How good are the Nik Plugins

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by dino1891, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. dino1891

    dino1891 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 8, 2013
    I just bought LR4 student edition from a forum member here, after using LR3 for my Canon gear the past year. (I purchased LR3 during the free upgrade promotion but never got around to upgrading it for free. Stupid and lazy me :mad:)

    Now, I am considering purchasing the Nik Complete collection for the academic discount price of $150. I think its still a lot of money for what are essentially presets. I was wondering how good it really is, and if it is worth the money. How popular is this product? The Color efex, Dfine, and Sharpener pro look useful but the silver efex looks like something I can do in lightroom by myself. How good are they at what they do?
  2. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    i use both products and i find that NIK site complements LR4. You can almost do all the things that NIK software do in LR4. The advantage of NIK suite is that you you it with ease and much faster.
  3. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    I bought the complete collection figuring it'd be cheaper if I used them all together. As it turns out, I don't use them all on a regular basis, but I get good use out of at least 2-3 of the components so I think it's a reasonable value as a combo pack.

    Silver Efex: amazing B&W treatments. I have never gotten my LR conversions to look as good, and I have presets in Silver Efex so I can often get the B&Ws I want with one click. This is the one Nik plugin I would definitely buy again no question. Also works well for selective colorized photos (which I use very sparingly).

    HDR Efex: the only way I've done HDR, so I don't have much to compare it to - but it does a good job of aligning handheld shots and producing anything from natural to overcooked HDR looks. I've been quite happy with it and don't feel a need to explore other HDR apps.

    Color Efex: This one I rarely use, usually only when I want something like a bleach bypass look. It has a ton of preset modes including film emulations but I just don't find most of them to my liking so rarely end up using it. Could take it or leave it for the most part.

    Dfine & Sharpener: Both of these I've only used a handful of times, but they do seem to do a better job of noise reduction and sharpening than LR alone. I did a side by side with Dfine and LR's noise reduction and it was able to retain more detail while smoothing out noise. However, I rarely find myself trying to salvage really noisy photos or using something other than LR's in-built sharpening so these don't get broken out very often. Sharpener is an external app mainly aimed at pre-sharpening or output sharpening for printing, neither of which I use often.

    Viveza: This one I just haven't invested the time to play with it more than a couple of times. It appears to be extremely powerful but for the times where Viveza is useful I often find myself utilizing LR selective adjustments instead. I think this is a case where Viveza might be more efficient *after* you invest the time to learn what it's best at and how to use it. So the jury's still out on Viveza for me, it mainly looks like it's a timesaver for things you'd otherwise be doing with selective adjustments and/or Photoshop layers.
  4. Terry

    Terry New to Mu-43

    Dec 2, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I would not be without Viveza and Color Efex Pro.
    The graduated color filters in Color Efex are great for dealing with a boring grey sky.
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    The Nik suite (which I use in photoshop, so with layers) is a great tool in the toolbox. Including dfine and sharpen if you're prepping for print. The control point technology is absolutely fantastic - check out the videos on their site for examples of what can be done.
  6. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    I use Nik all the time. Mostly Colorfx, viveza, define and the sharpener. I will disagree with JLoden, colorfx is insanely powerful but it is neutered by lightroom as are all the creative plugins. The Nik suite is at it's most powerful when used as a smart object's in photoshop and also as brush presets. Personally I don't love the HDRfx, I started with PS, and photomatix, so I just haven't really bothered to get the most out of it.
  7. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    NIK Silver EFEX Pro is *very* invaluable in my workflow.

    I have all the NIK stuff- it was worth is just for Silver EFEX Pro
  8. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I bought the full suite over a year ago and there are 2 ways I can answer this question.

    First, results. Like everyone says, very good. I think there's really nothing else to say on that point.

