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Review: DxO Nik Collection 2

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DxO Nik Plugin Collection 2 reviewed

DxO updates the classic image editing plugins

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Keith has used the Nik plugins as part of his Photoshop workflow for many years, and was pleased to see DxO take them over from Google and commit to developing them further.

Version two of the DxO Nik collection provides the same capabilities, but now includes a standalone version of DxO Photolab 2, a high quality image editor and RAW image converter that can host the plugins.

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

Plugins from DxO

The plugins also include a lot more presets As such we have detailed reviews of most of them that are still current.

Important – if you are updating your software, do take time to read the requirements and release notes at the foot of this article.

new nik

Price:  €149/$149/£125 – Upgrade €79/$79/£69
– DxO PhotoLab 2.3 ESSENTIAL Edition included.

DxO Nik Collection 2

The collection still includes all these parts. For myself and many others who have used the plugins for a long time, the good news is that all the key functionality is still there.

The new package also includes the ‘Essential’ version of DxO Photolab 2.3 to enable the standalone processing of image files (inc. RAW files) and subsequent application of Nik filters.

It adds quite a few new presets to the filters and HiDPI support for windows users.

nik plugins

In Photoshop (CS6 is still my editor of choice and still supported) you can get this panel for the Nik plugins.


In DxO PhotoLab, the plugins can be launched for any open image.



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


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

If you’re just updating from the Google collection, you may see duplicate copies when you fire up Photoshop – I had to move the Google set out of my plugins folder and re-launch Photoshop.


An image from the Yorkshire dales, while recently testing the Panasonic Lumix S1R. This image is from a ~250MP full size original

dales view

Click on the example images to see at full size

Analog Efex Pro

A range of film/camera effects. Personally, I prefer the film effects found in DxO FilmPack, but the new version of Analog Efex has some nifty new presets (as do all of the plugins) which even if you find them rather over the top, are good to explore how the software works.


Color efex Pro 4

A plugin that I sometimes use to give a bit of a lift to images. It has a range of filters you can apply – the ‘Pro Contrast’ one helps with lighting balance.

Full Color Efex Pro 4 review

Despite the excesses shown in this, and many other examples, the presets are capable of finely nuanced adjustments.  That’s why I use them, please don’t assume that many of the (IMHO quite ghastly) adjustments you see here are typical of how to use the plugins.


Dfine V2

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

The example shows the parts of the image, the software has based its custom noise profile on..

Full Dfine 2 review


HDR Efex pro 2

HDR (high dynamic range) image creation.  Obviously you need multiple images to get the real benefit of the software. However, it can do all kinds of things to individual images.


However, it is capable of readily producing images that don’t give you a headache…

Full HDR Efex Pro 2 review

I’ve long found it particularly useful for night time photography of floodlit buildings.

St Mary de Castro spire

Here’s another example from a single RAW shot taken with the Panasonic S1R, deliberately exposed for the outside. It shows just how much you can push the shadows with some modern sensors. I’ve opened the (single) RAW file into HDR Efex Pro 2 directly from Adobe bridge.

dark view

The shot was taken during my tests of the S1R for my review, so is definitely darker than I’d normally take for such a shot, but I’m pleased to see how much the HDR look can be turned down.

hdr-efex pro 2

Yes – there are lots of truly awful looking versions in the presets. However, take time exploring the details of their settings and you can find really useful adjustments in there…

Sharpener Pro 3

Another of my favourites.

It has two versions. The first,  ‘RAW’, is meant for post processing sharpening.  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 main use however, is for the sharpening of print files, which lets you enter printer resolution and paper types – and can be masked.


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

Full Sharpener Pro 3 review

Viveza 2

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

In the example below, I’ve used a control point to apply a filter to only part of the image.

Full Viveza 2 review


Silver Efex Pro 2

Still one my favourite means of converting colour images to black and white. Used with care it can deliver real detail and subtlety to your B&W images.

Full Silver Efex Pro 2 review


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.

Using with PhotoLab

Here’s an image of Bolton Castle in the Yorkshire Dales.


Loading it into DxO PhotoLab, you can see it’s a pretty big image at ~187MP.


Then firing up Silver Efex Pro 2, I get all the usual options from within PhotoLab.


Opening up a huge image like this take a minute or two opening/saving on my oldish Mac Pro but the file size itself is no problem.

This is from applying one of the presets, so rather more intense than I’d normally choose, but you get the idea…



The latest versions have been further updated, with respect to code compatibility, and many new presets added.

The major addition is DxO PhotoLab, so that you can now process images files just using the plugins.

I was very pleased that the plugins still work with Photoshop CS6, since my current camera is supported by ACR in CS6 and that’s good enough for what I want.

If there’s one extra point I’d want to make about the plugins, is not to be put off my many of the sample images you may see, here and via DxO.  The examples always tend to show the extremes, with the dials ‘turned up to eleven’. My best work is often with the dials at 1/2/3

All my best examples of use of the plugins simply don’t look like much has been done to the image – indeed there are many of my favourite images where the differences only really show up in large prints and are difficult to illustrate here on the web.

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

Plugins from DxO

PRICE – €149/$149/£125 – Upgrade €79/$79/£69 – DxO PhotoLab 2.3 ESSENTIAL Edition included.

My Nik plugin reviews


This from DxO:

COMPATIBILITY – Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Elements, DxO PhotoLab, and any other photo editing software that has an export menu towards a third-party program or is compatible with Photoshop plugins.

