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Nik plugins by DxO – review info.

  |   Articles and reviews, Black and white, DxO, Image Editing, Nik, Review, Software review, Software update   |   No comment

Review notes for DxO Nik plugins

DxO updates the classic image editing plugins


Keith has used the Nik plugins as part of his workflow for many years, and like many others suspected that Google would never actively develop them after acquiring the company.

DxO have now acquired the plugins and have promised to produce new versions.

Plugins from DxO

However, their first release is aimed at making the plugins compatible with current editing software. As such we have detailed reviews of most of them that are still current,

Keith has been looking at the update to see where we are…

new nik

Nik Collection 2018 by DxO

First, the good news, all the Nik plugins now work with newer software.

nik plugins

The downside is that DxO want paying for all the work its taken to update the code. It’s still a small fraction of the original cost for all the plugins, and I’m minded to say it was worth it back then.

Compatibility

This from DxO as to the minimum system/software requirements.

Mac

  • Intel Core™ i5 or higher
  • 4 GB of RAM (6 GB recommended)
  • 2 GB or more of available hard-disk space
  • OS X 10.12 (macOS Sierra), 10.13 (macOS High Sierra)
  • Graphics card with 512 MB of video memory to handle GPU acceleration
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64-bit) through CC 2018
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 through 2018 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 6/CC 2018

Windows:

  • Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 X2 or higher (Intel Core i5 or higher recommended)
  • 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 4 GB or more of available hard-disk space
  • Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit) with Service Pack 1, Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64-bit), or Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit, and still supported by Microsoft).
  • More information: https://support.dxo.com/hc/articles/115015671008
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64-bit) through CC 2018
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (64-bit) through 2018 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 6/CC 2018

GPU Compatibility:

NVIDIA GeForce 8 Series, GeForce 9 Series, GeForce 100 Series, GeForce 200 Series, GeForce 300 Series, GeForce 400 Series, GeForce 500 Series, ATI Radeon HD2000 Series, Radeon HD3000 Series, Radeon HD4000 Series, Radeon HD5000 Series, Radeon HD6000 Series.

If no compatible card is available, GPU acceleration will be disabled and the CPU will be used.

Setup

The software unpacks after downloading, and as you can see, isn’t small.

space needed

The installer will find all the applications it can run with.

add to applications

You can register, or get a 30 Day fully functional trial

registration

One little glitch – on opening Photoshop I got two of the Nik control panels appearing.

tool panel

Looking in my CS6 plugins folder I removed the Google folder which held the old versions. After relaunching Photoshop, all was well.

Time to see that they work.  I’ve tried all, and have links to my full reviews of most, which are still relevant.

I’m using this photo I took in Wyoming in 2004 with my 11MP Canon 1Ds. The rocks really were that orange…

Click on the example images to see at full size

Analog Efex Pro

A range of film/camera effects

analog efex pro

The only plugin I’ve not a detailed review of (as yet).

analog-efex-pro-sample

Color efex Pro 4

A plugin that I sometimes use to give a bit of a lift to images.

color-efex-pro-4

It has a range of filters you can apply – the ‘Pro Contrast’ one helps with lighting balance.

Full Color Efex Pro 4 review

color-efex-pro-4-example

Dfine V2

Nose reduction software that analyses the image to come up with custom noise profiles

dfine-2

The example shows a reduction in noise in the sky (the image was processed with no noise reduction, just for this example.

Full Dfine 2 review

dfine-2-example

HDR Efex pro 2

HDR (high dynamic range) image creation.

HDR-Efex-Pro-2

Obviously you need multiple images to get the real benefit of the software. However, it can do its stuff to unsuspecting single images too.

HDR-Efex-Pro-2-sample

Full HDR Efex Pro 2 review

I still use it for night time photography of floodlit buildings.

St Mary de Castro spire

Sharpener Pro 3

Another of my favourites.

sharpener-pro-3

It has two versions. The first,  ‘RAW’, is meant for post processing sharpening.

sharpener-pro-3-raw-example

What I particularly like is the ability to use control points to localise sharpening, and vary the type of sharpening.

It’s good at avoiding sharpening artefacts.

My favourite is however the sharpening for print, which lets you enter printer resolution and paper types.

sharpener-pro-3-output-example

Used judiciously it can greatly improve the perceived sharpness of my large prints.

Full Sharpener Pro 3 review

Silver Efex Pro 2

Probably my favourite means of converting colour images to black and white.

silver-efex-pro-2

Used with care it can deliver real detail and subtlety to your B&W images.

Full Silver Efex Pro 2 review

silver-efex-pro-2-example

If I had one issue, it’s the risk of producing ‘halos’ around objects. This is relatively easy to deal with and I’ve discussed uses of SFX2 several times, including for colour images.

I know many photographers will appreciate being able to continue using Silver Efex Pro.

Viveza 2

A good way of applying specific image adjustments to parts of images without the need for complex masking.

viveza-2

In the example below, I’ve used a control point to emphasise the foreground rock formation.

Full Viveza 2 review

viveza-2-example

Conclusions

If you got them for free before from Google then I can see you might wonder about paying – DxO are offering them at a reduced rate to start with, and you get more modern code that’s not going to fall over with the next editing software update.

I was very pleased that the plugins work with Photoshop CS6, since I really don’t want to sign up to the Adobe tax quite yet (YMMV – I dislike lightroom and my current camera is supported by ACR in CS6).

Looking at my reviews, I realise that a lot has changed in editing software over the last ten years and all kinds of new interfaces and techniques have become popular.

Where does this put the Nik plugins today?

Well, I still use them in Photoshop, and if you’ve seen my reviews, I’ve tried a lot of software plugins and the like.

With DxO taking them over, we have an opportunity for improvements and refinements – my biggest hope is that DxO doesn’t try and dumb them down too much in an attempt to make them appeal more widely. There are a lot of people who appreciate the way they have worked over the years – improve them yes, but please make sure you keep ‘expert modes’ for those of us with a job to do.

All in all a welcome release for very useful software.

If you’re new to them, there is a 30 Day free trial available…

Plugins from DxO

My Nik plugin reviews

(Analog Efex pending…)

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