Back in October, Google purchased Nik Software, mainly for their Snapseed Product, but many of us in the photography world started getting worried. You see, Nik Software and their plugins have become some of the best go to plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom (and other software) for a lot of professional and amateur photographers. Most of the concerns most had was related to what was Google going to do with the plugins? Were they going to go away? I myself have relied on Nik products for years. Why spend hours and steps in Photoshop trying to get the look you want in an image when many of Nik’s plugins could do it in 1/4 of the time!
On the 25th of March, 2013, Google announced the availability of the “Nik Collection by Google”, which for the time being has eased some of my fears of the plugins going away! While the plugins haven’t changed much since the last version that was available at the Nik site for download, Google made one significant change and that was to the price!
In the past these plugins sold individually from anywhere from 99.00 to 300.00 each. The complete collection would cost you over 500.00! Now any photographer can get the entire suite for just 149.00 USD! Compared to other plugins and suites, this is an incredible deal for what this software can do!
The collection includes all of the software that was sold by Nik previously in the suite and individually. The collection includes:
– Color Efex Pro 4, a set of filters and effects that have become the go to for many photographers around the world.
– HDR Efex Pro 2, My software of choice for HDR image processing.
– Silver Efex Pro 2, One of the best plugins for creating Black and White Images. Sets the standard for most B&W Conversion software.
– Viveza 2, Outstanding software for adjusting colours and tones in images without difficult masking.
– Dfine 2, Noise reduction plugins that gives great results automatically.
– Sharpener Pro 3, Great sharpening of photos specifically tailored for how it will be output.
The Nik Collection aren’t the only plugin tools I use but I have used every single one of the above plugins at some time on many of my images. One of the best technologies found in all of Nik’s plugins is the U-point technology. This allows you to drop a U-point on a specific area of the image and control how the effect applies just to that area. Adjusting is easy to do and the software is very good at selecting just what you want it to. in Viveza 2, Silver Efex Pro 2 and HDR Efex Pro 2 it is an absolutely amazing way to work and control the plugin on your images.
The Nik Collection works with Adobe Photoshop CS4 – CS6, Lightroom versions 3 and 4, Apple Aperture 3.1 and later and Adobe Photoshop Elements versions 9 – 11 (with the exception of HDR Efex Pro 2).
If you were a previous owner of the Nik software suite, you should have received an email with a link to download your free version of the suite. Anyone who owned and had registered even just 1 of the plugins with Nik and/or Google should have also received an email with a free upgrade to the entire suite! If you didn’t receive the email I would suggest you contact Google via the Nik Software Support page.
There is a 15 day trial version available on the webpage so that you can actually try out the plugins without restriction. I would highly recommend it if you are not already using the plugins.
To purchase get the trial or learn more you can visit http://niksoftware.com. Google has also maintained Nik’s excellent educational series on the site for learning how the plugins work with the blog, on demand videos and the live webinars!
On a sad note however, Google did kill Snapseed for desktops! This was a great program for doing effects on your PC if you didn’t own the collection. It sold for 20.00 and had a very easy interface to use for editing. I had purchased this software for my daughter to use on her system and she loves it! Previous owners of Snapseed will still be able to download, install and use the software however it will no longer be updated. Snapseed for Android and IOS though will continue on and is now a free application on both platforms (it used to cost 5.00). It is considered one of the best mobile photo editing applications available.
As I said earlier the Nik Collection is not the only plugin tool that I use. Other plugins in my day to day workflow include all of the Topaz Labs plugins and the OnOne Software’s Perfect Suite 7.1. Both of which I also highly recommend and suggest that other photographers try out using the available free trials.
With the release of the Nik Collection by Google it does alleviate some of my fears about what the future is for these great products. Only time will tell if Google continues on with the development and brings new versions forward. The release of the collection and the lowering of the price in my mind is a good sign.. I don’t think Google would start selling a product to new users now only to kill it in the future. Having said that stranger things have happened!