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What are the best Photoshop Plug-Ins?

Gan Esh , Sep 24, 2005; 04:17 a.m.

Hi all,

I'll probably finally take the plunge and go digital early next year. Maybe with a D2X or 1ds ( I shoot both Nikon & Canon with film, as well as Mamiya). I'm currently learning photoshop, working on my scanned 35mm, 6x4.5 and 6x7 slides/negs.

My question:

What are the best Photoshop plug-ins for B&W conversion, sharpening, filter/texture effects and retouching. Also any other sugggestions on Plug-ins that cater to portrait/fashion photography would be very helpful. Even though I'm an 'ok' photographer, I feel I'll be starting from scratch when I go digital (a really scary feeling).

Also, does Adobe camera Raw work better than raw converters created by Nikon/Canon for their own bodies with regards to image quality?

Lastly, are those Wacom pen tablets any good? They sound really appealing to someone like me who can only get the best out of a mouse when playing Quake.

Thanks in advance. Cheerz!


mark schafer , Sep 24, 2005; 10:35 a.m.

I come from the same background, shooting RZ the last couple of years and finally got a 1DS Mark II (Which I love, but you have to be in control of the scene and contrast). For your library i highly recommend: Photoshop Artistery (General, Retouching, Effects) and The Photoshop book for Digital Photographers (Workflow, Retouching, Effects, Presentation). I do like pretty much all the pixelgenius.com plug ins. You can download and test them for free and see if you like them. Then check Kodak?s digital filters, I just recently discovered the airbrush tool and love it (with good measure and partial selections). For the RAW workflow I?m using Adobe's solution with PS/CS2, which is great (Recom. Reading: Fraser: Real World Camera RAW), I tried CS1, did like it and didn't see the urge to spend another $500 for conversions only. And Wacom, no question, if you retouch or select get one, even the cheapest will change your world. Best ms

BW Combs , Sep 24, 2005; 10:57 a.m.

I do a lot of low res to high res jpeg conversions from color to black and white for publication work. (Photos supplied by others). I have come to rely on Silver Oxide plug ins for black and white conversions. Good tones, and very quick for multiple processing.

Also, Mark above has got some great suggestions as well, and sounds like he has a handle on his workflow.

Hugh Croft , Sep 24, 2005; 01:21 p.m.

Hi Gan. I find PS's tools fine as they are for converting to B&W. I use the channel mixer and curves. Pixmantec Rawshooter essentials is a free RAW converter and imo way better than PS's. The latest PS has great sharpening and resizing tools. If you have version 6 or 7 I'd buy Resize Magic, for resizing. Photokit Sharpener has some great tools for sharpening and blurring.

Doug Dolde , Sep 24, 2005; 11:03 p.m.

Photokit and Photokit sharpener from Pixelgenius.com.

The best I have found.

Nam Keun Yoon , Sep 25, 2005; 01:16 a.m.

Another vote for Pixelgenius Photokit Sharpener. It's simply amazing.

Also, try Noise Ninja or NeatImage, as you will probably need noise reduction for high ISO images. I personally use Noise Ninja Plugin and it's very easy to use and convenient.

As far as working with B/W, I'd recommend Convert to B&W Pro.


Lex Jenkins , Sep 25, 2005; 05:29 a.m.

I've been trying some of the Imaging Factory's plug-ins for just a few days and some of them are pretty impressive.

Their noise reduction plug-in is much more intuitive than the NR included with Photoshop Elements, and produces better results. And that's just the "regular" version. I haven't tried the "pro" version yet. It may not replace Noise Ninja for overall convenience, but it does work with RAW files, which Noise Ninja cannot.

They have other bread and butter plug-ins, including two forms of USM, and several special effects type for conversion to monochrome, softening, etc.

I've tried SkinTune and while the controls are few and simple, it's still not easy to get the best results. In some cases, setting a color that improves the skin tones of one person in a photo throws off everyone else. Elements' own tools for removing color casts, etc., seem to work about as well. And color casts in various faces can be adjusted individually if necessary, with a little extra work.

Ben Anderson , Sep 27, 2005; 04:03 a.m.

Neatimage is amongst one of the best. VelviaFX from fred miranda is good.

Best thing I ever bought for use with PS though was my Wacom graphics tablet, someone mentioned them above, they are just awesome.

Judy Jalbert , Nov 13, 2005; 03:01 p.m.

I use AutoFX Mystical Light to create portrait studio backgrounds and interesting light effects - http://www.autofx.com/mystical_ttc/mystical_ttc.html

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