System Requirements:


  • Intel Core i5 or higher
  • 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 4 GB or more of available hard-disk space
  • macOS 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave)
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64 bits) through CC 2019
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 through 2019 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through Classic CC 2019


  • 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 bits) with Service Pack 1, Microsoft® Windows 8.1 (64 bits), or
  • Microsoft Windows 10 (64 bits and still supported by Microsoft)
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5 (64 bits) through CC 2019
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 (64 bits) through 2019 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not
    compatible with Photoshop Elements)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through Classic CC 2019
  • GPU Compatibility
    Starting from: NVIDIA GeForce 8 Series, ATI Radeon HD2000 Series, and Intel HD Graphics 2000 Series.
    If no compatible card is available, GPU acceleration will be disabled, and the CPU will be used.
Software release notes

What’s new in Nik Collection 2 by DxO?


  • Please note that Nik Collection 2 by DxO is a new offer including the following software:
    – The updated version of the 7 plugins of Nik Collection (below mentioned as “Nik plugins”) o DxO PhotoLab 2.3
  • By purchasing the Nik Collection 2 by DxO, you will be given
    – 1 x Nik Collection 2 by DxO License Key (that can be activated 3 times)
    – 1 x DxO PhotoLab 2 Essential Edition License Key (that can be activated 3 times)
  • In case of trial, please note that DxO PhotoLab 2(.x) Elite Edition users will be upgraded to DxO PhotoLab 2.3 Elite Edition after installing Nik Collection 2 by DxO (if an Elite Edition License for DxO PhotoLab 2(.x) is already owned, after purchasing Nik Collection 2 by DxO the given additional Essential Edition license key is obviously useless)
  • In case of purchase, please note that buyers will be given an additional DxO PhotoLab 2 Essential Edition license key (not needed if an Elite Edition License is already owned)
  • If you already own a version of Nik Collection, please make a copy of your custom and imported presets before installing Nik Collection 2 by DxO.
    – Visit our FAQ: How to export / import presets:


Presets: 42 “En Vogue” presets

  • Color Efex Pro 4 includes a new series of 10 presets / recipes
  • Silver Efex Pro 2 includes a new series of 10 presets
  • Analog Efex Pro 2 includes a new series of 10 presets / tools combination
  • HDR Efex Pro 2 includes a new series of 12 presets

DxO PhotoLab 2.3 (Essential Edition): Is now part of Nik Collection 2 by DxO

  • Improved synergy between Nik Collection 2 by DxO and DxO PhotoLab 2.3 with a dedicated Nik Plugin Selector for direct access to any of the 7 Nik plugins


HiDPI Support

  • Improved single monitor support on Windows for -Efex plugins (Color Efex Pro 4 – Silver Efex Pro 2 – HDR Efex Pro 2 – Analog Efex Pro 2) (now similar to macOS version)
    1. Interface is now displayed taking into account scale setting from current monitor
    2. Selective Tool’s interface is now scaled to the main monitor’s resolution
    3. Improved sharpness when launched from Adobe Lightroom and on standalone interface
    4. Image preview is now always displayed at resolution from current monitor
  • Improved multi-monitors support on macOS and Windows


  • Color Efex Pro 4 improved distinction between active and non-active panels


  • Dual installer: Nik Collection 2 by DxO now includes DxO PhotoLab 2.3 installation to its 7 plugins

Bug Fixes:

  • HDR Efex Pro 2: Output image is now by default saved in one of the input image’s directory instead of being saved in macOS/users/ (on macOS) or C:\Users\<username>\Documents (on Windows)
  • (macOS) Display issue when a font is missing is now fixed
  • (macOS) Selective Tool minimisation issue in Adobe Photoshop is now fixed
  • (macOS) The progress bar is now refreshing in real time while installing your software
  • (Windows) Installer now detects the latest and future version of Adobe Photoshop
  • (macOS) Installation issues with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018 when downloaded from Mac App Store is now fixed
  • Links from installer issue in some languages is now fixed
Installation notes

For macOS users:

  • By default, Nik Collection 2 by DxO installer will first install the 7 Nik plugins
  • Then it will install DxO Photolab 2.3 in background
  • Once installation is completed you will have installed both the 7 Nik plugins and DxO PhotoLab 2.3
  • By default, the 7 Nik plugins and DxO PhotoLab 2.3 will be installed in the Applications directory
  • By default, Nik Collection 2 by DxO will overwrite any former version of Nik Collection installed in the Applications directory
  • By default, DxO PhotoLab 2.3 will overwrite any former version of DxO PhotoLab 2 (no impact on existing DxO PhotoLab 1 or DxO Optics Pro) located in the Applications directory.
  • macOS installer includes a link to retrieve easily Nik Collection 2018 by DxO v1.1

For Windows users:

  • Nik Collection 2 by DxO installer will first install the 7 Nik plugins
  • Once installed it will explicitly open DxO Photolab 2.3 installer and ask user for permission to install DxO PhotoLab 2.3
  • By default, the 7 Nik plugins and DxO PhotoLab 2.3 will be installed in a “DxO” folder located in C:\Program Files\DxO
  • By default, it will overwrite any former version of Nik Collection or DxO PhotoLab 2. Including Nik Collection by Google.
  • Windows installer includes a link to retrieve easily Nik Collection 2018 by DxO v1.1

…about uninstallation

  • Once the 7 Nik plugins are uninstalled, the uninstaller will provide a link to retrieve Nik Collection 2018 by DxO v1.1

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