Topaz B&W Effects is a plugin developed by Topaz Labs which supplements photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom by adding additional ways of creating black and white (or more correctly monochrome) images. BW Effects offers more control over the conversion to monochrome than the features built into Photoshop and similar photo editing software. It also offers a large number of preset conversions which can be used either as they are or as a starting point for further adjustments.
Based in Dallas, Texas, Topaz specializes in image editing and provides their solutions in the form of plug-ins for Photoshop and other image editors. Topaz BW Effects is one of their many plug-ins. We reviewed version 1.1.0 in combination with Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Topaz B&W Effects cannot be used as a standalone application and must be launched from within another photo editing program. It works with Photoshop, Lightroom (which we have reviewed here), Aperture, iPhoto, Paint Shop Pro, Photo Impact, Irfanview, and other applications that support Photoshop plug-ins, some of which, fortunately, are free. Other Topaz plug-ins are available for other image adjustments, noise reduction, removal of JPG artifacts, etc., and Topaz B&W Effects can be purchased as a part of a bundle which could save you some money if you need several plug-ins. A free trial is available if you want to try before you buy.
Photoshop and all other advanced image processing programs include mechanisms to convert a color image to monochrome. Only you can decide if those mechanisms suffice for you or if you could save post-processing time and get better results by using a plug-in like Topaz B&W Effects. We hope that this article will help you decide. Note that Topaz B&W Effects actually goes beyond conversion to monochrome and provides a number of creative effects, photo paper and film grain simulations that you do not find in your favorite imaging program.
Review originally published on April 13th, 2012