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DxO Nik Collection 3 review

The Nik Collection 3 is now a set of eight plug-ins. Six were originally developed by Nik Software and sold individually, then bought by Google and sold as a single suite, then discontinued and given away free, and finally rescued by DxO and relaunched as a commercial package.

During all that time, most of the plug-ins have hardly changed at all. Google added the Analog Efex Pro plug-in during its time as owner, and DxO has updated the software to be compatible with the latest Mac and Windows operating systems since it took it over, but otherwise the Nik plug-ins look much the same as they did when they were launched.

DxO added En Vogue presets and new film looks in the previous version, but it’s DxO Nik Collection 3 that has had the biggest update, with a whole new plug-in to take the number up to eight. The rest, however, look very much as they always did.

For most software that would be a bad thing, but the Nik Collection plug-ins have a ‘timeless’ look about them and don’t seem to date at all. In fact, they still rate as amongst the best photo-editing software applications you can get. They also include some of the best creative tools and presets available to photographers.RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSE

KEY FEATURES

It looks like bundling DxO PhotoLab with Nik Collection 2 was a short-lived experiment that added value to the software but led to complicated upgrade routes and frustration for existing DxO PhotoLab users who weren’t offered any price reduction despite having a key part of the software already.

PhotoLab no longer comes with the Nik Collection 3. The price hasn’t changed, but there is a new plug-in to make up for that and the purchase options are now a lot simpler than they were before. Besides, the potential audience for the Nik Collection includes Lightroom users, Photoshop users and others besides, who probably didn’t need or want PhotoLab Essential.

There are now eight plug-ins in the collection, though they are not all creative tools and not all equally useful, to be fair.

Analog Efex Pro is one of the most spectacular. It recreates the look of old and vintage analog cameras, not just with different ‘film’ types, grain, fade effects and light leaks, but with glass plate effects, lens distortions a blurring, multiple exposures, bokeh effects and more. There are lots of programs on the market that replicate analog film looks, but every time you come back to Analog Efex Pro you’re reminded of its scope, power and sheer invention compared to the rest.

Color Efex Pro is equally powerful, but perhaps comes across as a bit of a jack of all trades that’s overshadowed by the other plug-ins. On the surface, it’s just a large collection of photo filters and effects, some of which are a lot more useful than others. But the magic happens when you combine these filters as ‘recipes’, using Nik Software’s control point technology to remove or add different filter effects in different parts of your images. Color Efex Pro’s potential is not as immediately obvious as that of the other key plug-ins, but actually runs just as deep, or deeper.

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