The complete bundle for Aperture and Lightroom is around $300. The Ultimate package adds PhotoShop and (I think) PhotoShop Elements for $600 total.
Adobe will soon stop allowing users to upgrade more that 2 versions, and I have CS3 Design Premium. They won't let you upgrade a single app from a bundle (I only need PhotoShop now), so I'm stuck with these options:
CS Design Premium 5.5 Upgrade - $950
PhotoShop CS 5.5 Full - $1000
Topez/NIK for Aperture 3 - $300
There are photos in this thread that have been processed into B&W using Topaz Adjust and NIK Silver FX Pro. Read the descriptions either with or just under the photos to see which.
Yeah Adobe has been getting on my nerves lately. (Lately being many years now.)
I have the CS 4 bundle with basically everything for work but am looking at getting just PS CS 5.5 standalone for personal use (already have Lightroom 3).
I was looking at Topaz as you can get it for $210 with the code ADJUSTME or for $179 as a student. I was hoping to find out of NIK was better and worth the extra or if they were mostly comparable -- similar to how Aperture and Lightroom are comparable.
Why on Earth would adding a Photoshop plugin to the package double the price? From what I can see it contains all the same software - do the Photoshop versions do more? I can see a premium but not double. It is still a license for one user.
Support for PhotoShop and Elements is the only difference between the two NIK packages. Adobe may place a heavy tax on them in an attempt to keep them off the platform. They compete with a lot of the components in PS. I have been told that Elements with NIK plugins is comparable with PS.
I use Topaz's DeNoise plugin and while I have their other products I mainly stick with that filter. I'm blown away at how good that filter is compared to the competition. I was using noise ninja in the past and the difference between the two is quite remarkable. Topaz seems to continue to update and improve their plugins so I do recommend them.