If you like free software, good news.
Google announced in March that they are now offering their suite of editing tools, the Nik Collection, for free. Yes, you read that correctly. A download that would have cost you just over £100 at the beginning of March is now being given away.
The Nik Collection includes no less than seven editing plug-ins that can run alongside existing software like Lightroom or Photoshop, for example. Some are of more use than others but it all makes for an attractive package.
Analog Efex Pro
Recreates classic camera looks. Think Instagram, but with greater choice.
Colour Efex Pro
Offers colour correction, retouching, and even film replication (which itself receives some warm reviews among the loyal film contingent).
Silver Efex Pro
For black and white processing. While the presets can be a little heavy-handed and need dialing down a little, this is a very powerful tool and I personally believe it is among the best software on the market today for black and white editing.
HDR Efex Pro
For high dynamic range images. Not a complete substitute for bracketing in camera, but a fine alternative. It regularly yields better and quicker results than tone mapping.
Selective colour and tonality adjustments. Personally not one that I use very much as I find that Lightroom does a more than adequate job.
As the name suggests, an image sharpening tool.
And less obviously, this is a noise reduction tool.
They're not tools you will necessarily use for every shot but when you want to get creative or spend just a little extra time on an image, the Nik Collection is a worthy addition to your workflow.
Every Silver Lining has its Cloud...
And now the bad news.
The fact it is being given away for free does not bode well for its future at all. In fact I dare say that this one generous gesture from Google has sounded a death knell for the Nik Collection. There are two main schools of thought on this.
First, simple economics. Google is a corporate whose primary intention is to make money, and lots of it. Giving away software for free does not suggest that they see it having a long term future; instead it is a means of commercially managing its inevitable decline. I will be pleasantly surprised if we see any future support or updates.
Second, there is a growing voice of opinion that Google see its focus being more on mobile devices and not desktop software. Seemingly Google wants to improve its editing options for the lucrative camera-phone market, primarily through the development of Snapseed (which itself is a great app).
By all means go and download the Nik Collection while you still can. Some of the tools are more effective than others and the defaults tend to be a little over-cooked, but it is relatively simple to use and yields some impressive results when not pushed to its extremes.
They say you don’t get something for nothing in life and that is true here. The price is certainly right but unfortunately the future of the Nik Collection seems bleak.