I’m not a professional photographer by trade but I have a pretty decent mid-range camera, plus a few nice pieces of glass. I take pictures of products several times a week, I edit them in Lightroom and/or Photoshop so I think I’ve got enough background to warrant trying out the new NIK Collection 4 plugin for Photoshop & Lightroom.

For those of you unaware, the NIK Collection is a plugin, with a number of different elements to it, to help assist, improve and offer more editing options within Lightroom & Photoshop, than the stock features. The NIK Collection has been created by DxO and if you hadn’t guessed, this is the 4th collection, so if you’ve got collection 3, you get a discounted upgrade price of ¬£54.99. If you’re buying it for the first time, you can pick it up for ¬£88.99. Both prices are introductory until June 30th, when they will then increase.

Before I get into using the plugin, a few points on whats provided.

  • 8 categories within the plugin, offering upto 250 presets
  • U Point technology for specific, pin point editing
  • New user friendly interface and workflow
  • Meta Presets, Adobe Photoshop actions that combine the filters and settings of several Nik Collection plugins into one

To use the plugin, you need to download it, install it and activate the licence. You’re then good to go and you can open up either program and start using it. Every time you open said program, the plugin will load up automatically (unless you tell it otherwise) and it will appear in the top right-hand corner, or at least it did for me. You’ve then got various categories to browse through and play with. Each category will do something different, editing colour, exposures, noise reduction, effects, presets and filters.

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Click on whichever one you want and then another window will pop up, showing your photo and then that specific plugin. You can then do your thing within that specific area and edit your image. As an example, I went into the HDR Efex Pro 2 option, I hit the compare button (so I can see the original image and the modified image next to each other), and then I went through the different presets to find something I liked. Once you find something you kind of like, you can then tweak various settings with sliders. Within the HDR option, I could change tone compression, tonality and colour by sliding percentages up and down.

Now, the above works for the entire image but what this collection can also do, is edit just a specific area of the photo with the U Point option. When you’re in a category window, hit the control point button and click somewhere on your photo. This will show up a circle on the screen, make it smaller, larger, change the opacity and then select the preset or setting to use within the circle. This is great if you wanted to work on someone’s face or a specific product in a shot.

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U Point™ technology, the first system to allow users to apply local adjustments without masks, has revolutionized photo editing. Nik Collection 4 now makes it possible to incorporate Control Points into personalized presets.
That means photographers can apply a similar style to several images while still preserving a specific area. For example, users can choose to apply a colour effect as well as a blurred background to several portraits. U Point™ technology also includes a new Colour Tolerance setting so photographers can regulate the saturation of a specific tone range. Users can not only select the colour they want to change, but also adjust the tolerance of similar colour hues. Lastly, Control Points have been made easier to use than ever. This feature now includes fewer sliders, making the applied effect easier to view, and can be renamed so users can craft an optimized workflow experience.

Performance-wise, I found the software a little sluggish, clicking on a category and it opening another window, it could be quicker but my PC is a couple of years old now, it may be quicker on a higher spec PC. As for what’s on offer, I’ve only scratched the surface and I could get into a lot of detail as this is a very sophisticated plugin with more options than you probably need. Being a first time user, it is somewhat pick up and play but I felt more confident, with processes were flowing better after using it for a few hours. I’m several hours in now, thoroughly enjoying it and the fine-tuning I can achieve with my photos is great.

For more info and to purchase, head over to the official NIK Collection webpage.