This week Adobe pulled an Apple-esque keynote presentation to show what they are doing for Creative Cloud 2014. (Ok not really - Apple knows how to do these, Adobe is working on it) There's all manner of dev stuff and mobile dev stuff but photographers really want to know what's in the update for them. Ok, follow along gentle reader, and I shall try to synopsize....First and foremost the Photography subscription is no longer a limited time offer. For $10 per month you get Lightroom and Photoshop CC. This is a great deal. Where Adobe is RAISING prices for full CC members who came from upgrades from box software GRRRR, they are doing the right thing for the folks who only need Photoshop CC and Lightroom. It's the best way to get these products, and your subscription can be active on up to two computers at a time. First up is Lightroom 5.5 and for everyone who was expecting BIG changes, keep walking, because this isn't it. It's not the Lightroom 6 that the rumour sites have been rumouring. It's a general update with support for more cameras and lenses, bug fixes and enhancements to the sync with Lightroom Mobile.
Speaking of Lightroom Mobile, the iPad version was bumped and there is now an iPhone version. Not sure how much serious work you will do on the minuscule iPhone screen but if it is how you like to show your work, it's smaller and easier to carry than an iPad. None of the really in demand functions for Lightroom Mobile have been implemented yet and with respect for the Adobe software engineers, I know those improvements are going to take some time.
If you get Lightroom through Creative Cloud, you will get your update as normal. If you are a classic Lightroom licensee you will be prompted to download and install the update. There's really nothing of enormous significance in 5.5 unless you have a brand new camera or lens that was not supported in 5.4 Hoped for fixes for the not so healing brush are still to come as is reordering of the develop sidebar to reflect how most users actually work.
Past complaints of slow rendering of previews started to go away with the advent of Lightroom Mobile and the creation of Smart Previews of pretty much everything on import, so the switching between images in the Develop module is faster than before. It still doesn't use the embedded JPEGs in the RAW files like most other culling apps do, but I do find the performance is better making Lightroom nearly useful for speed culling.
Moving on to Photoshop CC (2014), the first thing you will note is that your original Photoshop CC is still there. The new version does not overwrite the old version, you will have two separate applications. This is not as dumb as it sounds because some third party software may not work right out of the box with the 2014 builds and Adobe understands that the joy of getting a new release shouldn't be overshadowed by furious anger when your critical plugin no longer works.
And there's the rub. All your plugins will need to be reinstalled. Now you can copy the contents of the Plugins folder from Photoshop CC and paste them into the Plugins folder in Photoshop CC (2014) and they should work. Should being the operative work here. If you use the OnOne Perfect Photo Suite, you will have to reinstall or use the File | Automate command to launch the utilities from within Photoshop if you choose not to reinstall. I tried most of my plugins and things worked smoothly for me.
There are some new features in Photoshop CC (2014) The new radial blur tool allows you to take a static subject and make it look like it is spinning. The guides are easier to use. Smart objects and cataloging of smart objects have both been improved. If you are looking for that "OMG I HAVE TO UPGRADE" feature, you aren't likely to find it. The updates are nice but they are evolutionary not revolutionary. Of course I can only report on the things that Adobe took time to mention, there could be lots of other small changes that will make your editing life so much better, but I haven't found them. I'm at best an intermediate level user of Photoshop anyway, so there could be a ton of stuff I would never even notice because although I use it heavily as a photographer, I don't tap into the design aspects (aka the other 90%) except on rare occasion so for me to say "no big deal" comes wrapped in the "opinion" caveat. One thing I do like, because I use Photoshop for title pages and such is that now when you are mousing over a font, your selected text in your project gets rendered in the moused over typeface, and this is a feature that I will really benefit from. There is a downside to over 500 typefaces after all.
Updating should be transparent but Adobe's servers were getting hammered on announcement day and have been timing out. Some applications such as Adobe Muse are failing on update. Folks using the Photography bundle have not been complaining too much and if it looks like you have no connection, just quit the Creative Cloud applet and relaunch it and all should be well. Please note that you will need to accept the new terms of service (natch) and if you use tools that manage apps that want to "phone home" constantly (that is SO annoying), you will be approving or declining connections a lot at first.
As a former Master suite licensee who tended to update every new version (typically every 18 months except for the slip and slide from CS5 through CS5.5 to CS6) that I get the newest updates this simply is a benefit. Now if only Adobe wasn't increasing my price and their customer service centre in Asia wasn't staffed by such annoying and arrogant people.