Back in October 2015, I downloaded and tried out the Google Nix Collection. The Google Nix Collection comprises the image editing plugins Color Efex Pro, Analog Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, and Dfine. These plugins work with Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
I was so impressed with these plugins that I went ahead and bought the collection. Since then, Google has made the Nix Collection completely free (sigh). So, the software is now accessible to anyone with Lightroom and Photoshop (or Apple Aperture). I’ll be reviewing all of the core Nix plugins in separate articles. But, for starters, I’ll discuss Color Efex Pro, which is probably the Google Nix plugin I use most often.
Color Efex Pro Review
Simply put, Color Efex Pro allows you to apply very cool filters to your photographs with just one click. And, once you’ve chosen a filter, you can then tweak it in various ways to make it look exactly how you want it. Moreover, you can “stack” filters by applying several to the same photograph, thereby producing a truly unique “look” for your image.
And, if you come up with a collection of filters that you really like, you can save the “recipe” for future use. So, next time, you can just click your saved recipe and apply all of the filters with just one click. You can then add or delete filters, and tweak each filter until you find the look you are after.
To more fully illustrate how the software works, I’ll run through a typical workflow.
If you are working in Lightroom, you can right-click on the image you want to edit and choose, “Edit in” > “Color Efex Pro 4”:
If you’re working in Photoshop, you click “Filter > “Nix Collection” > “Color Efex Pro 4”:
The image will load into Color Efex Pro. You can then start experimenting by clicking the filters in the left side panel:
Each filter item expands to offer you several options based on the same filter set:
You can then start making adjustments to each filter via the sliders and control points in the right-side panel:
Once you have chosen and tweaked all of the filters you want, you can hit the “Save” button at the bottom right of the Color Efex Pro window. Color Efex Pro will then close and the image your created will then be loaded back into Lightroom or Photoshop.
Or, instead of choosing and tweaking filters one by one, you can simply choose an option from the Recipes panel and apply a whole set of filters:
Then, you can adjust the individual filters in the recipe you applied to fit your tastes and hit the “save” button to close Color Efex Pro and load the image back into Lightroom or Photoshop.
Later, you can make any further adjustments you like from within Lightroom or Photoshop.
You Can Achieve the Same Effects in Photoshop or Lightroom, But….
Let’s be clear. If you have the skills and the knowledge, you can achieve all of these filter effects – and a lot more – right from within Lightroom and Photoshop. But Color Efex Pro does have some advantages. Firstly, it’s fast! You can apply a lot of different filters really quickly and easily come up with a wide range of different looks and feels for your image. So, if you are still finding your way around the almost endless options and tools that Lightroom and Photoshop offer, Color Efex Pro can give you a huge head start.
Secondly, if you have a particular look in mind for an image, Color Efex Pro gives you a quick and easy way of creating what you might think of as a prototype for your finished image. Once you’ve created your prototype, you can then emulate the look within Photoshop or Lightroom, albeit with the considerably more fine-grained options that Adobe’s software provides.
And, Color Efex Pro is Free, So Why not?
Given that, the Google Nix collection is now free, adding it to your image editing workflow is a no-brainer. Even if you only use it occasionally, or just as a means of getting ideas for finished photos, it is certainly worth having.
Get Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Note that to properly use the Google Nix Collection software, you do need Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, or Apple’s Aperture software as host programs for the plugins. There are some rather convoluted ways to use the software without the host programs. However, the plugins are not intended to work as standalone programs. But, the good news is that you can get both Photoshop and Lightroom with an Adobe Creative Cloud For Photographers subscription. Via Creative Cloud, you can get this amazing software for just $9.99 USD ($11.99 AUD) per month, which makes it much more affordable than buying the software outright.
I’ve been using Creative Cloud for several years now and, for me, it’s the best way to get Adobe software at an affordable cost. Another great benefit of a Creative Cloud subscription is that you always have access to the latest versions of Adobe software at no extra cost.
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