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Test Drive: Nik Collection 4 Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

2 June 2021

With the release of Nik Collection 4, DxO Labs has revised the venerable U Point interface of Viveza, added ClearView to Silver Efex Pro as well as new film emulsion emulations and added Meta Presets for Photoshop, among other enhancements.

We attended a briefing a few weeks ago and have been working with the new suite since them. Here's our report.


Highlights of the new release include:

  • A new, user-friendly design
  • Enhanced U Point technology for Control Points
  • Improved workflow with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • ClearView for black-and-white photos
  • New film emulsion emulations

Version numbers vary between the Collection, individual app names and individual app version numbers. Here's a list to clarify all that:

Nik Collection 4 Nik Collection 3
Analog Efex Pro 2 5.0.4 Analog Efex Pro 2 5.0.3
Color Efex Pro 4 5.0.4 Color Efex Pro 2 5.0.3
Dfine2 5.0.4 Dfine2 5.0.3
HDR Efex Pro 2 5.0.4 HDR Efex Pro 2 5.0.3
Perspective Efex 5.0 Perspective Efex 5.0
Shapener Pro 3 Output 5.0.4 Shapener Pro 3 Output 5.0.3
Shapener Pro 3 Raw 5.0.4 Shapener Pro 3 Raw 5.0.3
Silver Efex Pro 3 na Silver Efex Pro 2 5.0.3
Viveza 3 na Viveza 2 5.0.3

If the app name is the same and the app version bumps from 5.0.3 to 5.0.4, it's essentially the same app wrapped up for the new Collection.


We were most impressed with the new Control Point interface, adding ClearView and the film emulsions. Let's see why.

Control Points. The sliders now have their own panel.

Control Point

The general improvement to the Nik Collection interface is really about the Control Point interface. The other plug-ins have three panel windows that lay out all the options. But the original U Point was a circle of influence around a point in the image with sliders to adjust the effect.

We've never been big fans of that. It works, let's admit right off the bat. But we don't look at our image areas in terms of circles with large soft edges. We see contiguous and non-continguous areas.

Still, we can remember sitting in a little Photokina office in 2006 watching Nils Kokemohr demonstrate his new non-masking local adjustment tool by converting a daylight shot into a night image. It was impressive.

Those circles haven't gone away with DxO's Control Points but the sliders have moved into a panel. Quite a luxury compared to the cramped little sliders.

But more importantly, the panel has gotten two very useful new controls. You can now limit the area of influence by Luminance or Chrominance. Color or brightness.

Viveza. We set a control point to change the bushes to purple.

Previously to protect luminance or chrominance, you had to set a "negative" U Point to counter the effect of the U Point that did alter the image. Now you can simply set a slider to protect color or brightness.

Despite the circle, precisely where you place the U Point is still critical, so unless it is on a flat field, it helps to move it around a tiny bit to adjust the effect.

You can save a U Point as a preset to use on other images, as well.

And oddly enough if you miss the old U Point interface, it's retained in the minor update to Color Efex 4 in this release.


DxO PhotoLab introduced ClearView as part of its editing suite but DxO has been migrating some of the best features of PhotoLab into supportive applications. Recently we reviews PureRaw, its application to pre-process Raw files with PhotoLab's DeepPRIME technology, for example.

And now the company has migrated ClearView, its equivalent of Adobe's Dehaze, to the Nik Collection in Nik Silver Efex. The tool removes haze, enhancing local contrast.

The equivalent Dehaze in Photoshop has become a regular enhancement for us even in images without haze. It perks up the microcontrast making our lenses seem more expensive than they are. So we're glad to see a similar tool migrate into the Nik Collection.

It is, in short, not so much a special purpose tool as a general one to improve optical characteristics.

We gave it a spin as part of our testing. Oddly enough, Silver Efex requires an RGB image. It won't work on a Grayscale image. Then, too, if you're coming from a Raw image processed in Camera Raw, you've already had Dehaze at your disposal.

Film Type. A popup list contains them all with options below (shown in part).

So we opened our RGB image in Silver Efex without using Dehaze in Camera Raw.

The effect was more subtle than Dehaze but still effective. You might think of it as a "protected" Dehaze, that prevents you from going too far, although we were still able to go a bit too far.

You can see the Before and After versions of the image above. Both were reduced with Smart Sharpen applied in Photoshop after processing in Silver Efex.

Film Emulsions

The sting of glacial acetic acid has never quite left our nostrils so we have absolutely no affection for the darkroom or film in general. None whatsoever.

So when Jean-Marc Alexia touted the painstaking effort DxO went to in deriving its many film emulations, we asked him why they bothered. It seems to us that photographers who have grown up in the digital era would not have any interest.

Silver Efex Pro. We confess to having a bit of fun playing with the film types.

He pointed to the retro style of certain camera bodies and the classical look of images shot on black-and-white films as the main attractions.

