If you want trouble free creative and beautiful black and white images. this plugin is a must have from Nik Software. You can also download a demo form their site which will give you an idea of what this baby can do.
I tried a demo and was instantly won over. No more adjustment layers, dodging and burning this is the real deal. A number of effects can be applied and adjusted all on the fly. There are also old school film look effects. The major selling point has to be the U-Point technology.
This is a utility which allows you to make adjustments on the image without creating a number of layers
Here is a screen shot of the user interface.
Once you are happy you click OK and hey presto. The first image is a conversion with the Black and White mode in Photoshop and the second image is through Nik Silver Efex... what do you think?