Friday, July 17, 2009

Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro for Lightroom &’s True B&W paper – A GREAT Combo!



When I first wrote about Nik Software’s Silver Efex, I admitted I wasn’t much of a black and white fan. However, a funny thing happened after I wrote that review – I fell in love with black and whites! I realized that the reason why I didn’t like black and whites was because most are drab looking (more like blobs in a various shades of gray). I like black’s that are deep and dark and whites that pop, and Silver Efex has allowed me to get the look that I love in a great black and white. As a result, I now find myself doing b&w’s all of the time! This of course means being able to do this from Lightroom would be ideal, so when I heard that Nik Software had released a Lightroom Plug-in for Silver Efex I was thrilled!

Here’s a quick look at the user-interface when you choose Photo | Edit In | Silver Efex Pro from Lightroom where I exported my color original:

Click to view a larger sizeLike ALL Lightroom plug-ins, a new exported file must be created with your current Lightroom adjustments to use with the plug-in. Here I chose to create a sRGB TIFF version of the file which would automatically open for editing in the stand-alone (no Photoshop required like some other plug-ins) version of Silver Efex Pro:

Click to view a larger size

If you’ve used Silver Efex Pro already then you should be happy to know it is the same great interface with a Save button replacing the Ok button. I made some of my favorite adjustments and voila - I got a great black and white image in no time without Photoshop! Okay, so now what?

Make that perfect B&W print perfect with's True Black & White Prints

If you’ve done any work with black and whites you know that getting a great black and white on the screen is one thing, but getting it to print out nicely is a whole different challenge. It’s so easy to have your once great looking black and white look horrible again after you’ve printed it out.  This is where comes in!

Head to Head Comparison: Regular Prints versus True Black & White

My wife and mother-in-law loved the results I got from Silver Efex, so they asked if I could order them a framed enlargement of this image. Since I’ve had great luck with framed images from, I uploaded a 8-bit sRGB JPEG exported from Lightroom and placed an order with them the same night I took the picture. My mother-in-law isn’t going to be the type that pixel peeps, so I decided to order her print (on the right side in the image below) as a E-Surface (regular print) and my print (on the left below) on True Black & White paper. Click to view a larger size of the image to see a better comparison of the two (and this image doesn’t do it justice compared to real life!):

Click to view a larger size

While the E-Surface print looks nice, it didn’t have quite the deep blacks and white pop that I had accomplished on screen, but the True Black & White paper did! It was fantastic! I hope you can tell the difference in the images in this article, but let me tell you that I couldn’t be more pleased with the results! I’ll never print black and white’s on regular paper again!

So how much does it cost?

Well the good news here is that it only cost me an extra dollar at the time this article was written for me to upgrade my 8.5x11 E-Surface print to a True Black & White as you can see below from my order details:

8.5x11 on True Black & White

Black Rounded Frame $20.00
White Mat $9.00
Clear Glass $6.00
Lustre Coating $1.49

8.5x11 on E-Surface

Black Rounded Frame $20.00
White Mat $9.00
Clear Glass $6.00
Lustre Coating $1.49


This was an awesome experience because I literally went from idea, to capture, to post processing, to having a framed print in my house in just 3 days! My wife and mother-in-law are thrilled, and I’m getting a great dinner tonight from them both as a sign of their appreciation! I loved the results I got from Silver Efex, but even more I loved the fact that I could print out get a killer black and white image. The frame was fantastic do, and the price is pretty hard to beat! I highly recommend both Nik & MPix for great black and white results from start to finish.

**** SEE MY NEW Silver Efex Pro 2.0 and Epson Advanced Black & White Reviews ***

Special Offers

Nik Software is offering a 15% discount off all their products when you use my discount coupon code rmartinsen. Free trial versions are also available of all of their products. Click here to learn more about Silver Efex Pro on Nik’s web site.

EXPIRED: is offering a 15% discount off all of their products when you use the coupon code ronmart3 from now until July 31st.

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Mike Hollister said...

bought the Nik suite for LR last week and used your discount code.

Thanks for all you do w/ this blog. I'm a faithful reader but I don't comment much. Just wanted to pop in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the Mpix information, it was just what I needed!
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