New to LR, should I use NIK from the beginning?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Marine Paethor, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Marine Paethor

    Marine Paethor Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2013
    Real Name:
    I've used previous versions of Photoshop, GIMP, and a couple of others with all my past point-and-shoot cameras, but now that I've stepped up to a system camera, and am learning to really use it, I want my image editing and PP to step up as well. I am more than likely going with LR4, unless something in the DxO trial amazes me. I run Windows, so Aperture is out. I know the learning curve on LR is a little steep, but I'm wondering if I should buy the Nik software and use it from the beginning as well. My understanding is that the Nik software is more in the way of "presets" for lack of a better term. Can you get the same effects in LR without Nik, although it would take quite a bit longer? Or am I better off just starting with Nik because of the sheer amount of time and work it saves?

    Thanks for any advice and input you can offer.
  2. The Minimalist

    The Minimalist Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 19, 2011
    Yeah go-ahead. One thing though, Nik software is much more than a pre set and is something you will need to learn as well although it is intuative.
  3. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    The NIK suite complement LR by enabling quick processing and feature not supported by LR like HDR.
    I would recomend to purchase and learn it, you should buy it before april 2nd because of the 15% reduction when using :43: code.
  4. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I would recommend against it.

    I think you can do pretty similar things in each but they work in different ways so I won't say that you can get absolutely identical results in each every time. You can get extremely good results with each.

    They work in different ways with different interfaces and while you can say that NIK is easier in some ways, I think you can also say that it's harder in some ways. LR puts the whole processing chain into a single application which uses non-destructive editing. NIK puts different parts of the processing chain into different plug-in applications which use destructive editing like Photoshop. If you want to do all your processing in NIK, by which I mean exposure and contrast, tone mapping, sharpening, noise reduction, and black and white conversion if you're going to do that as well, you have to use 4 or 5 plug-ins and each time you need to export a TIFF to a plug-in from LR, process, save which sends a modified TIFF back to LR, then export that TIFF to your next plug-in, process, save, and keep repeating until you've done everything you want to do. Each time you use a plug-in you end up with another TIFF file in your library. Use 4 plug-ins and you end up with your original file from your camera and 4 TIFFs in your library. If you want to go back and adjust an edit from the first plug-in, you're going to end up repeating the whole process while because of the non-destructive process in LR you just go back in the history to the step before the edit you want to change and start off again, and you haven't started generating another set of extra files.

    Because of that I think the NIK plug-ins work better if you just want to use them for one specific thing, and do everything else in LR. Trying to do everything in NIK is simply a lot more cumbersome than working in LR in my opinion, and that means that you're going to want to learn how to use LR properly anyway so I would start out by learning to use LR first, and then start working with NIK after that. Doing things that way also means you get a good idea of what you find you can do easily in LR and what you can't, and you've got the experiental background with LR you need if you're going to make a balanced adjustment of which one is easier, and which one does certain things better for you.

    I bought the complete NIK package around a year or so ago and I now rarely use it. I may spend a bit more time working on my images in LR but I'm not constantly swapping in and out of LR to one or another plug-in, I can go back at any stage and re-adjust my processing from any point, and I think I end up getting an image I prefer because I've worked with each adjustment separately rather than starting off from a pre-determined selection of image styles and then modifying that particular style.

    You can work either way, and get great results either way. Different people prefer working in different ways and you may not prefer working the way I do, but then you may find you don't prefer working the way NIK forces you to work. The only way to find out is really to use each but since you'll be activating the NIK plug-ins from LR I think it makes sense to learn to use it reasonably well first so you have a reasonable feel for what you like and don't like about LR before you start using NIK so you can appreciate the differences, compare them reliably, and know which way works best for you.
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Nik is great for local work but definitely works better in photoshop than as LR plugins. Learn LR first. You won't regret it.
  6. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    I agree with David and Mattia LR is better for processing your photos. But as a final touch NIK is more powerful, It as the following tools that LR lacks, HDR, frames, spot editing and more powerful presets.
    The correct workflow is to use first the LR general photo editing and then for the final touch use NIK.
  7. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    I still run all my Nik plugins through an old copy of Photoshop rather than Lightroom. Sometimes the import/export and library philosophy of Lightroom seems a bit too clever for its own good. I find that both the Lightroom and the Photoshop + Nik interfaces are better at certain tasks. The thought of doing everything in Lightroom doesn't thrill me.
  8. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 18, 2012
    Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.
    Real Name:
    My advice would be to get Lightroom 4 and learn it inside out from the Library to Develop modules. Watch lots of tutorials. George Jardine's are amongst the best. Get a good reference book like Martin Evening's Lightroom 4 book. Learn how everything ties in. Take your time. Then once you're comfortable get the Nik suite. Lightroom does have a steep learning curve but the payoff is huge once you begin to understand how it all works.
  9. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    I would agree with those who say learn LR first, then decide if you need an add-on like Nik.

    But rather than Martin Evening, I recommend Scott Kelby's book. For someone just starting out with LR, it will get you up to speed quickly, and give you a clear understanding of how it works. Evening's book, and The Missing Manual book, are great references after you understand how the program works.