Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Test Drive: Nik Collection 3 by DxO Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

3 June 2020

DxO has released Nik Collection 3 with some stunning enhancements to its earlier rewrite of the code it inherited from Google in October 2017. The new version modernizes the Selective Tool palette, adds a multi-page TIFF format for non-destructive editing and includes a Perspective Efex tool to handle geometric distortions introduced by your specific lens, among other corrections.

The Web review appeared sometime after our November 2000 newsletter review.

We've been reporting on Nik Software since the release of Nik Sharpener, which added artificial intelligence to unsharp masking in November 2000. It was one of Nils Kokemohr's first inventions. Kokemohr founded Nik Multimedia in 1995 and developed the U Point technology used in Viveza and Nikon Capture.

The suite was sold to Google who sold it to DxO, which has been breathing new life into it since the acquisition. While recent updates to version 2 have been modest if meaningful, Nik Collection 3 marks a significant update to the package.

We've been kicking the tires for a few days after a couple of briefing with DxO and our experience with the product has only confirmed our initial enthusiasm. In this review, we'll look at the new features of the suite.


Highlights of the new release include:

  • An updated, attractive, collapsable Nik Selective Tool to launch individual components, filter and presets in the suite
  • A new, multi-page TIFF image format to provide a non-destructive workflow
  • Perspective Efex for making geometric corrections (from barrel, pincushion, fisheye distortions) to images and volume deformation corrections from wide-angle lenses
  • A new Miniature Effect
  • HiDPI and Dual Monitor compatibility
  • New quick edit tools
  • A Message Center built into the Nik Selective Tool to keep you informed about new upcoming features and access new online resources


System requirements don't seem to have changed. Nik Collection 3 ran fine on our 2010 MacBook Pro with 8-GB RAM and plenty of room on our SSD.

General requirements are:

  • 4-GB RAM (8-GB recommended)
  • 4-GB available hard disk space

The macOS requirements include:

  • Intel Core i5 or higher
  • macOS 10.12 (Sierra) or higher

And Windows includes:

  • Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon 64 X2 or higher
    (Intel Core i5 or higher recommended)
  • Windows 7 (64 bits) with Service Pack 1, Windows 8.1 (64 bits), or Windows 10 (64 bits and still supported by Microsoft)
  • For HiDPI monitors, Windows 10.1607 and later

GPU compatible requires:

  • NVidia GeForce 8 Series, ATI Radeon HD2000 Series and Intel HD Graphics 2000 Series


Installation was fairly straightforward. We installed it several times, in fact, changing the location of the tools.

There is also an uninstaller, so don't lose your disk image.


The Nik Collection, which runs on macOS and Windows, is a suite of tools that can be run standalone or as a plug-in to Adobe's products or DxO PhotoLab. Here's the list of components:

While we're focusing on the new tools in this review, we'll be using all of the tools in the suite to edit the images in some of our feature stories this month.

  • Analog Efex Pro: Film-era camera, lens and emulsion simulations
  • Color Efex Pro: 55 creative filters and 20 image recipes
  • Dfine: Noise reduction software
  • HDR Efex Pro: High dynamic range image processing
  • Perspective Efex: Geometric image distortion correction
  • Sharpener Pro: Intelligent image sharpening with two stages for Raw files
  • Silver Efex Pro: Monochrome conversions of digital color images
  • Viveza: Color control with advanced functions to change contrast and saturation emanating from a point in the image

It's quite an extensive collection. Silver Efex Pro may be the most popular but both Analog Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro can manipulate color images just as much. And we expect Perspective Efex to make quite an impression.

Viveza has always been an acquired taste, a bit too complex for most people. It isn't so much its power but the use of a single point to apply its adjustments.

Dfine is no slouch either but noise reduction is typically handled within an image editing software's basic tools. Sharpener Pro suffers from the same competition.


It's frankly just delightful to work with the new Selective Tool.

