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Photography Question 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Photoshop Plug-in Filters


I have been playing with various filters and software lately and am looking at either the Nik, Lucis Art, Alien skin, Flaming Pear and others. I have been playing a lot with PhotoMatix HDR and just downloaded Topaz. Does anyone have a favorite and/or experiences they would care to share? Thank you!


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2/7/2009 1:47:33 AM

 
Linda Buchanan   Carlton, I have Nik Color Efex Pro and I love it. I find myself using a few filters more than any of the others I am still learning to use the control points. I love the dynamic skin softener on portraits, the vignette and a few others. I am taking Tony Sweet's HDR class right now, so I am trying to master Photomatix. Your web site is inspiring!


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2/7/2009 6:15:06 AM

 
Linda Proctor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/5/2004
  Hi Carlton,
I agree with Linda. Nik is very good a lot of effects and controls Flaming Pear for Flood and Flexify are good for some effects I like Topaz except it seems to have a lot of what looks like noise. Maybe I am not using it right. My favorite is Velvia Vision and Mystical Lighting. Love your web site!


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2/7/2009 7:10:21 PM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  I do not use any plug-ins. I have found them consistently to simply be something else to learn, and ultimately unable to do anything I can't already do myself, do with more control, and do better. I think that Photoshop is such a mature application that Adobe has already adopted the most useful add-ons. Much more valuable, I think, to invest in learning more about Photoshop than to invest in something more to learn. After 18 years, I still learn more about Photoshop every day.
The only add-ons I have valued for Photoshop are graphics tools that provide libraries of shapes, boarders, patterns, and the like that can genuinely save time in creating elements you might need ... but these are not really something I consider needed for digital photography.
That may not have been what you were looking for, but I hope the perspective helps!


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2/8/2009 3:45:06 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Thank you Richard,
You are correct about the learning curve for photoshop. I have been using it for 7 years and still feel like I only use a small part of its capabilities. I did try making HDR images with Photoshop but struggled to get the results I wanted. When I tried PhotoMatix, I was so impressed with its results and with their tone-mapping tool, I am able to manipulate and control the images much easier. After trying the trial version, I decided to purchase it. The same thing for some of the Topaz filters - where I may need to create a couple of layers and play with Gaussian blur, opacity, saturation, etc, I found I could get the effects I want much simpler with 1 click of a filter. I use both programs with Photoshop and still rely on levels, curves, selective color and many other PS tools to complete an image. The filters just seem to get me in the ballpark much faster & easier.
Linda P and Linda B - Thank you for the compliments and the NIK reference. Right now, I am trying to decide between NIK and Lucis Art ... they are about the same $$.
Thanks again!


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2/8/2009 8:40:12 PM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  Carlton...

I have the Nik and the Topaz filters. I think the Topaz is much like the Lucis Art where the Nik has many different features. Perhaps you might get the Nik and the Topaz which is much less expensive than the Lucis Art. Having said all that I agree with Richard regarding Photoshop. I am working hard to learn more of what it offers...but I do love those filters! :-)

Sandy


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2/10/2009 11:55:34 AM

 
Robert F. Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/24/2002
  Hello Carlton, I use Nik Color Efex and love the many different filters. I use the Polaroid and Vignette the most, but also use some of the others and combination. I do use Photoshop for the curves and such also.


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2/11/2009 3:50:04 AM

 
Leslie McLain
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/7/2007
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  I own Topaz Adjust, which I really like, but have just found Lucis Art. The new filters seem similiar so what is the difference? Has anyone used both?


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2/11/2009 5:12:36 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Thank you Everyone for your suggestions,
There is a big price differential between Topaz & Lucis Art and since I dont have Lucis Art, I dont know if its worth the extra $$.
I am going to try the NIK Color Efex as it seems to have a different & wide selection.
Cheers, Carlton


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2/11/2009 8:11:02 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  Plug-Ins are new to me. But, I was wondering... Are there instructions on how to use them that come with the purchase?

I'm seriously considering Noise Ninja. The trial has produced some amazing results.


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2/15/2009 5:20:12 AM

 
Adi Philpott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/24/2004
  Carlton - now that you have been playing with both Topaz and PhotoMatix, which do you prefer. Seems like Topaz offers more things you can do?
Adi


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3/14/2009 2:25:18 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  They are different as HDR is more about getting more detail & exposure for an image and I think the PhotoMatix tonemapping tool is superior to using Photoshop for processing HDR images.
Topaz has some great effects and is nice for getting a cool effect quickly while allowing more control over the exposure, details, saturation & noise of the specific effect you want to use.
I like them both but for HDR, PhotoMstix is the best I've seen and I haven't seen much competition from other HDR software.
While I like Topaz very much - there are many other plugins like NIK Color Efex, Lucis Art & Flaming Pear that are similar, so its a matter of how much $$ and which effects you like more. NIK just came out with Viveza and it looks easy and fast but for the price, it looks very limited as to what it can do (mainly does easy selection of specific areas in a photo & control the selected areas for edit & enhancements). Like Richard stated about plugins - Viveza doesn't do anything that you cant already do in Photoshop but it does do what it does much simpler & easier. I cant see spending $250 for Viveza - when I dont think it is worth more than $50 for its limited editing abilities.
Overall, I am happy with both PhotoMatix $99 & Topaz Adjust $50 and they were well worth the $$ to me.
Cheers, Carlton


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3/14/2009 3:20:18 PM

 
Adi Philpott
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/24/2004
  Thanks!


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3/15/2009 1:48:33 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  I purchase Noise Ninja because much of what I'm shooting lately is with high ISO's, meaning lots of noise. I need the higher ISO's because I'm capturing birds in flight and prefer later in the day when there is directional light but overcast or open shade.

Noise Ninja is absolutely incredible and cost less than $45.00 for the 8 bit size home bundle. I took an image of my husband playing his guitar on the back porch. The only light was a small reading spot, which made for a nice low key image, but extremely noisy. The nice is now gone and my husband looks many years younger.

See: http://tinyurl.com/cdoj9t

My next purchase will be the Flaming Pear Flood plug-in to create realistic water for reflections and more with composites. I tried the ripples and waves in CS3 and they left a lot to be desired. Try making awesome waves without the Flood plug-in!

And, after that, I'm seriously considering the Bokeh, which allows you to throw out the background such as a 1.8 or 2.8 top quality lens would allow without spending the money on the lens, and without spending hours on the computer cloning out unwanted branches, people, etc.
Additionally, the Bokeh would allow greater use of DOF and a soft background at the same time. Can't get much better than that!

The Bokeh plug-in is well worth its price, and the value of your time.

It depends what you hope to achieve to evaluate the plug-in.


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3/15/2009 6:08:04 PM

 
Mick Burkey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/19/2005
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  If anyone is interested in black & white conversion, I would highly recommend Nik Silver Efx Pro. It isn't cheap, though there may be discounts through other photo sites (I was lucky enough to win it, so that helps), but it is absolutely amazing. And yes, you can get the same control of tones, depth, etc., by masking and other techniques in Photoshop, but with their U point technology you have astounding control and choices of texture, tone, contrast, depth, even film types and grain if you like. Really a very cool plug-in for B&W work. And they have a free demo.


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3/19/2009 2:24:24 PM

 
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