CS3 Beta Indepth – Bridge

New features, new usability and new speed sum up the present state of the beta of Bridge.
Bridge took a huge step forward yesterday with the release of the CS3 Beta version. Not only is thumbnail generation faster (yes, even in a Beta) but it has taken a huge step forward in functionality.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The New

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The Old

The user interface is even better. Fully customizable, you can create tabbed panels with components that you rarely use simultaneously, such as say keywords and metadata, in the same panel. And, as before, you can save your Workspace configuration. But now you can have three of them displayed as small icons at bottom right of the display, making switching fast and easy. Slideshow mode becomes more useful. You have various configuration options. When you play the slideshow it pauses on the first image. Pressing space starts and pauses the slideshow. With it paused you can click to zoom into the image, and then pan around. At present this has some bugs with rotated images, but makes the slideshow a great selection tool for choosing between, say, several different shots of the same scene.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The user interface is very configurable

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The new Metadata Placard displays core info in a camera display recreation

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The size of thumbnails control and the three icons for different workspace configurations

Organizing files has become easier. You can group several images together into a Stack, making the Content Panel clearer. You can drag and drop images into or out of a Stack, collapse or expand it and scrub through the images in it. The filter panel makes it easy to select within a folder, stack or selection of images, by things like orientation, creation date, shooting date, etc.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
You can preview several images at the same time

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The Loupe feature appears if you click on an image in the Preview window. This gives you a movable 100% view of a section of your image

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
You can use the scroll wheel on your mouse or tablet or the +/- keys to zoom in the loupe to up to 8x original

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
You have one loupe open per image and you can pan them around in lockstep if you want

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
With no thumbnail selected, the filter panel shows you a set of selection criteria, from the dates shot to the aspect ratio of the image

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
Stacks make it easy to group related images, such as multiple shots of the same scene.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
The Scrubber control is great as it allows you to quickly scroll through the images in a stack.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge
Adobe Photo Downloader (APD) is accessed from the File menu and can be set to automatically open when a camera or memory card is connected, or can be manually triggered

APD offers a lot of options in how the files that are imported from the camera or memory card are handled:

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta Bridge

Personally I found the new Bridge to be an impressive creature, even in Beta. The improvements, and there are others I haven’t covered here, such as improved searching, are all worthwhile ones and a significant advance over the previous version. I am impressed. I really like features, such as the Loupe, so I can make assessments of image sharpness,say, without opening the file in Photoshop. And this works even with RAW files. It is things like this, plus the ability to Preview several images, that will make CS3 Bridge a great improvement for photographers choosing which version of an image to work with or choosing between a number of shots of the same subject.

A last note: Bridge has been pretty stable so far, only crashing on exit once. Given this, I intend to use it for production work.

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