It is well known: in my heart there is a special place for good red wine and for the Nik Collection, a suite of plug-ins initially released back in 2005 and that over the years has had mixed fortunes until it was acquired a few years ago by DxO Labs that has taken over its development with the new commercial name Nik Collection by DxO.
My unconditional love for the Nik Collection lies in the fact that thanks to intuitive and functional plug-ins I can perform post-production actions that would require a greater effort in Adobe Photoshop, and as always my philosophy is to achieve the goal in the simplest way possible: for this reason in my workflow are irreplaceable bricks of Nik Collection plug-ins such as Viveza and Color Efex.
For this reason, I can only welcome with enthusiasm the release of Nik Collection 4.
What’s new in Nik Collection 4
Nik Collection 4 is made up of 8 independent plug-ins that have different specific purposes, ranging from perspective distortion correction (Perspective Efex) to noise reduction (Dfine). While this release brings bug fixes and minor changes under the hood of all plug-ins, the Nik Collection 4 focuses with new features in two specific plug-ins:
Silver Efex Pro, which goes from version 2 to version 3
Viveza, which also goes from version 2 to version 3.
Among the new features common to all, we have new or enhanced features such as the Smart Copy Paste in Adobe Lightroom or the Super Selective Tool in Adobe Photoshop, which aim to make the workflow even more optimized.
But now let’s see in detail what we’ll find in the new Silver Efex Pro 3 and Viveza 3.
What’s New in Silver Efex Pro 3
Silver Efex Pro 3 is by many considered the plug-in par excellence for black and white image conversion. For this reason, B&W enthusiasts will surely welcome its new features with enthusiasm.
The first and most obvious of these is that the graphical interface has been completely redesigned, trying to rationalize the layout of the available controls.
In addition to this, 39 new B&W grains have been introduced that derive from DxO FilmPack 5 and ClearViewPlus that we have already had the opportunity to appreciate in DxO PhotoLab has been implemented.
As in Viveza 3 (where we will discuss more since it’s the plug-in that I use most and on which I can better share with you my feedback), even in Silver Efex Pro 3 U-Point technology has been revised, which now allows us to make even more precise selections and to save our personal presets.
Last but not least the introduction of Selective Tones, which allows us to perform even more accurate selections optimizing even more our workflow.
What’s new in Viveza 3
Viveza has always been (and with always I really mean since its first version ever released) my favorite tool and irreplaceable companion of my post-production workflow. Reproducing the same actions directly in Adobe Photoshop would require an incredible amount of time or would be impossible due to the presence of proprietary algorithms. For this reason, you can understand that my level of attention and expectation in the release of a new revamped version of Viveza is particularly high.
As for Silver Efex Pro 3, also in Viveza 3 the graphical interface has been completely revisited and made in “high definition”, something very welcome and expected. Although personally not of particular interest, 10 new presets have been introduced that can be recalled from the side menu on the left that allows you to apply predefined changes to the image with a simple click.
The right column with the editing tools has been completely revised. On the one hand, it is certainly evident an improvement in the graphics that is rationalized, even if the division of the section between global and local adjustments through U-Point is not so clear as in the previous version.
The introduction of the histogram immediately catches the eye: absolutely appreciated and useful because, as we have said many times, the histogram is indispensable both in the field and during the post-production phases. Unfortunately at the moment it is not possible to customize colors and contrasts, which are quite strong and potentially distracting during the post-production.
Great work has been done on the U-Point technology which is the real heart of this plug-in. First of all the Color Tolerance control has been introduced: this is a function that I had hoped for and that I had long suggested because once placed our control point on the image, it will now be possible to refine the selection through the two new sliders of luminance and chromaticity. In other words, we have refinements typical of luminosity masks but in a practical slider form.
Another interesting new feature is the introduction of the possibility to give a name to the control points that we insert: in case of massive use of U-Point technology it will be easy to find what we have already done to modify or delete it. This, combined with the possibility to re-edit the image after saving it, allows us to further optimize our workflow.
Unfortunately, among the new features of Viveza 3 there is also the removal of the U-Point controls directly on the image. This for me is a significant step backward because one of the greatest strengths of Viveza 2 (and earlier) was the ability to adjust all the U-Points directly on the image, avoiding any distraction of continuing to look at the sliders on the right column and having real-time visible feedback on what you are doing. I’ve always thought of Viveza’s U-Point as a real Head-Up Display to stay super focused on post-production, an absolutely innovative feature that cannot be replicated even in Adobe Photoshop. In the image above you can see the difference between Viveza 2 (left) and the new Viveza 3 (right). I hope that in a next update there will be a second thought about this, or at least the ability to choose whether to have the sliders on the image or not.
Nik Collection 4 underlines once again the commitment of DxO Labs towards the historical and beloved Nik Collection suite.
The substantial remake of two of the most beloved plug-ins by users such as Viveza and Silver Efex Pro with a complete modernization of the interface shows us how DxO Labs is strongly interested in maintaining and developing the suite.
In addition to the graphic part, also the real engine of the plug-ins, the U-Point technology, is updated and enhanced with interesting features such as Color Tolerance for more accurate selections and the possibility to rename the control points, even if the removal of the image adjustment controls remains penalizing.
Nik Collection 4 is available for purchase directly from the DxO Labs website.