    Second, usability. You've got LR3 and that gives you non-destructive processing. To use the Nik products you lose that. You export a TIFF or JPEG to the plugin, work on it, and export a new file back to Lightroom. If you want to use a second Nik plugin you repeat that process with the file saved from the first. Add to that a very different interface and approach to working than Lightroom.

    I simply prefer to work the way Lightroom works so I stopped using the Nik software. While I may have to work a bit harder at times in Lightroom and I may not get the same result, I'm happier only having to use 1 interface and being able to use a non-destructive process the whole way.

    Lightroom 4 offers you some improvements over LR3 and I think you would get better results with it than with LR3 so I think it's a worthwhile upgrade in its own right. I'd recommend upgrading to LR4 regardless of whether you decide to get any of the Nik products.
  9. Zariell

    Zariell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    Bountiful, UT
    I thought Nik was ok but when I tried OnOne's software suite I found I liked their software better, now that OnOnes Photo suite 7, added a nice B&W add on, I don't regret my decision to not keep up with the Nik software.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    The majority of my MFT shots have some sort of Nik effect applied to them..:smile:
  11. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    The control points take it way beyond just being presets, giving you the ability to apply/not apply effects to specific areas of the images. For example, you may want to push structure/detail/contrast on buildings, while leaving the sky alone (apply negative control points).

    In my opinion, the Nik plugins help bring Lightroom up to near Photoshop levels of flexibility, while allowing me to get stuff done very quickly. Good stuff!

    Did you give the demo versions a try yet?
    • Like Like x 1
  12. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    Great point! I forgot they have demo versions, absolutely recommend you try before you buy. You'll find out pretty quick if it's for you :smile:
  13. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    BTW, what is going on with them? They don't seem to be for sale any more in the usual shops? New versions coming?
    Something to do with Google buying them? Does anyone know? :confused:
  14. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I put the money saved up for LR4 upgrade towards Nik Software and stuck with LR3. I agree with everything said here. I love LR and the experience and hobby is enhanced with Nik Software. Its pretty fun and effective.

    My only real complaint is that Nik software plugin for LR is that it isn't totally integrated as with Nik Software for Photoshop.... it requires you to convert to TIFF before editing. Kinda makes my workflow slightly messy and you don't miss out on LR's non-destructive editing. I'd pay extra for LR Nik plugin to be integrated like it is for photoshop
  15. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    It seems they are going the route many software companies are going for distribution. Pure online and download.

    The software company I work for does the same... as does many others.
  16. dino1891

    dino1891 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 8, 2013
    Thanks so much everyone. I guess I will be investing in this instead of another flashgun.

    I will definitely try the trial version before committing.

    With the academic discount price, I save quite a bit. Does anyone know if you could use the 15% off code WITH the academic discount?
  17. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    It would be very interesting to see Nik's effects work on RAW data files, but right now they only work on TIFFs or JPGs. Makes the LR workflow different from what I like, and means I prefer the 'full integration' experience you get in PS - it's doing the same thing, really, just with significantly more control.
  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    First, it's not even remotely "essentially presets". Like Lightroom and Aperture and many other pieces of photo software, there are presets available, but you never have to use them or you can make your own if you find some good settings that work as a starting point for you. I use Viveza and Color Efex Pro together for most of my color work. And I use Silver Efex Pro for nearly ALL of my B&W processing - it's far more powerful / more intuitive for B&W than just sticking with Lightroom.

    It does go outside of LR and doesn't use the non-destructive processing that LR and Aperture do, so you need to figure out some new workflow tricks. I let it make a new TIFF (DON'T let it overwrite the original file), manipulate the TIFF in whichever of the plugins or combinations thereof, and once I'm happy with it I save it all to a jpeg because the TIFF files are huge, and then I erase the TIFF. So then I end up with my original file AND a Nik processed jpeg. So that's a minor PIA to work through, but once you have a process it becomes pretty quick and intuitive.

  19. digitalandfilm

    digitalandfilm Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 18, 2011
    Here's a shot using NIK Silver Efex Pro: