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Thread: Do I need plug-ins?

  1. #1
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    Do I need plug-ins?

    I have Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CS 5.1 but continue to read about people using various plug-ins from Topaz to ONone software.
    My question is this, if my original programmes are so powerful, I mainly use LR5 to be honest and I have not even scratched the surface yet of all the tools, do I need some other software to post edit my images?

    Any feedback on users would be appreciated.

    Kind Regards

    William

  2. #2

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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Hi William,

    Opinions on this will vary, but my experience to date with plugins is that they never give me the same degree of control that I can achieve doing it "manually", and as such I've uninstalled all but one.

  3. #3
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    I, too, use LR for almost all my processing, and I, too, haven't got to grips with everything it can do.

    However, I think there are times when a specialised plug in can do a better job. I find noise is rarely a problem on pictures I take now, but it is on some old slides that I scan from time to time. I happen to have Nik's Dfine plug in, which is their noise reduction tool (I bought it as a deal with the bundle).

    Here are a couple of YouTube videos, they are by a professional photographer who wanted to explore noise reduction, so not a guru.. The first illustrates where LR noise reduction works and where it struggles. The second shows how Dfine can help in a difficult case:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH2h7CTD2MA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5kG10DW1_o

    The other reason you might want a plug in is for more specialist use. I bought the Nik bundle because I wanted to explore black and white conversions, and Nik's Silver Efex Pro is an awesome tool. I don't think that you would want all of that in Lightroom, which if you take the trouble can do a pretty reasonable job, but it's not in the same league

    Dave

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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    In my experience, dedicated NR and sharpening programmes are more flexible and effective than Lightroom and PS - that's not to say that these aren't very good and getting better. As for other types of plug-in, there is probably nothing that they do that you can't achieve yourself in PS if you know how but they do it with very little effort and I therefore find them useful particularly if I want to cycle through a number of effects quickly to see what might be most appropriate. One programme I would recommend is Photokit 2. It allows you to apply some of the more basic manipulations (dodging, burning, mono conversions, toning etc. etc.) as a layer very quickly. Being on a layer, they are fully adjustable in terms of both intensity and selective application. In summary, for me, plug-ins are not essential but they do speed up my workflow.
    Last edited by John 2; 18th August 2013 at 12:50 PM.

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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    I think the NIK suite is very good. Silver Efx is excellent for conversions that really bring out the best in a digital file, and I also find Niks HDR worth the money - it produces the most natural of all HDR software I have tried - I often use this for architecture where the contrast range is too large - really brings out detail in shadows and stops burnt out highlights.

    I have tried a lot of others - most available on months free trial, so try and see if it makes a difference.

  6. #6
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    I, too, use NiK suite plug-ins in PS. Viveza 2 is a favorite of mine and is used on most images I process. Could I do these in just CS6? Probably, but not as fast and as easily. And, plug-ins are getting more powerful with each new version. Try out the free trials and see if they speed/improve your workflow.

    Paul S

  7. #7
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    The typical reason for installing a plug-in is that you are not satisfied with what is offered in your currently installed editing program. If you are happy with what you have then there is no reason to go looking for an improvement.

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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    I love my plug-ins and regret only the added time that using them involves. Otherwise, I am able to draw out more quality from my images than ever before with a lot of added choices in terms of filters, black and white conversions, etc. Do you need it? No. Would I want to delete the programs and use just Elements 9 as much as I enjoy my basic software? No. Free trials are pretty worthless as you will only end up buying everything you try! At least I did.

  9. #9
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    You certainly don't need them. The question is whether they will help you enough to make them worth the expense and bother. The answer is yes for some people, no for others.

    I personally do most of my processing in LR and don't use many plugins. I use LR Enfuse for exposure blending, which is an alternative to HDR. I recently bought the NIK plugins because they were so cheap. Having experimented with them, I think I will probably use Viveza some, but the fact is that I have yet to use any with an image that I have edited seriously. I used to use a plug for noise reduction, but I find that NR is now so good in LR that I very rarely use it.
    Last edited by DanK; 18th August 2013 at 03:23 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brev00 View Post
    I love my plug-ins and regret only the added time that using them involves. Otherwise, I am able to draw out more quality from my images than ever before with a lot of added choices in terms of filters, black and white conversions, etc. Do you need it? No. Would I want to delete the programs and use just Elements 9 as much as I enjoy my basic software? No. Free trials are pretty worthless as you will only end up buying everything you try! At least I did.
    My track record is about 40% buy after trying. Some I liked, for instance Perfectly Clear for speed in conversion, but I didn't purchase because I spent as much time post processing because I didn't like something about the edit.

  11. #11
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    You certainly don't need them. The question is whether they will help you enough to make them worth the expense and bother. The answer is yes for some people, no for others.

