I finally had a chance to start playing with Photoshop CS 6 beta version...
I have to say I am really loving it, the smart people at Adobe have made some great improvements from CS 5. In general I am usually pretty hesitant on changing programs, I worked in Photoshop CS 2 on my personal computer (it was what I first started using) up until I CS 4. I didn't upgrade to CS 3, and the jump for CS4 to CS5, was one that I made for hesitantly. Having said that I am really looking forward to the upgrade from CS5 to CS6. Here is a list of new tools and features in CS6 that I have been really impressed with:
1. Photoshop now saves in the background while you are working on your project. I generally work in 16bit mode with large files and multiple layers (which we will get to further on the list). Needless to say Photoshop becomes a computer hog, and there have been numerous times where Photoshop and my computer had an argument and Photoshop decided to take it's ball and go home (it crashed) and I lost hours of work that I would have to go back and redo. Now with saving in the background I am less worried about losing hours of work.
2. They improved the crop tool in Photoshop. The crop tool is more like the tool in Lightroom, which is nice. But what I really like about it now is you can crop non-destructively inside Photoshop. I generally like to crop after my editing and manipulating. To keep a non-destructive workflow I would have to import my final composite into Lightroom and crop from there, this now saves me a step in my workflow.
3. You can now search for a specific layer in Photoshop. This is really nice when I am working on a illustration with 50 plus layers. You can now edit and change opacity in multiple layers at the same time.
4. In Photoshop CS 6 enables you to edit video inside the program, and add a soundtrack. I have been a little hesitant about shooting video with my cameras, because in order for me to edit it I would have to purchase another program. Not anymore, I don't think that Photoshop is going to replace Final Cut or After Effects but it gives people who are used to working in Photoshop a chance to edit their videos.
6. New Content Aware features. I like the patch tool in CS 5 however I never use it. I do all of my retouching on empty layers so there was nothing for the patch tool to sample. Now with the content aware option on the patch tool I am able to keep my normal retouching workflow and use the patch tool when needed. The content aware move tool is an interesting tool too. It will allow you to move a selection on a single layer, then fill in the area you moved with the background for you. This is a nice tool however I am not sure how often I will use it.
7. Adaptive Wide Angle Filter, I have been surprised how much I used this filter in the short time (3 days) that I have been using CS 6. This filter allows you to target and correct distortion issues in your images, and the great part is you don't loose any pixels with the filter! With the lens correction filter your image gets cropped and you loose pixel information. With the Adaptive Wide Angle filter you scale the image up inside the dialogue, so the image doesn't get cropped.
8. The new Blur Gallery. Photoshop introduces three new blur options, a Tilt shift blur, Field blur, and an Iris blur. Tilt shift is pretty self explanatory. The Iris blur does a great job in recreating Depth of Field in the program, where previously I would have to use layer mask, and depth mask to recreate Depth of Field. The Field blur is a nice tool where you can go and selectively blur your images for effects that cannot be created in camera. I will play with it and experiment but I am afraid that it might get gimmicky.
9. Improved Liquify filter. The Liquify filter is now a lot more user friendly and forgiving
10. New ACR settings. Gone are the Recovery, Fill light slider. Now you have White, Black, Shadow, Highlights sliders. That you can move in positive numbers or negative so you have greater control. In previous versions of ACR I would only use the curve just to enhance contrast, really that is all it was good for because you couldn't go into individual color channels and make corrections. Not anymore the curve in ACR 6 you can go into individual color channels this gives greater control and allows me to do the majority of color correction in ACR. I had times where I was given 100 plus images and asked to do quick edits, I could knock out most things in ACR, but I would still have to go into Photoshop to fine tune the colors, now I am able to do the same fine tuning inside ACR.
There is one last thing I want to mention is the workspace, it is more streamlined, and feels bigger than previous versions of Photoshop. The dark grey colors are pleasing on the eye and allows your images to be the focal point on the screen. There hasn't been much upgrades in the past that I have looked forward, but this time I am excited to hand over my money to Adobe.