*** UPDATE B&W Effects 2.1 has been released. Learn what’s new. ***
When I first reviewed B&W Effects by Topaz Labs I was impressed because I wasn’t expecting it to be even close to the same quality as Silver Efex Pro 2 by Nik Software. I expected it to be a cheap imitator, but what it turned out to be was a good bargain for a product that yielded great results. While I still had a personal preference for Silver Efex Pro 2, my advice was that those on a budget could get B&W Effects and get similar results with a little extra effort.
With B&W Effects 2, Topaz Labs aims to take on Silver Efex Pro 2 head-to-head so that it will clearly be the product of choice. Of course, onOne Software has made matters even more complicated by introducing an excellent B&W product in its Perfect Photo Suite 7 (via Perfect B&W). The net result of all of this competition is that we are left with three great products, and one tough choice about which one to purchase. I’ll try to tackle that challenge in a future article, but in the meantime I’ll discuss what’s cool about B&W Effects 2.
Here are some of the improvements/features introduced in Topaz B&W Effects v2:
- User Interface Design. With B&W Effects v2, we are introducing a much cleaner, more
efficient interface to improve usability and workflow.
- Preset Preview. A larger, floating preview is displayed when hovering over presets.
- Preset QuickLook View. A full-screen, pop-up grid view that shows all the presets in a
certain collection at the same time.
- Grain Enhancements. The grain algorithm has been enhanced, allowing for even
more realistic grain creation from the true grain library.
- Color Filter and Sensitivity Enhancements. The strength and quality of both the
Color Filter and Color Sensitivity have been improved.
- Quick Tools. Adjust contrast, brightness, adaptive exposure and more without
having to access the full adjustment panel.
- Loupe. Quickly view a small portion of an image at 100% zoom.
- Viewing Enhancements. Easily change the main preview background color and hide
side panels for less distraction.
In my pre-release copy I found the performance to be quite snappy and the reliability was good (no crashes).
The following before and after samples were provided by Topaz using pre-release software, but all are possible using this product:
Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
My edit with a pre-release version
I didn’t see a histogram with zones like Silver Efex Pro 2 offers which was a little disappointing (NOTE: This has been added in B&W Effects 2.1). That issue aside, pretty much every thing else I need is available in a fast and easy to use new user interface. I was using a pre-release version of the product so we’ll have to see what shows up in the final release.
However, the final result you can get with all three products is about the same. This presents a compelling case for B&W Effects which is still the value leader of the bunch.
I’d encourage readers to try out the free trial versions of the best three B&W conversion products on the market so you can decide which is right for you. Here’s links to all three products with prices BEFORE my blog discounts:
- B&W Effects by Topaz Labs ($59.95)
- Perfect B&W by onOne Software ($99.95 Premium Edition)
- Silver Efex Pro 2 by Nik Software ($24.83 but full Nik Collection by Google required)
Click here to learn more on the Topaz Labs web site where you can order your copy of B&W Effects (with a free upgrade to version 2 when it is released). Click here (or visit my discount coupon code page) to get a discount on any or all Topaz Labs products.
Other articles you may enjoy
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:
- Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2.0 Review
- onOne Perfect Photo Suite 7 Review (Includes Perfect B&W)
- Topaz Adjust 5.0 Review
- Topaz Labs B&W Effects 1.0 Review
- Topaz Labs DeNoise 3.0 Review
- Topaz Labs InFocus Review
- Topaz Labs ReMask 3.0 Review
- Topaz Labs Star Effects Review
- Nik Collection by Google only $149 (before my blog discount) for all 6 products!
- Nik Software Owners: Get onOne Perfect Photo Suite 7 for 50% off
- REVIEW: From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man by Vincent Versace
If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. I was also provided with a review copy of this product so I could bring this information to you.