How is Nik Silver Efex Pro better than Lightroom for B&W

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by wt21, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Nik is having a Black Friday sale, and I'm interested, but it's still a lot of money.

    I've seen on this site and others, people raving about Silver Efex Pro 2.

    I downloaded a trial a while ago, but it's expired and I can't seem to trial it again.

    Can someone explain to me how Silver Efex Pro 2 could help me develop better B&W than LR, especially in shooting m43?

    I know there were a lot of presets, but does Efex just render better? Does it provide tools LR doesn't? Can anyone show samples where they felt Efex did something LR couldn't, or better yet, where you tried something side-by-side with LR, and the Efex version just came out better?

    Or is it just quicker/easier to make adjustments in Efex than LR (although storage takes a hit with TIFF or PSD conversions).

    Thanks for any help/insight.
     
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  2. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Oh, how do I answer... It is extremely helpful. The new version is even better with it's history "channel" so to speak and more... There are controls points with lots of ability for finessing things, there are the choices of beautiful tones which you can customize, there are tons of presets which are often very good as stand alone choices but also so easy to embellish both in SFX Pro 2 and then in Lightroom. There are filters, there are ways to change individual color channels to enhance the different tones...and on we go. We've got a bunch of threads about it. Check out their videos. I'd say that SFX Pro2 and Color Efex 2 are tip top and worth every penny - to me. I use both early and often...and they've improved both dramatically.

    P.S. One thing you need to be sure about is your computer's capabilities regarding processing. I'm sure they have the requirements outlined on their website.
     
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  3. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Real Name:
    Antonio
    I do not know about Lightroom, but it's a much more convenient and effective conversion tool than the conversion options in Photoshop CS5. In my opinion, the program is very user friendly, and it's much easier (for me at least) to get the desired results. I resisted at first, but my only regret is not getting it sooner. I cannot recommend it enough.

    Cheers,

    Antonio
     
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  4. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
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    Amen, Antonio. For almost two years Don kept telling me to buy it and finally I did - what a difference!
     
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  5. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks for the replies!

    In LR, you can alter the color channels separately. You can the brush tool to easily raise/lower exposure, contrast, etc. BB, are you a LR user? Because ease of use compare to PS is a whole different ball game than ease of use vs. LR.
     
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  6. greyelm

    greyelm SC Top Veteran

    842
    Oct 1, 2011
    London, England
    I echo the praise for SFX and recommend it highly. However for the cash strapped there are many free presets available for LR3 which can be found by googling, they aren't as good but can speed things up a bit.
     
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  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    SF offers ease of adjustments. It's very easy to dodge & burn and do local adjustments.
    It's easier to tone an image or even get a film like effect. You have control over grain size and strength. Very easy to burn the edges and or do a vignette.

    By going into SEP with a straight line tone curve, you have more control over contrast, brightness, structure etc. think of structure as the clarity slider in LR.
    Together they provide the snap in the image.
    SE works as a plug in in PS & LR so it's non destructive to the DNG files.

    SE is worth anything you pay for it.
     
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  8. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I guess that's what I was thinking. Is it worth $200 over presets, with some local adjustments.
     
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  9. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Don, would you say it's the quality of the output from SEP, or the ease of use, or the quality BECAUSE it's so easy to use? ($200 is a lot of money for me right now, so I'm on the fence).
     
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  10. pictogramax

    pictogramax SC Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    963
    Aug 18, 2011
    Belgrade, Serbia
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  11. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    If you aren't sure of the value of Silver Efex2, download the trial version and have a good play with it. Take some favorite images and process them using SE2 until you really, really, like them.

    Then try to duplicate from your master the final images you created via SE2, but using Lightroom only. Compare results. Which are you happier with? Be sure to try a few different types of images.

    While you can do a lot in Lightroom, tuning your conversion via B&W mix (rather than a simple de-saturate), I found that I could do a heck of a lot more, and faster, in SE2. The benefit wasn't just the speed of obtaining a favorable result but SE2 allows me to tune the image in ways that I can't do in Lightroom alone.
     
  12. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks. I mentioned in my post that a while back, I did download the trial, but now that it's expired I can't "retrial" it :(

    Thanks for your notes. The control points seem to give you more control than LR brush in a localized way, albeit in a spherical coverage area.
     
