[00:00:00] HI, I’m PhotoJoseph.
[00:00:01] DxO has just released the latest version of the Nik Collection, DxO Nik Collection 4.
[00:00:07] As in years past, DxO asked me to join them on their virtual press tour to show off the newest Nik Collection 4 features to the global press — and I’d like to share that demo with you.
[00:00:16] If you’re a long time user of the Nik Collection, then you may recall its history. The software was originally developed by Nik Software in the late 90s, and then acquired by Google in 2012. Unfortunately Google didn’t update it at all, but fortunately, DxO Labs acquired the software from Google in 2017, and have been working to modernize it, adding new features and capabilities.
[00:00:36] In this release, we see the first of a complete rewrite of two of the apps — and they truly are standalone image editing apps that also happen to work as plugins to Photoshop, Lightroom, and other hosts. The first two written-from-scratch tools are Viveza and Silver Efex Pro. These two plugins are what I’ll focus on today, showing off their impressive new capabilities that are only possible as part of this rewrite.
[00:00:57] As Nik Collection continues to develop, you will of course see these new capabilities appear in the other tools. That doesn’t mean however that the other apps were ignored in this update — quite the contrary, as you’ll see whole new ways to use the rest of the Nik Collection plugins — including HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, and Analog Efex Pro — in both Photoshop and Lightroom. Let’s get started.
[00:01:15] Let’s start in Photoshop. If the Nik Collection Selective tool is closed, then to open it again – go to the File menu, Automate – Nik Selective Tool 2. From here you have access to all of the different plugins and I’m going to start with the Viveza 3.
[00:01:30] The first thing you’ll notice is the new refined interface. While the layout is the same with your presets on the left, your Compare and Zoom controls on the top and all of the filter effects on the right hand side, the overall look and feel has been modernized.
[00:01:42] Viveza is both a Global Adjustment Editor as well as a Local Adjustment Editor. For example under Global, if I adjust the brightness, that is of course adjusting the brightness of the entire image. But if I scroll down, you’ll find the selective adjustments where we have the Control Points which is where the Nik collection really shines.
[00:01:58] Before I show you what’s new with Control Points, let me set you up with a bit of a backstory, just in case you’re not familiar with how Control Points or U-Points already work. The way that a U-Point works is it builds a mask in real time based off of the chrominance and the luminance of wherever you drop the control point – meaning that if you drop it on something that is, let’s say, dark red, then anything within the masking area that is similarly dark and similarly red will be part of the mask. And by doing that, you immediately create a real-time mask that is really very, very accurate and very smooth and very usable.
[00:02:28] However, in the past, if you wanted to refine that mask, you really couldn’t. And so, what we came to do was use something that we called Negative Control Points. What we would do is drop a control point on an area that we wanted to protect and then adjust nothing in that control point. This would effectively protect that area from whatever the other Control Points nearby had done.
[00:02:47] And this is really good. It actually works really really well, but it certainly isn’t very intuitive and of course, it doesn’t solve every problem. So, now with Nik Collection 4 and these new adjustments, we have the ability to refine what the Control Points selected area is. Let’s have a look.
[00:03:01] I’ll start by adding a control point to his shawl. Notice that his robes and a shawl are similar colors but not exactly the same. So, let’s go ahead and grab a control point, drop it onto the shawl – make it a little bit bigger and then I’ll scroll down some more and make an adjustment.
[00:03:16] I’ll start by just darkening this. Notice that while the shawl itself is getting darker, so is the robe around it. Not as much, of course, but it is definitely being affected.
[00:03:26] Now, the way that we know exactly what is and is not being affected is to enable the Mask View and the Mask View shows us the mask that’s being created in real time. If I grab this control point and move it around, you can see how that mask would be created based off of wherever I drop it. And again, while dropped here it is basing the mask off of the chrominance and the luminance of this area that’s selected. But of course, as we can see, it is selecting some of the surrounding image as well.
[00:03:47] We now have a new set of sliders called Color Selectivity. From here, I can expand or contract the luminance and the chrominance range. For example, if I take the luminance and I start to drag it to the right and then the chrominance and drag it to the right, you’ll see how the range is contracted.
[00:04:02] I’ll bring it all the way up and you can see just how precise this mask can be. I can select something very very specific using this tool. I’ll take the luminance slider and drag it back to 50% where we started as well as to the chrominance and then I’ll start to drag them further down.
[00:04:18] As I get closer to zero, notice how the range of what’s being selected continues to grow. And in fact, if I take the luminance and the chrominance all the way to zero, then the mask ceases to be a mask. It is now a simple radial gradient.
[00:04:31] This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it kind of is. If you’ve been using the Nik Collection for a long time, then like me, you may have often wished for the ability to do a simple radial gradient instead of having to apply the effect to a mask. Now we can do that.
