Why I Use the Nik Collection
The main reason, they are quicker and easier to use than the host program. If you can move a slider than you already know how to use plug-ins. Let me start my defining what a plug-in is; a plug-in is a program that uses a host program to accomplish complex adjustments or routine repetitive tasks available in the host program but with a simple, easy to use interface. In most cases all you need to do is click a mouse and move some sliders and you can dramatically transform your images in seconds verses having to spend hours accomplishing the same effect with the host program alone.
I consider myself a pretty proficient user of Photoshop and Lightroom and I am very comfortable when it comes to adjusting my images in these programs. But I would rather be out shooting images than spending time at the computer getting them to look the way I want. I have found that the Nik Collection to contain some of the best plug-ins on the market today. A recognized leader in digital imaging technology, Nik has developed class-leading solutions to specific challenges photographers face throughout the photographic workflow and packaged them into convenient easy to use tools. Let's take a look at the Nik Collection and what they do.
Color Efex Pro 4 - provides the most comprehensive set of enhancements for color correction, retouching, and creative effects. Quickly stylize your photographs, retouch portraits with ease, and extend your creativity with unmatched control and versatility. With 55 filters and unlimited variations to each you will never run out of possible effects and combinations of effects to extract the best out of your images.
Silver Efex Pro 2 - allows you to quickly and easily convert your color images to stunning black and white versions with precise and intuitive controls. While any host program can convert a color image to B&W, none will do it with the ease and fine tune ability to contrast, structure and tonal depth available in this plug-in. Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro gives all of that creative control back to the photographer. It includes an extensive collection of film types and emulates each right down to the grain structure, color sensitivity and tone curve.
Viveza 2 - brings a whole new time-saving dimension to your image editing. No complicated selections or layer masks to wear you down. Point, click, slide and voilá - your image looks great. Now featuring global adjustments, fine-detail structure control, and shadow recovery. Viveza 2 will forever change the way you edit images.
HDR Efex Pro 2 - High Dynamic Range photography is a process in which multiple exposures are captured, aligned and merged to generate a single image that enables a much wider range of colors and tonality. HDR Efex Pro 2 is the new standard for creating realistic to artistic HDR images with a revolutionary new all-in-one workflow.
Dfine 2.0 - gives you unprecedented control over exactly how much and where to apply noise reduction. This makes it ultra-easy to eliminate noise in your images while maintaining detail and sharpness, thus improving the quality of every digital photo you take. Dfine 2.0 is designed to prevent the loss of detail other noise reduction tools often introduce.
Sharpener Pro 3.0 - is the most advanced and powerful sharpening solution eliminating the guesswork typically required for achieving superior and consistent results. Use Sharpener Pro 3.0 to regain clarity in digital images, draw the viewer’s attention to the focal point of an image and achieve professional, high quality sharpened images every time. Sharpener Pro 3.0 is the only tool that provides controls for both output and creative detail sharpening of different objects quickly and easily without the need to make different adjustment layers for each object or area.
Common to all of Nik's Plug-ins are even more features and time saving tools you will find in each of the above plug-ins:
Visual Presets - Nik presents to you a number of presets to view to see the affect a certain set of controls have on your image at a glance. Browse through the presets to find a starting point for your image then fine tune the effect with the tools and sliders. Presets speed up your work flow by getting you close to where you want to take an image without having to figure it out from scratch. You are also able to create and save custom presets which allow for quick and repeatable results.
U Point Technology - is a revolutionary new way to selectively edit images in a very fast, easy and natural manner. The U Point technology powered Control Points let you identify and isolate objects within a photograph by placing a Control Point on the object or area to be affected. By analyzing the color, tonality, detail, and location, the Control Point automatically determines where and how to apply certain effects, based on your needs. In short, U Point technology generates a selection and mask behind the scenes to apply or remove selected adjustment without the need of having to learn the complicated process of making selections and generating layers and masks in host programs.
Common Interface - all of Nik's plug-ins share a common interface, with presets on the left, fine tune adjustments on the right and a large image window in the center. Each section of the interface is completely customizable to your needs. Once you learn your way around one plug-in you can easily transfer your leanings to the others.
Before/After Comparisons - all of Nik's plug-ins allow you to view your results in multiple way by presenting a side-by-side comparison, split image comparison or full screen one click on/off check box of the before and after state of your image.
Smart Object Compatible - all of Nik's plug-ins are compatible with Adobe Photoshop's Smart Filter feature that enables you to perform non-destructive edits after they've been applied, without adding additional layers. By supporting Smart Objects Nik's plug-ins allow you to re-access your last setting anytime to allow for continued fine-tuning whenever the mood strikes you.
I have just scratched the surface of what these powerful plug-ins can do. I will reiterate the reason why I use them, they are quicker and easier to use than the host programs. This saves you a lot of time and allows you to experiment many times over to find just the right look for your images. As you experiment, you will find new creative treatments that you would not know where to even begin had you needed to do the same thing in your host image editing program.
Not sure you need the Nik Collection by Google? Who cares, it is now free. Download your FREE copy today!