So what does the Nik Collection give you? Well there are seven different programs or plug-ins that make up the collection. Analog Efex Pro let's you apply filters that simulate different types of film stock onto the photo. For those that have only ever shot digital, or in the film days were not serious about photography yet, different types of film had different definite looks. Remember the Paul Simon song Kodachrome?
Another plug-in is Color Efex Pro which helps with color correction, retouching, and creative effects on a color photo. You have 55 different filters that you can use on the photo. You can even stack several filters together. Sure, there are filters built into Lightroom, but often those are heavy handed, and are limited.
Then there is Silver Efex Pro. This is a plug-in to help you convert a photo to black and white. I never use Lightroom or Photoshop to create a black and white image anymore. The tools in a program like Nik work so much better. The thing with using something like the Nik Efex series is that the programmers work hard to learn all the ins and outs of color or of black and white conversion so that the adjustments are spot on. These are people that know the subject in and out. So you are able to get much cleaner adjustments. This is seen more in black and white conversion than either of the other two in my opinion.
Viveza is a tool for special spot adjustments for color and tonality of images. When I first saw a demo of Nik the person adjusted a photo of a family they took in the fall in Michigan. Colors in the fall outdoors are always nice, but the trees rarely ever cooperate with all turning to good colors at the same time. The presenter was able to adjust the trees so that the green leaves suddenly were glorious colors. You are also able to adjust bright spots and shadows in the photo selectively to get what you envisioned when you first took it. Here is the thing to remember, a camera does not have the dynamic range of our eyes. So often the photo we take does not look quite like what we saw when we were there. And I live by a statement I heard a great photographer say once when they were asked if they photoshop images. They said "The image is just as I envisioned it when I took it". I love this because even in the old darkroom film days we would do different things to change contrast or color etc.
The HDR Efex Pro tool is obviously for HDR work. And it helps you get solid and realistic looking HDR. Or you can get that extreme look some people look for as well. HDR is primarily a method to get past the limited dynamic range a camera can see and be able to pull out the extreme shadows and highlights in a scene. Some have found that they like the artistic look of extreme HDR work. Others simply want to be able to go into a very contrasty scene and be able to capture all of the information. This tool helps with both.
Sharpener Pro is a tool to adjust the sharpening in a photo. No, if you have a photo that is out of focus it won't fix focus. Nothing does that, no matter what you see in movies or on TV. But if you have a photo that is a little soft, this will help fix that. Sometimes that happens from a soft lens. Sometimes you just want a hyper sharp image.
Finally the Dfine tool. This is a tool for dealing with noise in an image. Often we need to shoot at higher ISO settings to get the shutter speed we need so we can get the shot. Cameras are doing better all the time at higher ISO. But you will still get noise in the image. Dfine will help to reduce or eliminate that noise and give you a very usable image. One of the unique things about Dfine that is very nice is that you can add the noise reduction in selected areas of a photo. So you might have a photo that is generally fine, but there are one or two spots where you got some color noise. You can touch up just those areas without affecting the rest of the image negatively.
If you purchased Nik in 2016 then you will be automatically refunded your purchase price. For the rest of you go and download it, give it a try. I will work on putting together some demo videos of the tools for you soon.