DXO Nik Collection Efex Pro
Disclosure: The folks at DXO have asked me to review their new version of the Nik Collection so they have sent me a free product key to give it ago.
I’ve been using the original Nik Collection for many years, even before it was taken over by Google. When Google discontinued supporting the collection they gave it away for free for a while. Later it was taken up by DXO, upgraded and extra features added. This review compares the old and new version s along with the addition of DXO Photolab. Any views expressed are purely my own based on my experience of the product. I only really use HDR Efex Pro but I will also include my views on the included DXO Photolab.
Images Edited in HDR Efex Pro
Images taken with a 270mm, 400mm and 500mm lenses.
The History of HDR
HDR has always been a hotly debated topic digital photography as some people thinks it’s cheating to manipulate images. Whatever your views the fact is in a very high contrast scenario it’s impossible for the digital camera, or film, to include the same range of contrast tones that we can see with the human eye.
This lack of dynamic range as has always been an issue for photographers and I can remember, back in the early days of Photoshop, taking two images of the same subject, at different exposures (bracketing) , and manually blending these layers together. We didn’t call it HDR is those days but it was basically a way of managing high contrast subjects like landscapes when shooting towards the light.
What we used on our courses
HDR Software, Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro, came along a few years ago and automated this process. Originally the early version both of these products resulted in rather vivid and unreal looking images which in turn stoked the fires of the HDR debate. Some people loved the new graphic comic book style of the presets but just as many hated them. Thankfully, as the software has been updated, more natural results are obtainable today.
When you install the new DXO Nik Collection you will not see many changes from the original except there are 40 new “En Vogue” preset effects.
4K monitor support. I don’t own a 4K monitor but I’m sure these are becoming more common so if you own one then I’m sure this will be worth upgrading for.
Originally the collection was only available as a plug-in that worked from within Lightroom, Photoshop or selected editing programs. There was a workaround but I’m pleased to say the collection can now be used as standalone products.
Being a long term Lightroom user the DXO Photolab RAW editor is a new program for me and I need to have a bit more of a long term play. On first glance it seems easy to use and very fast compared to Lightroom. It also looks at your whole file structure rather than having to import to a catalogue as in Lightroom and a lot of other RAW editors. If you don’t want to pay for the Adobe Photography Plan subscription then this could be a useful RAW editor, with the added bonus of all the other tools in the collection, for about the price of a one year Lightroom/Photoshop subscription.
Is it worth upgrading or buying?
This is not such a clear cut answer as it depends on what you want and what you have. If you already have a working Nik Collection, are happy with the Adobe Photography Plan subscription and don’t have a 4K monitor then probably not.
However if you don’t want to pay Adobe every month, like HDR images or need a bit of creative help with B&W or colour presets plus need a good RAW editor then I think at £125 for all the tools in the Nik Collection offers good value for money.
You can download a trial version of the Nik Collection here but check to see if you are eligible for the discounted £69.99 upgrade price if you already have a copy. I suggest you sign up for the DXO newsletter as the often have special offers so you might get this cheaper. This is not an affiliate link.