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Thread: Nik SilverEfx Pro

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    Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Hey all, been playing around with the latest plugin from our friends at Nik Software: SilverEfx Pro for Aperture. This one does B&W conversions strictly and does them pretty well I think. However, I find it to be dog slow. I have an 8-core Mac Pro with 8GB of RAM and it takes forever to load an image. From what I have observed, the plugin is single-threaded and runs on the primary CPU that runs Aperture. If Nik wants this one to take off, they are going to have to make it multithreaded IMHO.

    Will post some samples later tonight.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Thanks, Carlos. I had seen this new app, but did not download for testing yet. It does look to offer some nice B/W renderings and grain control. Too bad about its performance in Aperture. Have you tried it in PS also? That might be where I would use it, simply to also use their Sharpener Pro app that does a great job, but there is no Aperture version yet, and even their present one is not Leopard friendly, so run it on Tiger in CS3.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    it runs pretty fast and seamless in Photoshop. i think they may have gotten me with this one... currently $149 with NAPP discount.

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    it runs pretty fast and seamless in Photoshop. i think they may have gotten me with this one... currently $149 with NAPP discount.
    Great to hear. I too was pretty impressed with what it was offering, and may have to bite the bullet for it also. While one may be able to do most of this themselves, the ease of use and accuracy of renderings from Nik are truly impressive. I also like the grain control feature.

    I have resisted this demo, but may have to succumb. It looks pretty good. (Just wish it were not so slow in Aperture, as Carlos mentions, but if it flies in PS, that will be fine.)

    LJ

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Upon testing, it is considerably faster in PSCS3 than in Aperture. 3-4x faster.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    i think (hope) they will eventually fix the glitches in Aperture.

    in the meanwhile, it's no biggie for me as i usually take my stuff into PS anyways (i have way too much invested in actions and filters to give it up for a do-all-your-processing-in-one-place program... besides, although i use Aperture for my Ricohs, i have to use the dedicated RAW convertors for my Epson and Sigma. i'm starting to get comfortable with the two process flow, bulky as it is for some.

    regarding Silver Efex. the b/w is truly unique. you've got the u-point technology along with adjustable variables for those wanting to tinker, or just absolutely stunning presets as is. the grains, in my mind, are superior to other products of this ilk. you'll love this one, LJ!

    the one think i haven't done yet but am dying to do is to see how the grain transfers to print. if it's anywhere as nice as i think it will be, then i am, indeed, sunk. (i'm one of those who still drools over film.)

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Will have to give it a try. Their other software, Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete has a B/W conversion filter, a Film Effects filter and a Film Grain filter. The problems there are that the B/W conversion is really just do-it-yourself, which is fine, but not able to easily produce specific film types. The Film Effects filter only covers color films, so it leaves out all the B/W varieties. And the Film Grain filter, though pretty decent and with lots of control, must be applied as a separate filter layer, and not contained within the controls of this newer SilverEfx set. There has been a need for a good set of B/W capabilities, and this new version seems to cover the bases nicely.

    I have tried the Film Grain filter from Color Efex onto prints, and it does work quite nicely, so if this all-in-one B/W version is close, it will be great.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Anyone compare this to the Alien Skin Exposure plug in. I've been very happy with what I'm getting from that program.

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    Hey all, been playing around with the latest plugin from our friends at Nik Software: SilverEfx Pro for Aperture. This one does B&W conversions strictly and does them pretty well I think. However, I find it to be dog slow. I have an 8-core Mac Pro with 8GB of RAM and it takes forever to load an image. From what I have observed, the plugin is single-threaded and runs on the primary CPU that runs Aperture. If Nik wants this one to take off, they are going to have to make it multithreaded IMHO.

    Will post some samples later tonight.
    Hi Carlos
    I'm confused - I downloaded it today, and was playing with it on my humble imac with 4gb RAM - it was instant. Silas had a go on his 17" MBP . . . and it was instant on that as well.

    Something is wrong somewhere!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    I'll say. I am cataloging the way you said Jono, by reference, and the images are local. Is there a setting somewhere I am not aware of? For the record, SFXPro takes 2min 35sec to open a D300 NEF file for conversion.
    Last edited by etrigan63; 29th July 2008 at 16:40.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Carlos,
    That does not seem right on the speed for SilverEfex Pro. Something else must be chewing up your processing, disk access or something else. I run a MBP that is much less powered than what Jono is running, and none of the Nik plug-ins take more than a few seconds to create the PSD version in a new window to work on. That 2min 35 seconds sounds way too slow. Even running in Rosetta, it should be faster than that. I would try shutting things down and starting again.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    HA!

