Nik Collection is now available for Windows and Mac as a free download from Google.com. Nik Collection can be used as standalone application or as a Plugin. If you use it in its standalone form you will not be able to edit images in their raw format and therefore you should consider using the program together with Photoshop or Lightroom.
Nik Collection previously cost 150 USD (about 105 British pounds), but the search engine giant now offers the program completely free. The story behind this package is that Google acquired the company Nik Software and the popular Photography App Snapseed in 2012. Google initially sold the package at a hefty 500 USD, but the price was later lowered to 150 USD, and now free.
Nik Collection consists of the following add-ons (plugin).
When you download and install Nik Collection, it will not show up on your desktop as a program you can open and use because it is primarily designed to be used with other photo editing software. However, all you need to do is find the program file, such as the C: \ Program Files \ Google \ Nik Collection. You will then see 7 different folders with 7 different filters that you can open and use. You can also right click on a folder and send it to your desktop for quick access, rather than searching through your hard drives files every time you want to use that filter. You can then open an image via the File menu and then edit and save it.
Please note that stand-alone mode does not allow you to edit images in every filter, only those with "File" displayed in the top left-hand corner.
Nik Collection is basically designed to be used as a add-on for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Elements.
When Nik Collection is installed, you can gain access to the Nik Collection Filters menu in Photoshop. In Lightroom you can find Nik Collection filters via the Menu > Photo > Edit in. In Elements the filters can be found via the Filter menu.
If you use Nik Collection with Photoshop when editing images in a raw format, you need to start editing the image with the raw tool in Photoshop, before you start using Nik Collection filters.
Before we take you through the filter effects is a good time to point out a fantastic feature called "Control Points".
You can use a control point to edit a specific area of an image and you can use as many control points you wish. What you do is click on the Control Point button in the right panel and then click on a place in the picture. The location of this button varies slightly according to the filter you use.
When you add a control point you'll see a menu that enables you to adjust the brightness, contrast and structure on the area of the image you have placed the point. You can click on the small triangle to expand the menu.
Click on the control point in order to move its position to any other place in the picture. Click on the top scale next to the control point to adjust the size of the area being modified by the adjustment. It's a case of trial and error to find the adjustments you want.
With this filter you can change an image so that it looks like it was taken with an old camera.
For more information on the Analog Efex Pro filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
Color Efex Pro is a collection of 55 filters with hundreds of features and options. You get a list of all the filters on the left which are activated by clicking on one.
The effect is then applied with the appropriate filter you have chosen. You can tweak the settings via the tools on the right - here you can find options such as brightness and contrast, but the possibilities depend on the filter you have selected.
A good tip if you want to save your work before applying a new filter is to click the "Save Recipe" button to the right. You can give your image a unique name and click OK to confirm. You can use this later by selecting "Recipes" on the left side.
For more information on the Analog Efex Pro 4 filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
Dfine is used to reduce noise. Dfine cannot be used as a stand-alone, but requires other photo editing software such as Photoshop.
The program will analyse an image and reduce noise automatically. You will get the message "Automatic profile Applied" and you can just click OK if you are satisfied.
You can continue to reduce noise manually if you are not satisfied with the automatic noise reduction. You can click the Reduce button with several options. You can click on the Control Point button to adjust the specific area of the image. You can also optionally use the plus and a minus button in the program window on the right.
To check fine details you can double-click on an area in the image zoom in.
For more information on the Dfine2 filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
HDR stands for High-dynamic-range imaging and it is a technique that uses several different exposures and combines these into one image. The purpose of HDR is to get more details in the picture and it usually means that the picture is more dramatic. The camera takes multiple images (with different exposures), but fails to record all information in each individual exposure. The HDR technique can assemble one image with information from all images.
HDR Efex Pro can be used to modify real HDR images. The program can also create HDR effects for one image only. You will not get access to the same information about an image with the real HDR method, but you can still get a decent result. You can use functions to adjust the image in the aftermath, such as Tone Compression, Tonality, Color, Selective Adjustments and Finishing.
On the left side you can browse multiple effects and fine-tune these via the right menu.
For more information on the HDR Efex Pro 2 filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
This filter makes the picture sharper. You can choose whether to adjust the image for display or printing. You will then have further choices depending on what you want to use the picture for. This cannot be used as a stand-alone and requires other software such as Photoshop to be used.
For more information on the Sharpener Pro 3 filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
Silver Efex Pro is designed to convert colour images to black and white images. If you are fond of black and white images, you should definitely try this filter.
Run the program and it will automatically convert the image to a black and white. You can choose from a variety of effects on the left side and you can tweak them with the settings on the right.
You have Global Adjustments that includes brightness, contrast, structure and Selective Adjustment where you can use "Control Points" to adjust one particular location in the image.
For more information on the Silver Efex Pro 2 filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
Viveza is intended for adjusting brightness and colours. You can adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and structure. Structure means texture/detail in the image. Viveza cannot be used as a stand-alone and requires other software such as photo shop.
For more information on the Viveza 2 filter you can visit the following YouTube video.
If you want a detailed overview of every single filter, please check out the following YouTube video.
Nik Collection can be downloaded from the following link.