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02-18-2012, 05:51 PM   #1
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Comparing BW software...what do they offer?

I am interested in retouching dust and scratches on my scanned B/W negs, cropping, boosting contrast, shadow detail as well as converting my color digital images to BW.

Comparing these programs for B/W use, would any of them be better for what I need to do?

Lightroom3
Topaz
Photoshop Elements 9
Nik Silver Effects


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02-18-2012, 06:08 PM   #2
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I use LR3 and have generally been happy with the results.


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02-20-2012, 04:19 AM   #3
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Lightroom. It's where all the new features are appearing right now - very sophisticated black and white conversion (better than Photoshop), the best sharpening, decent noise reduction, good spot retouching, excellent for digging out shadow detail. Also a great library app.
02-20-2012, 09:58 AM   #4
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Nik Silver Effects is my choice. I use it as a plug-in to CS5.

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02-20-2012, 10:10 AM   #5
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You may want more than one. You're really talking about three classes of software here that are not directly comparable. PSE is a pixel editor. Lightroom is a image management solution that does non-destructive parametric editing, meaning that you aren't editing the original image, you are creating instructions (parameters) that are applied to the image when outputting it. The other two are conversion utilities that handle the simple conversion of an image, but it becomes permanent. Lightroom can do much of what the plugins can do, but they are designed to make the conversion process easy.

For touching up dust spots and other imperfections, you are going to want to use something like Photoshop, PSE, Corel Paint Shop Pro. The other stuff is better in Lightroom, with the Nik and Topaz as plugins if you choose to sue them.
02-20-2012, 10:18 AM   #6
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I have Topaz B&W effects and I am happy with it, of course I bought it when it was on sale for $30. I probably wouldn't have paid $60 for it.
02-20-2012, 12:20 PM   #7
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Nik is not destructive.

Nik is not destructive.

My workflow with Nik Silver eFex and CS5 is:

1. DNG from camera to Adobe Camera Raw and open that output in Photoshop. DNGs always remain intact as original, same as Lightroom. The Photoshop file is a new, separate file. You can always roll back any changes made to a DNG file.

2. In Photoshop, after any noise reduction or cleanup, I open Nik Silver eFex from the filter menu. When I'm finished with that process, it is output as a layer in the Photoshop file so you can turn it on or off or delete it. I typically store the .PSD file with both layers.

3. If I make a Print, resize with Perfect Resize, I flatten, change to 8 bit mode, convert to printer ICC profile, sharpen for Continous Tone and save as a JPEG. Still have the original (plus backup copies) and the PSD file.

4. If I prep for web output, I run Photoshop Image Processor (which flattens, coverts to 8 bit mode and RGB ICC) to desired resolution, typically 720 Pixels on the long axis and sharpen for Web with Pixle Genius.
02-20-2012, 12:28 PM   #8
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PS I save scan files as DNG's

Forgot to mention, I do restoration so when I scan a print or negative using Vuescan Pro, I create a DNG and use Adobe Camera Raw to make the gross corrections.

For serious cleanup, I then use Photoshop. Bless the folks who coded Content Aware. Used with the Healing Brush, Patch and Fill tools, the traditional tolls of Dust & Noise Filters, Layers and Masks and Color Replacement, you'd be surprised what is possible.


Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 02-20-2012 at 12:38 PM.
03-07-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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I'm a complete Nik Silver Efex addict. Check my Flickr for some refs.
03-13-2012, 11:05 AM   #10
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If you got one, use it, it will do more than you might suspect. Don't be afraid to mis-use the various doohickes.

Personally, I learned on Elements and like it, though now I use PS 9 or whatever the latest full gizmo thing is called. For me at this point not a huge step from Elements to full PS... though there's plenty of unexplored PS stuff I haven't even looked at.

The late model Elements/PS has a really nicely improved healing tool for spotting the scans. Though sometimes the tool is fooled.

For nearly everything else there are about a gazillion alternate methods to get similar results. One extreme I've seen and tried is to make several b&w conversion layers via channel mixer or similar, and then mask/blend these to achieve localized color conversion changes... Just as an example.

I also recommend a freebie - Virtual Photographer Welcome to optikVerve Labs - Home of virtualPhotographer which being free is a lot of fun.
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