Before I get to the 6 reasons to use Nik Collection 5 – first things first.
What is the Nik Collection? The Nik Collection is arguably one of the most comprehensive collections of plugins, or stand-alone apps, for corrective and creative processing of photographs. It has been around for years and years in various guises – since 1995 in fact.
I can’t remember when I first started to use the Nik Collection – I think it was back in the day when it was free from Google.
I loved it – as did many photographers all around the world. In fact, I loved it so much that when DxO acquired the Nik Collection in 2017 and updated it I was more than happy to start paying for it.
The latest version I had up until a few days ago was version 3…somewhat outdated but still fully functional. I had decided to skip version 4 for a reason that escapes me now, but then I started looking at, and downloaded a trial version of, Nik Collection 5 and that created a bit of a quandary for me, Should I upgrade to Nik v5.0 or should I upgrade my DxO Photolab 4 to version 5? My budget wouldn’t extend to both.
In the end, I decided to go with upgrading to Nik Collection 5…and I certainly don’t regret that decision.
Why? Let me tell you…
6 Reasons To Use Nik Collection 5
It may well be post-purchase positivity but I am sure that version 5 of Nik is faster – and that didn’t even make my original list of 6 reasons to use Nik!
Actually, my list is based on the individual components of the Nik Collection.
So here we go…
Reason Number 1 - Analog Efex Pro
Analog Efex is the “go-to” tool if you like, and want to add aged analog (as the name implies) effects to your photos.
The app features 90-plus built-in presets, allowing you to either create one-click finishes, or you can use a preset as a starting point to create your own final effect. You can then save that effect as a custom preset, which is what I did with The Glockenspiel image above.
The starting point was the preset called Old English, which when modified I saved as a custom preset called Faded Postcard Effect.
I think there is one thing to be aware of when using Analog Efex Pro, and that is it won’t work with all images – for example, it probably won’t work well with a photo of a modern car, and there is a hint of that in The Glockenspiel.
Reason Number 2 - Color Efex Pro
This photograph of Mt Taranaki, New Zealand, was exported into Color Efex Pro from Photolab 4, and the ClearView filter (now in most Nik plugins) was applied to bring out detail in the cloud and mist areas at the left of the mountain. A Kodachrome 64 preset was applied and slightly modified using the Foliage filter to make the grass in the foreground pop.
Reason Number 3 - Silver Efex Pro
This is probably my favourite of the plugins in Nik Collection 5.
With 64 presets Silver Efex Pro is the ideal starting point for anyone wanting to get a feel for the many moods that black and white photography evokes.
Start with a preset, add or subtract film grain, use a black and white film style, add filters, and do so many other things to arrive at the black and white finish that you like.
And like other Nik plugins, you have the option to save your own settings as a Custom pre
Reason Number 4 - Viveza
I must confess that I rarely used Viveza with previous versions of Nik Collection, however the addition of Control Points has added a whole new powerful creative option to Viveza.
In the Signal Station photo I used control points to make specific areas stand out in the image. While not particularly artistic I used a control point to highlight the base of the tower just to the left of the stairs. One of the features of control points is the accuracy with which specific parts of an image can be selected to adjust, without affecting other areas of similar color and/or brightness.
Here is just one video example that shows the power of using control points in Viveza.
Reason Number 5 - HDR Efex Pro
I may be wrong but I’m guessing that most photographers go through an “I’ll shoot that in HDR” phase. I did! And the results were usually not that good.
Swirling Waters above was processed in HDR Efex Pro – not to create an HDR image – but to overlay 5 images spaced 1EV apart just to see what the result would be.
I quite like it actually.
HDR Efex Pro is, as far as I can see, basically unchanged from version 3, but like other Nik modules offers up a wide range of presets from almost natural, to extremely surreal – and everything in between.
HDR Efex also works on single images.
Reason Number 6 - Get DxO Photolab 5 Essential FREE!
Yes – you read that right.
At the time of writing this story if you purchase Nik Collection 5, or upgrade from an earlier version, you will get totally FREE a fully functioning copy of DxO Photolab 5 Essential version….yours to keep!
As this story is really about Nik Collection 5 I won’t go into detail about Photolab 5 Essential, except to say it is a great RAW processor, with the top class optical correction and a host of other corrective features that DxO is famous for built in.
It does however miss out on a few of the top end features to be found in the Elite version of PL%. A comparison of the two versions can be found here.
Now I think I know what you are thinking…
Nik Collection 5 is a collection of 8 plugins/apps and I haven’t mentioned the other three – DFine 2 (noise reduction), RAW Sharpener (sharpen RAW images and output images) or Perspective Pro.
This is this last three as being for corrective purposes, while the others (Analog Efex, Color Efex, etc.) are for creative purposes, and because I use DxO Photolab 4 at the core of my workflow, I already have DxO’s noise reduction and sharpening technologies available to me so tend not to use the Nik components.
But I have trialled them – and they do work well.
And to finish – one photograph of the Signal Station at Bluff, New Zealand with six different finishes to match the 6 reasons to use Nik Collection 5.