Bridge CS4 review

17 Feb 2009
Our Rating 



Bridge CS4 is the interchange application used to browse and open items for the entire CS4 suite. This version sees ahuge increase in speed, with a range of new features to make browsing images much more straightforward.

In our tests, Bridge opened and displayed thumbnails in a folder of 200 items in about three seconds, taking a further six or so seconds to extract its scalable thumbnails from the original images. This is incredibly quick: the slight time lag occurs only on thefirst occasion on which a folder is openedinBridge. Thereafter, the operation isinstantaneous. The difference between Bridge and a cataloguing application such asPortfolio is that Bridge works with online files, rather than archived material, and so can scale thumbnails to any size on the fly.

It's this scaling of images that has beenparticularly enhanced in this version. Previously, a selected image would be displayed in a separate pane, and clicking inthat pane would produce a magnifying glass that showed a tiny area of the image, enlarged to full size. In this version, pressing the Spacebar when any image is selected blows up that image to fill the monitor, hiding all menus and other screen furniture. At this point, we're still looking at a scaled-down version of the image, although one that's larger than we've been able to see before. Now, however, clicking on the image will display a 100%, full-size view, centred around the clicked area. We can also drag the image around to view it in its entirety at actual size. This makes checking the quality of an image faster and more accurate than ever, which is a huge improvement.

If you select two or more images, then pressing the Spacebar will blow them both up to full screen - and you can use the cursor keys to switch between them. If you click to enlarge one to 100%, then using the cursor keys to switch between the images will show the same position on each image, again making comparison easy. Pressing the Spacebar again will return the view to normal.

Bridge CS4 introduces 'collections' - that is, user-defined groups of images. One way to select these is to choose them manually for inclusion in the collection; they can be located anywhere on your hard disks, of course. Once in the collection, a Review mode presents the images in carousel format, where you can use the cursor keys to rotate between them. Bridge also enables Smart Collections, which build automatically depending on user-defined criteria such as name, Exif data and label.

Bridge can now automatically generate both web galleries and PDF contact sheets, with full user control over the layout, column width, font and size, background colour, andso on. While there's still no support for printing multiple images directly from Bridge, creating an easily printable PDF file is the next best option - perhaps even better.

In line with Photoshop's enhanced 3D capabilities, Bridge can now display 3D files as true images, rather than just document icons: selecting one will display the 3D model spinning around in the Preview window.

With integration with Spotlight searches, a new List view, and the automatic collection of images for High Dynamic Range and panoramic combinations, Bridge is faster, slicker and more user-friendly than ever. Top of the list come increased speed and full-size previews, which should make every user very happy indeed.

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