Nik plug-ins help photo editors turn digital color images into spectacular black-and-white photographs, combine photos into a magnificent HDR images, correct color and retouch images with ease, and sharpen images perfectly.
Beginning on March 24, 2016, Google made the full Nik Collection available as a free download for both Windows and Mac based computers.
Nik Software was a company established in 1995, which quickly became known for producing the top Adobe Photoshop plug-ins for professional editing of photographs.
Their suite of plug-ins, primarily designed for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom, and Apple's Aperture sold for $500, very expensive for the average photographer.
In 2012, Google, wishing to beef up their mobile photo editing tools, purchased Nik Software primarily for their industry leading mobile photo editor, Snapseed, and soon offered the Nik Suite, renamed the Nik Collection, for $150, a stunning price reduction.
Continuing their concentration on mobile technology, Google decided to offer the Nik Collection for free to Windows and Mac users for software compatible with the plug-ins. The collection can be used as stand alone products too, but are far more efficient and effective as plug-ins, in my opinion.
The Nik Collection includes the following products:
- Analogue Efex Pro – a tool to make images have the look and feel of photos made with classic and vintage cameras, lenses and films.
- Color Efex Pro – a comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching and creative effects.
- Silver Efex Pro – a tool to take color images or black-and-white images and turn them into stunning black-and-white images fully controlling dynamic brightness and contrast, full control of whites and blacks, as well as grain. The tool can emulate almost 20 popular films and make finishing adjustments.
- Viveza – a tool which can adjust the color and tonality of images without complicated masks and selections.
- HDR Efex Pro – a tool with full control over the creation of natural looking and artistic HDR images with a wide range of adjustment options.
- Sharpener Pro – a tool to sharpen images to subtly enhance details and textures in images via control of structure, contrast and focus, either for a total image or masked portions.
- Define – a tool to control image noise while adjusting contrast and color noise separately for optimal results permitting more image detail to be retained than would be otherwise possible.
If you've purchase the Nik Collection in 2016 Google has stated they will automatically give you a full refund of the purchase price.
To date, Google has continued to update the Nik Collection to work with updated Adobe products and other photo editing software, as well as updated Windows and Mac operating systems. The question that is now on many photographers' minds is will this continue with Google now offering the Collection for free.
This could be and probably is the end of the line for this great software. So while it's great that it's now free and it should work for quite a while longer in photographers' and photographic editors' computers, in my opinion, it's certainly time to begin looking for a new source of plug-in software to replace Nik. Two companies come to mind. They are DxO and On1.
DxO and On1 already have excellent software which have some overlapping products with the Nik Collection.
DxO's Optics Pro includes tools for noise reduction, haze elimination, sharpening, exposure correction and color rendering, plus industry leading optical correction tools.
On1's Photo 10 includes 13 effects, 23 stackable and adjustable filters, an industry leading resizer, color enhancement and retouching tools, noise reduction and portrait retouching.
For now, get the Nik Collection if you don't have it, to help you edit your images. Later this year, begin to find a substitute for the tools in the Collection for future purchase.