Tuesday, February 19, 2013

PREVIEW: Topaz Labs B&W Effects 2 (DISCOUNT)

Topaz B&W Effects 2
Topaz B&W Effects 2

*** 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.


All Images from pre-release software provided by Topaz Labs

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.

What’s New


The all-new user interface allows you to quickly see a larger preview
of what your image would look like with that preset


One of my favorite features is the ability to view large previews of all effects
of a given collection in a single window to see which one looks right for your image

Here are some of the improvements/features introduced in Topaz B&W Effects v2:

  1. User Interface Design. With B&W Effects v2, we are introducing a much cleaner, more
    efficient interface to improve usability and workflow.
  2. Preset Preview. A larger, floating preview is displayed when hovering over presets.
  3. Preset QuickLook View. A full-screen, pop-up grid view that shows all the presets in a
    certain collection at the same time.
  4. Grain Enhancements. The grain algorithm has been enhanced, allowing for even
    more realistic grain creation from the true grain library.
  5. Color Filter and Sensitivity Enhancements. The strength and quality of both the
    Color Filter and Color Sensitivity have been improved.
  6. Quick Tools. Adjust contrast, brightness, adaptive exposure and more without
    having to access the full adjustment panel.
  7. Loupe. Quickly view a small portion of an image at 100% zoom.
  8. Viewing Enhancements. Easily change the main preview background color and hide
    side panels for less distraction.


Silver Efex users will appreciate the new UI


Lots of great finishing touches available

In my pre-release copy I found the performance to be quite snappy and the reliability was good (no crashes).

Sample Images

The following before and after samples were provided by Topaz using pre-release software, but all are possible using this product:


Cyanotype Collection


Warm Tone with Selective Color using Local Adjustments Features


From ordinary to extraordinary


One photo – two great looks

Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
My edit with a pre-release version

Conclusion

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:

SPECIAL OFFER

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.

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Disclosure

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.

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