It is easy to see how both Photoshop old timers and new Photoshop users may be confused as to which of the new Photoshop products to buy, or to upgrade to at this time.
1. Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 - The slick new all-in-one RAW image management and editing program that arguably has only one competitor, Apple Aperture, in the new non-destructive image handling arena. As evidenced by this website and many others, Lightroom has quickly become the main image handling application for a large number of digital photographers, both professional and advanced amateurs, worldwide.
Mamiya has just started packaging Photoshop Lightroom 1.0, with their medium format digital cameras and digital camera backs. Admittedly this is a US $10,000 camera but it is probably an indicator of more high end digital camera plus Photoshop Lightroom packages to come.
2. Photoshop CS3 - This newest upgrade to Photoshop CS is the standard for pixel pushing photographers and has no equal in the retouching, working in layers and generally manipulating digital images to the highest standards department.
Interestingly enough the new Adobe Camera Raw upgrade (ACR4), which only works with Photoshop CS3 (CS2 users must upgrade to CS3 first) now includes almost all of the Lightroom 1.0 Develop Module tools and some of the newest (obviously developed for Lightroom components) that are not yet available to Lightroom users. Lightroom users have to wait for the next application upgrade before they can use them.
3. Photoshop CS3 Extended - I had figured that this version was not for me, since it is primarily aimed at scientists and medical professionals (and photographers who work in those fields), but I just discovered that it has better image stacking and High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities than the regular Photoshop CS3 version, so I guess I will have to change to the Extended version so I can continue my HDR experiments.
Conclusion - Most professional photographers who now use the Photoshop CS2 application will automatically upgrade to Photoshop CS3, mainly because they can’t afford to be behind the curve. If they are interested in working with High Dynamic Range photography I recommend upgrading to the Extended version of Photoshop CS3.
For the same reason they will more than likely already have experimented with Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 and are either using it now or waiting for a newer version. It only makes sense to use a digital assets manager that is tightly integrated with your digital image editor.
New RAW image photographers who do not have either Photoshop CS or Photoshop Lightroom yet, should probably start with Photoshop Lightroom first and add Photoshop CS later when they find that they need the specialized pixel manipulating capabilities that can only be found in Photoshop CS.