Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Nik Software Suite of Tools Is Now Free -- Is this the beginning of the end?

At one time, Nik software was one of the premier photo editing packages on the market.   Lately
development on the Nik suite has slowed up.   The writing was on the wall -- Google was investing in the mobile and web apps and not the Nik suite.
I bought a copy three or four years ago for a couple hundred dollars and have used it with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop ever since.   Then, a couple years ago Google bought the company to get the mobile app Snapseed.

Today, Google announced that the Nik suite of software is now free to all.  You can download in here.

Here is a list of all the tools in the suite:

  • Analog Efex Pro - converts photos to the look of classic cameras, films, and lenses.
  • Color Efex Pro -  a comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.
  • Silver Efex Pro - black-and-white conversion with darkroom-inspired controls.
  • Viveza - selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections.
  • HDR Efex Pro - powerful HDR conversion tools
  • Sharpener Pro - professional sharpening tools
  • Define - noise reduction software that takes into account the camera, ISO and exposure

All these tools work with Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements as external editors or filters.   They are available for Windows and Macs.

Nik Color Efex Pro continues to be the tool I go to when I want to selectively apply edits.   The u-point technology in the Nik software makes it easy to select areas of a photo based on luminosity and color without the need to create complex masks.   Silver Efex Pro is my favorite B&W conversion tool.  HDR Efex Pro is the HDR software I use.    I have found the noise reduction in Lightroom to be as good as Deine and don't use that tool as much as I used to.

Should you download the Nik suite of software?   Well, it's certainly worth the purchase price.   I'm not sure it's worth the time it will take to learn the tools.  In my opinion, Google making the tools free is the final step before killing them off.  It has already been some time since the last software update.

What's the alternative?   I also have the On1 software suite that does many of the same things as Nik. I have not learned more than the basics of the On1 tools because I kept going back to the Nik tools I know.  Now I'm going to spend more time with On1 and move off the Nik tools.

On1 is investing in their development and will continue to improve the tools.  They are running a Spring Special right now and you can get the suite of On1 tools for $79.

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