In 2012, Nik Software, a small company known for their image processing tools that emulated the look and feel of using old film, was quietly acquired by a somewhat larger company known as Google. This past spring, Google announced they were making the entire suite of Nik tools available for free to all users. I’m just getting around to testing this suite of image editing software now, and from what I’ve seen so far its capabilities are leading-edge and would be well worth spending hundreds of dollars to obtain. It doesn’t do everything, but what it does, it does better than tools such as Photoshop and Lightroom, each of which costs a good deal of money. That Nik’s great capabilities are available for download completely gratis is a wonderful gift from the folks at Google, and I strongly recommend you give them a try.
It’s important to note that the Nik Collection of software tools is not intended to be standalone image processing software. It consists of a set of plugins, each specialized for a different specific purpose, that must be accessed by a general-purpose image editing application such as Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture. I use Lightroom for nearly all of my post-processing, so I used that application to access the Nik Collection.
Once you have your general image editing application installed, then you can download the Nik Collection modules for free at this site: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/. When you are working in your application of choice, you will then have access to the various Nik Collection tools in the editing menus. For example, when I select an image in Lightroom, I can access six of the seven Nik modules by pulling down the “Photo” menu and then pulling down the “Edit In” sub-menu. One of the Nik modules, the HDR Efex tool, is accessed instead under the “File” and “Export with Preset” menu choices.
These are the seven Nik Collection modules included in the free download:
Color Efex Pro
A comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects.
HDR Efex Pro
From natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR photography.