Can NX2 do these things?
I am a novice post processer but am using the trial version of NX2 and can do many basic things. However, my goal is to become more proficient with black and white and I want to be able to apply subtle toning effects such as putting a very light sepia tone as a final touch. It appears NX2 can do this? It ticks me off that Silver Efex Pro, designed by Nik software, is an incompatible Photoshop plug-in. In essence, how powerful is the black and white processing in NX2 vis-a-vis Lightroom or CS3?
I also like the effects in the Lightroom Beta called "Presence, Vibrance, Luminance and Clarity." Will NX2 do these things also under different names?
I don't care too much about image management since I don't process that many images. Instead of playing around with all these different programs I want to learn one really well. NX2 seems like the easier program to learn. If I go with NX2 I'll get Jason Odell's book and dive in.
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#2. "RE: Can NX2 do these things?" | In response to Reply # 0
Try Filter->Photo Effects. There are a lot of tools to play with there. For Clarity, I made a preset using Adjust->Focus->High Pass. Radius 20. Opacity changed from All to Luminance/Chrominance with Chrominance set to 50. Blend Mode set to Overlay. I don't know about the other effects you mentioned. A lot of things can be done in CaptureNX that people don't know about. I'm still finding new things it can do.
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#3. "RE: Can NX2 do these things?" | In response to Reply # 0
Yes, NX2 can do many of the things you mention. Regarding sepia toning, the NX2 sepia setting found under photo effects is very nice, when combined with an opacity adjustment downwards. Here are some others that I use:
Sepia (RGB = 20-30, 4-11, 12-22), Silver Gelatin (10-30, -15- -5, -50 - -40), Palladium (15-22, -12- 0, -35 - -25), Silver (-10 - 0, 0-10, 0-10); and for you Lenswork lovers, here is a recipe that is fun to play with, keeping in mind that Lenswork mag uses a very special high quality printing process.
Lenswork Tint: (34/12/-35, enhance dark tone on, normal blend mode, opacity ~30) + Silver Gelatin Tint (20/-10/-45, opacity ~18); adjust opacities to taste. Yes, it pales in comparison to the magazine images, but it was fun to try to duplicate it.
Regarding the "clarity" slider in LR2, there have been recent discussions on this topic at the NikonCafe forum. In addition to the one posted in response to your question, I think it resembles a high radius sharpening with opacity adjusted downward. Try (5/50/0-4). FWIW, a recent issue of Shutterbug mag discusses sharpening in LR2, and says that clarity is high radius sharpening set to a low amount.
Regarding "vibrance" in LR2, as I understand it, vibrance increases the saturation of low saturated colors, and leaves the highly saturated colors alone. This is easily (though not as easy as in LR2) done in NX2 by tweaking the LCH>Chroma settings to enhance the saturation of the colors you want. I think this is discussed in Odell's e-book.
I have not tried LR beta so I can't comment on the new features in it.
Regarding the quality of B&W conversion, I think all the programs you mention will do a great job. Each may give a slightly different image to start because of different underlying algorithms for converting the color image to B&W. Once that is done, then the user interface, available presets etc. will play a role in how quickly you can achieve a B&W image that is satisfactory to you. Yes, I also wish Nik's SEP were available for NX2. Until that happens, I find NX2 meets my needs for B&W conversion and subsequent editing. And don't forget the powerful blending modes that are in NX2, and not LR2. On the other hand, LR2 does split toning, and NX2 does not.
Another option to consider is adding Nik's CEP 3.0 filter set to NX2. In addition to many basic edit tweaking and creative filters, it has its own B&W conversion filter (which I don't actually use), plus a very nice film grain filter, and a lighten/darken center both of which I do use.
One last thing and that is the B&W capability of PSC3. With CS3, the basic B&W conversion menu was vastly improved and expanded. It is much like LR2 in function. But keep in mind that there are only several ways to convert color to B&W: grayscale conversion, desaturation, and lab mode, with use of the individual RGB channels thrown into the mix. Only CS3 will allow full utilization of each of those - but that doesn't necessairly mean your final image will be any better than what LR2 or NX2 will provide. At least that has been my experience, as a hobbyist who has never sold a picture in his life. Hope this helps out.