By Daniel O'Byrne
Review September 2010: Nik Software Complete Collection

Review by Daniel O’Byrne











Nik Software Complete Collection

Review by Daniel O’Byrne

There has been a major renaissance in photography since the dawn of the digital age, and the digital darkroom has never been better with programmes like Photoshop CS4, however for the professional many hours needs to be spent to master the power, yet the use of plug-in filters has considerably lessened the steep learning curve to more manageable proportions. Nik Software based in San Diego, California has been at the cutting edge of this revolution since 1995, and produced some of my personal favourites and the complete collection on offer seems to be good value when you consider the cost of buying each one.. For the keen amateur or professional the reduction to workflow would
represent good value.

The Complete Collection includes all of Nik Software’s award-winning plug-in software titles for Apple Aperture, Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop, including Dfine 2.0, Viveza 2 Color Efex Pro 3.0, Silver Efex Pro and Sharpener Pro 3.0. In either Mac or PC format. Typical price from sources in the UK is around £500 with a considerable discount for Students and academic use.. Several discounts seem to be available if you shop around. The use of this software seems to represent far better value when used as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom 2 or Apple Aperture and the $ to £ price in the UK seems expensive.. There also seems to be far less of a presence in the UK compared to Continental Europe, which may make finding the product locally more difficult.

Each of these programmes allow for powerful and precise adjustments or corrections via the patented U Point technology these smart filters do away with the time consuming work as all of these products include Nik Software’s patented U Point technology, which gives you the very powerful tools for precise and natural photographic enhancements and corrections without the need for complicated selections or layer masks. Each are unable to be used with my 64bit OS at the time of writing this review other 32 bit systems which is a bugbear. for me as I have to run two installations as many of my 32 bit filters refuse to work in a more powerful 64bit OS on my PC users will need to check for possible upgrades as this is being considered. As will Mac Users

ok so what’s in the Box here is a list of the tools with a little of what each does.. Or you can follow this link to the Nik website for some examples here

Dfine 2.0

Here at last is a fine noise reduction software to improve the quality of virtually every photo, with precise control over exactly how much and where noise reduction is

applied. This feature is unique as far as I am aware and thus compares very well against my standard which has been Noiseware professional. The secret in this sort of software
seems to me to be down to how little the effects of filtration has in the retention of detail and the not to over smooth looking images at the end of the process..
Most modern digital cameras have very low noise, and this has improved more so in the latest models even at High ISO levels making it quite a challenge to make something work

as well as this, but the control in being able to pick an exact area to work on is a real bonus point.

Viveza 2

This creative tool is used to selectively control colour and light in photographic images, and really makes best use of the simple method without the need to resort to the power of layer masks etc I mentioned previously in the introduction. And needless to say colour and light are the key to any great photograph. The tool works well, and again the U-point control method is very effective, and does not take too long to learn to make the best use of it. For example you can easily correct colour casts in an image with no more than a couple of clicks to a specific or whole image. It would be fair to suggest that often the masks created in Lightroom 2 or in Adobe Photoshop can be both faster and more effective in some instances and makes sense to try them first. I found that if they don’t work well or you need control of a complex scene you can turn to Viveza 2 with confidence.. You can tell these products have been created by Photographers who happen to make software! Check out this cool video here

Color Efex Pro 3.0

Is the real standout product in this line-up and Offers a comprehensive set of filters for colour correction, retouching and creative enhancements in 52 traditional and stylising photographic filters with more than 250 effects. Similar products abound for some of the effects like the HDR type tonal contrast which in my opinion is better then Topaz Adjust or LucisArt some may not agree, whatever both add an extra dimension when you work with Photomatix or HDR software, which often needs to be tidied up, or produce unnatural looking skies. There are too many effects to go into any great detail. But this package of effects is almost worth the cover price alone! Some of the effects I may never use as they don’t suit my own preferences of style, but rest assured there is enough here to meet the needs of the most demanding user.

Silver Efex Pro

The very advanced, powerful and complete sharpening solution for photographers who love black and white, it eliminates the guesswork typically required for achieving optimal sharpening results. And the tonal contrast etc are in my view a lot better than the standard Photoshop options here.. It certainly restored my interest in doing more of this type of work. And any wedding photographer will want to own this product.

Features Industry-leading noise reduction
Precision tools for managing colour and light
52 traditional and stylising photographic filters
Total control over black and white images in a single tool
Optimal sharpening results with no guesswork

Sharpener Pro 3.0

Once again what has been said about Viveza 2 can be applied here on the value of the u-point technology built in as the company suggests the new adaptive sharpening algorithms and the selective sharpening ensure desired sharpness or creative softening of details are easily accomplished, and certainly when used properly can draw the eye into the focal point of the image

The Sharpening Soft Proof that lets you accurately inspect results before printing saving money in costly test prints, improved handling of new output devices, and new output presets provide repeatable, professional results. 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. And best of all the end results are impressive, as very often only part of the image may only need a boost to make the image jump out at you. Please do bear in mind that When working with RAW Pre sharpener, turn off any sharpening in the RAW processor. To

achieve optimal results with the Output Sharpener, resizing should be done prior to performing final output sharpening as the size of the image will impact the amount of sharpening applied to the image. I have also found on my Canon 1D Mk111 and 5D, perhaps less important due to larger sensor it is best to have the Camera set to Faithful than any of the other modes like landscape etc which are best worked on without any sharpening prior to use in the software.

64bit OS compatibility
Intuitive and easy to learn to use with a host of great video tutorials available.
Workflow enhancement
Ability for noise reduction in specific parts of an image
Can save money in expensive test prints due to reliable and professional results.
Lack of 64bit OS support
Expensive if the need for improved workflow is not an important factor Awards

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