ATTENTION See my review of Color Efex Pro 4 – the best plug-in on the planet!
NOTE: A 15% discount on Nik Software for readers of this blog by entering the code rmartinsen when you order online or call to place an order. This offer excludes 3rd party software, bundles and upgrades.
A couple weeks ago I downloaded a fully functional demo of Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete. I learned about this product from a respected pro portrait photographer who swore by it. I also discovered that Nikon Users use a similar light-weight version of this product called Capture NX which is heavily used by pro Nikon photographers.
You can visit the web site for info about the product, but it basically consists of a Standard (15 filters for $99.95), Select (35 filters for $159.95) & Complete Edition (All 52 filters which includes the ones you really want for a whopping $299.95). You can view the list of filters and samples, but I found the most helpful ones to be the bi-color filter (which I used on my strobist glass shot below), the neutral density filter (which saved my a$$ on a shot the other day), the dynamic skin softener (which isn't intuitive, but works well once you figure it out), Glamour Glow, and finally the Pro Contrast filter. [UPDATED - As time has gone on, I've found many other filters like the stylizers, reflector, and film effects to be very useful as well. ] The others are very good with some being super cool, but those are the ones I saw myself using most frequently during my 15 day free trial.
I love the way this software works and the filters are excellent, but I'm having a hard time justifying paying $300 for 52 filters. It isn't the best value for what you get, but what it does it does well. Here's a shot that was done using the color stylizer (versus the photo stylizer for the first girl photo in this article) with an eyedropper place on the swimsuit color.:
REVIEW (Updated July 25, 2009)
Features: 4/5 - not enough filters for a 5, but the ones it has are outstanding and only a few are pretty useless. It has some nice black and white filters as well, but Silver Efex Pro is a much better choice.
Functionality: 3.5/5 - The UI is probably an improvement over previous versions, but could still use some improvement. As I get used to the U-Point system I realize why this is the best solution out there right now, BUT there's some stupidity in the UI controls (zoom comes to mind) that is rather frustrating. The performance can be slow at times as well.
Price: 4/5 – A very good for what you get in the Complete version compared to other products on the market. The dynamic skin softener, reflector, graduated neutral density filter and polarizer filter will make you want to own this product and pay for themselves quickly in time saved. It's like buying expensive chocolate - it's not worth it, but you enjoy it so much you do it anyway. I paid my own hard cash for this and after using the demo, you'll likely submit and do the same.
Recommendation: If you have the money, get it - you won't regret it. A group discount is now available for readers of this blog on the Discount Coupon Code page.
Additional Related Articles
- Information about Color Efex 3.0’s Reflector Filter - The Digital Reflector – the solution to dark faces on bright backgrounds.
- Information about the Color Efex 3.0 Lightroom Plug-in is available.
- Information about a special offer on the Complete Collection is available here.
- Fun with Filters article discusses some cool filters as well