Short Report: B+W Filters To Go
The renowned optical filter maker debuts a digital offering of photoshop plug-ins
It seems only natural that legendary optical manufacturer B+W would use its expertise to develop a set of software filters. Some of the filters stand in for glass filters you'd use over your camera lens, but many of the plug-ins go beyond that to provide effects that can be challenging to produce, even with image-editing software.
The Portrait & Family Set features filters for converting your color images to black-and-white, enhancing colors, warming them, simulating moonlight and more. All of the filters use simple slider controls to change the look of your photos. A preview window lets you see the effect of your settings before you apply them.
This arrangement works well, and I found the filters fast, easy to use and effective. The Enhance Colors filter, for example, boosted color-laden areas of my images while leaving more neutral shades alone. Without much ado, I got natural-looking, but colorful photos that otherwise would have taken much longer to enhance and required adjustments with multiple Photoshop tools.
The Outdoor Set is as simple to use as the Portrait & Family Set, and offers two virtual graduated filters (one blue and one neutral-density), a polarizer and other filters. The graduated filters and the polarizer do a good job simulating the glass filters for which they're named. The graduated blue filter nicely cleaned up an informal portrait that had a dull gray background, quickly adding sparkle to the picture.
The polarizer functions just as efficiently, and while it's not quite a replacement for the real thing, it works when a real polarizer wouldn't—that is, whenever the sun is far from 90 degrees off your line of sight.
The filters in both sets are compatible with Photoshop and many other image-editing programs, and work with 8-bit images—JPEGs and most TIFFs. List Price: $65 per set.
Contact: Schneider Optics, (631) 761-5000, www.schneideroptics.com.
• Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and other compatible applications
• Easy-to-use "slider" control interface
• For use with 8-bit images