Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Review

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, February 2009
Published by: Nik Software
Requires: Windows: XP or Vista; Mac OS X
MSRP: US$299.95, €299.95

Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. The plug-in is designed to emulate many real world photo filters, effects and media. This new version offers many more filters than its predecessor, and how you work with these excellent filters in v3 only leaves you with a smile on your face.

The interface is broken up into four areas: the Filters panel, Preview panel (which offers three view modes — Preview, Split, and Side by Side), Filters control panel and the Loupe. The new user interface has that same cool grey look which seems to have become the status quo in digital photo editing software and utilities.

The Filters control panel is really easy to use and changes to reflect the filter selected. The Filters control panel also offers an option to select and create control points (based on Nik's unique and intuitive U-Point technology) which allow you to very quickly define how and where the effect is applied. The control points also allow you to remove an effect in degrees from selected areas.


Once a filter is applied, a new layer is created with the resulting image, which by default also preserves the original, unaltered image as the base layer. Nik Color Efex Pro includes a lot of filters:
  • Brilliance/Warmth
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Color Stylizer
  • Contrast Only
  • Detail Stylizer
  • Graduated Filters
  • Ink
  • Old Photo
  • Pastel
  • Polarization
  • Remove Color Cast
  • Saturation Stylizer
  • Skylight Filter
  • Solarization
  • Sunshine
  • B/W Conversion
  • Bi-Color Filters
  • Bi-Color User Defined
  • Bleach Bypass
  • Classical Soft Focus
  • Colorize
  • Contrast Color Range
  • Darken/Lighten Center
  • Film Grain
  • Flux
  • Graduated Neutral Density
  • Graduated User Defined
  • Infrared Thermal Camera
  • Midnight
  • Monday Morning
  • Paper Toner
  • Photo Stylizer
  • Vignette
  • Vignette Blur
  • White Neutralizer
  • Cross Balance
  • Cross Processing
  • Duplex
  • Dynamic Skin Softener
  • Film Effects
  • Fog
  • Foliage
  • Glamour Glow
  • Graduated Fog
  • High Key
  • Indian Summer
  • Infrared Film
  • Low Key
  • Polaroid Transfer
  • Pro Contrast
  • Reflector Effects
  • Tonal Contrast

. . . with a fine range of adjustments (in the Filter control panel) for each one. The Film Grain filter is the only weak spot, not specifically because of the quality (which is quite good) but rather because I'd like to see an increase and improvement in the number of grain types supported and the way they are handled.

One of Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0's best features is its compatibility with Photoshop CS3 Smart Filters. One of the only annoying features is the filter palette which I turn off by default (very easy to do). The new all-in-one user interface also eliminates the need to close and relaunch a filter if you happen to pick the wrong one.

Cons: Filter Palette installed by default. Film Grain filter selection needs expansion and additional depth of control.

Pros: Fast and easy to use, with powerful features and an excellent new user interface. Nik Color Efex Pro 3 is a pleasure to use. It is both friendly and powerful and offers a range of filters which will make any amateur, enthusiast or pro photographer happy. It offers digital versions of traditional glass filters, excellent emulations of different film types, treatments, processes and effects and lots more besides. It is a must have for any digital imageer, photographer and designer. As a a digital photography processing tool, it has surpassed its earlier incarnations in that the user interface and the controls provided along with the new look and feel allow an ease of use and unity of functionality about which you can only say bravo! For those of you who don't want to splash out on the pro version, there are three other versions of the software (Standard, Select, and Complete), any of which might perfectly suit your particular needs. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:



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