Which Software for Black and White Conversion?

There are a few questions you can ask on the internet that are bound to generate a heated debate. Like "Which is better, Coke or Pepsi?" or my personal favorite "Is Nikon or Canon better?" It is the source of so many wasted keystrokes because those issues aren't black and white.... unlike this debate.

The question today is all about the shades of grey, specifically, which software to use for Black and White conversions. Presumably if you have come to my blog, you have come for my opinion, and my opinion is what you're about to get.....

First, let's break for a quick history lesson, because my historical biases and experiences weigh heavily in my answer. I learned Photoshop before Lightroom was a 'thing' - at least before it was mainstream. Until earlier this year, I did all of my RAW edits in Adobe Camera Raw. So when I wanted to do a black and white conversion, I could either 1) desaturate the colors (boring....) or 2) use Photoshop's organic black and white presets (still kind of boring) or 3) use an outside program. Not impressed with desaturation or the built in presets, I purchased a copy of Nik Silver Efex and used it as a plugin for Photoshop.

Nik appealed to me because the presets were awesome, the adjustments were intuitive, and I have a big crush on the control points feature. 

Fast forward to today...... I have changed the way I edit the color images, but I haven't found something that I like better than Nik Silver Efex. And since the software is now FREE, I'm not exactly motivated to find something that costs money to replace the free thing I like.....

Ok, so back to which software to use - for me its 100.10% Nik Silver Efex. The adjustment are just too easy, and my romance with the control point feature is hotter than ever. It brings out the best in my color images and in my black and white photos from the Leica Monochrom (Leica used to include a license of the software with the Monochrom, before it was free for everyone).  And while I could maybe get similar results with enough button clicks in Lightroom, I can do it faster in Nik, so thats where I go. For me, better is defined as "result I want, fastest" - Nik does it, so Nik is better!

Normally when I write a post like this, I'm talking about something that costs (a considerable amount of) money. But today I'm telling you that my favorite software is free. So rather than babble any more about Nik Silver Efex, I'm going to give you a link and let you play yourself. The lady giving out free samples of meatballs at the discount shoppers club spends less time selling you on free than I've spent!

(To be clear, I'm in no way shape or form endorsed by Nik or Google or anyone who designs software.)

Download Nik's complete software suite here: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

One of thousands of black and white conversions I have done using Nik's software