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Nik Suite - Color Efex review

Discussion in 'Software Reviews Forum' started by Carmen, Mar 29, 2014.

  1. Carmen

    Carmen Forum Geek :) Honorary Life Member

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    I've been meaning to write something about the fantastic Nik Suite for a while, but I thought I'd break it down as it's a very large suite of software and I only use small parts of it.

    What is Nik Suite? Nik is a suite of photographic filters designed to run standalone or from within Photoshop. Generally I run them stand alone but triggered from Lightroom. The full suite is now owned by Google and is available for an excellent price.

    http://www.google.com/nikcollection/

    The full suite includes:

    Analog Efex - various film and plate style filters
    Color Efex - various filters for use with colour shots but also has a monochrome conversion built in
    Define2 - excellent noise reduction software
    Silver Efex - excellent black and white conversion software
    HDR Efex Pro - HDR software
    Viveza - great for colour changing/adjustments on specific areas
    Sharpener Pro 3 - a sharpener for RAW files and output files


    This is my thoughts on ColorEfex, based on the filters within it that I use. ColorEfex is my most used software package after Lightroom, I use it FAR more than PS.

    My favourite filter by far in the colorefex suite is "PRO-CONTRAST" this is an excellent filter and can really make a huge difference to files - in fact often it's like a haze is removed from the shot comparing before to after.

    Here is a difficult shot - taken on the V1 and including a very tricky dynamic range which has really tested the camera and it's small sensor, the camera, which was on matrix metering Aperture priority and with active D-lighting switched on has produced a reasonable result without blowing the sky but it has crunched the detail a little available from the shadow areas. This is just with some basic LR adjustments. I thought it was good to show results from a camera that doesn't have a massive dynamic range to show what can be eeked out of smaller files - it wouldn't be so much of a test from the D800!

    _DSC1867.jpg

    This is the shot from within Color Efex with the PRO CONTRAST filter applied on the Dynamic Contrast preset. The photo to the right of the red line has had the effect applied, to the left is as it was out of LR. You can see some deeper blacks and a better sky colour. It's not so obvious on this particular shot as the re is plenty of contrast anyway (too much possibly), but in some scenes this filter alone will make a massive difference to the shot.

    Nik CE1.jpg

    My next most used filter in Color Efex is the DETAIL EXTRACTOR. This has to be used with care as it can lead to a HDR'ish look.

    This is after the PRO CONTRAST and then a DETAIL EXTRACTOR filter added on top- with default settings again red line shows after filters on right and as from LR on left.

    Nik CE2.jpg

    Often, depending on the pic I would stop there, go back to LR and add any further effects like sharpening (sometimes I use the Nik sharpener Pro but rarely) and noise reduction cropping etc.

    but for this there's one more filter I regularly use and that's "BRILLIANCE/WARMTH" I like the effect of warming up the image and adding perceptual saturation. This doesn't saturate some colours but changes others to make it look like some are brighter...
    This is the shot with the BRILLIANCE/WARMTH filter added on top of the other two, and 15% warmth, and 11% perceptual saturation added.

    Nik CE3.jpg

    This is the final shot after taking it back to LR and adding sharpening etc. For this I probably would normally not have added the warming filter but I wanted to show what it does!

    _DSC1867-2.jpg

    Of course there are lots of other filters available in Nik Color Efex, which you can have some fun with.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
    Roger S likes this.
  2. tenchy

    IOTM

    tenchy Rain maker Administrator

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    it is a great suite of filters. I must investigate that details extractor one, not used that!
     
  3. paulmag

    paulmag Always on Honorary Life Member

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    Nice one Carmen I should really look at them as I also have them but just use the silver fx filter :)
     
  4. Ramble Vision

    Ramble Vision Mountain Climber Super Moderator

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    Details extractor is one of my faves as well
     
  5. SeanNeedham

    SeanNeedham Ol' Sparky Honorary Life Member

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    Might have to have a look at the detail extractor, as that does sound interesting.
     
  6. DonS

    DonS Stuck in Toronto Moderator

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    Well done. I think will look at detail extractor as well :)
     
    Carmen likes this.
  7. Flyer

    Flyer Old Hand Premium Member

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    I use "Darken/Lighten centre" a lot a far more subtle way of adding vignette in Color Effex and I do most if not all sharpening in Nik ;)
     
    Carmen likes this.
  8. GarryN

    GarryN Here a lot Premium Member

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    nice little review.

    Color Fx has so many possibilities, I tend to end up just using two or three of my favourites and not checking out all the others.
     
    Carmen likes this.
  9. Carmen

    Carmen Forum Geek :) Honorary Life Member

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    Yeah I only use a handful but I quite often play with others. I've been quite liking some of the filters on the portraits I did up at Dougs for the "hollywood" style colour look. For that I used GLAMOUR GLOW and a couple of other filters for that.
     
  10. Haripaul

    Haripaul Old Hand Premium Member

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    I've got the colour efex in with Paintshop Pro 5 and do use it quite often and as you said the pro contrast is a great tool.
     
  11. Tenorplayer

    IOTM

    Tenorplayer Old Hand Premium Member

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    I prefer to paint with the detail extractor as it can make smooth tones look a little noisy in certain images but it is a neat little toolthat I also use
     
  12. marc2242

    marc2242 New Member

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    Google changed it to a free product not too long ago, so now it is even more worth checking out. I'm guessing that means it won't continue to be updated though.
     
  13. Dean M

    Dean M Well-Known Member

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    love nik efex but fave for me is silver efex and the wonderful analogue efex which has so much more in that you might think on first look.
     

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