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

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 12, 2010
123
Philly, Pa
True enuff Pelao. Let it be known that LR will in fact do a great job also.
I made a 1/2 dozen presets like Daido for a student. They work great as a starting point for me and as a finished point for her. I like toning my prints and doing things the elegant way. SE is elegant. Nuff said.
 
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Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Right, in Aperture, there are all kinds of options to "brush in" contrast and burns and dodges and whatnot, but its really cumbersome and doesn't lend itself to that kind of work. Its just hard enough to get from point A to point B that, unless you have a VERY specific idea of what your point B is, you won't get to the same point B as you'll naturally get to with SEP. And even if you DO have a very specific idea of what point B is supposed to look like, you're gonna take a lot more time and effort to get there, so you're less likely to try points C and D in the meantime, before settling on point B.

-Ray
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
Very helpful posts!

So, in LR I could use local brushes, but getting between the trusses (as an example) would be a real pain. I could do a local brush with auto-mask, but I finds that often leaves a noticeable edge. Am I to understand SEP with a control point would handle between the trusses without a hard edge, and also without impacting the trusses themselves. Somehow it's more "intelligent" than the LR brush? That would be hugely helpful.

One other question I'm pondering now -- I was thinking "plug in" but find the plug-in workflow kind of a pain. Do folks use SEP as a plug-in, or as a stand-alone app? Would SEP also handle all other adjustments (global EV, brightness, etc.) that LR would handle, if it was running as stand-alone?
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Its a plug-in - you can't use it as a stand alone. And it is kind of a pain in that it creates its own TIFF file that you work on and the work on THAT file is not non-destructive and these files are huge. So you kind of have to play with it until you get it right and then save it to a jpeg so you're not stuck with a bunch of HUGE TIFF files on your drive and while you can do limited "re-editing", you can't undo anything once you've saved the file. At least in Aperture and LR - maybe you can in PS??? This was the biggest downside to me - I really had to change my workflow. At first I had serious doubts about whether I'd be willing to do this. Now its a no-brainer because my results are just a lot better than without these programs. And if I blow it somewhere along the line and really want to go back in and change something, its easy enough to open a new TIFF and start from scratch. Because I realistically never spend more than a couple of minutes on an image, only occasionally as much as five minutes or so in SEP. Sometimes Color Efex can take a bit longer because there are SO MANY options to explore!

In terms of using "brushes" and burning and dodging, SEP uses "control points" that define their general scope with a circle (that you can shrink or grow as you wish), but within that circle your adjustments basically apply to the same tone or color or same element and its rare that you find it going places you don't want it, once you get a feel for it. So, yeah, you could get "between the trusses" pretty effectively unless the trusses are the same color/darkness as the area you're trying to adjust. Its really very very effective.

-Ray
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 12, 2010
123
Philly, Pa
The control points are adjustable in size. For the truss work, I would go very small, make the adjustments and then.... adjust the size of the CP to suite the image.

SE has a dodge/burn tool for the 4 edges of the print. You can adjust each independently with size, strength and transition. You can't do just a corner with this....

That's where the CP comes. You can hit just the corners say... 20% darker.
Same applies to the vignette tool. You can use all three together if you wish. I do that a lot.

On the lower section of the interface, you have the Zone System. If you move your cursor around or put it on a Zine, it will show you what in the image is in what Zone.

The toning is great. I tone before local adjustments because Selenium increases contrast just as on paper. Then I check overall and local adjustments.

The film section has adjustable presets for many types of film. You can adjust grain size etc.i would think future updates will have editable history for any image. That's the big thing they need to do. We'll see but that would make a world of difference.
 
