Topaz B&W Effects review
With ever more black and white conversion options being built into Photoshop any plug-in offering to do the same thing has to provide quite a bit more. To some extent that’s been tackled by the film stock plug-ins, especially those offering lens effects, distortion and damage.
Topaz B&W Effects is more old-school in that it’s all about conversions, but with the added twist of various old-process emulations and tone mapping effects. The effects themselves are split into various categories, with a list of presets for each one. These range from straightforward mono conversion to cyanotype, albumen and HDR-style effects. Having selected a preset, it can be previewed in the middle of the interface. However, moving the cursor over the other effects produces a mini-preview in the top left.
You aren’t limited to what the preset has to offer though, as all the parameters can be adjusted as well or new ones added. There are four categories of these covering the conversion, creative effects, local adjustments and finishing touches. The local adjustments allow for more precise retouching with brushes and masks while the finishing touches allows for film grain, simple borders, vignettes and transparent areas. If you come up with a particularly effective combination of conversion and effects then the parameters can be saved as a custom preset.
What the plug-in does lack is those trendy distortion effects, damage, hairs and the like, but as a black and white conversion tool it’s actually very good. It’s also a lot cheaper than the film-stock plug-ins.