Nik Announces Silver Efex Pro 2 Black-and-White Conversion Software


JANUARY 17, 2011

By Dan Havlik

One of our favorite plug-ins looks like it just got better. Nik Software announced this morning it will release Silver Efex Pro 2 for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Apple Aperture next month.

This revamped black-and-white conversion application has three major changes, according to a Nik representative we talked with before today's announcement:

• Better quality algorithm for converting images to black-and-white
• Increased functionality
• Improved user interface

The original Nik Silver Efex Pro has only seen incremental changes since it was released over two years ago. Silver Efex Pro 2 will sell for $199.95 new or $99.95 for an upgrade. Customers who bought Nik Silver Pro by December 6, 2010, will get a free upgrade to version 2, according to the Nik representative we spoke with.

We saw a demonstration of a beta version of Silver Efex Pro 2 and were impressed with how much has changed both externally and under-the-hood with the program. Upgraded features in the new application offer increased control over detail, contrast and tonality. There's also a wide variety of new presets, letting you transform you color images into eye-catching black-and-whites with just one click.

Nik appears to have gone to extensive lengths to make the digitally converted black-and-whites look more natural so they mimic true silver halide black-and-white photos. In particular, Nik has tried to improve the shadow transitions in the midtones so they're smoother. (One criticism of color images that are converted into black-and-white via software is that the shift from shadows to whites is too abrupt and harsh-looking.)

The demo conversion photos we saw were gorgeous and we're looking forward to putting this program through it's paces once it comes out in February.

The only disappointment with Silver Efex Pro 2 is that no new film type filters have been added to the program. According to Nik, this was because many classic black-and-white film stocks no longer exist and the company only wants to add a digital film filter to Silver Efex Pro if they can get the look right.

Here are some other key new features in Silver Efex Pro 2:

•    New History Browser lets you compare previous edits and different looks
•    New Dynamic Brightness enables adaptive brightening adjustments for different areas in the image
•    New Amplify Blacks and Amplify Whites increases the presence of highlights and shadows adaptively throughout the image
•    New Visual Presets categorized by photographic style provide single-click starting points, which can be edited and shared with others
•    New Soft Contrast applies contrast based on image details
•    New Fine Structure brings out small details and textures
•    New Image Borders use organic image elements to create random borders, giving classic darkroom-style edges a modern look
•    New Selective colorization easily adds color elements back into images utilizing U Point technology to precisely select objects
•    New GPU Processing take advantage of the processors on advanced display adapters to provide faster performance

See a demo video of Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 here. More info in the press release below.


PRESS RELEASE


Nik Software Announces Silver Efex Pro 2 for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom & Apple Aperture

New and more powerful features make it easier than ever to create stunning black-and-white images

San Diego, CA –January 17, 2011– Nik Software (www.niksoftware.com) announces today Silver Efex Pro 2, a major upgrade to its award-winning Silver Efex Pro software, widely regarded by photographers as the leading black-and-white software solution on the market today. Silver Efex Pro 2 introduces new features that offer even more control over detail, contrast, and tonality, making it easier than ever to transform color photographs into stunning black-and-white images. Silver Efex Pro 2 includes new features such as the History Browser, Dynamic Brightness, Amplify Blacks, Amplify Whites, Soft Contrast, Fine Structure, Image Borders, and selective colorization, as well as a variety of speed and quality improvements. The new features of Silver Efex Pro 2, combined with Nik Software's award-winning U Point technology, will continue to evolve black-and-white photography. To learn why Silver Efex Pro is the leading black-and-white imaging software users can watch training videos, download a free trial, and join live online training sessions at www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro.

“Silver Efex Pro 2 has been created to provide photographers with the world’s best black-and-white conversion software enabling them to utilize new and powerful capabilities that were not available in the traditional darkroom,” said Michael J. Slater, President and CEO of Nik Software.

Ideal for any photographer passionate about black-and-white photography, Silver Efex Pro 2 features a wide variety of innovative enhancements to ensure the highest quality results. Silver Efex Pro includes unique features and functions, including specially designed algorithms for black-and-white photography, a unique all-in-one workflow, and the ability to fine-tune images with precise selective adjustments powered by U Point technology.

Nik Software’s proprietary U Point technology provides revolutionary selective editing by enabling photographers to precisely make detail, contrast, and tonality enhancements without the need for complicated selections or layer masks. Enhancements are automatically blended throughout an image for natural results. Finishing adjustments such as vignette controls, toning, burn edges and borders make it possible to easily accomplish everything needed for amazing black-and-white images.

Silver Efex Pro 2 is the first Nik Software product to take full advantage of the latest graphics processing units (GPUs). Nik Software has worked closely with NVIDIA Corporation and has incorporated GPU-based image rendering to offer the fastest, most efficient processing on systems equipped with dedicated GPU processors.

“We are extremely excited that Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 taps into the power of the many cores available in GeForce GPUs to deliver multiples of performance beyond the CPU alone” said David Ragones, Director of Product Marketing, NVIDIA.  “Photo enthusiasts can now take advantage of all the available horsepower in their computers to produce beautiful black-and-white images.”


Key Features

•    New History Browser facilitates intuitive comparison of previous edits and different looks New Dynamic Brightness enables adaptive brightening adjustments for different areas in the image
•    New Amplify Blacks and Amplify Whites increases the presence of highlights and shadows adaptively throughout the image, creating a unique contrast effect
•    New Visual Presets categorized by photographic style provide great, single-click starting points, which can be edited and shared with others
•    New Soft Contrast applies contrast intelligently, based on image details, creating a less harsh contrast and a stylized mood
•    New Fine Structure brings out even the smallest details and textures resulting in more visible image detail without creating an over-sharpened look
•    New Image Borders use organic image elements to create unique and completely random borders, giving classic darkroom-style edges a modern look with infinite possibilities
•    New Selective colorization easily adds color elements back into images utilizing U Point technology to precisely select objects
•    New GPU Processing takes full advantage of the processors found on advanced display adapters providing even faster performance

Pricing and Availability
Silver Efex Pro 2 will be available in February 2011 directly from Nik Software (www.niksoftware.com), through specialty camera retailers, and through online and national resellers. A list of Nik Software resellers may be found at www.niksoftware.com/resellers.

The suggested retail price of Silver Efex Pro 2 is $199.95.  Upgrades from the first version are $99.95. Customers who purchased Silver Efex Pro or a Complete Collection bundle after December 6, 2010 are eligible for a free upgrade. To pre-order Silver Efex Pro 2, users can visit www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro.

Silver Efex Pro 2 installs as a 32-bit and 64-bit plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS4 or later, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6 or later (Windows and Macintosh) or Apple Aperture 2.1.4 or later (Macintosh). For more information about Silver Efex Pro 2, including a video tutorial and a free 15-day fully functional trial version, please visit: www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro.

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