Google Nik Collection review

viveza

Viveza 2

Viveza is a bit of an odd plug-in in that it offers no preset effects at all – it’s simply a vehicle for a more detailed version of the suite’s control point technology. The best way to think of it is as the colour equivalent of the dodging and burning tools you might use in black and white.

The control points are more sophisticated, however. With each one you can adjust Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Structure, Shadow Adjustment, Warmth, Red, Green and Blue and Hue. You can duplicated control points and their settings and group control points so that they act as one – it’s a way of adjusting large and complex areas quickly.

That brief description describes pretty much everything Viveza does. Outside of these control points, the only control is a global levels/curve adjustment.

But Viveza’s strength only emerges gradually. You can add a single control point, make a couple of adjustments and wonder what all the fuss is about. But if you take a little more trouble, create groups of adjustments and start experimenting with ‘relighting’ your photos, you start to understand what Viveza can do.

Arguably, there’s nothing here that you couldn’t do with layers and masks in Photoshop, but Viveza encourages you to visualise and build your adjustments in a different way. When I’ve used it I’ve found myself creating effects that I wouldn’t have thought of producing in Photoshop, purely because the control point adjustment method has led me to approach the process in a different way.

And while, individually, control points can look like a somewhat crude and imprecise way of selecting and adjusting areas of a picture, when they’re used together and, in particular, when you use two ‘competing’ control points close together, they do actually produce very precise and natural-looking tonal transitions around object edges.

For those used to the precise, controlled world of selections and masks, these control points will feel vague and unsatisfactory, but if you stick with it and you’re prepared to work in a looser, more intuitive way, you may start to see the benefits.

Having said all of that, Viveza is not one of the strongest components of the Google Nik Collection. Its enhancements are subtle rather than dramatic and it takes a lot more work than the single-click results offered by Analog Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro.

It’s worth having, certainly, but it’s a tool you’re probably not going to use that often.

 

8 thoughts on “Google Nik Collection review

  1. Hello Rod

    I downloaded the Nik Collection several months ago and have use as a stand alone product (Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro) not as a plugin. What are the downsides to this? Image quality? Read a couple times online that you can use as stand alone but no detail beyond this as to advantages / disadvantages.

    Photography a hobby for me since 2005 using Canon / Olympus products. My enjoyment / challenge comes from playing with the camera in the field but can’t say the same for post processing (1 of the 2 reasons why I haven’t invested in Lightroom or any other editing program). I fine post processing does help and generally my adjustments are minor ….for exposure, contrast, etc. I shoot RAW and use Canons DPP and GIMP / Nik collection for the Olympus micro 4/3. Lately using the snapseed app for ipad and enjoy this product very much.

    So what am I missing out on by using the Nik Collection as a stand alone?

    Came across your site a few days ago and very informative. My interest is in macro / close up, black & white photography (starting to read up on this), some landscape and down the road i want to try long exposure photography.

    Blaine

    1. Hi Blaine,

      The Nik Collection tools do seem to work fine as standalone programs. I find it easier to launch them from a ‘host’ app like Lightroom, but I don’t think it’s essential.

    2. Like many others since I updated to Photoshop CC 2018 my Nik software crashes after trying to apply the effect. I saw one post stating that the fix will be mid 2018??? I have been using Nik since it came out and use it professionally. I really can’t wait that long. Any help???

      1. Are you running it in MAC or Windows? Some time back, I found I had to abandon Windows for my photo-processing, because it kept freezing & crashing the software

  2. Rod,
    I found your excellent site while looking for a solution to my NIK software problem. My setup: PSCS6, MAC OS X 10.6.8 and NIK complete collection purchased in 2013. I generally launch the HDR Efex Pro plugin from Bridge “tools”. After merging the images I say “SAVE” and the saved image opens in PSCS6 in tiff format. This worked perfectly until a few months ago. Now when I say “save” it shuts down my PSCS6 and quits. I cannot download the NIK package again since it requires minimum OS X10.7.5. Unfortunately I cannot upgrade to that version because my 24 inch HP Designjet 130NR printer and some other equipment will not work on OS X 10.7.5. The current version of HDR Efex Pro is 2.2.20.456×64 (v1.2.8)

    1. What is the version number of the currently available HDR Efex Pro available for free download from Google?
    2. How do you set up the NIK software as a Standalone application? Now they are Photoshop plugins.
    3. MY PSCS6 works OK except when I use NIK so I think it is problem with a corrupted NIK application. What do you think?

    Any guidance and information is appreciated. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Ajit,

      The current version of HDR Efex Pro is 2.2.24, so it sounds as if the version you have is relatively recent. The Nik Collection had an auto-update feature, so it’s possible your version was upgraded without you being aware of it and has become incompatible with your system. That’s only a guess.

      Have you tried simply double-clicking the HDR Efex Pro app icon? It will run as a standalone app on my system, but if it doesn’t work on yours it could be another sign that your version is too new for OS X10.7.5.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know how to roll back Nik Collection plug-ins to an earlier version, sorry.

      1. Rod,
        Thanks for your prompt reply. I did some more digging around and followed up your suggestion to see if clicking on the NIK HDR icon will work. When I originally installed NIK it was as a plugin to Photoshop. Now the plugin does not work. But if I convert the RAW files to tiff then the Standalone works! The Standalone does not work with RAW files. I think the reason my version is 2.2.20 and not 2.2.24 is because my OS X is 10.6.8 and not 10.7.5 so it appears that Google did not update my software to an incompatible OS.

        Thanks again for your help.

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