[00:04:44] But for now, let me go ahead and reset this and what I want to do is try to refine this mask so it primarily selects the scarf and as little as possible selects the robe. There’s no right or wrong way to adjust this, it really is just a case of dragging the sliders back and forth and trying to find just the right combination of settings.
[00:05:01] As you can see, you can start to get quite precise with this and as I hide the mask and now adjust this, you’ll see that we are primarily just adjusting the shawl.
[00:05:08] Alright, that’s a pretty straightforward example of this, but now let’s do something that’s a bit more complex. Take a close look at his beard – notice that his beard is – it’s a little bit weathered and aged as – well, as it does happen – and I want to select just his beard and I want to brighten it up. I’m going to make it a little bit brighter and actually de-yellow it a little bit by adding a little bit of blue into there.
[00:05:28] Now, to select the beard itself and not select the smoke, it’s quite a trick. Imagine trying to do this with a Magic Wand tool or a brush or a pen tool or anything like that – using traditional selection tools on this would be almost impossible. But with the U-Point technology, this becomes really really easy.
[00:05:44] I’ll go ahead and zoom into his beard and then grab another control point and just drop it here. Before I make any changes, I’m going to switch back over to Mask View and as I drag this around, I want to point out the importance of getting the mask in the right position to start with. For example, right there – that’s the wrong position.
[00:06:03] We can see that the hairs themselves are darker – indicating that those are not selected, but the area behind the hairs is brighter – indicating that it is selected. Yet if I move this just a tiny bit, we’ll find a position where the hair has become the primary selection and everything else is secondary. So, this is great! This is a really good start, but of course, the smoke itself is still pretty selected.
[00:06:23] So now I’ll go down to my luminance and chrominance color selectivity sliders and tweak these a little bit to refine that selection. There we go – that’s pretty good. We’ve got just the beard there and none of the smoke. Of course, we only have part of his beard here and while I could potentially just expand this to make it bigger to select more of the beard, another way to go about doing this is to use multiple Control Points using the same settings that I’ve already dialed in to select other parts of the beard.
[00:06:50] To do that, I’ll hold down the option key and then drag this control point over, duplicating it, and then I’ll position it where I want. I’ll do that again on the mustache – and then on this part of his beard here. Each one of these can now be individually adjusted if needed to further refine the mask. But this is looking pretty good.
[00:07:10] Okay, at this point, I now have four Control Points over his beard and then the additional one over his shawl – that’s a total of five – which isn’t that many – but imagine if you will that you were doing this for a while and you built up to dozens or even hundreds of Control Points – pretty quickly, these are gonna start to become a bit unmanageable. It’s gonna be hard to understand or remember which one is which. So, we now have the ability to rename Control Points directly in the Nik Collection interface.
[00:07:33] I’m actually going to start by grouping all of the beard ones together and then naming that “Beard”. Here you can see the Control Points that I’ve already created. I’m going to go ahead and command click on these additional four to select them – so now all four of the beard ones are together and then I’ll click the Group button and then double click the name and call it “Beard”.
[00:07:51] I’ll do the same to this control point here and call that one “Shawl”. So now I have these two individual Control Points or groups of Control Points named so that I know exactly what they are. I’ll get out of the Mask View and let’s zoom back out – and now make an adjustment to the beard.
[00:08:08] In this case, I’m going to take the brightness and take it up a bit – and then I’ll take the blue slider and add a little bit of blue in there to counteract the yellow. And pretty quickly in there, we have an incredible before and after – all done without having to use a single brush. So, that’s great.
[00:08:23] The ability to refine a control point and then rename it is absolutely huge. Next I want to show you how I can reuse these Control Points on another image. Let’s say that I’ve got another photo very similar to this one and I want to apply the same corrective effects that I’ve just done here. Well, I can save this as a preset, but what about those Control Points? Let’s have a look.
[00:08:42] Now when you click on Save Preset, you’ll find a new option “Save With Control Points”. I’ll go ahead and name this preset and with Save With Control Points enabled, that means that the preset will have those Control Points saved as part of it.
[00:08:54] Now, for those of you that were really advanced users of the Nik collection in the past may have known that you actually could do this before but you had to know the secret handshake to be able to save those Control Points. Now it’s a UI element. Just click the box to save those Control Points along with the preset.
[00:09:09] Now that I’ve done that, I can reuse this same preset on another image. I’ll go ahead and apply this here then go to another photo, bring up Viveza again, go to my custom presets and apply it.
[00:09:22] Now, of course, the Control Points here aren’t necessarily going to line up exactly where they did with the other image. So I can simply go in here and drag these around to reposition them, including the beard one, of course, and if I wanted to be really accurate about it, I probably should zoom in close and re-enable the mask view, but you get the idea.
