Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Review

Color Efex.png

This week I’m back to photography. A good friend and reader recently turned me on to Nik Software that has a series of excellent photography software products. In particular, their Color Efex Pro plug-in for Aperture and Photoshop.

I know I’m supposed to be objective as a reviewer but I just have to say this plug in rocks. Have you ever seen those photoshop svants that can take a picture and then work their black magic on it. I’ve always admired it but at a certain level accepted that I’m about as likely to learn how to do that as I am to build a fission reactor in my attic.

This is where Color Efex Pro steps it up. It installs as a plug in for Aperture or Photoshop and it has a pile of digital filters that enhance your photos with the touch of a button. I’m not just talking black and white here. This is 52 filters with over 250 effects that make your photos look professional.
Pro Contrast420 w.png

Pro Contrast Filter

These filters include several traditional filter effects such as polarization and color gradients. Since I don’t shoot with anything but a UV filter, this allows me to experiment on my shots.
Sunshine420 w.png

Sunshine Filter

That is just the beginning though. There are also a host of filters that just make your photos look better or more interesting. There is one that softens your skin. Solarizer gives you an incredible contrast for portraits. One darkens the edges and lightens the center. Another takes your modern fancy image and magically turns it into an antiqued old photograph. Are you taking glamour shots? One click sets you up. Need extra light, the sunshine filter allows you to add it in with a large degree of granularity. You can turn day to night with the midnight filter or get that hazy James Dean look with the Monday Morning filter. I’ve spent hours playing with these filters and could ramble on. In the plug-in it even organizes the filters in convenient tabs such as portrait, landscape and traditional.
Bleach Bypass420 w.png

Bleach Bypass

Applying these filters in Aperture is easy as selecting the image, activating the plug-in and clicking on your filter of choice.

Nik Software explains the benefit is that you can do your edits faster. I think they are missing the point. Color Efex Pro allows you to do edits that are completely unreachable to us mere mortals. It is like having your own little photoshop genius in your pocket.
glamour glow420 w.png

Glamour Glow

The Color Efex Pro filters do come at a price. There are three versions that range from $100 (with 15 filters) to $300 (with 52 filters). I know for the “point and shoot” crowd that is probably more than their camera cost but if you are an SLR owner and serious about dramatically increasing your digital enhancement skills, this one is worth a serious look. You can see samples of all the filters and download a trial at Nik’s website found at Check it out.

You can listen to this review on Surfbits Episode 176.