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Author Topic: Nik Silver Efex Pro vs. AlienSkin Exposure 2  (Read 10201 times)
Gellman
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« on: July 02, 2009, 01:47:46 PM »
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I'm looking for a software product that simulates various film looks with digital images. Particularly B&W grainy look. Any comments on the virtues or drawbacks of the Nik or AlienSkin products are much appreciated. Is there anything else out there that I should consider?

John
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Schewe
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 02:49:56 PM »
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Quote from: ncjohnboy
Is there anything else out there that I should consider?


Uh there's this app called Photoshop...can do some pretty powerful things all on it's own if ya know how.
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2009, 06:02:41 PM »
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Half agree with Jeff, though the reasoning is somewhat different. Nik Silver Efex Pro is very nicely designed, and has very attractive grain effects. But even for those of us who do lots of black and white, it is overpriced and you need to inject some caution about simulating grain effects. Grain doesn't just vary by film brand, but also by developer, dilution, agitation method etc. So I wouldn't invest too much belief in an HP5 or TMax100 simulation. Instead focus your energy on deciding for yourself if the image looks its best, not if it's like a film you may never have used. Photoshop's b&w adjustment with the adjustment painter is a great tool.

Nik is good, just overpriced.

John
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 06:04:12 PM by johnbeardy » Logged

Gellman
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2009, 09:22:09 PM »
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Yeah, I've heard of Photoshop. I heard ya can even use it to sharpen images if ya know how. But I've always preferred an easy to use plugin thingy called PhotoKit Sharpener.

Seriously, if there are some tutorials out there for adding realistic grain effects in Photoshop without using a plugin app, please point me in the right direction.

John
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arsbbr
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2009, 11:54:47 AM »
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Quote from: Schewe
Uh there's this app called Photoshop...can do some pretty powerful things all on it's own if ya know how.

Boy how I love this presumptuous attitude  

Want to know the magic of Photoshop? It's so damn easy to record any Photokit script to an action...

(Edit: Don't want to spoil things
« Last Edit: July 03, 2009, 12:00:49 PM by arsbbr » Logged
sniper
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2009, 04:49:21 PM »
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I have to say I much prefer silver effects to photoshops for my black and whites, but it is pricy (not as pricy as photoshop though   ) I believe virtual photographer offers a grain option but I haven't tried it, and thats free.
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chez
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2009, 03:08:09 PM »
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Come on guys...is $200 really that expensive. It saves me way more time than mucking about in photoshop. $200 I have...time is much more limited.
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2009, 04:12:48 PM »
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Yes. But then I don't "muck around" in Photoshop.
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nemophoto
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2009, 02:37:42 PM »
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Back to the actual question at hand...

Both are good plug-ins, but handle files totally differently. I own both, and sometimes have created a B&W image in Alien Skin, for instance, then tweaked aspects in Silver Efex. One FYI -- I just upgraded to PS CS4, and have had more frequent crashes with the plug-in. Might just be my system, but I've experienced the same with almost all the Nik plug-ins under Vista/CS4. I actually like Alien Skin's presets a little better, but Silver Efex has some wonder abilities to locally work with brightness, details, etc. They are both excellent tools with realistic grain strcture, color response, etc. Alien Skin provides a greater array of "film" profiles. It for instance, has Polapan B&W, which was actually a wonderfully contrasty, grainy instant film (one I used on a number of commercial jobs years ago). I've used Silver Efex control points as a way to dodge and burn and bring out sharpness and details.

Here is a progression of images from which I created a B&W image from a color image in Lightroom, then tweaked it in Silver Efex.

Nemo
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2009, 02:39:18 PM »
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Quote from: nemophoto
Back to the actual question at hand...
It never deviated.
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Gellman
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 04:38:32 PM »
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First off,  thanks to everyone who has commented.

Second, I don't think suggesting that one decompile a commercially available copyrighted script to create one's own action is funny or clever. It would be stealing.

