nik_Color_Efex_Pro filters are enhancement filters that work within Photoshop, allowing you a multitude of easily attained effects. Depending on which edition you get, there are up to 75 filters with which numerous effects and enhancements can easily be used on any digital image.
nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 set
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According to the nik literature, it uses a "True Light color processing system" to consider the existing color and light information in an image to automatically provide optimal enhancements. In this way the effect is adapted according to the picture info such as detail, colour and contrast range. They also claim that by identifying the unique qualities of the image that the filter is processing, each filter is able to achieve consistency across a range of images.
However it may work, let me tell you - it does work. Colour me impressed.
Software designers have it difficult in balancing two needs with any software that they'd like to put on the market. One consideration is that the software be impressive and powerful and flexible enough to attract buyers, but the other consideration is that the software be accessible and easy to use. Those two criteria are often mutually exclusive.
So my first impression of any software is based on how easy it is to get by with it without tediously referring to the manuals. Well-designed software should be intuitive to use to a large extent. (Obviously if you get the expanded functionality of software like Photoshop CS, then it is just too complex for any user to put it to much use without having to resort to a Dummies book at least.) So with the same glee that a kid would open his presents to see what's inside and just get to play with the new toys, I always want to try out new software by having a look around and see what I can figure out on my own, without having to bother too much initially with the instructions.
And right off the bat, I tried Nik Color Efex Pro on some images. I purposely stayed away from adjusting the image outside of the available Nik filters, even staying away from Photoshop's Levels and Curves - all so that it would be more obvious how well the Nik filters can handle various tasks. However, for one image mentioned here, I did use a Photoshop filter at the end of the sequence. But the rest of the enhancements are with nik Color Efex Pro filters.
The first image I tried it on without even referring to any manual or help file, is this one ..
With a few steps, ie filters selected in nik Color Efex Pro ...
Blue Graduated Filter - to get rid of that bland top left hand corner,
Sunshine - to make the colours pop a bit more,
Darken / Lighten Center - to brighten the dull shadow areas in the background,
and lastly, added Lens Flare from the usual Photoshop filters.
And you know what? I was already immediately impressed. It took no effort, and cost me no frustration.