Earlier this week, DxO announced that it had updated the Nik Collection, to version 2.3. With this update comes a whopping 42 new presets, improved support for high-resolution screens in Windows, RAW file compatibility with PhotoLab 2 and 10 new black and white films to the Silver Efex Pro plugin.
The collection is now fully compatible with the latest versions of Adobe software, as well as macOS Catalina.
While Nik Collection has been around for a while, and has changed hands over the years, it’s finally getting the updates it deserves thanks to DxO. Nik Collection comes with seven creative plugins specifically tailored to breathe new life into your images:
- Analog Efex Pro
- Color Efex Pro
- HDR Efex Pro
- Silver Efex Pro
- Sharpener Pro
A look at Silver Efex Pro
With the Nik 2.3 update, Silver Efex Pro has added 10 new film types that simulate some of the most iconic black and white films ever created, from brands like Adox, Bergger, Fuji, Polaroid and Rollei. As someone who doesn’t edit a ton in black and white — but always wants to — I decided to finally dive in and try it out.
I ran Silver Efex Pro as a plugin from Lightroom Classic, which works as you’d expect. Right-click on an image and then select Edit In > Silver Efex Pro.
The interface is pretty straight-forward. On the left side is your Preset Library, complete with film types that are broken up into four categories — Modern, En Vogue, Classic and Vintage. You can also create your own custom presets, or import them from third-party sources.
On the right side you’ll see the various adjustments you can make once you’ve selected from one of the presets. Here you’ll find things like brightness and contrast, but also more advanced controls like color filters and finishing adjustments like burning and toning. What I found really cool here was that you could further alter the preset you chose, adjusting things like grain, color sensitivity, levels and curves.
Working with a photograph
First off, I have to say that I found Silver Efex Pro to be very, very fast. Any adjustments I made happened instantaneously, so it was very easy to experiment with. I selected a previously colored image from my photo library of an old barn in Eaton Rapids, MI, and decided to give it an old school effect.
I decided to go with the new 047 Sun Bleached preset, under the En Vogue category. Something to me just screamed a look straight out of “The Wizard of Oz” when I chose this, which worked perfectly with the rundown barn. With a single click, I was impressed. But I felt it could use some more adjusting.
Playing with Film Types
This is when I opened up the Film Types panel, and went through a wide variety of different film types. By default, “Neutral” was selected, but there are quite a few to choose from. As you hover over each option, the photograph in the interface changes instantly, meaning I don’t have to apply a film type to see the result.
New film types like the Adox Silvermax 21 added exposure and whites to my image, while the Rollei Retro 100 Tonal toned down the gradient in the sky a bit and got rid of most of the grain. I decided to go with the Bergger BRF 400 Plus, which helped to even out some of the tones in my photograph.
From there, I increased the contrast and structure a bit, and bumped up the shadows while taking down the highlights. I also increased the brightness.
I also went back into the Film Types panel and took down the Grain per pixel slider. This allowed me to have more prevalent grain in my photograph, which added to that old school look I was going for.
Finally, I went to the Finishing Adjustments panel and expanded that. The Toning drop-down was pretty cool to play with. I decided on the Coffee 13 option, which added a bit of warmth to my image — but not too much. I then added a Black Frame 1 vignette and finally, an Image Border with Type 9 selected. I finally had that old school look I was going for!
I have to say, I was pretty impressed in terms of what I was able to accomplish in such a small period of time. Silver Efex Pro is fast — really fast — and it turns out great, film-realistic results. While I probably can’t use this for much of my client work, I can’t wait to play with it more for some of my personal landscapes and other photographs!