Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 —

There are upgrades, and there is what Nik has built in to the new Lightroom/Aperture/Photoshop plug-in Color Efex Pro 4!

This is a major overhaul, and to the degree that I have experienced so far, it’s all to the good. Nik has taken a powerful set of photo filters and added functionality, variety, ease of use, and most importantly, speed. Let’s talk first of the latter two — that Version 4 is fast and easy. In Color Efex 3, one would open the filter and have access to a single feature at a time. For instance, if you wanted to convert to B&W and  apply a glamor glow, it took two trips into the app. Not so bad from Photoshop, but if you had the Lightroom version, you’d leave behind a string of TIFFs — one for each filter applied. Sure, you could delete the intermediate renderings, but that’s time, effort, and one more thing to remember while you process 200 frames from the weddng that started 20 hours earlier!

Color Efex Pro 4 obviates all that. You can ‘stack’ one filter atop the other, switch any of them in or out at any time, adjust the opacity of each individually, copy and paste control points from one filter to the other, and all in what is about the best visual interface in the business. The familiar and comfortable Nik “look” is still there — crisp, neat, and intuitive. Ths app provides all manner of controls to de-clutter the screen when all you want to see is the photo being stylized.

If you happen onto a combination of filters and settings that you want to adopt as your own signature appearance — preserving a stack with all its individual slider settings is as easy as naming a ‘Recipie.’ Nik now provides a set of previews for each filter — so it’s fast and easy to see samples covering the range of adjustments available. After picking one, you then perform some ‘fine-tuning’ to personalize the flavor of the image to your own artistic standards!

There is now a History function — not unlike what we’ve come to depend on in Lightroom and Photoshop. The ability to “roll it back” after taking a strange trip down a side road is invaluable because experimenting can be done withuot threat or cost.

My only concern is what will happen to the many thousands of copies of Version 3 — which remains a powerful post processing tool. I wish Nik would allow us to “decommission” our serial numbers so they could be passed on to beginners or charities.

And remember, all Nik’s excellent products can be downloaded and used in a fully-functional manner for 15 days. Try this one out and let us know about your experience.