Testing Silver Efex Pro 2

A lot of my photo-friends are singing the praises of Nik Software’s new version 2 of Silver Efex Pro, a software that provides advanced control over conversion of color digital images into black & white or toned monochrome images.

My friends love it, they say; I’ve got to try it, they say. But I say I’m really pretty pleased with the black and white conversions and other adjustments I can do in Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop; why do I need another image processor in my work flow?  Well, I’ve tried it, and I have to say I like it. I guess I’ll be adding it to my already very crowded Applications folder.

No lengthy software review here—others do that far better than I—but below are a few of my early tests with the demo version of the software.  These are from a boat ride on the St. Joseph River in Michigan last summer.  The color images were processed a bit in Lightroom and didn’t excite me much.  The ones processed further in Silver Efex Pro 2 are much more appealing, I think.  I don’t usually add borders to my images, but that’s one of the interesting new features in version 2, so I’ve used borders here just to check them out.





Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2011 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.


About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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6 Responses to Testing Silver Efex Pro 2

  1. So, what do you see as the biggest advantage of Siver Efex’s conversion capabilities over that which comes with Photoshop (or lightroom)? Is it just the automation or does it offer something(s) that Photoshop’s conversion routine does not?

  2. Tim Messick says:

    Well, this is based on minimal study, and testing of just a dozen or 15 images, but the “structure” and “fine structure” controls seem to offer a type of adjustment not directly available in Photoshop or Lightroom, especially where “structure” can be controlled separately in the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. I don’t yet fully understand the differences between the “structure,” “fine structure,” and “soft contrast” controls, but in general I found it surprisingly quick and easy to get pleasing results. I like the way the Silver Efex adjustments (when invoked from Photoshop) appear as a new layer in the Photoshop file (even as a re-adjustable smart filter), to facilitate adding other adjustment layers with irregular-shaped masks (which I often use). That’s a somewhat vague answer; I hope I can explain myself better after some more practice and study of how the adjustments work.

  3. is this program only concentrating on turning colour pictures into black & white?

  4. Greg says:

    Can you point to some general instructions or principles on B/W conversion? In Lightroom there are all these sliders, and I’ve no idea what to do with them.

  5. Tim Messick says:

    Aswin —

    Yes, Silver Efex Pro is primarily for conversion of color to B&W. Very nice work on your blog! I think you would find Silver Efex useful. You can download it and use it in fully-functional trial mode for 15 days (and maybe longer if you leave the computer on and the software running) for free.

  6. Tim Messick says:

    Hi, Greg —

    The “Grayscale Mix” sliders in Lightroom let you assign lighter or darker values to specific colors in your B&W conversion. Want a blue sky darker? Drag the blue slider left. Want a red shirt lighter? Drag the red slider right. Play around with the dominant colors in an image to optimize the contrast. You may, for example, have reds and greens that are very distinct in a color image, but convert to the same value of gray. You can restore or enhance contrast between such colors by adjusting the grayscale mix sliders.

    Here’s one good tutorial: ( http://layersmagazine.com/black-white-lightroom.html ), and another: ( http://photo.net/learn/digital-photography-workflow/advanced-photoshop-tutorials/converting-to-black-and-white/ ).

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