Nik Color Efex Pro 3 Review

4.0
March 9, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews |

Introduction

Color Efex Pro from Nik Software offers digital camera owners a wide range of quick and easy ways to dramatically enhance their photos with just a few clicks of the mouse. Color Efex Pro 3.0 contains the most comprehensive set of creative enhancements, color correction filters, retouching tools, and a complete collection of traditional photographic effects available. Read our Nik Color Efex Pro 3 review to find out if it's worth adding to your digital toolbox.

Color Efex Pro 3.0 is a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture that adds digital filters to your photographs. With 52 filters to create over 250 effects in the Complete Edition, this third instalment should be able to provide a filter for almost any scenario. Nik's unique U Point technology provides the ultimate control to selectively apply enhancements without the need for any complicated masks, layers or selections.

Color Efex Pro costs $99.95 / 99.95 Euros for the Standard Edition, $159.95 / 159.95 Euros for the Select Edition, and $299.95 / 299.95 Euros for the Complete Edition.

We were really impressed with the speed of installation. It took a couple of minutes to download the file to our computer then around five minutes to unpack and install the program. While installation is going through, Color Efex Pro will scan your computer to find compatible programs to work with. For this review, we chose to operate it on Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Nik Color Efex Pro 3

Figure 1

To start the program, you need to have an image open first. You can locate Color Efex Pro 3.0 in the Filter tab towards the bottom. Once open, the program loads the first filter in the list automatically. Ideally, I'd like to see no filters applied initially so I can see the changes more effectively, however the first filter is a black & white, so it's not exactly subtle.

Nik Color Efex Pro 3

Figure 2

Upon first inspection, the interface looks quite intuitive. Towards the top left of the window are a few icons for adjusting the view of the window. You can choose from full size view or split the preview screen. Running over to the right of the window, are a few quick selection tools such as zoom, pan, change background and select.

Nik Color Efex Pro 3

Figure 3

The main image sits centrally while various tools and options surround it. To the left are the filters available which can be whittled down to different genres depending on your tastes.
There are nine new filters and within some of the filters are extra features such as the Film effects option which has 30 different film filters to choose from and the Cross balance which allows you to select tungsten or daylight casts. It's worth looking on the Nik website to see whether you get all the filters because some are only available on the select or complete editions.

Nik Color Efex Pro 3

Figure 4 - Cross Processing

To the right of the selected picture are the fine tuning adjustment options. For example, on the black & white conversion that comes up when you first open the program, there are three sliders to change the strength, brightness and contrast as well as a filter colour slider. You can also adjust the highlights and shadows which can be expanded to show a histogram. Keep an eye out towards the bottom or you'll miss the extra features that are hidden behind the Loupe. This Loupe is really useful with a split screen for a before & after preview but there are other options under it such as control points and quick save slots.

One of the cooler bits that I like is the filter selection arrows at the top. The arrows scroll through the different filters in the list to the left.

Control points utilise Nik Software's U Point technology which allow local adjustments. All you have to do is select the point on the picture that you want to edit, change the size and you can control the opacity of the filtration in that area.

Nik Color Efex Pro 3

Figure 5 - Control Points

There nine new filters that have been introduced to Color EfexPro 3.0 but they vary on availability dependant on the version that you get. However, it's worth noting that the standard version has none of the new filters, they're only added to the select or complete versions.

Entry Tags

review, software, photoshop, lightroom, aperture, filters, filter, nik software, colour, color, nik, Nik Color Efex Pro Review, color efxr pro

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Your Comments

12 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Steven House

Quite nice review. Quite. Quite how many times can one say quite?

Surprised to this this review here. It’s not exactly new is it?

7:06 am - Thursday, March 10, 2011

#2 canvas art

I am also surprised to this this on the front page - i’ve been using it to edit my images for ages.. it is good though!

3:02 pm - Thursday, March 10, 2011

#3 Matt Grayson

twiceaccording to my search. Unless you saw something I missed..?

12:49 pm - Saturday, March 12, 2011

#4 Steven House

Quite enough though eh?

Color Efex Pro 3 has been around for at least 4 years.

Can we look forward to a review of Silver Efex Pro 2 in say about 2015? I look forward to it.

Only kidding of course.

12:54 pm - Saturday, March 12, 2011

#5 Matt Grayson

Luckily for PBlog, I don’t make the decisions. =;O)
It hasn’t been reviewed before and it’s all content, isn’t it?
No-one batted an eyelid when James May gave his first review on Top Gear of a Bentley T2..?

9:49 am - Sunday, March 13, 2011

#6 Steven House

It’s been reviewed in plenty of places before.

“It’s all content”? That implies that the review is just filler. Which does however coincide with my view of it.

Comparing yourself to Top Gear? A program denigrated for it’s lazy journalism and racial stereotyping.

10:09 am - Sunday, March 13, 2011

#7 Matt Grayson

All equipment is reviewed in many places. The review isn’t just a filler, it’s something that’s not been reviewed before here and someone on here won’t have read it anywhere else. That’s what I mean by saying it’s all content.
I never compared myself to Top Gear at all, I was illustrating that just because something isn’t brand new, doesn’t mean it can’t get reviewed.

12:04 am - Monday, March 14, 2011

#8 Steven House

“Brand new” means “new”. This is what I was originally getting at. Your use of language. The use of “quite” is not really telling us anything. Either a thing is fit for purpose or it isn’t in which case you could explain where it fails. Telling us it’s quite this or quite that is meaningless in a review.

I have no idea what a Bentley T2 is. Neither is it relevant.

11:22 am - Monday, March 14, 2011

#9 Matt Grayson

The context that I used them in were the same as going into a restaurant that’s quite nice. It doesn’t mean it fails anywhere, you may have thought it was going to be rubbish and it actually turned out to be quite nice. It’s a word that, like OK, can mean something good. In the first use of the word, I can see what you mean but I’m sorry, I think you’re looking too far into it.

12:10 am - Thursday, March 17, 2011

#10 Steven House

OK fair enough and seriously look forward to a review of Silver Efex Pro 2.

7:59 pm - Thursday, March 17, 2011

#11 Lloyd Barnes

I tried the 2 week demo and liked the dynamic skin softening filter and the U Point feature, which gave great control. However, I use Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 and didn’t find anything in Nik Efex that I couldn’t do already with Lightroom + Photoshop. I found Nik Efex was quicker to use for skin softening, which might justify the price. Unfortunately, that filter is only available in the complete addition for $299.

11:46 pm - Thursday, March 24, 2011

#12 deepakv

looks good , but can we have more examples with other filters also. as the price seems to be too much for this one. Anyways nice review PB. :)

10:41 am - Friday, August 5, 2011