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Thread: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

  1. #1
    flipmode's Avatar
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    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Does anyone have any input on the plug-ins offered by Topaz versus Silver Efex Pro. I'm considering investing in one or the other but wanted to get more info before doing so. In particular, I'm trying to compare their noise reduction software.

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    I don't know but Topaz give 30 days free trial. Try DeNoise4 it might be good, it is certainly better than free stuff. I don't know about silver efex.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    I use Nik software. Color efex pro. And only 'cos the boss bought it for me! For noise reduction I use Picturecodes' Noise Ninja. You can download presets for your camera and iso settings for this. Hope this helps.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Does anyone have any input on the plug-ins offered by Topaz versus Silver Efex Pro. I'm considering investing in one or the other but wanted to get more info before doing so. In particular, I'm trying to compare their noise reduction software.
    Hi Chris,

    Why are you getting so much noise that you need a specialist program to reduce it?

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    The new Topaz DeNoise4.1 appears better than version 4 with the colour slider back and what appears to be faster processing; you can get a 30 day free trial here.

    http://www.topazlabs.com/downloads/index.php?d=denoise

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Topaz isn't brilliant for everything though, I was about to chuck a photo of some flowers but just played with it first in DPP and guess what, it's ok.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    I have and use software from both Nik & Topaz. I have Silver Efex Pro which does a beautiful job creating monochromes. I have Nik's Viveza when I need to make color corrections and from Topaz I have DeNoise 3, I just haven't bothered to upgrade, waiting to see how quickly they would need to release a patch.

    These were done with Silver Efex Pro:
    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    This was cleaned up with DeNoise:
    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Thanks for the responses guys.

    @ Steaphany, I'm looking at Silver Efex Pro for black and whites. Seems pretty good but a bit pricey. The only down fall for me is that if I plan to upgrade my computer to 64 bit, Silver Efex Pro is not supported...at least for now.

    @ Colin, I'm more curious than anything. I recently was at a baptism and was taking shots inside the church using my 50mm and built in flash. I think I was using ISO of between 400-800 at times. A friend of mine mentioned Topaz Adjust and upon researching them, I saw the Denoise software so that's where this stemmed from.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Colin:

    What is typical noise at say 100 ISO, daylight, etc? Now I'm wondering if I do have excessive noise in my photos.

    Can anyone tell me if I do? Here's a link to my flickr with some nature photos.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4727634...7623312771141/

    thanks
    Last edited by flipmode; 24th May 2010 at 05:01 PM.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Colin:

    What is typical noise at say 100 ISO, daylight, etc? Now I'm wondering if I do have excessive noise in my photos.
    Typical noise at 100 ISO for a properly exposed daylight shot is (for all intents and purposes) Zero. In realistic terms same goes for 200 ISO, 400, 800. and probably 1600 with most cameras. The trick is to simply look at the image as a whole - at the size you want to normally display it. About the only time noise becomes a problem with a correctly exposed image is when you start to look at it at high magnifications -- and that's just not how we view things in the real world.

    Here's a quick example to illustrate my point ... here's an image I made years ago at my daughters school production. All "artistic merit" aside (because their really isn't any!), is this shot - from a quality point of view - really really really bad? I think for all intents and purposes it's just fine. Oh and by the way - it was shot at ISO 1600 on a 20D, with no noise treatment!

    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 24th May 2010 at 09:40 PM.

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    flipmode's Avatar
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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    About the only time noise becomes a problem with a correctly exposed image is when you start to look at it at high magnifications -- and that's just not how we view things in the real world.
    Are you talking about if I'm viewing it over 100% or do you mean if I took the picture in the largest file format then viewed at 100%?

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Are you talking about if I'm viewing it over 100% or do you mean if I took the picture in the largest file format then viewed at 100%?
    Hi Chris,

    I'm not sure I totally understand the question - but hopefully I can answer it anyway.

    If I took a shot with my Canon 1Ds3 which captures around 5500 x 3800 pixels - and displayed it on an average monitor which typically displays at around 100 ppi - then I would need a monitor that was 55 inches wide by 38 inches high - at which point I would be able to see the noise (if present) by getting quite close to the monitor. Most monitors aren't 55 inches wide & 38 inches high so when an image is displayed on a smaller monitor with fewer pixels - then your not looking at every pixel in your image. Most of the time your probably only looking at around 2% of the actual information contained in the image ... and that means you're not seeing the noise either ... as per my ISO 1600 image below (which does look quite noisy if you look at a small portion of the original up close).

    It's a bit like a builder cutting a piece of wood for a door frame ... if you stand back and look at the complete door frame then it looks just fine - but if you put the end of the frame under a microscope then you'll see gigantic mountains and valleys and it'll look aweful. So my point is in the real world you wouldn't inspect a builders door frame with a microscope - so why do people inspect photos "under the microscope"? Imperfections are everywhere - but - if you can't see them under NORMAL viewing conditions, why worry about them?

    If you need to print out a 1600 ISO shot 50 x 30 inches and have it tack sharp when viewed from the end of our noses then for sure it's a big problem - but if your only looking at a very low resolution version of the image or an image from a long way away, then it's just not a problem.

