Google Nik Collection review

silver-efex-pro-02

Verdict

At one time, the Google Nik Collection was my go-to plug-ins suite. In fact, I was a fan before the Google takeover when it was still in the hands of Nik Software. I also felt that some plug-ins were a lot more useful than others.

I don’t find Dfine’s noise reduction particularly effective compared the tools built into host applications like Lightroom and Photoshop, or against newer rivals like MacPhun’s Noiseless. And while Sharpener Pro usefully distinguishes between capture and output sharpening, again I don’t find it any more effective than the tools in host applications.

Analog Efex Pro 2, however, is brilliant. Color Efex Pro has so much depth and control you may never get to the bottom of what it can do, Silver Efex Pro is still my favourite black and white tool and HDR Efex Pro 2 is a versatile and effective HDR plug-in with some great presets – though I’m not convinced it’s the best.

Viveza 2 has perhaps outlived its usefulness since the other plug-ins mostly have the same powerful control point technology that’s Viveza’s principal asset, but it can still be a useful tool nonetheless.

But I have noticed some performance issue that may be due to a change in hardware (I swapped from a 15-inch Macbook pro with separate graphics card to a newer 13-inch Macbook Pro with integrated graphics) or may be due to a chance in the software. Once, these plug-ins ran smooth and sweet with almost no delay – now the image rendering can take a couple of seconds or several, with progress bars for each phase.

The news that the Google Nik Collection is now free is just amazing. Before, £95/$150 was already a pretty fair price for such a must-have plug-in suite, but now that you don’t have to pay it should be on every photographer’s computer – it’s that good.

But there are dark clouds on the horizon. Google’s apparent lack of interest in the software is worrying. It hasn’t added anything new since an Analog Efex Pro 2 update back in May 2014, and while it maintains a Google Nik Collection website, It doesn’t issue any press releases or actively market the software in any way.

This doesn’t inspire confidence. It makes the Nik plug-ins feel like a strategic acquisition rather than something Google is particularly committed to, and good as these plug-ins are, it makes me nervous about relying on them being there, or being kept current, going into the future.

Google pulled the plug on its brilliant Snapseed desktop app (also acquired from Nik Software) and you can’t help feeling that what it’s done once, it could easily do again – and this time with the entire Google Nik Collection.

For now, though, you should just enjoy one of the imaging world’s greatest plug-in collections ever.

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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