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Review: Google Nik Analog Efex Pro

by Ibarionex Perello on 11/07/2013

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When Google acquired Nik Software in late 2012, I was among those photographers who wondered what this would mean for the future of the software suite of plug-ins. Silver Efex Pro II, Color Efex Pro, Sharpener and the other plugins had become an integral part of my workflow. So, I not only wondered whether the plugins would continue to be updated but also would there be any new plug-ins in the future?

Well, it seems that both questions have been answered with the latest addition of Analog Efex Pro to the Google Nik Collection which gathers together 7 plugins  for$149.00.

The new plugin that simulates a variety of cameras, films and lenses is not a revolutionary introduction. There are other plugins on the market  that have covered similar territory. However, Analog Efex Pro provides a unique editing experience that complements the other apps found in the collection.

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Pros and Cons

Pros

Uses similar interface and controls to other Nik plugins

Allows the application of multiple effects

Provides powerful global and local filter effects

Allows users to create and download custom presets

Cons

Frame effects cannot be rotated

Gear Used

27-inch iMac using OS Mavericks,

Adobe Lightroom 5

Adobe Photoshop CC

Tech Specs

(from Google Nik Collection website)

Mac:

  • Mac® OS X 10.6.8 through 10.8

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 (CS5 for HDR Efex Pro 2) through CS6

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 through 11 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 5

  • Apple® Aperture® 3.1 or later

Windows:

  • Windows Vista®, Windows 7, Windows 8

  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 through CS6

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 through 11 (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 5

GPU Compatibility:

NVIDIA GeForce 8 Series, GeForce 9 Series, GeForce 100 Series, GeForce 200 Series, GeForce 300 Series, GeForce 400 Series, GeForce 500 Series, ATI Radeon HD2000 Series, Radeon HD3000 Series, Radeon HD4000 Series, Radeon HD5000 Series, Radeon HD6000 Series, Intel HD Graphics 3000

If no compatible card is available, GPU acceleration will be disabled and the CPU will be used.

Ease of Use

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The user interface is very intuitive and will be very familiar to users of Nik plug-ins. The presets now called Cameras are located in the far left column. They include Classic Camera, Wet Plate, Toy Camera, Vintage Camera and Camera Kit.

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Each camera effect consists of several different visual effects, each of which can be enabled, disabled or customized using the control panels on the far right column. The slider controls make it easy to increase/decrease the effect of each enhancement on the photograph.

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The large preview window allows user to see the impact of the effect as well as before/after comparison windows.

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Some filters such as the bokeh filter allow users to isolate the the sharpness/bur within the image simulating the effect of a tilt/shift lens or camera.

Real Life Applications

Though there have been several film-inspired plugins, I have not fully embraced them as part of my workflow. I didn’t favor those applications where you were locked into a preset or where it was difficult to customize it to my own personal taste. Analog Efex Pro doesn’t suffer from that problem for the most part.

The power of the camera presets lies in the ability to control the multiple effect that make up that particular look. The effects found on the right column are configured in a layer-like effect. So, you can not completely disable an effect but also customize it. This is especially important because a canned preset it not going to work with every image.

The Camera Kit control allows you to not only add an effect to a Camera preset, but it also allows you to create a unique look entirely from scratch, which can be easily saved as a user preset.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

For owners of the Google Nik Collection, the new plug-in will be automatically uploaded with their next update and we believe that many users will enjoy this latest addition to the suite. For users who haven’t invested in the collection, Analog Efex Pro may not be reason enough to invest in the software, but there is little doubt that it’s a fun and impressive addition.

It was fascinating to discover how much more I could do with images that I’d processed in a more straight-forward way. Largely because I was able to customize the look, the final results felt as if they truly enhanced the image, rather than simply slapping on an effect for effect’s sake.

If there is one thing that I hope is fixed in a future update, it’s the inability to flip or rotate the frames effect. It helps to increase the diversity of the look of images and would call less attention to the same frame being used repeatedly.

Analog Efex Pro is a welcome addition to the Nik Collection and many users will enjoy discovering how the plugin will allow them to explore what more is possible with their digital photographs when interpreted in an analog way.

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