    I personally do most of my processing in LR and don't use many plugins. I use LR Enfuse for exposure blending, which is an alternative to HDR. I recently bought the NIK plugins because they were so cheap. Having experimented with them, I think I will probably use Viveza some, but the fact is that I have yet to use any with an image that I have edited seriously. I used to use a plug for noise reduction, but I find that NR is now so good in LR that I very rarely use it.
    This pretty well sums up my experience; I also bought the package at the reduced price, but haven't actually tried any of the tools seriously.

    I wasn't keen on having to convert and save another format because:

    1) It means using up more space on the HDDs (yes storage is cheap, but not free, and backups of large duplicate files takes more time).

    2) LR appeals to me in large part because the original RAW is not changed. I continually re-process files as my PP skills are continually improving. With the original RAW, this is simple; with a TIFF created by NIK, less so.

    The comments in the first post by John (Shadowman) come into play; as LR improves, plug-ins become less of a necessity.

    Larry's comments (Brev00) also come into play; time becomes a factor.

    Glenn

  12. #12
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Colin is more adept at Photoshop than I am. I am sure that everything that can be done using various plug-ins can be done (perhaps even with more control) using Photoshop.

    I resisted the desire to buy the NIK Software Suite because of its previously high price. I had been invited to a demonstration of the NIK software at the NIK headquarters in the San Diego area and was very impressed with the capability and simplicity of NIK. I desired NIK but did not purchase it until Google acquired NIK and reduced the price to $150 U.S. Dollars. I snapped it up and have never regretted spending that money.

    I an using my NIK Software more and more as I am learning it's capabilities. IMO, the various NIK Plug-ins are intuitive and easy to use. However, they are extremely capable and enjoyable to work with.

    YouTube has many-many instructional videos on the use of NIK Software, many of these videos are produced by the NIK folks while others are produced by third party video producers.

    I have the book, "NIK Software Captured" by Corbell and Haftel and it is, IMO, only fair. There are several other books available from Amazon.com on NIK Software.
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...ripbooks%2C380

    Right now, I am in the process of adding a AP to my Nook tablet so I can download and read Kindle electronic editons. As soon as that is stabilized, I will purchase some other NIK books. I tend to learn best from a combination of hands-on work, video training and the use of a reference book...

    I have recently seen Lightroom on sale for $99 USD. Lightroom is one of the programs that can host NIK Software and the combination of Lightroom and NIK would give a photographer some powerful capabilities at around $250 U.S. Dollars for the set...

  13. #13
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    I too resisted for years, but broke down and bought the NIK package about 2 months before they dropped the price. Can I accomplish most of the effects in Photoshop; the answer is clearly yes. What is does do though is it saves me a lot of time; and for that reason more than any other, I have started to use plug-ins (after 10 years of doing PP work without them).

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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    William...I am a Photoshop nut-case, do not use plug-ins but probably should.
    One thing not clearly addressed as of yet is...Photoshop, and all the associated plug-ins have
    long learning curves attached to them. None of the folks here will suggest otherwise.

  15. #15
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Another Nik fan here..SilverEffex pro and colour Effex Pro.

    Why?

    They are hassle free ...intuitive to use...and give you pinpoint control and the results are ( IMHO) stunning!

  16. #16
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Mae View Post
    They are hassle free ...intuitive to use...and give you pinpoint control and the results are ( IMHO) stunning!
    I agree totally and wish that I had said this!

  17. #17
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Mae View Post
    Another Nik fan here..SilverEffex pro and colour Effex Pro.
    Same here, I'm a recent convert and these are the only plug-ins I have. The Detail Extractor in Colour Efex Pro can do a wonderful job with cloudy skies if used judiciously. I don't know of any way to match this in PS.

    Dave

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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Shadowman:

    My 'worthless' remark was something of a joke. I said that because i did a free trial of both Topaz and Nik with the idea of choosing one or the other. I wound up getting both. I have not tried any other plug-ins but have done free trials for other software systems buying only one. Even when I bought Nik first, I knew I would get Topaz Denoise at some point. It is so good. When I got a price for the Topaz bundle that was less than getting just Denoise, I really had no choice. With all the features I now have with Nik and Topaz, I haven't even thought about trying any other plug-ins. Kind of like over eating.

  19. #19
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    One other comment on the OP's question - do I need plug-ins?

    One should keep in mind the difference between need and want.

    G

  20. #20
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    Re: Do I need plug-ins?

    Thank you all for your comments, very much appreciated. I resisted the challenge and went for Nik bundle with it being so cheap. I have only used Silver Efex on some older colour photos and not ever having plug-ins before I am quite amazed at how quickly it works and I am happy with the results. Like any other editing I have to make sure I use it sensibly.
    Once again thanks for the information.

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