Google’s Nik Collection of Photo Editing Software is now Free!
Google’s Nik Collection is a photo editing software package designed for professional photographers. It once retailed for $149 but now they’re giving it away totally free. What’s not to like?
The Nik Collection
Analog Effects Pro: Explore the look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses.
Colour Efex Pro: A comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.
Silver Efex Pro: Master the art of black-and-white photography with darkroom-inspired controls.
Viveza: Selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections.
HDR Efex Pro: From natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR photography.
Sharpener Pro: Bring out hidden details consistently with the professional's choice for image sharpening.
Dfine: Improve your images with noise reduction tailored to your camera.
Silver Efex Pro 2 as a stand-alone program
(These instructions are for PC. Mac users may use different methods.)
Firstly, (as I don’t have Photoshop or Lightroom) you can, supposedly, add Silver Efex to Paint.net, which would then be accessed as part of paint.net’s effects menu.
(Paint.net is a very handy and free ‘real’ photo editing program with layers ability.)
Well, perhaps after 2 hours of research I might find the answer… of why it wasn’t working in paint.net… and it might work. But life’s too short.
So I gave up on this alternative and instead decided to use it as a stand alone program.
To use Silver Efex as a stand-alone program you need to:
- go into your program files (which should be located in the Windows C: drive which you can access through windows file explorer.
- find the google folder in that list.
- Click on this and then click on Nik Collection.
- click on Silver Efex and open this.
This is a screenshot of the Silver Efex layout above. I quickly selected a couple of the auto filters on the left side of the screen and then saved and had a look at them close up.
|If you look at these photos close up there’s a huge amount of noise.|
In the end…
- The program layout looks good and it’s easy to work out what’s what- without reading any manual. There’s a help button at the bottom left of the screen if you need it.
- There are 38 black and white presets in various categories such as vintage, modern, classic. You can see the effects easily in the thumbnails to the left side of the window.
- On the right side of the window is the place you can make all your adjustments and create your own presets.
- I liked that you could cycle easily through about 20 different types of black and white traditional film like Ilford Pan F plus 50 and Kodak iso 32 pantatomic x etc for different visual textures and moods.
- It’s very similar to the black and white presets in Perfect Effects 9, though there are different film types on offer in each program.
- Firstly, the program closes as soon as you click on the save button. Very annoying and there’s no way to change this in the settings.
- Plus, it doesn’t automatically create a copy of the image. So, unless you don’t want your earlier image, I’d use the ‘save as’ option on the menu.
- The photos look good initially, but close up a huge amount of noise was produced from the auto filters. Though the amount of noise was probably about the same as the noise produced in Perfect Effects (which is also free). And in Photomatix. You just have to adjust settings to reduce the noise or use a program such as Neat Image.
- You can’t do layers if you use it as a stand-alone program, which is a very big drawback if you want to combine different effects in the one image. This would only be in the stand-alone though.
I tested some of the Nik programs in the past (before they were owned by google), but never used them, as you really had to have Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture to use them.
And really… to get the best out of these programs you still need them…though you can use them as stand alone programs.Also, it’s really a filters program. When you read photo-editing you automatically think cropping, resizing, straightening horizons etc, which this program doesn’t do.
As a stand-alone program it’s simpler than Perfect Effects and it’s this simplicity that will make me want to use it another time.