B&W Conversion Software

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by OzRay, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I really like B&W printing for certain images, but I just can't get comfortable with the conversion capabilities available in CS4 or Lightroom. I used to have a freeware plug-in for PS that I lost when my previous PC hard drive crashed and I can't remember the name and therefore can't find it again. It was great and allowed for easy and almost infinite variation on a B&W theme.

    So I'm suffering at the moment to the extent that I'm considering getting one of the pay for plug-ins and the one that keeps popping up in any search is Nik Silver Efex Pro. At $200 and with only a 15 day trial (which really isn't all that much time to decide), I'm not sure that it's the way to go. Do any of you use anything else?

    All this would be so much easier if I had a B&W sensor and could use coloured filters like in the 'old' days.


  2. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    E-P1 has built in b&w filters (Yellow, Orange, Red, Green) at thumb's reach, and they work pretty well in my book (but I ain't no pro). I would wish too for a dedicated b&w digital body without neither AA filter nor bayer matrix on the ccd, like the famed and elusive Kodak DCS760M, but it doesn't seem to be a realistic hope.
  3. alessandro

    alessandro Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 29, 2010
    Conversion capabilities of Photoshop are infinite, sort of thing it's difficult to get confortable to...
    Look for example at this method (there's also an action):
    It's interesting, but the local masking can't be easy as with Silver Efex (the best plugin around, able to work on smart objects, meaning that the B&W conversion is non-destructive and editable).
    There is also a good LR tutorial using zeroed saturation together with color balance to simulate filters without introducing posterization. (http://photoshopnews.com/stories/downloads/LRNgrayscale_STD2.mov).
    But I'd like a B&W dedicated sensor too... :wink:

    Ah! Forgot that: Lightzone has one of the best implemented color filtering interfaces: you just move the cursor on the color wheel and see the changes directly, which is much better than cursors found in other programs (photoshop, to start with). But local masking remains hard stuff compared to the Nik software system, based on fully manageable control points (I think it's their own patent).
  4. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Get Silver Effex...... you won't regret it....
  5. kilofox

    kilofox Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 2, 2010
    Western Michigan, US

    :thumbup: What he said.....
  6. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I'm quite happy with the standard tools in Lightzone for B&W conversion - the challenge this month really pushes it to the limit... and the raw file is available for download if you want to see how SilverFX or any other package will compare.


  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Nik has a free trial download.
    Twood be a good thing to do.
    If you try it, download the presets also.
    You move over them and can see the effect.
    You can make changes and save them also.
  8. Graham_of_Rainham

    Graham_of_Rainham Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 16, 2010

    Give Picasa3 a try. :2thumbs:

    Load your favorite coloured test image into it then select the "effects" tab, click on "Filtered B&W" (bottom LH corner), click on "pick a colour", then move the eye dropper around (either in the full range or the pre-set colours) and see in "real time" the way the image is converted.

    It's the closest thing I've found to slotting filters in front of an old B&W video camera and watching the image change.

    Have fun and do please show the results.
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Nik software seems to be the Photoshop of the plug-in world. I haven't found a poor recommendation yet. I just wish that it had a longer trial time. I just don't think 15 days is really enough unless you just get down and force yourself to use it for those 15 days. I tend to work in spurts/moods, rather than almost having to sit an examination. But I will try it out.

    I'd rather avoid Picassa than give Google another avenue for world domination. :biggrin:


  10. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Ray, I am the same way...I work when I want to and not otherwise...
    15 days is more than enough time...
    It will take you 15 minutes to decide you can't be without it....
  11. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    The Old Days were easier for Monochrome.


    I called Kodak regarding a Monochrome version of the KAF-18500 sensor used in the M9. If Leica wanted to do it, Kodak would oblige. About 50 CCD's would be a reasonable minimum for the run.

    One of the Engineers at Kodak remembered me from over 16 years ago. I talked to them about custom run of Infrared CCD's for the DCS200 series. They obliged on that one. They do make monochrome detectors, but they go into the very high-end Digital backs. Figure $40K for one, 40+Mpixels..
  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I've just been working with the trial version of Silver Efex Pro for about an hour and I don't think it's for me. I downloaded the Lightroom version and ironic as it seems, after trying Efex on various scenes, people, landscapes etc, I tried the Lightroom controls and, for some, reason they just fell into place and gave me better results than Efex and with more intuitive control as well. For some reason, I'd always migrated to PS when it came to B&W conversion and hadn't considered Lightroom much at all. I guess my question has been answered and I've saved myself $200, which I can put towards the next version of Lightroom.


  13. Rich M

    Rich M Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2010

    I am in agreement with you.....I used to use Silver Efex Pro exclusively. It was fine....took a while.

    I am NOWHERE near a Lightroom adept.....but I can PP shots in 5 min. Graduated filters, crops, adjustments, spot removal, sharpening....and the best part is that I now have accumulated over 50 (free) B&W presets.

    I just scroll through them and look for something I like in the live view thumbnail in the upper left corner.

    Find something....BAM.....DONE.

    Love it.......R
  14. Alan Wolf

    Alan Wolf Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2010
    Berkeley, CA
    PS RAW

    I've been really enjoying the monochrome pane in RAW; the sliders work pretty much just like you'd want, and I'm finding I do very little curve tweeking after the conversion. In PS, I used to not bother with most adjustments on the color image, used the channels to convert, then went in and got the gradations where I wanted them; with RAW, I've been getting the color to look how I want it to look, and then converting. The quality is great, and it's been fast.

    But I am also curious about Nik, and plan on giving it a try soon.
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