Though it was many years ago, I can still remember the excitement that greeted the launch of Photoshop 3 – this was the first version to offer layers, forever changing the way we work with digital images. At the time there were even some within Adobe who regarded Photoshop as being essentially feature complete. I mean, what else could customers want Photoshop to do?

Well, quite a lot of course, as all the subsequent upgrades will testify. But today, more than 20 years and 13 major versions later (not including Elements) one can again rightfully ask, 'What more do we really need from Photoshop?' Or, to put it bluntly, 'Do I need to upgrade to CS6?' After all, Photoshop CS5 is still a very good program. But with CS5 it seemed the Photoshop team was tasked primarily with under-the-hood changes necessary to modernize the code, particularly on the Mac side. This time around they have been able to devote more resources to adding brand new features as well as simpler JDI (just do it) enhancements. So there's actually a lot that's new for photographers in CS6. Here then is a run-down of my personal Top 5 new features in Photoshop CS6. Click the links below to go straight to the different sections, or continue down this page to read the five-page article in order. 

Adaptive Wide Angle filter

For me the most compelling - if under appreciated - feature in CS6 is the brand new Adaptive Wide Angle filter. This new addition to Photoshop's filter menu makes use of embedded lens profile metadata along with puppet warp technology introduced in CS5 to enable user-controlled perspective corrections. It has been designed specifically with ultra wide-angle and fisheye lenses in mind.

This is one of those features where you perhaps didn’t realise you needed it until you start using it. Over the last few months I have been able to remaster photos that were shot with extreme wide-angle and fisheye lenses to achieve a far more natural-looking visual perspective. I have been particular impressed, however, by the filter’s ability to process composite images. In the example shown below I shot a sequence of photographs and used the Photomerge tool to create an ultra wide angle view blended composite.

The important thing to know from the start is that the technique demonstrated below won’t work with Photomerge-generated composites created in CS5 or earlier; they must be created using CS6 to allow the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter to read the required embedded lens data.

This composite was created in Photoshop CS6 from four separate exposures by going to File>Automate>Photomerge. I used the cylindrical projection method and ensured that the merged image layers were  flattened before proceeding to the next step.
Going to Filter>Adaptive Wide Angle Filter I added constraint lines to define scene elements that needed to be made straight. The filter accomplishes this task by reading the lens EXIF metadata that gets embedded at the time the photomerge is created, which is why the composite must be created using the CS6 version of Photomerge.
Here you can see the final result, in which the composite image has much less perspective distortion.

As you can see, by applying constraint lines via the filter dialog I was able to produce a perspective-corrected result. I have been well and truly won over by this new feature. I would say this is a must-have feature for any landscape/architectural photographer.