DxO’s NIK Collection 6 is yet another upgrade that brings a more modern interface and new functionality. One of the big new features is a control line in addition to the control points we already had. The control lines allow for — you guessed it — linear masks instead of the circular ones NIK Collection has been known since it first came to market.
If lines were all to version 6, it would be a skinny affair, so there’s more. For the first time, DxO is now allowing you to control some of the parameters that define the masks created by control points and lines. Diffusion lets you set the fall-off of the mask, while chrominance and luminance let you further fine-tune the mask so that NIK’s own assessment of these parameters are now little more than the plugin’s well-informed guess. An “invert” setting makes it possible no to invert the mask as well.
As you probably build a large number of presets yourself with NIK Collection, version 6 now feels your pain of having to wade through endless lists of presets, and lets you search through them. It now pays off big time if you named them. Besides naming presets, you can now also name control points throughout the entire collection.
Photoshop users in particular will love the fact that you can convert your edits to Photoshop’s Smart Object type from within the plugin itself, which is useful if you forgot to do that before starting to work on an image. Another nice new feature is that the plugin remembers the 15 last edits so that you can go back to a previous one without having to save your work with every change you make.
NIK Perspective has a new Reshape, Symmetry and Guides functionality, that work much the same way as those in DxO’s ViewPoint 4. Finally, NIK Sharpener and HDR Efex are still being worked on, but will be available free of charge to those who have a license for version 6 sometime in the summer of this year.
Last but not least, and perhaps the best new “feature” of all, is that we, the users of Affinity Photo 2 now have native access to the NIK Collection from the Plugins submenu. In this capacity, NIK Collection works with image files, including JPEG and PNG. However, it will not work if you try using it on a new Photo document with an image file placed in it. As I don’t have Photoshop anymore, I don’t know if that’s the same behaviour. Regardless, it’s a huge step forward.
DxO retails at $149. An upgrade is available for $79.