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I'm not a LR user, but I think its pretty similar to Aperture in its B&W capabilities, which are pretty good. I too resisted SEP for quite a while because I was pretty happy with my B&W results in Aperture and there were some work-flow issues with SEP (or pretty much any other plug in) that I really didn't want to get into.

    And then I tried it. Now, if you've tried it, and weren't pretty impressed during the two weeks of using it, maybe its not for you. I'd say I remained skeptical for the first day I was using it, started to see its benefits the second, and by the third was pretty much fully sold on it. I processed a number of shots in Aperture and then put them aside and processed a separate bunch in SEP (after the first day of just sort of getting comfortable with how it worked). Then I went back to the images I'd processed in Aperture and did them again in SEP and reprocessed the SEP shots in Aperture. And was left with this - I could pretty much always achieve the same results in SEP that I could in Aperture and almost always could improve upon them. And most of the shots I'd originally done in SEP I could NOT replicate in Aperture and, the one's I could, it was much much much more difficult to get there and I don't believe I ever would have gotten there if I didn't have the SEP shot sitting there as a target I was trying to hit. Bottom line, I got better results with SEP and I got them much more easily than I could in Aperture on the rare occasion I could replicate the SEP results in Aperture. And that was with the first version of SEP. Since SEP2's additional tools became available, I can do far more in SEP2 than I ever could in Aperture.

    So, yeah, to me its overwhelmingly worthwhile. As much as I like Aperture as a basic processor and cataloging program, SEP2 is definitely the more valuable program to me. Color Efex too, now that they're on version 4, which is wildly more powerful than the previous version.

    If SEP is too steep, I'd give the Topaz B&W program a try. The interface and working of the program are not as much to my liking as SEP, but I've seen some incredible results from it and its a whole lot less money. But I'd say either of these plug ins will give you a better shot a great B&W results than either LR or Aperture on their own...

    -Ray
     
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  14. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks everyone. Good food for thought.
     
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  15. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    One other question -- if you have more than one Nik plug-in, do you have to move from plug-in to plug-in? Are the edits destructive? So, if you do something in SEP2 then you move to DEFINE, can you undo something you might have done in SEP2?
     
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  16. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Yes, I use LR. And yes it is worth definitely worth the money. Think about how much some of us spend on cameras and lenses... I got the complete suite or whatever it's called for a good deal and upgrade when they let me know it's time. It is lightyears ahead of presets, in my not so humble opinion. Color Efex Pro 4 is superb, as well. No regrets ever!

    Your original file will stay that way but once you move into SFX Pro 2 or Color Efex Pro 4, etc., you're going to get a new file. You can then use that file and do more to it in LR and even take it back into one of the plugins. So yes, you have to go in and out of the different plugins that you use.

    Here is a helpful page: http://www.niksoftware.com/support/usa/entry.php?view=faqs/sepanswers.shtml And I'm sure there are more good examples such as http://www.niksoftware.com/support/usa/entry.php?view=faqs. Have you checked out their videos? That should give you a good idea of how it works.
     
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  17. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf SC Top Veteran

    868
    Apr 25, 2011
    Western NC
    I use Nik plugins with Aperture. When you select one of the Nik plugins out of Aperture the plugin creates a Tiff file. When you finish with that plugin Aperture keeps that file as a Tiff. Any further edits with the Nik plugins wil change that Tiff file. In Aperture the original file is never edited directly.

    IMHO, the Nik Collective Suite for $199 is a great deal. You get Define, Viveza, Color Efex Pro 4.0, Silver Efex Pro, HDR Pro, and Shapener Pro.

    I use all of these.
     
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  18. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
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    BB
    Same with Lightroom, Duane and I, obviously, concur.:thumbup:
     
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  19. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator Moderator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Other than realistic grain and the frames, I think anything which I can do in SEP can be done in LR by someone with the LR skills to pull it off. However, I am not skilled enough with LR to replicate what I do in SEP, at least not in a reasonable amount of time, so I use SEP.
     
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  20. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Real Name:
    Kyle Krug
    I would echo what some others have said - probably worth it just for the time savings.

    Do you already have some of their other products? If not, I was going to say that with the discount, the complete package makes sense (I think $270ish). I also really love Color Efex 4, have started using their NR tool a bit and use HDR Efex Pro more than I should. Nik makes some cool stuff.
     
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