Selective Tool. Shown (l-r) expanded, contracted, with Help and with buttons.

The old one looked like a survivor from the System 7 era. We closed it whenever we started a new session in Photoshop just so we wouldn't have to look at it. We could always launch the plug-ins from the Filter menu.

But this redesign not only looks better, it can stay out of the way and even stick around without making a nuisance of itself.

Tool Preferences. Some powerful options, including how to apply filters, recipes, last edit.

Collapsible. Yes, the full-width display is now collapsible to a narrow column of tool icons that you can overlay on one of Photoshop's toolbars. One click is all it takes to expand it.

Selective Panel. Expanded showing favorites and help.

But you can also collapse it (-) into the corner of your screen where it takes up even less space.

Recents & Favorites. But it does more that collapse or load a Nik tool. It remembers the last edit you performed with each tool and presents it on a button, so you just have to click the button to either apply the affect directly in Photoshop or tell the Nik tool to apply the effect for further editing in the Nik tool.

With the option set to apply the effect in Photoshop, a small window with a progress bar is discretely displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen showing you what's going on behind the scene as the image data is manipulated. When the process has finished, the image is displayed with the edit layer visible.

To add a recent filter or recipe to the tool, you just have to mark it as favorite in the Nik tool by clicking on the star icon below the effect.

More Information. It wasn't active for us but DxO has included the ability for the tool to phone home for information or help. DxO said the Message Center will provide product news, special offers and events while promoting educational content like webinars and tutorials, collecting customer feedback through DxO surveys, and displaying news about the photography industry through links to DxO's social networks. Think of it as a custom text message.

The update to the Selective Tool is by itself worth the price of admission.


If you're working in Photoshop, the Nik tool edits return to the program on a new layer, preserving your original. But that doesn't fly in Lightroom where to preserve the original you'd have to edit a virtual copy.

Export as TIFF. After selecting a tool, you can specify TIFF for the multi-page TIFF feature.

So DxO came up with a new approach to preserve the original image along with the edited image. It uses a multi-page TIFF in which the original image and edit are saved in one file.

Even better, though, the edits are preserved in the Exif header of the file. So when you return the image to the Nik tool you used, you'll see the list of edits (both applied and inactive ones) in the right-hand pane.

To use it, you export the image as a TIFF by selecting the TIFF file format option from the Copy File Options after selecting a Nik too from the Photo>Edit in menu in Adobe Lightroom Classic. Then activate the non-destructive workflow option in the window of the active plug-in by checking the Save and allow to resume editing box.


Perspective correction has come a long way in just a few years. If you haven't used one, you're in for a treat. We rely on them heavily for our own images because we are constantly shooting up or down with vertical lines converging unnaturally at the top or bottom of our image.

We'd never have bothered using an awkward perspective control lens to control the problem. But we won't launch an image editing program that doesn't have perspective control. It's become essential.

Usually that involves aligning verticals by drawing two vertical lines and horizontals by drawing two horizontal lines. The lines you draw follow lines in the image that should be, but aren't, parallel. Very simple.

Even simpler is that some tools include an Auto button that tries to do this automatically for you. For small corrections this works fine. But we find we prefer to draw the lines ourselves. Sometimes perfectly parallel is not the right solution.

Perspective Efex. Six tools in one.

Perspective Efex takes all this to another level with the most sophisticated tool we've used to correct geometric distortions of any kind. Photoshop and Lightroom don't offer all of these corrections, in fact.

In Perspective Efex, you can adjust Distortion, Perspective, Horizon, Crop and add a Miniature effect. Where an automatic correction makes sense, there's an Auto button, too.

