Silver Efex Pro 2 Software Prices

Silver Efex is fantastic. Integrates with Adobe and Capture One workflow. Supports latest operating systems and displays. Cons Destructive workflow. Used to be free. Some film looks now available via nondestructive editing presets. Bottom Line The Nik Collection is an iconic name in photo editing.

DxO has revived the software, updating it for bit operating systems, and offering other improvements. It's been around a long time—I've personally been using it for a decade—and has changed ownership and pricing a few times over the years.

It's now owned by DxO, a brand that has developed its own image editing software , benchmark testing methodology, and even dabbled in hardware with the DxO One camera. Improvements in the software itself aren't revolutionary, but you now get support for high-resolution displays, bit operating systems, and some new preset recipes.

The price has increased, though—when Nik was owned by Google, the Collection was a free download. It's not one big piece of software, but rather a suite of distinct plug-ins, which work with a workflow application as a host.

Adobe Lightroom Classic For most photographers, that's Lightroom or Capture One, and be happy to know that the Nik Collection works fine as an external editor for either application. It omits some of the more advanced features found in the Elite edition the company sells at retail, but is a serviceable workflow application for customers who don't currently use one. The real bones of the Collection are the standalone plug-in applications. Each application is geared to a very specific purpose, and we'll break them down one by one.

The toolkit offers a mix of artistic filter effects and tools to accomplish more technical tasks, including noise reduction and sharpening. The image which follows, and others in this review, were processed using the Nik Collection. All of the applications have been updated for compatibility with bit operating systems. On my laptop, macOS doesn't yell at me about potential issues with future operating systems when launching the software, as it did with the bit edition released by Google.

DxO outlines the full system requirements here. They aren't strenuous, so if you have a workstation that's capable of processing digital image files, you should be set. There's a trial download available too, in case you're concerned your system isn't powerful enough, or you just want to give the software a test drive. The other updates are modest. The applications that support preset recipes have some new ones. DxO PhotoLab was obviously absent from the Google suite, but isn't a standout.

If you're happy with your current Adobe or Capture One workflow, stick with it. From here on out, I'll talk about using the software with Adobe, but mechanics aside, the experience is similar with Photo Lab or Capture One as your launcher. Raw Support? But the applications that are actually compelling don't. You'll need to round-trip rendered files from your host application to the plug-in, and for the best quality that means rendering a bit TIF for editing.

The process is pretty simple—all of the DxO apps are listed as external editors from the develop module in Lightroom, although I did have to manually add HDR Efex Pro to the list myself. But it's not as simple as just making adjustments within the nondestructive confines of your workflow application. It also eats up space on your storage drive, and it means you'll have to keep track of multiple versions of a single image. It's not a true non-destructive approach.

Once you've gotten the image to where you like it, you need to save it back out as a standard image file. You can't take a Silver Efex black-and-white conversion that you made years ago, load it back in the software, and make a few tweaks, like you can with a Raw image in Lightroom. Of course, the software can't load a Raw format image, so your original files remain untouched.

Overall, the process is just a little more cumbersome than working with an image directly in Lightroom. Is the hassle worth it? It may be, if you fall in love with what the software does. The Creative Side If you're thinking about buying the Nik Collection, it's probably for one of the creative applications. You get Analog Efex for unique toy camera, motion, and other filters; Color Efex has a number of filter looks, both color and black-and-white; while Silver Efex is able to mimic the look and feel of many classic emulsions, including Kodak Tri-X and Ilford Delta.

Analog Efex Pro is a virtual Swiss Army knife of film and motion effects, which can be used to build presets, which are called Cameras in the app. There are a number of preset options, broken down into categories like Motion, Toy Camera, and Wet Plate.

It's easy to browse through these galleries and apply different looks to your photos with a single click, and you can then customize aspects to suit your liking. If you're adding a grainy, dusty look with Classic Camera 7, it's easy to switch to a more extreme scratched look by selecting a different swatch from the Dust and Lint panel. But I find myself not liking the Dust and Lint options for this image. I think I'd rather add texture with a Photo Plate, a digital tool that mimics the look of 19th century wet plate photography.

A quick trip to the Camera Kit allows you to enable the Photo Plate option. You can see the end results above. It's not all grain and faded film looks. Analog Efex also has has some interesting motion blur options, with drag-and-drop control over the locus and direction of the blur via Nik's U Point system. There are multi-lens filters for Andy Warhol-style split images, simulated light leaks and lens distortion, film strip frames, double exposure options, and basic tone, curve, and level adjustments.

