Lightroom vs Silver Efex Pro 2
A project ends, another project starts. As a matter of fact, for me, the project doesn't finish, I stop it, whether it is complete or not, I decide. I have declared the Downtown Eastside Cats & Dogs project to be finished. Will I ever start it again? I don't know, but for now it's finished. So I decided to start another project to see how it will work. I'm not finalized yet, it's about the streets of Vancouver. Right now, I'm thinking about doing panoramas of the Vancouver Streets in black and whites.
In Lightroom, there are two types of people:
- The people with bazillion of presets. They download every single preset they can find.
- The Neanderthals, like me, who rarely use the presets and do almost everything by hand. I only have 7 presets on top of the presets that came standard with Lightroom which I never use. One of my preset zeros everything, it's not the defaults but the actual values of 0. I have also 4 variations of my black and white settings: Lightroom 4: Black & Whites, Round 2.
I'm not big on presets. Since this new project will be a Black and White, I got Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. It's $199.95. It's expensive but being a very special person I got it for free, almost. My kids knew about the new Black and White project so they bought it for me.
The installation and the registration was straight forward, 10 minutes later I was ready to use it. In Lightroom, select any photo, right click on it and select
Edit in... Silver Efex Pro 2. Lightroom creates a TIFF file that is passed to Silver Efex, then it loads in Silver Efex. It's quite slow, definitely not instantaneous by any standard. My computer is not a slow computer but it takes between 30 seconds to 55 seconds to load. That's the time for Lightroom to create the 16-bit TIFF file and for Silver Efex to load it.
The interface is very simple: it follows the Lightroom model, a small preview at the top left, and the various presets on the left column. The image in the middle and various settings in the right column. You can see the videos of their webinars at: <http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore/usa/index.php/webinars/archives#/advanced-architectural-retouching/0/11/0/0/0/page:1>
It's fairly simple to use but lets look at the results:
Lightroom: My Own Black and White Preset
Lightroom: My Own Black & White Version, done by hand in Lightroom
This was created with my own Black & White preset: http://www.foto-biz.com/Lightroom/Black-and-white-round-2
Silver Efex Pro 2 Variation 1
Silver Efex Pro 2 variation 1
Silver Efex Pro 2 Variation 2
Silver Efex Pro 2 variation 2
These variations are very simple using items from the various menus like Black and White films and strength. It's possible to do "better" by using their "U Points" which can compare to the adjustment brushes in Lightroom.
- Google just bought Nik Software mostly for Snapseed so they can integrate it into Google+. What will happens with the other software like silver Efex Pro 2 or HDR Efex Pro 2? Who knows. Google may sell or even integrate it into...
- The official price is US: $199.95. It's more expensive than Adobe's Lightroom 4! Actually it's possible to get it cheaper from various sources like being a student...
So back to the price, would I buy it for $200. I don't know. Even Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 is half of the price and I can do the same as Silver Efex, it's more work but then I have more control. If the price was $100 or lower, if I was be doing Black and whites on regular basis, I would buy it.