. Normally, once you’ve used a trial version you can never use it again on the same computer after the trial period is up. With Photoshop 14.2, anyone can now use it for 30 days even if they had already tried it before. From the article (bold formatting is by Adobe):

We want everyone to have a chance to try out these new features, as well as other features like Adobe Generator, which was introduced last September with the release of Photoshop CC version 14.1, and those released in the first version of Photoshop CC (version 14). We are excited to announce that we are resetting the trial clock for everyone today. Even if you have previously tried Photoshop CC and your trial has expired, now you can try the latest version of Photoshop CC for an additional 30 days and test-drive these awesome new features.

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