Nik Color Efex Pro Review
Nik Color Efex Pro is now part of the Nik Collection
In March of 2013 Google announced that all Nik Software plug-ins would be bundled together into the Nik Collection for just $149! The bundle includes HDR Efex Pro 2, Color Efex Pro 4, Silver Efex Pro 2, Viveza 2, Sharpener Pro 3 and Dfine 2.
Nik Color Efex Pro
Color Efex Pro is probably the coolest of all the Nik Software products and the one I use the most. In short, it opens up a new dialog that is filled with a wide variety of filters. The filters do SO many different things, that it would be silly to list them all out here. So, instead, I’ll just briefly discuss a few of them.
Below, I have a variety of screenshots of some of the effects. Essentially, what you will easily see is that there are a ton of filters down the lefthand side. The filter is immediately applied and then there are many sub-options on the right. The sub-options give each of the filters a much more granular level of control.
Because each filter on the left is unique, the sub-options on the right are even more unique. Each effect on its own has a million possible outcomes based on your sliders on the right. There is a pretty good example of this in the “Old Photo” screenie below.
Now, it is said that too many choices can paralyze people. I think this can be true. BUT, if you go into a tool like this with an open mind, and freely surf around some options, I think you will really come away impressed with some of the creative things that will happen to your images. Like anything else, the more you practice, the more you can begin to have a bit of volition in your efforts.
One great feature of all the Nik products is that it duplicates the layer for you. Often times, the “effect” may be overdone and you will want to dial it back, or mask with the original image. This allows you to do that.
So, what effects do I use most? I hate to list them out here because the list is going to be a bit skewed to where I have the most familiarity, but maybe that is okay. For one, I like “Tonal Contrast” a lot. It does something very similar to HDR, in which it manipulates contrast and light levels on a very small scale. It has it’s own set of sliders as well that enable you to effect how “punchy” the HDR effect is.
I have attached a few images of Nik Color Efex Pro “Tonal Contrast” below:
Other filters that I use on occasion are “Film Effect”, “Colorize”, “Glamour Glow”, and, “Indian Summer”. I’ve actually tried all of them… and there are many cool ones. So don’t neglect those just because I haven’t given them any screenshot love…
This is the before shot. It is an Argentine artist in her studio. It was shot at 70mm at f2.4.
The Tonal Contrast options for this shot made it a bit over-baked, but it does show off what it can do. I dialed it down for the final product.
Sub options for Tonal Contrast
This is a zoom-in of the Loupe for the wall texture.
You can see how the microcontrast has really made it pop.
This is the “Glamor Glow” video. I don’t really ever use it… it is kinda that “mall shot” effect.
The Original Shot right outta the camera (50mm f1.4)
After Brilliance/Warmth filter with the slider slid towards the warmth side
Tonal Contrast is one of my favorite and can create an HDR-like effect
The Indian Summer filter gives your photo a warm glow
The Bleach Bypass filter gives quite a dramatic effect. It’s not very natural, but cool nonetheless.
Film Effects can add a nice grain and texture. You can see that I selected some Kodak film that people probably learn about in film school.
The colorize option can give the photo a nice sheen while still maintaining elements of the original color.
Here is the “before” shot of a strange area full of crypts in Buenos Aires
The sunshine filter gives a strong but interesting effect
Here is an after version with the “Old Photo” filter turned on
Old Photo has a ton of sub-options on the right
Last, I’ll show another example of what is possible with “Tonal Contrast”. This is a huge solar-tracking sculpture.