I have used Lightroom to catalogue and edit my digital photographs since Adobe released version 1.0 in early 2007. Adobe has regularly enriched the program’s capabilities and a plethora of individuals and companies have released add-ons and presets that enhance the experience and make it easier to use. The basic Lightroom program makes all edits to the image file in a non-destructive way. That is, they can be completely undone to be undone to restore the original file. The same is not true of some of the popular plug-ins. These are separate programs and that makes them both more powerful and less forgiving. Changes to the original files are permanent, which is why they should only be made to a copy.
Among the more popular plug-ins was the Nik collection of filters for Lightroom. To quote, “The Nik Collection comprised seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities — from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images.” These programs were released around 2010. The programs were purchased from Nik by Google. Google seems to have decided not to develop the programs further so they opted to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available free, so that anyone could use it. Subsequently, DxO who recently released an updated version (priced at $149), purchased the rights to the Nik Collection. Several years ago, I downloaded a copy of the free version from Google. I tweaked the images in the gallery with that free version of Color Efex – one of the filters in the collection.
These filters can change the images dramatically. The slider below compares the same image of Belfast Castle. (If you can’t see the slider, try reloading the page. I’m not sure why it appears sometimes and not others but reloading seems to cure the problem. Sorry.) One is edited in Lightroom alone and the second is subsequently tweaked in Color Efex. Which is “best” is debatable. I confess that I rather like the detail that the plug-in brings out, but I also admit that a little of this effect goes a long way.
Until recently, there was a link to the free version of the Nik collection on the DxO site. I could not find it when searching to reference it on this post. However, I did find a link to the original collection on this archive. Use it at your own risk and drop me a note if you find an “official” download site.
Bye the way, I also read somewhere that if you download a trial version of the new Nik Collection from DxO it will overwrite any older version. If you decide not to purchase the new version, you risk not having anything once the trial period expires. Again, take care