When you're happy with your image, it's a matter of hitting Save to commit the changes to the hard drive. Once you've done this, you can't go back—you'll need to open up a fresh copy of the picture to step through any changes. You can, however, save your own Presets, if you find that you have a specific look you like. This is true for all of the creative applications in the Nik Collection, not just Analog Efex. It offers up a laundry list of options, ranging from emulation of some color film types similar to what Silver Efex does for black-and-white stocks and processes—think cross-processing and bleach bypass—to the more extreme filters that blur the lines between photography and fine art, like the solarization effect shown below.

The filter list is extensive, and the software allows you to stack as many filters onto one image as you want. It's easy to toggle the effects of any with a simple checkbox, so you can play with combinations and save your own preset—they're called Recipes. It's the ability to stack the filters together that gives some appeal to Color Efex Pro. Some of its functions, like adding a graduated neutral density filter, grain, or split-tone effects, are almost certainly included in your Raw converter.

Likewise, if you just want to give images a film-like look, there are dozens of preset packs available for Lightroom and Capture One. For about the same price as the Nik Collection, Really Nice Image All Films 4 gives you tons of film looks that can be applied with a single click from within your workflow application—no round-tripping required.

But you may find the Recipes you can create to be worth it. DxO includes twenty of its own, which can give you a starting point with your images. I took one called Lavender and added a Bi-Color effect, some film grain, and simulated the look of C41 film developed in E6 chemicals.

The finished image, above, is one that I wouldn't be able to make with Lightroom alone. The technique, High Dynamic Range HDR imaging, can be used to blend multiple exposures together for scenes with extreme shifts. There may be shots where you're not happy with simple Raw processing to expand dynamic range.

It has a number of presets to help get you started, as well as slider adjustments to control the intensity of the effect. HDR images can look unnatural if processed too aggressively, and while HDR Efex Pro certainly gives you the tools to craft photos with very high sharpening and localized contrast, the built-in presets trend toward more realistic looks.

With modern image sensors, you don't always need multiple exposures to make HDR images. Take a look at the unprocessed Raw image shot with the Fujifilm GFXS , a tough scene with the rising sun pointing directly into the lens, and a lot of detail in shadow.

A single click pulls in highlights and opens up shadows. I started with the Tinted Structure look for the finished shot. For most images, I'm typically happy with Lightroom's ability to eke the right amount of dynamic range from a photo. But there are times when you want more than Lightroom can manage with slider adjustments alone, even if you haven't made multiple exposures. Of course, HDR fans are used to taking multiple shots with varying levels of brightness.

It's not an everyday tool—for me, at least—but a beneficial one. When I have the pleasure of using the software along with Raw images from a dedicated black-and-white camera like the Leica M Monochrom Typ or Phase One Achromatic , the output is as close to film photography as you'll get from a digital sensor.

And it does a great job giving a film look to color images as well. You can convert based on a neutral color response, and apply the same look as a physical glass filter to any photo. There are also a number of film stocks to emulate based on Agfa, Fujifilm, Ilford, and Kodak black-and-white films.

In addition to different color response, the software emulates the unique grain pattern of each film. The structure slider adjusts the intensity—increasing it emulates the grain you'll get when push processing, and you can control contrast as well. Localized adjustments, using Nik's U-Point system, are also available.

You can choose spots to dodge and burn, bringing classic darkroom techniques to your desktop. As with color looks, there are black-and-white presets available for Lightroom. While I'm typically happy with what they bring to the table for color work, I've yet to find any that match Silver Efex for monochrome conversions. Adobe only includes a basic grain adjustment slider, which doesn't come close to what Silver Efex does.

Capture One's black-and-white toolset is a little bit stronger than Adobe's, with a number of different styles for its grain. It's an application I use occasionally, but if it was my main Raw converter, I think I'd still opt for Silver Efex for monochrome work. The Technical Side The Nik Collection also includes some tools that are geared for technical, rather than artistic, work. You get Dfine for noise reduction, Sharpener Pro to enhance detail, and Viveza for color manipulation.

These functions aren't exclusive to Nik. The technical applications are not the reason to buy the Nik Collection.

Nik Collection by DxO review: Premium photo-editing plugins tested

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Silver Efex Pro 2 Software Prices

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