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Author Topic: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?  (Read 3904 times)

lowep

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RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« on: August 26, 2016, 04:23:36 PM »

Exploring the bewildering range of options for converting raw Sony A7II .arw files to B&W, while retaining the option to work with as much of the data captured in the raw file as possible, the two options I have available are:

1) conversion of 16bit RAW files to B&W in C1 for Sony (comes free with camera),
either using ICC profile Sony A7M2 + C1 B&W preset, or ICC profile Phase One Effects B&W.

2) conversion of 16bit RAW files to B&W as "smart objects" in Photoshop,
either converting to B&W in Camera Raw using Sony 7M2 profile or applying Nik filter in Photoshop.

Do I understand right that all these options work directly on the RAW file
and none provide the option of selecting the same profile as the Sony A7II applies in camera if B&W jpg option is selected?
In which case the significant differences apart from user interface (variety of sliders, ease of use etc) is how different companies like Phase One, Adobe and Nik choose to "tune" the presets and adjustment tools they offer?

One difference I think I see when eyeballing different treatments of an image exposed at 2000asa is C1 seems to produce less noise / smoother grain B&W than Photoshop+Nik - but maybe that is due to different dosages of coffee rather than real differences? 
« Last Edit: August 26, 2016, 05:14:20 PM by lowep »
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rdonson

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2016, 04:37:30 PM »

I don't use C1 so I can't comment on that.

Which way you go is determined by the final result you're striving for.

For many of us the workflow for B&W goes something like this:

1 - RAW conversion in ACR or Lr applying appropriate adjustments there for a great color image
2 - other tools to refine the color image (Nik, Topaz, MacPhun, etc.)
3- use a dedicated B&W tool such as Nik SilverEfex Pro or MacPhun Tonality Pro, etc. to create the final B&W

Note:  Steps 2 and 3 can be often down on layers as a smart object in PS for ultimate flexibility and tweaking

Hope this helps...
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Ron

N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2016, 05:45:37 PM »

I can't comment on PS because I have not used it in years. My previous B&W workflow was in Aperture which I have given up on. Then I tried LR and found it to be less capable than Aperture for B&W conversion. I'll explain below. I've also used Nik SilverEfex Pro but it shares some of the same limitations as LR. Currently I'm using CO Pro 9 and like it.

The limitation that LR has is that once you convert to B&W using its B&W panel with the color sliders you lose the ability to use the color HSL sliders. SilverEfex pretty much limits you to individual color filters and even though I generally like the output from SilverEfex I find this too limiting.

To explain what I'm talking about, consider a landscape with a huge chunk of blue sky and clouds. You want the blue sky to be almost black. After B&W conversion you can use your blue and cyan sliders to darken the sky in any of these programs other than SilverEfex where you would apply a blue filter. This generally works very well. But in CO and Aperture you can go into your color panel, select 'blue' and make hue, saturation and luminance changes to your blues and see how that looks in your B&W image real time. Additionally in CO you can select whichever shade of blue yo want to apply the changes to. This gives you an added level of control over your tones in the B&W image and helps you avoid that grainy, layered or posterized (?) effect when you go too far in the B&W color sliders. You can make your color changes in LR before you convert to B&W and get the same effect, I suppose, but you would not see how those changes affect the B&W image real time. It would be tedious.

Granted, this is a subtle nuance and might not be meaningful to a lot of people but in my experience it just gives you a slight edge for subtle tone control...which is a bit of a fetish for B&W photographers.

Also, the nice thing about CO is that you are doing this all on the RAW file. No need to convert to tiff or whatever for working in PS or Nik.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2016, 05:49:35 PM by N80 »
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George

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luxborealis

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2016, 08:59:46 PM »

I can't comment on PS because I have not used it in years. My previous B&W workflow was in Aperture which I have given up on. Then I tried LR and found it to be less capable than Aperture for B&W conversion. I'll explain below. I've also used Nik SilverEfex Pro but it shares some of the same limitations as LR. Currently I'm using CO Pro 9 and like it.

The limitation that LR has is that once you convert to B&W using its B&W panel with the color sliders you lose the ability to use the color HSL sliders. SilverEfex pretty much limits you to individual color filters and even though I generally like the output from SilverEfex I find this too limiting.

