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CS3 Smart Filters revisited #1


essay by Uwe Steinmueller

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When CS3 came out we covered the new Smart Filters here. As it turned out we did not use Smart Filters a lot after that. As kind of an irony that sample we showed was in the end so convincing that we now start to use Smart Filters on most of our images.

How that? Over 6 months after we posted the article we wanted to find out what settings we used for the Day-For-Night filter. Theses filters have quite a few sliders and it would have cost us a lot of time to find the same settings (as they were the result of trial and error in the first place). But because we had the resulting TIFF file and used Smart Filters finding the settings was trivial: just re-run the Smart Filter and it shows all the original settings.

Here are the lessons we learned:

1. Smart Filters allow us to fine tune settings in a more iterative way

2. Smart Filters keep and this way document all our settings

We plan the show how we use CS3 Smart Filters with a couple of samples in this and future articles .

Sample Session

We created this initial image combining three RAW images in PhotoAcute.

Initial image from PhotoAcute

We then converted the layer into a Smart Object (SO) and used three different filters as Smart Filters on the SO layer

After using 3 Smart Filters

Here is the layer stack at that stage:

What is the benefit of using the filters as Smart Filters?

  • All settings can be re-edited

Shadow/Highlight settings

  • All the settings are documented
  • We can change the Opacity and Blending Mode of each Smart Filter later in any order (try this with normal opaque layers)

Finally we sharpened the image, tuned the tonality with some curves and applied a few dodge & burn layers.

Final image

Layer stack (close to final)


CS3 Smart Filters do no come for free:

  • More memory
  • Sometimes more disk space
  • Can be slow to edit

but for us the benefits outweigh the cost. We are now using Smart Filters more and more often. We actually also encourage 3rd party filter vendors to implement the Smart Filter interface for CS3.

Here are some of our favorite filters that we use as Smart Filters:

We plan to cover Smart Filters quite a bit more in future articles. We are sold on the concept.




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