    Possibly another good analogy might be the carpet in a room - if we stand at the door and take a look it looks just fine - but if we take a close look with our microscope we'll find a gazillion dust mites. For the most part, noise is a lot like dust mites; there are a lot less after you vacuum, but if you can't see them either before or after vacuuming then who cares if they're there or not (in photographic terms). Sure - if you have a lot of visible noise even in your final shot at normal viewing sizes and distances then by all means deal to them - but mostly that will only be the case if the image was post-processed aftering being SEVERELY under-exposed - at which point my position would be that it's better to try to get the exposures right in the first place (which isn't rocket science) than it is to keep shooting badly exposed images and relying on technology to repair it (with the associated softening that invariably occurs).
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th May 2010 at 09:24 PM. Reason: correct typo

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Chris,

    at which moint my position would be that it's better to try to get the exposures right in the first place (which isn't rocket science) than it is to keep shooting badly exposed images and relying on technology to repair it (with the associated softening that invariably occurs).
    Hi Colin,

    I fully agree that proper exposure should not be rocket science, but more and more I hear, well you can fix this and that later in PP.
    In the past we tried to make proper exposure on film to get correct images in the first place including the right crop. This knowledge unfortunately is fading away. Lots of times noise is caused by bad exposure.

    @ Chris: for noise reduction software Silver Efex Pro is not the choice. This plug-in creates very, very nice monochromes. It has it's price but it's very flexible with lots of possibilities. So for Monochromes I can recommend it. To my opinion it's worth every penny.
    For noise reduction I can't help you but AFAIK Nik Software also has solutions for this. If it's better then Topaz I don't know either.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    For noise reduction, I'll put in a word for Neat Image, it works for me and many others, either as a stand alone or plug in to a variety of PP software.

    Like Niose Ninja, you can get profiles for your camera, although I don't use those, I sample from the image inquestion everytime.

    I believe there is a free trial period available.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    I fully agree that proper exposure should not be rocket science, but more and more I hear, well you can fix this and that later in PP.
    In the past we tried to make proper exposure on film to get correct images in the first place including the right crop. This knowledge unfortunately is fading away. Lots of times noise is caused by bad exposure.
    What I'm about to say may be a bit of a generalization, but I would argue that if one wants a quality result then the skills needed in Photoshop are inversely proportional to the skills used behind the camera. Loose translation: "If you're going to do a sloppy job behind the camera, then you'd better be an ace at Photoshop if you're going to fix it properly".

    People often say "Oh - I thought you could just fix that in Photoshop" - Bzzzzzt - wrong. Far preferable to fix it now so I don't have to take 10 times as long fixing it in Photoshop (ie stray hairs - clothing problems - dirty face - oily skin etc).

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Thanks for all the responses. Also, thanks Colin for your in-depth explanation. That answered my question. After looking at other images, I don't think my photos have unsual noise but I do like to know a little about everything, including how to fix noise problems.

    I also totally agree that the goal when taking a photograph is to do it right the first time. Trying to "jimmy" something in photoshop just gives photoshop users a bad name.

    @hansm, my initial thread was written incorrectly. I meant to say Nik's noise reduction software and not Silver Efex Pro. Although I did have a chance to download the trial version and what I do like about Nik Software is they offer daily webinar tutorials, which are super helpful. I've also been able to compare them to Topaz's plugins and I see where Nik Software has the advantage. They utitlize a "U-point" technology that really isolates the area you wish to work on, whereas in Topaz, it's more of a global adjustment. Both offer free trial versions which I would encourage anyone to try out for themselves. And I agree, I would and will probably invest in Silver Efex Pro because it really gives you a lot of flexibility in creating stunning b&w photos.

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    I got the Nik 5 bundle plug in set the other day. I only use Lightroom 2, so what the Nik plug ins added for me was immense. The noise reducing software was impressive. Loved the Viveva, expecially the way control points can change one specific area of an image so quickly. Just impressive software. Also, great videos on their website. For anyone interested, the discount code PPS was used to get me a $100 discount. For Lightroom 2 the plug in bundle (collection) is $299, but I got it for $199 using the PPS code. Being that I got the product as a download from Nik directly, can't imagine this would not work for international orders. Just an FYI in case anyone reading this was considering buying the Nik collections of plug ins. Below is my first real black and white. Took about 20 seconds using Niks silver efex.

    Too easy


    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Below is my first real black and white. Took about 20 seconds using Niks silver efex.

    Too easy
    Hi Dan,

    Out of curiosity, are you working from a calibrated and profiled monitor? Reason I ask is that the above image is looking just a wee bit washed out to me - do you mind if I post a version with just a small correction to the shadows and lower midtones?

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    Re: Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    - do you mind if I post a version with just a small correction to the shadows and lower midtones?

    Do you recall Luke telling Yoda "No"? I don't either


    Let me see what you got man. I learn something each time. As for the monitor, nope, never calibrated anything. I have a 14" Lenovo laptop with me here on Nantucket. It sucks, but it is all I got. I invested in a nicer desk top 18 months back, but it is back in NC as we don't have anywhere to put it in our new home (cottage) here on island. It was custom ordered with faster this and that, 24" HD monitor, etc.. Really does make a difference in pp. I miss it dearly. But for now, I will be limited to the laptop.


    -Dan

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    Re: Lens Filter

    Here you go.

    Topaz vs Silver Efex Pro

    Does this look better or worse on your laptop screen?

    Do be honest Dan, if you don't have accurate black and white points on your laptop screen then getting levels correct becomes a bit of a lottery. THis image is a good case in point ... if your screen is clipping too many black levels then your version will look good, and in my version a lot of the hair detail will have gone, and if your white point isn't right then you might be seeing blown highlight when I'm seeing highlight detail.

    Or - this could look just fine on your screen and it's just you!

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