To explain what I'm talking about, consider a landscape with a huge chunk of blue sky and clouds. You want the blue sky to be almost black. After B&W conversion you can use your blue and cyan sliders to darken the sky in any of these programs other than SilverEfex where you would apply a blue filter. This generally works very well. But in CO and Aperture you can go into your color panel, select 'blue' and make hue, saturation and luminance changes to your blues and see how that looks in your B&W image real time. Additionally in CO you can select whichever shade of blue yo want to apply the changes to. This gives you an added level of control over your tones in the B&W image and helps you avoid that grainy, layered or posterized (?) effect when you go too far in the B&W color sliders. You can make your color changes in LR before you convert to B&W and get the same effect, I suppose, but you would not see how those changes affect the B&W image real time. It would be tedious.

Granted, this is a subtle nuance and might not be meaningful to a lot of people but in my experience it just gives you a slight edge for subtle tone control...which is a bit of a fetish for B&W photographers.

Also, the nice thing about CO is that you are doing this all on the RAW file. No need to convert to tiff or whatever for working in PS or Nik.

I do B&W regularly in LR (same as PS ACR) and have not been limited as you describe. Yes, you can drag, one at a time, each single colour slider in LR, or you can use the colour selector to select the exact "shade" you wish to change (each "shade" being a mixture of colours and hues around the dominant one).

Also, if you are shifting colour so much that graininess or posterization are happening, perhaps you need to rethink the value of the original as it was shot, perhaps even introducing on-camera filters like we up once did. Don't forget, all objects can be stretched, but they have their breaking point, too. Once colours are  stretched outside of gamut, there's not too much you can do.

Lastly, using PS in ACR mode or LR can be done directly with the raw file - no tiff required.
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Alan Klein

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2016, 01:28:20 AM »

How's Topaz vs. Silver Efex vs. LR?
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john beardsworth

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2016, 05:26:40 AM »

The limitation that LR has is that once you convert to B&W using its B&W panel with the color sliders you lose the ability to use the color HSL sliders.

Then don't use Lr's B&W panel. Instead, desaturate the colours in the Saturation panel, and then use the H and L panels. To be honest, I think it's a waste of effort though.

Lr's great advantage here is the targeted adjustment tool. Instead of guessing at colours and fiddling with sliders, you keep your eyes entirely on the picture and its changing appearance.
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BartvanderWolf

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 09:05:45 AM »

How's Topaz vs. Silver Efex vs. LR?

Topaz B&W Effects and Google Silver Efex, have roughly similar functionality that exceeds LR/ACR's capabilities, and those of C1 for that matter.

That's not too much of a surprise, since they offer dedicated controls for B/W rendering of Color originals, and none of the other distractions. Also the real-time updates of the large preview aids creativity. That's not to say that with a lot of work one wouldn't be able to achieve similar results in Photoshop, but using the plugin functionality much more convenient and targeted for the task.

Google Silver Efex Pro 2 is obviously a bargain now, as it's free. But I suppose that Topaz B&W effects will be better supported towards the future (think about OS upgrades which might break compatibility of older versions). I also think that the Topaz plugin offers better control options, but maybe I'm biased a little because I've used B&W Effects longer than the Google/NIK version.

Cheers,
Bart
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N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2016, 10:31:53 AM »

Then don't use Lr's B&W panel. Instead, desaturate the colours in the Saturation panel, and then use the H and L panels. To be honest, I think it's a waste of effort though.

I agree that it is a waste of effort. Desaturation, in my opinion, is the least desirable method for B&W conversion. This is part of my point, in LR you cannot use the Color or HSL adjustments after using the B&W sliders. If you go back to Color or HSL the image appears in color. Maybe I'm missing something. I only used LR for a year and did most of my B&W work in SilverEfex during that time.
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rdonson

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2016, 10:42:04 AM »

If you're aiming to stay out of Photoshop and you're on a Mac then MacPhun Tonality may be a great choice.  It is a very powerful, flexible tool for B&W conversions with lots of presets for a starting point, color filters to fine tune the image, masking, LAYERS, etc.  Yes, layers like you'd find in Photoshop. 

I own the Creative Kit but have no other relationship with MacPhun. 

https://macphun.com/tonality?gclid=Cj0KEQjw9IS-BRC4qZXagbLs6uMBEiQAYHBh-8uoSwhMh7CGgigTDmIdnzyRlfR6vhzAvYa5hi5rRNQaAjCp8P8HAQ

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N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2016, 10:48:55 AM »

I do B&W regularly in LR (same as PS ACR) and have not been limited as you describe.

