Plug-in creates amazing black-and-white images
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Plug-in creates amazing black-and-white images


By Steve Baczewski

Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) recently released Silver Efex Pro 2 (US$199.95), updating their powerful black-and-white conversion software with impressive new features and special algorithms for finer tonal control and faster processing.

They’ve added new presets with image thumbnail previews, and now there’s a well-designed History Browser to let you compare your current image with previous states and possibly pick up from an earlier point. Emulation of classic film types has been expanded with more controls for increased accuracy.

The finishing section has been updated -- you can now add borders and endlessly adjust them until you’re content. New stylized print tones have been added, and along with Vignette and Burn Edges controls, you can effectively direct the viewer’s eye to any part of your image.

But the main refinement is a higher level of tonal control and quality. Photoshop and Lightroom have very good black-and-white conversion tools but not like Silver Efex Pro. The new algorithms target specific areas both globally and locally increasing tonal separation, giving your image more depth, and all with a remarkable ease and precision that’s truly user-friendly. The amazing U Point technology that allows you to create precision masks has been expanded with new sliders that now let you amplify black-and-white contrast or add color back into your image with the creative Selective Color slider.

Silver Efex Pro plugs into Photoshop, Lightroom, or Apple Aperture. The interface looks essentially the same. The large centered preview window can be configured to let you compare before and after views. On the left are 38 thumbnail presets of your image, which are now organized by styles: Vintage, Classic, Modern, etc.

These are excellent as a point of departure. You can also create and add your own presets or download new ones from Nik’s website, which also offers frequent webinars and teaching videos. Their Web support is exemplary.

On the right side of the image window are the goods -- an expanded, all-inclusive toolset for manipulating your grayscale images. Formerly Brightness, Contrast, and Structure (detail) were uniform controls that globally adjusted the image. This has been expanded, with subsliders that refine specific areas. Brightness can now be applied separately to highlights, midtones, and shadows, adjusting a specific tonal range with precision. The new Dynamic Brightness slider allows adjusting the overall brightness without loosing detail and blowing out the highlights and shadows.

Contrast has also been broken into finer increments with sliders that let you amplify and accentuate highlights (Amplify Whites) and shadows (Amplify Blacks) separately without clipping while preserving the midtones. The new Soft Contrast slider looks for specific tones and increases the contrast separation dynamically. The Structure sliders are all about bringing out texture and detail in an image by looking for fine lines and increasing the contrast. Now Silver Efex Pro’s Structure sliders let you separately control highlights, midtones, and shadows. And the new Fine Structure slider goes down to an even finer level to create texture without discernible artifacts. More than before, Silver Efex Pro milks an image for more tonal separation and dimensionality.

My only criticism of version 2 is that there’s a visual lag time when moving many of the tonal sliders. There’s a pause as you wait for the image in the preview window to catch up to your adjustment. Silver Efex Pro 2 is a beautifully designed, comprehensive start-to-finish, professional black-and-white laboratory with all the tools you need for global and local tonal adjustment -- download the trial version and see for yourself.

Rating: 9 out of 10

This review is brought to you courtesy of "Layers Magazine" (http://www.layersmagazine.com .

 
AAPL
$123.25
Apple Inc.
-0.99
GOOG
$548.34
Google Inc.
-6.83
MSFT
$40.97
Microsoft Corporation
-0.24
MacNews Search:
Community Search:
view counter

view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter

Appy to Have Known You - Lee Hamlet Look...
Being at 148Apps these past 2 years has been an awesome experience that has taught me a great deal, and working with such a great team has been a privilege. Thank you to Rob Rich, and to both Rob LeFebvre and Jeff Scott before him, for helping me to grow as a writer and for giving me the opportunity to write about what I love: playing innovative... | Read more »
MLB Manager 2015 (Games)
MLB Manager 2015 5.0.14 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 5.0.14 (iTunes) Description: Guide your favorite MLB franchise to glory! MLB Manager 2015, officially licensed by MLB.com and based on the award-winning Out of the Park Baseball series, is the most fun and realistic baseball game ever created for... | Read more »
Breath of Light (Games)
Breath of Light 1.0.1421 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1421 (iTunes) Description: Hold a quiet moment.Breath of Light is a meditative and beautiful puzzle game with a hypnotic soundtrack by Winterpark.BEAUTIFULInspired by modern minimalism combined with a range of meditative art styles, from Zen... | Read more »
WWE WrestleMania Tags into the App Store
Are You ready to rumble? The official WWE WrestleMania app, by World Wrestling Entertainment, is now available. Now you can get all your WrestleMania info in one place before anyone else. The app offers details on superstar signings, interactive venue maps, event schedules, WrestleMania Superstore hours, stadium information, and more. You can also... | Read more »
Bio Inc's New Expansion is Infectin...
Bio Inc., by DryGin Studios, is the real time strategy game where you infect a human body with the worst virus your evil brain can design. Recently, the game was updated to add a whole lot of new features. Now you can play the new “Lethal” difficulty, which chakllenges even hardcore players. If you aren't quite there yet you can still enjoy the “... | Read more »
The Monocular Minion is Here! Despicable...
Despicable Me: Minion Rush, by Gameloft, is introducing a new runner to the mix in their latest update. Now you can play as Carl, the prankster minion. Carl has a few new abilities to play with, including running at a higher speed from the start. Gameloft has also added Eduardo's House as a new area. You'll be able to race through the infamous El... | Read more »
Dungeon of Madness (Games)
Dungeon of Madness 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Dungeon of Madness is an action game where you rotate tiles to create our own route. Help the hero by connecting the road so he reaches hostages, then lead them out while also directing monsters into deadly traps.... | Read more »
Filters for iPhone (Photography)
Filters for iPhone 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Jump'N'Shoot Attack (Games)
Jump'N'Shoot Attack 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A mobile game for gamers! Join Louise Lightfoot, the legendary "Master of Jumping and Shooting", on her mission to save the President of Earth 4 from evil space mutants known as the Xatharr!! Collect items to boost attacks... | Read more »
Space Bounties Inc. (Games)
Space Bounties Inc. 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: SuperGameDroid: 4/5 "Satisfying futuristic RPG combat, high replay value, and a heavy dose of nostalgia make Space Bounties Inc. a worthwhile experience." SlimGamer: 9/10 "From the retro graphics to the pitch-perfect... | Read more »
All contents are Copyright 1984-2010 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.