Review: Bridge CS3

Of course, Bridge is not conceived as a complete photographic stream or as a database-style management program, although some good comparisons can be made in this regard since it includes some similar functions. On the other hand, although Bridge provides benefits to all members of the CS3 family, it is more useful for Photoshop users.

New ways to navigate

The new features of Bridge begin with its new look: the Bridge window is darker, like those used by Lightroom or Aperture in order to provide greater contrast for images. You can customize the shading of the window and, as in Bridge CS2, you can also reorder the panels and create workspace settings that configure the Bridge window according to the tasks you are going to perform, such as reviewing photos, assigning metadata, browse folders, etc.

Adobe has also added new view modes that allow you to navigate materials in different ways. For example, the new Vertical Filmstrip view displays a vertical row of image previews. New controls are also included in the lower right corner and allow you to quickly switch between your favorite views.

A new Filter panel allows you to refine the results displayed in the Bridge window. Adobe provides a wide selection of criteria that can be used to display images. Of course you can see only the photos captured or modified on a specific date or to which you have assigned a series of keywords. You can also filter the content according to its ISO value, orientation and even the aspect ratio. The criteria displayed in the Filter panel varies depending on the type of files displayed in the Content panel.

You can display up to nine images in the Bridge CS3 preview panel, which is convenient for comparing different versions of a photo. Bridge CS3 also offers a new Magnifier tool that, like the one found in Aperture, allows you to enlarge part of an image.

Import, Stacks, and Views

Bridge CS3 lets you do more than just looking at the previews; you can also use it to import images. An additional utility, called Photo Downloader, allows you to import materials directly from the camera or a reader. An impressive set of import options allow you to automatically convert imported images to DNG (Digital Negative Format) format, apply metadata, rename files, and even save copies to another folder or hard drive. You can also choose to import only some of the images from the camera or memory card. However, you won’t be able to assign keywords during import, a very useful feature that we do find in Lightroom.

Like Aperture and Lightroom, Bridge CS3 allows you to group related images into stacks, although the system used by Bridge is not as sophisticated as those found in Aperture or Lightroom: you can manually stack the photos, although you will not get Bridge to do it automatically based on a specified time interval between shots.

If a stack includes 10 or more images, Bridge CS3 adds a control on the stack that allows you to play the images at a specified speed. This is a good option for animators, but it is also useful for viewing images in a stack without having to open it first.

Adobe has also substantially improved Bridge’s slideshow mode, adding a selection of image transitions (Bridge CS2 did not include any option in this regard), and automatic pan and zoom playback using the Zoom Back And Forth checkbox. (also known as the Ken Burns effect).

Like its predecessor, Bridge CS3 offers a Tools menu that allows you to quickly send materials to various members of the CS3 family; for example, you can select a group of photos and send them to Photoshop for panorama creation or batch processing. Bridge CS3 is also the hub from which you can navigate through the Adobe Stock Photo service, to which is added Bridge Home, a new CS3 portal created by Adobe and containing links to tutorials and other content. You can also use the new Start Meeting function, which will allow you to hold conferences between a group of users.

In short, Bridge CS3 is a great improvement over the previous CS2. It’s faster and its photo import features are great. Plus, the Stacks feature and filters make managing large photo catalogs even easier. But Bridge is still just that: a bridge between CS3 applications, but not an end-to-end workflow like Aperture or Lightroom. Photoshop users, who can think of Bridge as the place to review digital content and perform some basic cataloging and process automation operations, will benefit the most.