    Found the problem. Somehow I had set Aperture to export via 16-bit PSD files. I set it back to 8-bit PSD and the app now flies as it should.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    Anyone compare this to the Alien Skin Exposure plug in. I've been very happy with what I'm getting from that program.
    Alien Skin is an excellent program. however, i am less than fond of the grain options and usually use it sans... Silver Efex grain is much more pleasing to my eye, adding a beautiful texture for images that are too brittlely digital for my taste and/or evening out extreme noise (i have pretty much given up using any noise-removal software as i hate the smearing of details). and the u-point technology makes burning and dodging almost obsolete which is a huge time saver (think Viveza for b/w).

    it also gives different options from Exposure so i can add new looks to my arsenal. i almost always make my files b/w so the more the merrier. guess i'm just a black and white junkie


    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    HA!

    Found the problem. Somehow I had set Aperture to export via 16-bit PSD files. I set it back to 8-bit PSD and the app now flies as it should.
    glad you got it working!

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    I just downloaded the trial and it is kind of fun. Lots of controls and cool stuff to explore. I haven't quite mastered the control point thingy though. I might have to put this on my list to buy.

    Here's a first attempt on an image pulled at random.

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Tim,
    Nice rendering. It is a pretty neat app that can do a lot. There are some differences between the interfaces for PS and Aperture, however. The PS version will allow you to "paint" your changes on the filter layer, whereas the Aperture version does not offer that feature. This may or may not matter, as one can get pretty good with the u-point technologies. I have found that for some things, being able to paint, feather and change the opacity on the PS version to give even more controls. For example, in your rendering, you could have expanded the sky control point to cover the entire sky for effect, and the come back to paint in the degree of application to soften or enhance the vignette look around the sign. One can do this with the u-point also, but I think the painting controls on a separate layer are more effective. Just a personal preference.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Thanks LJL. I use the PS version and was imagining some fine tuning like you suggest. Not being all that familiar with the control point thing (haven't used Capture NX in a long time) I wonder if you can clear something up for me. Does the control point key on one color or tonal value which can then be manipulated across the image as far as the control point is expanded, or when you expand the control point does it apply the change (increase brightness, for example) across all colors/tonal ranges? By that I mean, if I were to pick a particular shade of blue in a scene and then add a control point to it then increase the brightness of the control point, would just the blue I placed the CP on be influenced or would the entire scene be brightened?

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Thanks LJL. I use the PS version and was imagining some fine tuning like you suggest. Not being all that familiar with the control point thing (haven't used Capture NX in a long time) I wonder if you can clear something up for me. Does the control point key on one color or tonal value which can then be manipulated across the image as far as the control point is expanded, or when you expand the control point does it apply the change (increase brightness, for example) across all colors/tonal ranges? By that I mean, if I were to pick a particular shade of blue in a scene and then add a control point to it then increase the brightness of the control point, would just the blue I placed the CP on be influenced or would the entire scene be brightened?
    Tim,
    From my understanding and experience with other Nik tools, the control points work on a tonal rendering. The extent of the "reach" is controlled but the size of the area. So you can zero in on a particular tone and have that applied very locally. If you have that same tone in other parts of the image, you can expand the range, but I have found that to increase the range of the tone being selected also. Instead, I just duplicate the control point and then apply it to other areas of the image as desired. This works very nicely with lightening faces, for example. Keeping the circle of influence smaller and then applying that point to other faces as needed. Very powerful and fast.

    You can always check just how much your tonal change is being applied by simply checking the little box to show the reach extent for each point. This is also a very helpful thing, as sometimes I find that I need to come back and make the range tighter and then add another control point to better cover what I wanted. Very flexible in that regard.

    Not sure it that explanation helps.

    LJ

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    That does help. I can't seem to get it out of my head that the control point SHOULD simply influence a discrete tonal value wherever it appears within the circle, without influencing everything else. That's the way I WISH it would work. Alas, it's as you describe. A tough call then for me when deciding if it's more or less powerful than the normal selections and masks i make in PS. Simply another way of going about it which is always good to have.

    Cheers!
    Tim

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    Re: Nik SilverEfx Pro

    I agree. The u-point technology is really about tones as they move away from the selected point. I think about it more as a local change tool than a global one, though you can get a more global effect to some extent. However, as you move further away from the control point itself, there is a drop in intensity of change, as well as a broadening of the selected tone. This is quite different from a global mask where all areas of the image with that specific tone are effected. I see the u-point stuff as more local than global, and I think that is what it was designed for. However, if you couple the "painting" on a layer mask, and vary the opacity, you can do some global changes, but then select just how much of what you want effected.

    On balance, it does take some getting used to. I use it with Color Efex Pro 3.0, Viveza and even Dfine (NR tool), plus their Sharpener Pro plug-in. Each behaves a bit differently. The u-point technology is pretty powerful, and Nik uses it in different ways in each app, which requires one to think about what they are applying and how. It does become a bit addicting with respect to retouching, and that totally slows workflow, as I get tempted to tweak just one more little thing here and there on each image. Great results, but it has cratered me a few times when I realize how much time I wind up spending on the retouches that I may never have bothered with before. Bit of a two-edged sword....faster and more flexible than some other tools, but that leads to wanting to apply it more often than one may have thought about in adjustments before, thus taking more total time for all the changes.

    LJ

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