The tool includes the following panels:

  • Distortion. Perspective Efex can correct geometry either automatically or by using Control Points. It relies on a database created from DxO's optical modules to correct distortion, including barrel, pincushion and fisheye distortion.
  • Volume Deformation. It can also automatically correct distortions to the shapes of bodies and faces on the edges of wide-angle photos without distorting the unaffected shapes of those in the middle of the image.
  • Perspective. There are several options for correcting keystoning, including one Auto and ranging from the simplest to the more complex adjustments.
  • Horizon. Perspective Efex automatically straightens skewed horizon lines in landscapes.
  • Crop. You can crop the image while in the tool.
  • Miniature effect. Perspective Efex's Miniature effect sets a blur above and below a protected sharp area that can be expanded or contracted and even rotated. The company claims it's the very first plug-in capable of "accurately reproducing the effect of a tilt-shift lens."

Distortion. iPhone 6 Plus detected.


Because the distortion control is informed by DxO's extensive database of optics, it knows precisely what correction to make. In our shot above of the breakfast joint, it identified the iPhone 6 Plus we took the image with and found the data for that lens before applying the correction.

It reported that in the panel, as you can see in the 100 percent crop to the right.

We've always had more confidence in DxO's database than hardware profiling in other applications that tend not to have the same data as DxO, which it uses extensively in PhotoLab, its imaging editing software.

Miniature Effect

The Miniature Effect was fun and easy to apply. But it wasn't just easy to apply. It was also easy to work with, expanding the focus zone and compacting of expanding the falloff.

Miniature Effect. We just wish it would constrain rotation when you hold down the Shift key.

But we did wish it would have constrained rotation when we held the Shift key down. It was a little hard to get back to horizontal (and keep it there).


Using these links or clicking on the DxO ads on the headline page to purchase Nik Collection 3 helps fund comprehensive reviews like this one.

The Nik Collection 3 by DxO is now available for download from the DxO Web site for a special launch price of $99.99 (instead of $149) for a new license and $59.99 (instead of) $79 for the upgrade until June 30.

Photographers who already own Nik Collection 2 by DxO or a previous version can upgrade their software by logging into their customer account.

A fully-functional, one-month trial version of Nik Collection 3 by DxO is also available from the DxO Web site.

Special Offer: To mark the launch of Nik Collection 3, DxO is also offering a 30 percent discount on all of its software, including PhotoLab 3. Like the Nik Collection 3 introductory offer, this offer is also good until June 30.


We're not big fans of presets or filters to create "a look." We're big fans of optimizing the data from an exposure to create a compelling image.

To do that, we've found ourselves applying the same basic adjustments to data from our specific cameras. So we're not big opponents of presets either.

But the Nik Collection has always gone beyond presets and filters to provide what it calls recipes that, like all recipes, are starting points. Every parameter is editable in these recipes to enhance the image itself rather than constrict the image to a preset.

This latest version adds one powerful tool, a unique non-destructive method and a much improved interface to the suite. It's a significant upgrade with unique technology to deal with some age-old issues in image editing. And with the new Selective Tool, it does it with grace.

Nik Collection 3 by DxO gets all four corners.

Nik Collection 3 by DxO: A faster and more creative user experience in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom Classic

DxO has announced the immediate release of the Nik Collection 3 by DxO, a major upgrade to the famous plug-in suite for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic and DxO PhotoLab. The Nik Collection 3 by DxO has become even more powerful and versatile with each new version. It features a newly designed Nik Selective Tool, the suite's plug-in launcher for Adobe Photoshop and new quick edit tools. Nik Collection 3 by DxO also offers a new non-destructive workflow, a unique feature that is perfect for Adobe Lightroom Classic users, as well as an eighth geometric correction plug-in, Perspective Efex. Finally, the Message Center lets Nik Collection users stay informed about new upcoming features and access new online resources.

