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Author Topic: What is the best B&W conversion standalone or plug  (Read 12151 times)
Mike Arst
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« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2007, 06:26:22 PM »
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I use the Curvemeister plug-in for my b/w conversions.
I do use and admire Curvemeister (though I gotta upgrade to the latest version, which I hear is pretty slick). Curvemeister is pretty "deep" and I haven't even scratched the surface of it -- I have never used it for b&w conversions. (I'm not convinced that my printer will do an especially good job with b&w but I suppose I should keep trying.)

Thanks for mentioning this.
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Arizona
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« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2007, 04:51:31 PM »
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I wonder why he bothers having the programs available for download at all...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=159529\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Maybe for those who paid, have; the license key, but need the download after loosing it for some reason? Dunno

It is a great converter and one of my favorites. It is quick and easy to bounce around and get that crisp look.

DFx has a great B&W converter in the Special Effects section. If you start on the Default you have beau coup controls to play with or you can start on one of the many presets and tweak from there. Lots of gels to tone with and sliders to finesse it. Grain options, colored filter options for various repose as in traditions colored filters, lots more. One can learn some from the presets too as the controls show what the changes are. I like to start with the Classic preset sometimes.
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Glen
Mike Arst
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« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2007, 07:04:06 PM »
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Maybe for those who paid, have; the license key, but need the download after loosing it for some reason? Dunno
As it turns out, the programs can still be purchased for a while yet. I think you have to write to him first (there's a 'contact me' link on the site). Thanks for mentioning DFx. I assume you're referring to the plug-in at http://www.pluginz.com.

Mike
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Arizona
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« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2007, 07:31:20 PM »
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Mike I think they sell it in various places. If I recall correctly, I got it right at their website, Here. The photoshop plugin is not inexpensive but I went for it as I like to work within PS if at all possible and it has a good compliment of filters with a very good interface and controls for tweaking to fine points. I have used Nik Color efex for years and recently upgraded to V3 with them. DFx compliments Color Efex and there is very little overlap. With the filters which are similar, they seem different enough that even that is good.

Nik has three B&W converters in Color Efex and those do a great job as well.

I would slightly liken DFx to the free Virtual Photographer plugin but with 16 bit capability, a much nicer interface and way, way more filters of many types. The part I liken it to is the presets but DFx presets are much better. VP is a small plugin compared to DFx and VP will chew up your files where DFx will not do that. The good thing is one can preview it for 15 days before buying. The set of filter and the amount of control is fairly deep so I did not learn how to work everything into various places in the workflow in 15 days but it has really grown on me, a great compliment to PS and a few other plugins I find useful.
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Glen
Mike Arst
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« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2007, 07:55:24 PM »
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Thanks for the additional information. It does sound like a feature-heavy tool. It occurs to me that I'd probably need to buy another printer to go with it. :-) I don't think the R1800, with its one black cart (well, one for matte paper, one for glossy) is likely to do an especially good job with b&w. But as that's all I ever did during the time I spent years inhaling sundry darkroom fumes, I do certainly miss b&w...
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Arizona
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« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2007, 09:12:15 PM »
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But as that's all I ever did during the time I spent years inhaling sundry darkroom fumes, I do certainly miss b&w...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=159784\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Got my start there as well circa 1970, the year I got my first SLR. B&W is a good discipline. Ended up building my own B&W and Color darkroom in the mid-70s. B&W certainly lives a life of its own.
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Glen
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« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2007, 09:24:08 PM »
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Ended up building my own B&W and Color darkroom in the mid-70s.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=159794\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Glen, you're OLD! Well, actually, I started my first darkroom around the same time, age 13... ;-) I did mostly B&W but also a little Cibachrome. I last did darkroom work 10 years ago.

I'm attaching one of my artsy B&W photos from 1975, scanned from the original Tri-X neg, dust and all.
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Mike Arst
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« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2007, 09:41:45 PM »
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Got my start there as well circa 1970, the year I got my first SLR. B&W is a good discipline. Ended up building my own B&W and Color darkroom in the mid-70s. B&W certainly lives a life of its own.
Indeed it does. One reason I miss it is that lacking an inkjet printer capable of making a decent b&w print (that I know of), I have stopped seeing in black and white. I would have to reprogram my ever-shrinking brain for b&w work.

I know there are plenty of people making b&w digital prints. I don't know if they get the best possible results only if they're using specially outfitted inkjet printers. B&w prints I've seen as examples at camera stores that sell higher-end Epson and Canon printers have not been inspiring. They look like the best a person could ever get from the "utility" RC enlarging papers -- not the best that could be obtained using fiber-based papers. The inkjet papers don't ever seem to provide the punch of, say, a well made b&w print that has been selenium-toned, which is how I used to process them. (I realize that camera-store samples do not an art exhibit make...)

That said, I would love some time to see an exhibit of good b&w digital prints and see if I can learn something about how they were made. (Do people need to go to, say, a high-end Fuji printer using paper with a silver-containing emulsion before they can get that kind of b&w quality?)

The relatively new Harman inkjet paper (the matte surface) is claimed to hold some promise for b&w printing. The d-max in the matte doesn't seem all that great to me. Good for portraits in which 'punch' isn't called for, though. I do like the Harman gloss. It's hard to describe why but there's just "something" about those prints...

That aside the Harman papers don't seem to produce the rich black I was accustomed to when printing on enlarging paper. I'm about to get some printer profiling equipment. Maybe a good custom profile -- once I learn how to make a good one -- will help d-max-wise. (For now all I have is Harman's "canned" profile.)