I don't think you are following what I'm saying....or I've missed the capability you are referring to, which is possible since I've only been using LR for a year.

What I'm talking about is the tool panel with "HSL", "Color" and "B&W" (with the color sliders). You prep your image then go to the B&W panel and convert to B&W. You make your color adjustments with the color sliders. But then you need a little extra, say, to darken up the blue sky a little. You could then go to "HSL" and change the luminance of the blue but you would see that change occur in a color image, not your B&W image. This would require you to go back and forth to adjust the H, S or L or colors in your B&W image and you could never see that change in real time in the B&W image. There may be a work around that I'm not aware of. Regardless, in CO and Aperture this is seamless. In SilverEfex it is not possible.

Quote
Also, if you are shifting colour so much that graininess or posterization are happening, perhaps you need to rethink the value of the original as it was shot

Well you could say that about virtually anything you did in post processing right? Obviously you make the adjustment in post until it is just right, neither stretched too far or too little. And you can't tell how far too far is until you get there. And the capabilities I'm talking about in Aperture and CO make it easy to stretch it just as far as you want it. You might can get there in LR but it surely seems easier in CO. Again, I well may have missed something in LR but none of the tutorials, manuals, books or blogs have shown it to me.

Quote
perhaps even introducing on-camera filters like we up once did.


I'm mostly shooting digital so this is not an option. Still shooting some Pan F Plus and I pretty much keep a yellow filter on there.

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john beardsworth

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 10:51:01 AM »

I agree that it is a waste of effort. Desaturation, in my opinion, is the least desirable method for B&W conversion. This is part of my point, in LR you cannot use the Color or HSL adjustments after using the B&W sliders. If you go back to Color or HSL the image appears in color. Maybe I'm missing something. I only used LR for a year and did most of my B&W work in SilverEfex during that time.

I am not suggesting using desaturation as a good way of B&W conversion - only to say that if you really think it's a good idea to use HSL slider after your image is B&W, you can certainly do so in Lr. In that case, you would avoid the B&W panel, desaturate, and then use HSL to fine tune the conversion.

Long ago was an "approved" method of doing good B&W, but this was only because of a short-lived bug which affected the B&W panel and noise reduction.
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BartvanderWolf

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2016, 01:25:09 PM »

I agree that it is a waste of effort. Desaturation, in my opinion, is the least desirable method for B&W conversion. This is part of my point, in LR you cannot use the Color or HSL adjustments after using the B&W sliders. If you go back to Color or HSL the image appears in color. Maybe I'm missing something. I only used LR for a year and did most of my B&W work in SilverEfex during that time.

Hi,

You could reduce the Saturation in the HSL panel to zero. That will leave you a desaturated monochrome gray looking image. You can then use the Hue and Lightness controls to modify color contrast, but it's not as intuitive as with "Silver Efex" or "B&W Effects".

Cheers,
Bart
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N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2016, 02:31:30 PM »

I am not suggesting using desaturation as a good way of B&W conversion - only to say that if you really think it's a good idea to use HSL slider after your image is B&W, you can certainly do so in Lr. In that case, you would avoid the B&W panel, desaturate, and then use HSL to fine tune the conversion.

I guess I'm still not making myself clear. Sorry. I'm not talking about desaturating using the HSL slider to produce or even enhance a B&W effect. In fact I usually increase saturation for a color I'm trying to give a darker tone. What I'm talking about you cannot do in LR (unless I'm missing something). Again: Convert to B&W using the B&W panel with sliders. Then use HSL to fine tune a tone in the B&W image, real time, where you see it happen as you do it. If this is possible in LR I would love to know how.

Does this method have real utility? I think it has significant utility and missed it greatly when I left Aperture for LR. Never fully embraced SilverEfex for this reason as well. It could be that I'm trying too hard for little benefit...but again I don't think so.
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dchew

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2016, 08:17:12 PM »

You should try what John is saying. Go to the HSL panel and desaturate all colors. You can then go to the luminance panel, Hue panel, vibrance/saturation sliders in "Basic", etc. They all work, while in B&W mode they don't. And yes, you can see the effects real time. As John mentioned it used to give better results; now not so much. But sometimes I still play with images this way to get effects you can't do in B&W mode.

You can't change saturation of an individual color this way (because the color will come back), but you can change the luminance and hue individually.