32 Panatomic X
50 Ilford Pan F Plus 50
100 Agfa APX Pro 100
Adox Silvermax 21
Fomapan 100 Classic
Fuji Neopan ACROS 100
Ilford Delta 100 Pro
Ilford Pan 100
Kodak 100 TMAX Pro
Rollei Retro 100 Tonal
125 Ilford FP4 Plus 125
Kodak Plus-X 125PX Pro
200 Agfa Scala 200x
400 Agfa APX 400
Bergger BRF 400 Plus
Fuji Neopan 400
Ilford Delta 400 Pro
Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Ilford Pan 400
Ilford XP2 Super 400
Kodak 400 TMAX Pro
Kodak BW 400CN Pro
Kodak Tri-X 400TX Pro
Polaroid 672
1600 Fuji Neopan Pro 1600
3200 Ilford Delta 3200 Pro
Kodak P3200 TMAX Pro
Polaroid 667

See the list of film emulations to the right.

We actually enjoyed trying out a few of them to turn our recent photo of an old Corvette into a vintage image. If that were the design directive (a Tri-X look, say, for images of a protest movement), this would get you there.


There's certainly more to this upgrade than these highlights. The enhanced integration with Photoshop and Lightroom, for example.

And the new Meta Presets are a Photoshop filter accessible from the Nik Selective Tool which are Photoshop actions that combine the filters and settings of several Nik Collection plug-ins into one. The new Nik Collection includes a series of 10 of them.

We'll explore those features as we use the suite in the upcoming weeks.


Nik Collection 4 is now available for download on the DxO Web site for an introductory 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 3 by DxO or a previous version can upgrade their software by signing into their customer accounts. A fully functional, one-month trial version of Nik Collection 4 is available on the DxO Web site.


There was some grumbling after DxO acquired the Nik Collection from Google in 2017 and released its first version, which was the same suite translated into a new code base.

But subsequent releases have shown the wisdom of DxO's investment. Nik Collection 3 was a breath of fresh air, bringing a new interface to the suite with new tools like Perspective.

That development has continued with this release, turning the suite into a cornucopia of creativity for the photographer who isn't timid about editing what the camera captures. We give it four corners for that.

THe Fourth Version of the Nik Collection Software Suite Now Boasts Powerful New Tools and an Even More User-Friendly Experience

An industry leader in the field of creative photography, Nik Collection 4 by DxO now features Meta Presets, improved U Point technology and more seamless interactions with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Packed with a palette of over 250 professional-grade presets, the unparalleled power of U Point local adjustment technology and sophisticated editing tools, Nik Collection 4 targets every aspect of creative photography. From color photography to black-and-white images, HDR and analog film simulation, Nik Collection 4 redefines the limits of creative photography.

A new, user-friendly design for an even more thrilling experience

The easy-to-use design of the software plug-ins Nik Viveza, dedicated to tone and color local adjustments and Nik Silver Efex, the ultimate solution for black-and-white conversion, has been completely revamped to offer an optimal user experience. Both plug-ins now feature a modern interface that is more beautiful and functional than ever. They also allow users to directly access all available presets, filter for type and favorites more seamlessly and identify tools more easily through its newly redesigned palettes. That means photographers can concentrate on the essentials -- expressing their creativity.

Next-level U Point technology

U Point technology, the first system to allow users to apply local adjustments without masks, has revolutionized photo editing. Nik Collection 4 now makes it possible to incorporate Control Points into personalized presets.

That means photographers can apply a similar style to several images while still preserving a specific area. For example, users can choose to apply a color effect as well as a blurred background to several portraits. U Point technology also includes a new Color Selectivity setting so photographers can regulate the saturation of a specific tone range. Users can not only select the color they want to change, but also adjust the tolerance of similar color hues. Lastly, Control Points have been made easier to use than ever. This feature now includes fewer sliders, making the applied effect easier to view and can be renamed so users can craft an optimized workflow experience.

Combine the settings of several plug-ins with Meta Presets

A new type of filter has been added for Adobe Photoshop users: "Meta Presets." Directly accessible from the Nik Selective Tool, the Nik Collection software launch tool for Adobe Photoshop, these presets are Adobe Photoshop actions that combine the filters and settings of several Nik Collection plug-ins into one. They make it possible to edit photos by applying a series of presets from several plug-ins in just one click. Nik Collection 4 comes with a series of 10 Meta Presets.

Improved workflow with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom

Nik Collection 4 is continuing to expand its selection of lightning-fast retouching features. The Last Edit function, which lets users re-apply the last preset they used in one of the Nik Collection plug-ins while using Adobe Photoshop, has been extended to include Adobe Lightroom Classic. In addition, the new Smart Copy & Paste feature lets users selectively re-apply the effect of a plug-in to one or several images directly in Adobe Lightroom without having to launch the software suite's interface.

Even more striking black-and-white photos

To help users create even more brilliant black-and-white images, Nik Silver Efex now includes revolutionary ClearView technology, which was first offered in DxO PhotoLab, the market's leading image-development software. This technology removes haze and enhances local contrast. The results are spectacular: In just one click, users can eliminate haze, all while revealing more natural objects, edges, details and transitions. Get ready to create even more dazzling black-and-white photos!

Ever more creative

To offer users an even better editing experience, Nik Viveza features 10 native presets designed by professional photographers. And for fans of analog black-and-white photography, Nik Silver Efex comes with 39 new and incredibly realistic grains that are even better at accurately recreating the look of iconic films than before.

Price and availability

Nik Collection 4 (Windows and macOS) is now available for download on the DxO Web site for a special 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 3 by DxO or a previous version can upgrade their software by signing into their customer accounts. A fully functional, one-month trial version of Nik Collection 4 is available on the DxO Web site:

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