[00:09:38] From here, I can easily reposition the Control Points and get them exactly as I need. And of course, if you ever got confused as to which control point was which, you’ll find here the names that we had added before – for both shawl and beard.
[00:09:51] I’m going to back out of here and show you another completely new feature. I’ll open a new photo – I’ll select this one here which is a RAW file, which means of course, this is going to open in ACR or Adobe Camera RAW.
[00:10:01] From here, instead of opening it as pixels, I’m going to click on this triangle and choose to open it as an object. By opening this image as a smart object, this means that any Nik filter that I applied to it will get applied as a smart filter. This means that I’ll be able to go back into that filter at any time and totally non-destructively make changes to it as often as I want.
[00:10:20] But this time, instead of just applying a single filter, I’m going to apply multiple filters at once using one of the new meta presets. Check this out. At the bottom of the Nik Collection Selective tool, you’ll find a list of new meta presets.
[00:10:33] Meta presets are multiple presets assigned at once. These are predefined groups of presets that are using multiple filters indicated by the colorful icons here that tell you which tool is being applied and there’s also a description next to each one of these that explains what it will look like.
[00:10:47] I’m going to use this one called Golden Haze. When I click on that, it’s going to apply both Color Efex Pro and Viveza to this photo. And again, because this is a Smart Object, these filters are being applied as Smart Filters – meaning I’ll be able to go back in and readjust either of these individually.
[00:11:02] Notice too that we never saw the Nik interface. These plugins are applied without ever launching the UI. And now that I have this applied, you’ll see the two filters here – there’s Color Efex Pro and Viveza and if I want to make a change to one, I simply double click on it to launch the filter.
[00:11:16] Now that we’re in Viveza, you’ll see the Viveza effect only – it is not combined with the other filter. So, here we’re seeing just what Viveza has done, and in this case, I want to darken the image as well as make it a little bit less yellow – a little less warm.
[00:11:29] To do that, I’m going to use two more new features in Viveza. The first is selective tones. We now have highlights, mid-tones shadows and black point adjustment within Viveza. I’ll take the mid-tones on this image and drag them down – make them really dark and then I’ll use the new white balance shifting tool to shift the color temperature towards cool.
[00:11:48] Now that I’ve done that the way I want, I’ll click Apply and this is going to re-render back into Photoshop combining it with the Color Efex Pro effect and of course, rendering on top of the original RAW image. And of course, because these are smart filters being applied to a smart object, these are re-rendered all the way down from the base pixels – meaning it’s a totally non-destructive workflow and again, any change that I made is reprocessed all the way from the beginning, ensuring the best quality all the way through.
[00:12:13] Next, let’s take a look at something in Lightroom. I want to apply a series of Nik Collection filters to this first photo and then apply the same effects to this photo here.
[00:12:21] Now, as a Lightroom user, you’ll know that you have the ability to copy and apply settings from one photo to another. This is fantastic. If you are a wedding photographer or a travel photographer or really anybody who’s trying to create a consistent look and feel across multiple images, then this ability to copy and paste the settings is absolutely huge. Of course, you probably also know that as soon as you introduce a third party filter, this whole system breaks. You cannot copy and paste the third party filter from one photo to another – except that now you can. Let me show you how.
[00:12:49] I’ll start by applying a couple of filters to this photo here. I’m going to choose to edit this in Color Efex Pro 4 and from here, I will of course need to convert this from a RAW file into a TIFF, so I’ll go ahead and let Lightroom do that. And then here in Color Efex Pro 4, I’m just going to apply a quick preset. I’ll use this lavender one here.
[00:13:06] So, there’s the before and there’s the after. I’ll go ahead and save that. Color Efex Pro 4 has now been rendered into this TIFF file and I want to add a second effect. In this case, I’ll go into Analog Efex Pro – and I’m going to edit the original this time, meaning the original TIFF not the original RAW file of course, so that I’m not duplicating and having multiple TIFF files in Lightroom.
[00:13:27] From here, I’ll choose another preset – how about Classic Camera 7 which is going to brighten up the image a little bit and add a little bit of film dirt. I’ll go ahead and save this applying that filter on top of the other filter back into the TIFF file in Lightroom.
[00:13:40] So, there’s the combined result of those two effects. Now, again, I want to apply this same look to this photo here. So, I’ll go back to the photo I was just working on, right click and from the Export menu, choose the new Nik Collection – copy and apply parameters.
[00:13:55] From here, I can copy any filter that was applied to this photo. You’ll see that HDR Efex and Silver Efex are not available because I didn’t apply them, but both Color Efex and Analog Efex are.
[00:14:05] So, I’ll go ahead and click on copy, and then copy again, copying both of those to the clipboard. Click Okay, go to the image I want to paste these onto, right click again, Export – Copy and Apply Parameters and from here, I can apply those effects.
