The NIK Collection 4 contains a good deal of new features that will please a lot of photographers. DxO breaks free from the time Google managed this collection of tools and didn’t do anything useful with it.
Version 4 of the NIK Collection sports 250 professional-grade presets, a Meta Presets capability for Photoshop users and a new, less complicated U Point technology for local adjustments. As DxO’s improvements are not superficial, the new U Point functionality is currently available with Viveza and Silver Efex with the others probably following suit later.
Viveza, dedicated to tone and colour local adjustments, and Silver Efex have been revamped to a deep level. Both plugins now feature a modern interface of which the efficiency and user experience contrast with the one that you’ll find in the other plugins.
The access to presets has been made more efficient. You can now filter for type and favourite easily and identify tools through the redesigned palettes. Creating and sharing presets has been made simple. But where these two plugins now make the other ones look old-fashioned, is with the U Point technology.
With version 4, DxO takes U Point technology to its least complicated implementation ever. U Point was the first system that didn’t need you to draw masks yourself to apply local adjustments (which is hard to do). That’s not changed, but now you can tune the auto-created mask with two Color Selectivity sliders. The new approach allows for much more accurate masks than the old system that forced you to create negative control points to keep the mask from bleeding into areas you didn’t want to affect.
Another major novelty, this time for all plugins in the Collection, is that it is possible to incorporate Control Points into personalised presets. It means, for example, that you can apply a colour effect and a blurred background to several portraits in a row.
The Control Points themselves have been made easier to use with one slider on the HUD itself, making it easier to judge an effect. A boon is that you can rename Control Points.
What I couldn’t try out is the new Meta Presets filter type that has been added for Adobe Photoshop users. You access it from the Nik Selective Tool. They are Adobe Photoshop actions that combine the filters and settings of several NIK Collection plugins into one. NIK Collection 4 comes with a series of ten Meta Presets.
The Last Edit function, which lets users re-apply the last preset they used in one of the Nik Collection plugins while using Adobe Photoshop, has been extended to include Lightroom Classic. In addition, the new Smart Copy & Paste feature lets users selectively re-apply the effect of a plugin to one or several images directly in Lightroom without having to launch the software suite’s interface.
Finally, NIK Silver Efex now includes the ClearView technology that DxO PhotoLab users have come to appreciate when they need to remove haze and enhance local contrast.
For the first time since DxO took over the NIK Collection, I had the feeling version 4 is the dawn of a new era for this set of plugins. If DxO continues to innovate the whole Collection with improvements and novelties like the ones you’ll find in Viveza and Silver Efex, the future of the NIK Collection looks bright and its users will be all the happier.