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snake

Veteran
Oct 4, 2011
43
Its a plug-in - you can't use it as a stand alone.
Absolutely false. Drag a jpeg or .tiff to it and see what happens. I use mine directly all the time. Check youtube and other sites for info.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Absolutely false. Drag a jpeg or .tiff to it and see what happens. I use mine directly all the time. Check youtube and other sites for info.
Well, I'll be damned! I never knew that and I've been using these programs daily for better than a year now. If you shoot jpeg, this could be pretty handy because the program saves it back to a jpeg, even if it makes a TIFF to work on. OTOH, you better be sure you make a separate copy before you drag it, because it appears to overwrite the original. if you use the different Nik programs in sequence (I'll sometimes do NR first in dfine, then to CEP, and then sometimes to Viveza for minor touch ups), you don't want to be working on a jpeg in the later iterations. So this approach has its downsides too. And if you're shooting raw, you gotta bring it into Aperture or LR first to process it, so it would be MORE cumbersome to then convert to jpeg and export just to drag it to the icon.

But, regardless, its an option, and a pretty handy one if you have a jpeg on your desktop you just want to play with. Good to be aware of at the very least. So THANK YOU for that pointer.

-Ray
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
I got smart, and although I can't test again with SEP, I downloaded Viveza to test. Those control points sure are sweet. Also, as Viveza is a lighting application, I'm trying some lighting tricks. The control points seem to have some intelligence as to how they apply the changes. In one image, I was trying to lower the brightness of someone in the background, to shift focus elsewhere. Viveza handled the reduction in brightness much better than LR. LR led to a more posterization effect, and hard drop off to the clip, Viveiza created a smoother transition. I may be able to make adjustments, but the Nik software isn't forcing me to do that. LR is.

But I really don't like the plug-in/Tiff workflow. I tinker with a lot of photos, so a lot of Tifs and "saving..." would drive me nuts.

Hmmmm....
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I didn't either but you adapt pretty quickly. When I bring in a batch of photos to Aperture, I go through and work on the one's that I want to work on, and I mark each of those with a tag, or a ranking, or a color (I'm sure there are similar methods in LR). Then I go through and work on them, with each being saved as a TIFF. Then when I'm finished with the whole batch of them, which might mean working on 5 or 10 or 15 shots, I pull them up by their tag or ranking or whatever, export them all to my desktop as full size jpegs. And then I just drag each back into the program and then delete the TIFF. That last step can take a minute or two, depending on how many I worked on. Its really quite quick and I don't even notice it anymore. Trust me, it won't seem like a burden, particularly when you see the results...

-Ray
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 12, 2010
123
Philly, Pa
Olli, I have the big box collection and you just reminded that I did.
That's an excellent collection and you can do local adjustments.
$49.99 is a steal and could keep one happy enuff not to need SE.
Thanks...
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 12, 2010
123
Philly, Pa
Man, I paid like $79.00 a while age but it's worth every penny.
I completely forgot about this. I never use presets in LR but that might change this evening.
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Jul 11, 2010
123
Ontario, Canada
Stephen
Man, I paid like $79.00 a while age but it's worth every penny.
I completely forgot about this. I never use presets in LR but that might change this evening.
This looks look a worthwhile investment.

Fora long time I didn't either use presets either, then I downloaded a few that were featured on LR Killer Tips. Overall, I think I still prefer tinkering, especially with NIK products. But there are times when a preset can be just right. Trouble is, I keep forgetting about them...

I suppose you could always start with a preset, then fine-tune in NIK...
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
I have been trying Viveza, as I cannot get another trial of SEP.

The control points are really handy, but here's something I didn't realize, unless I'm doing something wrong: the control points are not saved. That is, the edits are final. So, you add two control points, do some adjustments, save it (and Nik closes) and if you want to edit it again, you'd have to start over with the original image, correct? The control points are saved non-destructively? This is perhaps why Ray said his workflow was to make edits, create the jpg and delete the Tif (to preserve disk space), because you can't go back to make adjustments later anyway?

My workflow right now is to keep the RAW in LR, make edits, and create jpgs that I store/file/manage in iPhoto. The idea was if I wanted to make adjustments later, I'd do so in LR, but this seems like I'd have to adjust my workflow.

Not sure if this is good or bad -- I just want to make sure I'm understand the software.
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
True, you save the file you made in Nik's software and that is that - though you can take that same file and go back into any of their other plugins...but your control points, etc., will not show up...though the image you saved will be as you saved it. I do that all the time. I also save the Tiff files that I consider my "keepers" in LR along with the original DNG file.
 
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