Dave

I guess I'm still not making myself clear. Sorry. I'm not talking about desaturating using the HSL slider to produce or even enhance a B&W effect. In fact I usually increase saturation for a color I'm trying to give a darker tone. What I'm talking about you cannot do in LR (unless I'm missing something). Again: Convert to B&W using the B&W panel with sliders. Then use HSL to fine tune a tone in the B&W image, real time, where you see it happen as you do it. If this is possible in LR I would love to know how.

Does this method have real utility? I think it has significant utility and missed it greatly when I left Aperture for LR. Never fully embraced SilverEfex for this reason as well. It could be that I'm trying too hard for little benefit...but again I don't think so.
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john beardsworth

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2016, 02:39:58 AM »

As John mentioned it used to give better results; now not so much.

I don't seriously recommend it, Dave. It only gave better results back in Lr1 days when using the B&W panel sliders somehow disabled noise reduction, so it was a workaround. Now, results are no better, you have to drag more sliders, and you can't easily filter for B&W images in Library.
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N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2016, 06:39:53 PM »

Go to the HSL panel and desaturate all colors. You can then go to the luminance panel, Hue panel, vibrance/saturation sliders in "Basic", etc. They all work, while in B&W mode they don't.

Again(!), that is the very point I'm trying to make. In CO and Aperture you have real time access to HSL after converting to B&W with no need to go the desaturation route which most everyone agrees is the worst form of B&W conversion.

 
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GrahamBy

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2016, 09:52:14 AM »

You have access to luminance for each colour after conversion to B&W in LR, and you can see the effect in real time.
I remain mystified by what transformation you are applying by increasing the saturation in one colour before forcing the total saturation to zero: it looks to me by multiplying by whatever number you want followed by multiplication by zero.
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N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2016, 10:19:04 AM »

You have access to luminance for each colour after conversion to B&W in LR, and you can see the effect in real time.

If I can it is not evident in the latest (well, as of 3 months ago) LR subscription on my older MacBook. Maybe I'm missing something. I'll feel very stupid if I have. Again, I'm talking about accessing luminance in the color tools palette along with with hue and saturation.

Quote
I remain mystified by what transformation you are applying by increasing the saturation in one colour before forcing the total saturation to zero: it looks to me by multiplying by whatever number you want followed by multiplication by zero.

"I think what we have here is a failure to communicate." And it well may be my fault, if so I apologize. First, I never convert to B&W by forcing saturation to zero. Second, let's step back and look at my workflow again to see what I'm trying to say.

Consider an image with a bright blue sky. I want the sky as near black as possible in the B&W conversion. So I do all the typical steps up to B&W conversion. In CO or Aperture I use the full B&W conversion panel. Same in LR. I do not desaturate anything. I do not use a preset. Using the color sliders in the B&W conversion panel I slide the blue and sometimes cyan channel to the left. This darkens the blue but maybe not as much as I want OR it gets as dark as I want but there is banding on close inspection of the sky. So I back off a little until all the banding is gone then I go into the color management panel...........all the way out of the B&W conversion panel. In LR this would be the HSL grouping in the color tools. Move the sliders...nothing happens...at least for me. In CO or Aperture moving the luminance slider for blue immediately has a profound affect and is usually all that I need. However, the saturation slider will also allow some additional darkening. In CO you have to be delicate with the saturation as it will produce very dark corners in a blue sky across the frame....a sort of vignette. Not quite as heavy handed in Aperture. Changing the hue can yield a tiny change but not much.

Again. all this fiddling is just for that last tiny little tonal adjustment. Maybe I'm trying to be unnecessarily precise.....but in my brief experience here at LuLa there seems no end to the pursuit of of that perfect tone.

Why does this work? I can't say. But I'm assuming in the B&W conversion panel the blue slider has its effect on a certain range of blue HSL. Changing that range will have additional effects on that adjustment. That's my best guess.
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N80

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Re: RAW B&W conversion: Photoshop+Nik vs C1?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2016, 12:49:16 PM »

Okay Graham. I'm at home for lunch. In LR you have three tabs for the Color adjustments panel: HSL, Saturation, B&W.

I open a RAW file. I go to the B&W conversion tab. Convert to B&W. Yes, you can move the color sliders in that panel in real time, obviously. But, if you click on the HSL or Saturation tabs the image is immediately converted back to color and you cannot see the affects of those changes to your B&W image...because it is now in color. Maybe there is a preference to change this?

Compare to CO or Aperture. Convert to B&W. Now go to a color adjustment tool/panel. The image remains in B&W and the HSL or color selections you make work while you can still see the image in B&W.
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