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Nik Color Efex Pro 3

Color Efex Pro 3.0 contains a magic bag of color correction and special effects good enough to please even Felix the Cat By Robert Jensen

I've reviewed several of the Nik plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, like Sharpener Pro 3.0, Silver Efex Pro, and Viveza. In every case I've been very pleased at the results I obtained using them. In some cases I was amazed at how much of a difference using their software made on the quality of my shots. I recently had the chance to test Nik's Color Efex Pro 3.0, the latest version that now works with Adobe Lightroom 2, Apple's Aperture, and Nikon's Capture NX2.

Which edition is perfect for you?
Color Efex Pro 3.0 is available in three editions, Standard, which retails for $99.95, Select which goes for $159.95 and Complete which sells for $299.99.  I'm reviewing the Complete version which has 52 photographic filters with more than 250 effects and styles and 30+ emulated film types available to magic-up your images. In my first run using CFX Pro 3 I was able to turn a somewhat bland shot of some green peppers I'd taken and turn them into eye popping images with just a few clicks of my mouse. Below are the first few tests I ran.


All these variations on a pepper were done with just a few clicks inside Color Efex Pro. Click image for full view.

New Lightroom, Aperture and Capture NX2 compatibility
Color Efex Pro now works with Adobe Lightroom and Apple's Aperture (using the Edit With. . . external editor in either program). A very nice touch with either program is being able to edit multiple images. Even better, you can apply a different filter to each image. Nice touch there. Things work a bit differently under Nikon Capture NX2. With NX2 you go to the Filter menu where you'll find two additions, Color Efex Pro 3.0:Stylizing and Color Efex Pro 3.0:Traditional. Between the two you'll find the entire set of filters. What's great is that you can quickly add multiple filters to your image, and each is added to NX2's Edit List. You can save the file and go back at anytime and modify any of the various filters. The icing on the cake is that you can also use NX2's Control Points to further modify the filter's application to your image. This makes the Capture NX2/Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 a very fast and powerful workflow combo. I'd say more so than with any of the other imaging programs mentioned in this article, although you come close with Photoshop if you use Smart Layers.

You can run a batch of images through Color Efex Pro 3.0 from inside Lightroom

As far as versatility and speed goes the Capture NX2/Color Efex Pro 3.0 combo may be the best of the bunch.

Also new to CFX version 3 are Bleach Bypass, Cross Balance, Film Effects, Film Grain, Glamour Glow, High Key, Low Key, Polaroid Transfer, and Tonal Enhancer. Other filters have been updated and improved to offer even more options.

The interface is now similar to Nik's other software titles like Silver Efex Pro. I like it much better than previous interfaces.  The window is now resizable but I drag mine out to max so I can take advantage of the monitor's whole display area.

The interface. Click image for full view.

The interface
Along the far left of the main window are several tabs which organize the multitude of filters into manageable groups - All, Traditional, Stylizing, Artistic, Landscape and Portrait as well as a Favorites tab where you can store your most used filters. You can change which groups are shown inside the Settings window. 

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Related Keywords:digital imaging, image editing, digital photography, image effects,

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