Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 Review
Mac users, we're pleased to announce Macphun's all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for purchase with special launch pricing. (Existing Macphun customers get a further discount.)
We rated Luminar as "Highly Recommended", and you can now visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
There are 9 new features in the second version of Silver Efex Pro and we've covered a couple of them already. Other new features include an intuitive history browser which is located at the top of the screen in the left corner.
Clicking it will change the preset windows for the history browser and it's here that you can go back as many steps as you like to the beginning and take a look at how it was before. This is a cool way of reducing possible over processing which is easy to do when you have so many features. To get out of the history browser, click on the box next to the one you clicked to start it up. It has a large square and two smaller ones. If you don't want the preset patterns showing, press the icon that looks like a landscape picture and this will remove them. If you're one of those people who's impatient and has buckets of cash, you no doubt own a computer that could employ the new GPU processing feature. It uses graphics chipsets instead of the CPU to process because they're so damn fast these days. The GPU processing on Silver Efex Pro 2 supports 64-bit and multi-threaded processing.
Nik have been busy developing new algorithms for the different effects you can put on the pictures. The idea is that each layer you apply to the picture will work intelligently with each other so that you don't get anything that conflicts. It's a nice idea and we're impressed that after adding layer after layer of effects, we didn't think the image looked too over processed. Saying that, we have pictures from a year ago that had “fresh approaches to editing” and they look out of date now. However, the effects applied to the pictures in here tend to purposefully make the pictures look dated, so maybe they'll escape the same fate?
There's also a selective colour mode which is a popular method used by black and white photographers which selects an area of the picture and brings the colour out in it. We found it very intelligent when selecting the areas you want to colour, but for precise colour selection, it's a lengthy process.
For the sake of the review, we chose something round to match the shape of the control points. On our test image, the areas we selected (the eyes) are small but using the loupe in the bottom corner will highlight the position of the mouse meaning you can get a precise area. It's instinctive to place the round coverage point in the centre of the eye to get an even colouring, but it doesn't work like that. The control point will analyse the colour that it lands on and adjust that colour. This means that placing it in the middle, it will selective colour the black of the pupil and leave the iris alone. Placing the point on the iris brought out the colour perfectly.
At first, the sliders on the control point only adjust brightness, contrast and structure. There's a small down arrow which will expand the options when it's clicked on. The bottom slider is the selective colour option and putting it up to 100% brings the opacity of the point down to zero. We also found that any variation in the colour will remain mono, even deeper or lighter variations of the same colour. If this happens, adding a new control point will adjust that area.
Something as intricate as an eye will need many control points so bear this in mind when choosing what colour to bring out. It's an intelligent program and interesting to use, but it's time consuming and we found that duplicating the layer in Photoshop, using the magnetic tool to select the eye and deleting it did much the same job and was a lot quicker.
There's no denying the power of Silver Efex Pro 2 and the amount of fun it could bring. Of course, it's a serious program for serious photographers but that doesn't mean that anyone couldn't make some use of it. We enjoyed the program and our only grumble was the amount of time it takes to process the picture when we pressed ok. It's not like it takes ages, it was less than a minute, but we were processing a lot of pictures in a row and it can certainly get tedious in that scenario.
There are some features that you will be able to do in any editing suite available. The main difference with Silver Efex is the ease in which you can apply the changes and the vast amount of preset monochromatic settings available. If you enjoy playing around with your pictures and you have around 200 euro to spend on a Photoshop plug-in, then this will provide hours of fun.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|