I realize the point of this article focuses on the best method to convert your color (digital) photos to black and white -- and I realize that I may take some heat for this...however...
Unfortunately, the best way to take a fabulous, well-lit and stunning black and white photograph is by using high-quality black and white film.
There's no comparison - and, no matter what software you use - it will still look like a "digital" photo.
When George Clooney made the movie "Good Night and Good Luck", about the life and career of Edward R Murrow, he decided to shoot the film in balck and white, to give the film a more historical and true-to-life look, from the days before the days of color television.
However - Clooney did not shoot the movie on black and white film. He shot it in color, and then used a digital post-production technique to literally suck the color out of the film and retrovert it to black and white.
Unfortunately, he did not light the film for black and white - like they would have in an old movie - so the result was flat and disappointing. Anybody who had any sense about making a movie in black and white could easily tell it was a digital effect.
I'm sure converting from color to black and white can be very creative and produce some great results, but - like the difference between a recording made originally in analogue with 24 tracks and released on vinyl - and the same recording digitally "remastered" on CD -- there's really no comparison - in my humble opinion.