Almost a year ago I wrote a story about 6 reasons to use Nik Collection 5, and a few days ago DxO released the latest version of the Nik Collection – but is Nik Collection 6 the best yet?
I’m not going to venture an answer to my own question, but I am going to suggest that the Nik Collection 6 is evolutionary as opposed to being revolutionary.
Sure – there are a few nice new features in Nik Collection 6, but from the short play I have had with the trial package, maybe I won’t necessarily be upgrading from my current version.
I will say however, that I still believe, as do many others, that the Nik Collection is one of the best sets of plugins (or stand-alone apps) for photo-processing that is available.
So what are the new features? You can check out DxO’s own list, but what I like most are the enhancements DxO have made to the local adjustments tools.
The Control Line local adjustment that popped up in DxO Photolab is now available in the Nik plugins, as are colour and luminance selectivity and diffusion to make mask selection more accurate. ClearView is there too – as it was in version 5.
I find the control line local adjustment a particularly good addition to Viveza which I have rarely used in the past.
Also, you can now see what your last 15 edits were and easily revert to any one of them – useful? Not sure.
But one addition I find really useful is the Preset Seach tool. It is a real time saver – for me anyway.
I am still totally sold on the single-click options available within all of the plugins. It is so easy just to use a preset at it is or as a starting point. And of course, once you get a look that you like, you can save it as a custom preset.
Is Nik Collection 6 The Best Yet?
Let’s look at some photos processed in Nik Collection 6.
Silver Efex Pro remains my favourite app in the Nik Collection. In this photo, I added a control line along the line of the hill sloping from the top right hand corner to add a bit of drama to the image overall, then used a control point to enhance the sun’s reflection on the water.
As I mentioned above, Viveza is not an app that I have used often, but the addition of the control line local adjustment and enhancements to control points makes it more appealing to me now. In hindsight, I think I have “overcooked” this photo, both in terms of the overall atmosphere, but more specifically with the lightening of the rock and water in the foreground.
Analog Efex Pro – like Silver Efex Pro – is a winner. This is probably the only app in the suite of 8 plugins that I would use a single-click option to produce a final result. It does, however, have many, many more options such as bokeh, motion blur, lens vignette, light leaks, frames, and so on, so the the possibilities are truly endless.
Some subjects really call out for the Analog Efex treatment like the Second hand shop above
While others are suited to the Color Efex Pro treatment. Sky enhancement courtesy of a control line and ClearView.
Weathered building boards started out as a colour photo comprising just white boards with faded red on the porch roof. It was processed in Nik Perspective to pull all the horizontal and vertical elements into line, then put through Silver Efex Pro for the black-and-white conversion. Nik Perspective can also correct optical distortion if it has access to the original image’s EXIF data, but I had already used Photlab for this task.
Look at the noise on the left hand side of this guy’s head. This is a screen shot of noise reduction in Nik Dfine – an app I just don’t use because the noise reduction options in Photolab are far superior. However, if you don’t have Photolab, Dfine also works as a stand-alone app so could be a useful noise reduction option.
Here’s a hoary old chestnut – HDR – possibly hated by more people (purists) than those who like the effect, and that’s probably because so many people overdo the HDR effect (I’ve been guilty of that). But what is acceptable and what isn’t still rests with the opinion of the viewer.
Nik’s HDR Efex Pro is pretty versatile – but if you stick to just the one-click options it it is more than likely you’ll end up with something that doesn’t look realistic. Try the Granny’s Attice preset, or The End Of The Road, for example and you’ll understand what I mean.
With the old shed image above, I tried my best to combine realism with an obvious HDR look.
As an aside, I recall reading somewhere that DxO have scheduled an update to HDR Efex Pro for August this year.
You can download 30 trial versions of DxO Photolab and the Nik Collection from the DxO website (and no! I don’t receive any payment if you do).
See all images in a slide show…and feel free to comment on this story below.