It’s interesting to speculate why, but yesterday Google announced “Today we’re making the Nik Collection available to everyone, for free“:
Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.
Google may not have made significant improvements to the Nik desktop apps since they acquired them, but I don’t see any downside here. I’ve always been a fan of Silver Efex Pro, and only really questioned its price. Then Silver Efex 2 came out and Nik halved the price, so that was when I bought, and Google followed up their acquisition by giving existing users the entire suite. Now they are giving it away.
The are two aspects of Silver Efex that I particularly appreciate:
- Its B&W output is great
- I don’t think SFX produces better image quality than Lr, but….
- A different tool makes you make different creative decisions and sometimes you’ll prefer the result from SFX over Lr, and vice versa.
- It’s a really well-designed application
- One thing it does get wrong is that setting the Color Filter isn’t obviously the first thing you do. I’d recommend you always visit this panel first.
- Learn how to use control points both to adjust specific areas and to place extra control points to protect nearby areas.
- If you also have Photoshop, the best workflow is Lr > PS as a Smart Object -> SFX. This “smart filter” method allows you to revisit and fine tune your SFX work afterwards by double clicking the smart filter – all its adjustments remain editable.
Now it’s free, I can’t see any good reasons why you wouldn’t get it. Can you?