Third, I know how to convert raw files into B&W using the tools available in Photoshop, just as I am aware how to sharpen images using Photoshop's native tools. What makes add-ons valuable is their ability to simplify complex workflows that ordinarily involve several steps to give a pleasing and predictable result. PhotoKit Sharpener certainly meets this criteria in my opinion. If either Nik Silver Efex Pro or Alien Skin Exposures can make the B&W conversion process easier without sacrificing artistic control, then I am all ears to hear opinions about those products.

I really don't have a clue how to add realistic looking grain to an image, and that is what is really appealing about the marketing claims made by Silver Efex and Exposures, since both products claim to do a good job with this. If I knew how, I wouldn't have asked. Adding grain is not something I would want to do every day, but I have a customer who has requested this look, and that is why I asked. If these products can throw in high quality B&W conversion along with realistic grain, so much the better.

I would be grateful to anyone who knows how to add realistic looking grain using Photoshop's own tools, who would be willing to share their methods or point me to existing tutorials.

John
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snickgrr
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 04:44:41 PM »
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Quote from: ncjohnboy
I would be grateful to anyone who knows how to add realistic looking grain using Photoshop's own tools, who would be willing to share their methods or point me to existing tutorials.
John


75% sure this came from a post on LL.  Maybe a little too involved, maybe not, for you.

http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/How_to/n_D...ite.html?page=5
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2009, 04:59:43 PM »
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The beauty of that method is that it's 100% realistic, in that it does use the results of an actual film / deveoper / dilution / agitation / time combination etc rather than believing you're simulating a certain film. It doesn't really reflect how the visibility of grain varies in shadows, midtones and highlights of the image, but then you vary the blending mode, opacity, and the layer's blend-if settings. When working on a set of pictures, I'd also change around the grain layer so no-one sees what you're up to - rotate it, flip it horizontally and vertically. But you can use Photoshop's noise and grain filters on a mid grey layer, add similar blending mode effects, and produce equally credible results.

John
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 05:01:13 PM by johnbeardy » Logged

Schewe
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2009, 07:54:43 PM »
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Quote from: ncjohnboy
I would be grateful to anyone who knows how to add realistic looking grain using Photoshop's own tools, who would be willing to share their methods or point me to existing tutorials.


Duplicate the Background layer ad set the blend mode to Luminosity.

Target the Green channel and add noise. The amount will depend entirely on the resolution of your image. For medium rez digital capture try a noise setting of 10%. The run a .3 G Blur filter on it.

Next target the Blue channel and add noise-be sure to add more noise to the Blue channel if you want it to look like real film as film scans have the noisiest channel in Blue. Also run G Blur at .3 again...

Target the Red channel and add noise-less than the Green channel. If I used 10 for Green, I would prolly use 14 for Blue and then 6 or 7 for the Red channel. Again, a .3 G Blur.

At this point the only accurate zoom to evaluate is gonna be 100% zoom. You may want to reduce the opacity and or alter the Blend If targets. You may also want to do a touch of USM to tighten up the grain sharpness. Low'ish amount small radius.

Depending on your resolution you can make things look like really big clumpy grain (higher initial noise settings) or really tight medium format type film noise. Vary the opacity to get the amounts showing you like or actually run a noise reduction on the grain layer to further modify the noise–yeah, I know, odd to use a noise reduction on top of a noise addition but it results in somewhat more authentic looking film grain that way.

Like I said in the beginning...pretty easy to do this stuff in Photoshop...

:~)
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Gellman
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2009, 12:09:22 AM »
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Thanks Jeff. That certainly sounds doable, if not simple. If you should ever release a PhotoKit add-grain tool that is as easy to use as Sharpener, I'll gladly buy a license.
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Schewe
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« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2009, 01:16:54 AM »
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Quote from: ncjohnboy
Thanks Jeff. That certainly sounds doable, if not simple. If you should ever release a PhotoKit add-grain tool that is as easy to use as Sharpener, I'll gladly buy a license.


Ever look in the Creative Sharpener Sharpening Effects?

:~)
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Gellman
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« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2009, 09:45:36 AM »
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Son of a gun! If it was a snake, it woulda bit me.  Thx.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2009, 10:02:40 AM »
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Quote from: Schewe
Ever look in the Creative Sharpener Sharpening Effects?

:~)
Well, I never did. But i will now. Thanks for the tips, Jeff.
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
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