Black & White: Silver Efex Pro vs. Capture NX 2


Did I use Silver Efex Pro or Capture NX 2 to convert this image to b&w? Does it matter?

Since the release of Black & White with Capture NX 2, I’ve been peppered with questions as to which application is better for black and white digital images. If you are familiar with my other reviews, you’ll know that the answer is rarely “black & white.” That being said, I’ll try to quickly take a look at the major differences in black and white digital conversion with these two applications.

First off, I should point out that Silver Efex Pro (and the upcoming SEP 2.0) are not available as native plug-ins to Nikon’s Capture NX 2. Capture NX 2 users, however, can set the Lightroom version of SEP as their “Open With” application and send it TIFF files directly from CNX2. With that out of the way, there are two things to consider when using any image editor, with or without plug-ins: Tools/Features and Workflow implications. Continue reading Black & White: Silver Efex Pro vs. Capture NX 2

Photo of the Day: Lonesome George

George Washington, Silver Efex Pro 2 version

I shot this image of Mount Rushmore in 2005 while on the Nikonians Annual Photo Adventure Trip (ANPAT). I converted this image to black and white two different ways: first, in Nikon’s Capture NX 2 with my Black and White Action Pack and Color Efex Pro 3.0. The second conversion was with a beta version of the just announced Silver Efex Pro 2.0 from Nik Software.

If you use Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop, I highly recommend using Silver Efex Pro for black and white. It’s just that powerful. But as you can see, Capture NX 2 users need not fret about the fact that SEP isn’t available for them as a native plug-in. You can do very well with Capture NX 2; even better if you have Color Efex Pro 3.0 installed.

Lonesome George, Capture NX 2-style

Photo of the Day: Mesa Arch Overlook

Overlook at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Here’s another one that I converted to black and white in Nikon’s Capture NX 2. This time, I used Color Efex Pro 3 Tonal Contrast to really get the textures in the rocks to pop out. Normally, the main attraction at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands is the arch itself. But it gets crowded there, and there are other cool spots nearby. Like right to the right of the arch. The overlook is amazing and the drop-off is stunning. I thought these rocks had great texture for a black and white image.

Photo of the Day: Garden of the Gods B&W

Kindergarten Rock, Garden of the Gods, Colorado. (Click to enlarge)

I shot this photo in 2007, and I just love the way it converts to black and white.  I used settings from my Black & White Action Pack for Capture NX 2 to do the conversion to monochrome. I used a yellow color filter to darken the sky, and Color Control Points to adjust local brightness and contrast. I finished with an ISO 100 Film Grain effect from Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 for Capture NX 2.

New Release: Black & White with Capture NX 2

Learn Black & White with Capture NX 2

I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of my newest instructional guide, Black & White with Capture NX 2. This guide will teach you how to create stunning black and white images without having to leave Capture NX 2. The workflow advantage here is extreme– you get fully non-destructive black and white effects (something you can’t do with Silver Efex Pro for Lightroom or Aperture) applied directly into your NEF images.

Dramatic Recipes for Black & White in a Non-Destructive Workflow

My step by-step instructions will show you how to create the following effects without the need for any 3rd-party plug-ins.

  • Standard Black & White Recipe
  • Standard Portrait
  • Dramatic Portrait
  • Dramatic Landscape
  • Subtle Landscape
  • Infrared Film (two styles)
  • Antique Solarization
  • High-Key Bleached Color
  • Selective Black & White Techniques

Black & White Actions for Capture NX 2 and Color Efex Pro 3

When you purchase Black & White for Capture NX 2, the file download includes a set of 46 custom actions that work in Capture NX 2. These actions include all the effects described in the eBook; 31 for Capture NX 2 (stand-alone), and 15 more for Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 for Capture NX 2. In addition to the recipe actions, you’ll also get color toning, vignette, and film grain effects.

You can download a free sample of the Black & White Action Pack (10 actions).

Black & White with Capture NX 2 is available at a 20% discount when you purchase it direct from Luminescence of Nature Press online.

Educating Photographers, One Pixel at a a Time™