Quickly unlock your creativity in Adobe Photoshop with the Nik Selective Tool

The Nik Selective Tool is a dedicated palette that gives users direct access to the suite's various plug-ins from Adobe Photoshop. The new Nik Selective Tool has been completely redesigned. This latest version revolutionizes how Nik Collection by DxO is used by simplifying the suite and providing faster access to each editing feature. The new version of the Nik Selective Tool features a new design that makes it easier to identify each plug-in and clearly display your favorite presets. To optimize the workspace in Adobe Photoshop, the palette can be automatically collapsed with one click. The tool is also fully compatible with HiDPI screens and can be used in dual monitor mode for an even more productive experience.

At the same time, the Nik Selective Tool has been expanded to include lightning-fast retouching options. Its new "Last Edit" feature recreates the last preset applied in a single click so users can quickly edit their images in the plug-ins of their choice. This feature is especially useful for editing batches of images or when users want to create a preset after editing a photo. Its brand-new "Quick Edit" option even lets users edit their images by applying the last action used without having to launch the plug-in interface -- all in a single click. Lastly, Silver Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro now offer direct access to favorite presets, in addition to Color Efex Pro.

"The new Nik Selective Tool is a great way to make my post-processing workflow even more effective," says Soli Kanani, professional photographer and DxO ambassador. "Just like a real-life assistant, it's by my side around the clock, which lets me quickly open all the plug-ins I need at every step in the editing process, all without losing sight of what I'm doing."

A revolution for Adobe Lightroom Classic users: a new non-destructive workflow

To better meet the needs of Adobe Lightroom Classic users, the Nik Collection 3 by DxO now offers a new workflow that lets photographers freely edit their files within the same plug-in. This technology is based on the use of the TIFF MULTIPAGE file format, which combines the input image, the saved Nik Collection 3 by DxO editing parameters and the output file all in the same file. The Nik Collection 3 by DxO is the first suite of creative photo plug-ins to introduce a non-destructive workflow to Adobe Lightroom Classic, resulting in unparalleled versatility.

"The non-destructive workflow in Nik Collection 3 by DxO adds an incredible amount of flexibility and fluidity to the editing process," says Jean-Marc Alexia, VP Product Strategy and Marketing at DxO. "It can be used with all host software programs that include a third-party export menu. It's a huge improvement."

Perspective Efex: The new geometric correction plug-in

Perspective Efex is the new Nik Collection 3 by DxO plug-in dedicated to geometric corrections. Drawing from DxO's unique expertise, it combines a number of exclusive tools to remove defects and add effects to photos.

Perspective Efex automatically corrects unsightly leading lines, no matter how complex, which is a very useful feature in urban photography. It is also the only plug-in to offer a feature that automatically corrects shape distortion, providing an easy way to reestablish the natural shapes of subjects located on the edges of wide-angle photos. It is the perfect tool for group wedding photos and family photos! Thanks to the use of DxO's powerful optical modules, Perspective Efex can even automatically correct fish-eye distortion. Lastly, its automatic horizon correction tool instantly levels out skewed horizon lines in architectural and landscape photos.

Miniature effect

Perspective Efex can also be used creatively at the end of the editing process to simulate a shallow depth-of-field effect, i.e. miniature effect. Previously, such a result could only be obtained through costly and complex tilt-shift lenses. The plug-in offers two blur gradients. Users can adjust placement and intensity and choose whether they would like the effect to be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Users can also change their aperture settings when simulating a bokeh effect.

Message center

The Message Center in Nik Collection 3 by DxO can be accessed through the new Nik Selective Tool. This feature helps Adobe Photoshop users stay up to date on the latest news about the plug-in suite and access a number of online resources, including webinars, tutorials, customer support services and much more!

Price & Availability

The Nik Collection 3 by DxO (Windows and macOS) is now available for download on the DxO Web site for a special launch price of $99.99 instead of $149 and $59.99 instead of $79 for the upgrade until June 30.

Photographers who already own Nik Collection 2 by DxO or a previous version can upgrade their software by logging into their customer account. A fully-functional, one-month trial version of Nik Collection 3 by DxO is available on the DxO Web site:

BackBack to Photo Corners