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I've recently been trying to decide on some good plugins to add to my current setup that will allow me better editing performance (when used correctly of course) without having to invest heavily in the monster that is CS5.
To that end I've come across the following software and I'd be interested in peoples thoughts on the various packages and if they are worth investing in - plus further if there are any other plugins worth considering as well.
For reference my current setup is as follows:
Photoshop Elements 6 - with free layermask addon and free curves (giving me freeform curves control instead of the packaged 4 point curves control)
Combine ZP - focus stacking software.
So far I've considered the following software plugins:
Neat Image - noise reduction software. From what I can tell between Neat Image, Topaz DeNoise, Noise Ninja and other similar noise removal software on the market there isn't any clear market leader and most do well with most shots. With select shots one package can sometimes do better over another, but its a hit and miss affair. I've chosen Neat Image mostly because I'm semi familiar with the interface from the demo.
Zerene Stacker - like noise software focus stacking is again fairly standard across the board with some software dealing with certain shots better than others. Because of the more complex affair with taking a focus stacked series of shots I'm more willing to spend time working with two software packages should one fail to give suitable results.
Topaz Detail - this seems an interesting package at pulling out more detail from a shot and being a little more advanced than using unsharpen mask and highpass sharpening (clarity in RAW editing) to pull out sharpness in a shot. However I'm not that experienced with using it (demo) so trying to really tell if it is better than the standard sharpening software I have at the moment is tricky.
Topaz Adjust - not sure about this plugin - on the one hand it appear to be a simple all in one editing tool - however on the other I get the feeling that its just using a series of tools that I could use in elements anyway (and with layermasks if needed). So I'm a little more on the fence with if this is a worthwhile tool to add to my setup.
Those are my considerations at present any thoughts on those packages or any additional ones are welcome.
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I use CS5 (dont know why its a monster though?) and occasionally turn to the NIK software (sharpen noise color etc etc) but only in 32bit. If i run 64bit CS5 i only use a highpass action and border action. it really depends on what my shots turn out like in camera and if i want to be creative. I have also just obtained Portrait professional 9 as im going to try my hand at portraits. I have tried Combine ZP but couldnt get on with it.
With the exception of plugins that perform a specific task like " Pano Stitching " or " Focus Stacking " ( or other complex procedures ) You have to choose very carefully indeed.
Have you ever had this scenario, You open an image in your chosen software, Tweak it here, Tweak it there, Sit back and admire your handy work.....
Then compared it with the original image, Only to find that its identical ( with possible exception of sharpen/levels etc ) ....
Or that you actually prefer the original with just a tweak on the contrast and a tad of sharpen.....
Plugins for specific and time consuming tasks aside, Are we not in danger of relying to much on software to put right, What could have been right in the first place, Had we shot the original image properly. Or with a little more thought....!!!
There seems to be an ever growing market of add-ons/plugins to enhance/mutilate and or murder our pixels with.......
So what are we paying for when we buy something like " Photoshop " ( Elements or Big Bro ) ? ? ?
Oh! Thats right a program to run our " Plugins " in...... Its really about time some of these extras where included in the base software, Especially when you look at what Photoshop CS5 Extended is priced at.....
Quote: Or that you actually prefer the original with just a tweak on the contrast and a tad of sharpen....
(Ohhhhh... YES! )
Aye one has to be careful when choosing - hence the asking before purchasing
Sometimes its best to have better tools at hand - even if they are just brushing up on aspects like sharpening/detail - sadly so far the topazdetail I can't seem to get to do much that I can't get with just unsharpenmask and setting it to a high value
If you find a 'HC/EC award ' or '30 votes' plug-in for Photoshop then please let me know - (lots of members seems to have them installed !!)
I have moved across to CS5 and really recommend the Nik Software plugins, Colour Efex pro 3.0 has a huge amount of effects and filters as well as incorporating at version of Silver Efex Pro which is worth getting separately if you just want a quality mono conversion plugin.
My choices would be
1 PK sharpner (actually a script) much better for a sharpening workflow(check out the free but similar TLR sharpening actions).
2 Noiseware pro (IMHO the best)
3 Silver effects pro (for black and white)
4 Portraiture (from imagenic) like portrait pro-ish but a plug-in
5 Bokeh (by alien skin) great for OOf effects.
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