Of the inkjet papers I've used, the strangest two displayed the best d-max. One was Epson's velvet surface 'art' paper, of all things. It lived up to Epson's claims about it: a deeper black than any other matte paper I've used (now why would that be? Why that paper?). But the surface is hard to live with and is so easy to damage (the Harman gloss, likewise). The other: Pictorico's high-gloss white film -- when I printed on it with a dye-based printer. The film provided a much deeper black than I've seen before or since in a glossy paper. I decided to live with the ultra-high gloss -- a surface I wouldn't have tolerated in the past.

Unfortunately, the interesting look (and d-max) of images printed on the Pictorico film went away when I switched from the Epson 1280 to the R1800; the film shines with dye-based ink but not with pigment-based ink. And Pictorico, now owned by Mitsubishi, has doubled the price of the film for some reason. As more and more people seem to be using pigment-based inks, I don't know who they think will be buying the film at those prices. Anyway, goodbye gloss film... :-(
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David Hufford
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« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2007, 10:09:22 PM »
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My error, sorry. I hadn't yet tried the plug-in at the point that I posted the message. I must have missed some obvious detail on the site. I'm sure that if I run the plug-in I'll get the same prompt you did (I downloaded it from www.theimagingfactory.com). Well, strange -- I wonder why he bothers having the programs available for download at all...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=159529\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

He has stopped updating them. He has not stopped selling the software. You can still purchase it on his site.
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« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2007, 10:23:32 PM »
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I'm quite bummed about The Imaging Factory. I've used several of Oscar's pluggins for years. Echoing what others have said, Convert to B&W is/was by far the easiest and most flexible B&W tool I've used. I alwyas hated channel mixer and am not fond of Lightroom's conversions. The only thing that come close to Alien Skin Exposure.

I encourage everyone who is interested, to download Convert to B&W. It's one of the best out there and won't last long. (Windows users have the best shot at longevity of the product.)
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Mike Arst
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« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2007, 10:49:19 PM »
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I encourage everyone who is interested, to download Convert to B&W. It's one of the best out there and won't last long.
Ok, that persuades me -- whether or not I have a b&w-capable inkjet printer yet. I did use a demo of the program once and it seems...deep. I could only scratch the surface of it during the demo period (I have the demo again now and I'll have another look).

At the same time I downloaded several other demo versions. There are two plug-ins having to do with white balance adjustment: White Balance and White Point. The web site was never hugely informative (it was always "under construction") about how these differ. Do you have experience with either? There are lots of ways to adjust white balance these days, but perhaps these two plug-ins offer something that other applications don't. Whoa...I was more ambitious than I realized at the time...I got ten of the things. Guess I'd better get busy...
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Mike Arst
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« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2007, 10:51:12 PM »
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(A completely off-topic 'aside' . . . this site's forums are a serious breath of fresh air, compared with that popular one whose name I won't mention, where it's a flame-fest from one end of the day to the other.)
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Arizona
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« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2007, 08:02:58 AM »
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Glen, you're OLD! Well, actually, I started my first darkroom around the same time, age 13... ;-) I did mostly B&W but also a little Cibachrome. I last did darkroom work 10 years ago.

I'm attaching one of my artsy B&W photos from 1975, scanned from the original Tri-X neg, dust and all.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=159795\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I was 16  

They had a darkroom /B&W photography course where I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I ended up spending all of my time doing that. The paper, chemicals, tri-x film and darkroom use were all free. Good times. Oh and nice artsy image. B&W teaches one how to use light, strong subjects and mood. Your image shows that.

Mike, I don't have a good dedicated B&W printer yet. You know about that technology more than I do. I have a canon 6-tank and it has one black cartridge but no grays. As far as fine detail I think it does a better job than the old silver gelatin print but my printer leaves a slight color cast, a sort of magenta to it. I know what you mean about needing a better solution for B&W.
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Glen
Mike Arst
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« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2007, 05:19:41 PM »
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Mike, I don't have a good dedicated B&W printer yet. You know about that technology more than I do.
Well, only a little -- only what I've read on-line about b&w printing. No hands-on experience with 'quadtone' or special RIPs or the like. I've had people tell me that an R800 or R1800 should be perfectly suitable for b&w but I can't imagine how it could produce a 'darkroom-quality' print (ignoring paper for a moment) without the additional grey inks. B&w samples I've seen out of the R2400 weren't all that thrilling. With its 'lesser' ink (not K-3 ink), the R1800 might be less suitable than that, even.

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As far as fine detail I think it does a better job than the old silver gelatin print but my printer leaves a slight color cast, a sort of magenta to it.
That's my recollection of b&w printing earlier-on -- always a color-cast.

I'm about to start using an X-rite profiling system. I wonder if it's possible to make a half-decent profile for b&w printing using this equipment. No idea what I'd use for a target, though.
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Neil Hunt
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2007, 06:06:38 PM »
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Hi,

I have seen Fred Miranda's plugin for B&W conversion with CS2/3 ... I was just wondering what you folks think is the best B&W conversion plug-in or standalone?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=158568\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If you want a standaone or lightroom plugin you could always try the free 30 day trial of Lightcrafts Lightzone its an annoying system hungry programme, but really does excellent B&W and using the tonemapper is great, also exceptional good if you like split toning which it does using styles.
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mkress65
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« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2007, 08:04:00 PM »
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Hi,

I have seen Fred Miranda's plugin for B&W conversion with CS2/3 ... I was just wondering what you folks think is the best B&W conversion plug-in or standalone?
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm a big fan of LightRoom, mostly b/c of its ease of use.  But I've heard very positive things about the B&W capability of [a href=\"http://www.powerretouche.com]PowerRetouche[/url]; I've got the suite, and have used some of the plugins and found them quite good, but haven't had time to play w/ B&W yet.

Matt
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