[00:14:21] Now, the order that we apply them is going to matter – we want to apply them in the same order that we did previously. So, in this case, I’ll start with Color Efex Pro. I’ll click Apply, and again, because this is a RAW file, I’m going to have to let Lightroom convert this to a TIFF file. I’ll go ahead and let that run and Lightroom is going to render that file out as a TIFF and then apply the filter to it.
[00:14:40] And you’ll notice here that we never see the Nik UI. It doesn’t launch the filter; it just applies the effect. I’ll click OK and take a look at the image that was just created. There’s that image with the first filter applied to it, then right click on this TIFF file and once again, Export – Copy and Apply Parameters and then apply the Analog Efex Pro. And in this case, I’ll go ahead and edit the original again so it’s applying it on top of that TIFF.
[00:15:02] I’ll point out at this point that you could actually have multiple images selected at once here. This is not a copy from one and apply to one, but you can actually copy from one and apply to many. Now that that’s done, we’ll see the new filtered effect there along with the original image here – where I’ve applied that same combination of filters and effects.
[00:15:20] For the next image, I’m going to do something similar – I’m going to apply an original effect to a photo that I then want to apply that same effect or at least something like it to another one. But in this case, I’ll use presets to do that.
[00:15:30] I’ll go to this photo here and then I’m going to jump into the new Silver Efex Pro 3. Once again, I’ll let Lightroom render out a TIFF file so I can apply this filter. As you can see, Silver Efex Pro has the same new look that we saw in Viveza. With our presets on the left, the Compare and Zoom tools at the top and of course, all the adjustments on the right.
[00:15:50] The first thing I want to do here is show you the new ClearView slider. This is the same ClearView function that is in Photo Lab 4 now brought into Silver Efex Pro. The ClearView function is fantastic. If you’ve never used this before, it allows you to cut through haze or mist better than you’ll see in any other tool. Check this out.
[00:16:07] As I take this intensity slider up, you’ll see that we are literally just cutting right through all that smoke and haze to give us a much crisper cleaner image. Now, at this point notice I’ve taken the intensity all the way up to 100 and if I compare this back and forth, I think you’ll agree with me that this looks 100% believable. This does not look like it was a processed image and I think you’ll also agree with me that while there are tools similar to this in other apps, usually if you take that slider up a little bit too high, the image looks over processed or overcooked very very quickly. In fact, I’d like to point out that you can often tell when a photographer has just discovered one of those sliders because they usually crank it up way too high and you’re going “Oh yeah, look at what filter you just figured out”.
[00:16:46] Anyway, here, ClearView looks fantastic even all the way up to 100. The next thing I’ll do is take advantage of another new Silver Efex Pro feature and that is Film Grain. This new selection of film grains may actually look familiar to you. If you’re familiar with DxO’s film pack, then these are all the same meticulously recreated film grains from the film pack app.
[00:17:06] You now have a collection of very accurate, realistic film grain patterns that you can select inside of Silver Efex Pro that are all created from high resolution scans of actual films. These look totally beautiful and believable.
[00:17:19] I’m going to choose an old favorite of mine from back when I used to shoot film – Kodak T-Max 3200. I always loved the really high grain pattern of this high ASA or ISO film, so I’m going to go ahead and crank this all the way up and use that.
[00:17:33] Now, like I said I want to apply this same look to another image. So I’ll go ahead and save a preset – oops, I forgot to save a preset. Now, how many of us have done this before – you have all the intentions to save that look as a so you can apply it to another image, but as you saw, I clicked apply without saving it as a preset. What am I going to do? Well, let me show you. We now have the ability to recall the last effect applied – check this out.
[00:17:56] I’ll go to this image next, right click on it and choose edit in Silver Efex Pro let it render out a TIFF and now from the edit menu, I can choose Apply Last Edit. That’s going to recall whatever I had previously done even though I didn’t save it as a preset. You’ll see – there’s my intensity slider on the ClearView dragged all the way up. Let’s go ahead and back that off a little bit and of course, there’s the film grain, T-Max 3200 with the grain size cranked up as well.
[00:18:23] So again, even though I forgot to save that as a preset, I’m able to recall the last effect applied by simply choosing it from the menu.
[00:18:30] That’s everything I wanted to show you in the new Nik Collection 4. There’s more to it than that but those are the highlights and I encourage you to visit my website at PhotoJoseph.com/NikCollection to learn more. From there you can also make a purchase – you can see the prices on your screen here whether you’re buying new or upgrading from a previous version, there’s the retail price as well as a special price that is valid until June 30th of 2021. As always, thanks for watching. Don’t forget to Like and Subscribe and if you do decide to make a purchase, I really would appreciate you using my links below. Those are affiliate links and that always helps me out.
[00:18:37] Thanks so much everybody, I will see you next time. Bye-bye.