Google recently announced the opportunity to purchase the entire suite of Nik software modules for the bargain price of $149. As a longtime user and fan of Nik Software, I can attest to what a sweet deal this represents.
This bundle originally cost $500, putting it outside the price range of all but the more serious photographers with deeper pockets. At $149, however, this suite will appeal to a much broader range of photographers. By ways of comparison, HDR Soft, maker of the popular Photomatix HDR processing software, charges $119 for its software – and this only gets you 1/6th of the capabilities of this Nik bundle. Imagenomic software, maker of Noiseware, charges $79 for this module, or 1/2 the price of the entire Nik software bundle price. Topaz, a rapidly growing upstart, offers some quality modules that directly compete with Nik’s software. Topaz, at this time, however, requires you to spend $299 to get access to its full suite of capabilities. And while the $299 suite price appears to be a good deal, I suspect many people will not use all these modules, thus softening Topaz’s value proposition. In light of its competitors’ pricing, Nik’s $149 suite represents one of the best values relative to photo editing software. I would strongly urge people to capitalize on this pricing while it lasts.
When Google purchased Nik Software, I wondered what it was up to. Was the strategy to eventually compete with Adobe on some front? Apple? Eventually use Nik’s Snapseed software to knock Instagram (now part of Facebook) off its perch? Perhaps Google simply noticed the proliferation of cameras in all forms – point and shoots, DSLRs, mirrorless, smartphones, and tablets – as well as how critical photos were becoming on the social media front, and decided that owning a photo processing software suite could be a crucial aspect of its future.
Unlike Instagram, which is really a social media sharing site for photos, which also happens to provide some rudimentary photo processing actions or presets, Nik Software provides some extremely capable photo editing functionality that rivals Adobe Photoshop family of products and other non-Adobe plug-in competitors. Google’s deep pockets may indeed be able to help Nik, already a leader in the field, advance much further than Nik might have done on its own. And Nik quickly provides Google with photo editing capabilities that meet and, in many cases, exceed those of its competition.
It is no secret that the full-blown version of Photoshop is beyond many people’s budgets and/or needs. Adobe acknowledged this concern by introducing Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, which both borrow heavily from Photoshop’s rich suite of functionality, but also provide easier-to-use interfaces and offer far more attractive pricing. Even Adobe’s Cloud offering, which attempts to offer subscription pricing instead of a huge upfront licensing cost, may still be priced a bit beyond many people’s budgets.
One could imagine that a future version of Google’s Picasa or similar product offering, with some enhancements borrowed from Nik Software and some layering/masking capabilities, might become a very strong competitor to Adobe’s product line, and be all most people would ever need for basic-to-intermediate photo editing purposes. Such an offering would do quite a bit to drive more traffic to Google, strengthen Google+, and serve as an introduction to Nik’s fee-based suite of photo editing tools. And for more serious photographers, one could easily imagine an Adobe Lightroom competitor that included a new interface and some of the capabilities from the various Nik modules, which would serve the same purpose as Lightroom’s popular Preset functionality.
I get the most use from Nik’s Dfine and Sharpener software modules. Every photo I post is run through Nik’s denoising and sharpening process. I have created a variety of actions in Photoshop using both modules based on preset values that work best for me. I have compared these modules to others, including those that come standard in Lightroom and Photoshop, and found that the Nik modules provide very good results for the money.
Next in line is Color Efex, which has a treasure trove of effects and various means to adjust each of them. You can also combine various effects to create very unique looks that would take you hours, if not days, to replicate in Photoshop. If you can’t find the effect you are looking for in Color Efex, you likely haven’t looked hard enough or explored the full capabilities of the sliders! When I am working with black and white images, I rely heavily on Silver Efex, which provides some powerful tools for creating stunning results. And on day one of its release, HDR Efex replaced Photomatix as my HDR software of choice. I haven’t used Viveza quite as much as I have used the other Nik modules, but know some photographers that swear by its rich feature set and easy-to-use capabilities.
If you are looking to improve your post-processing workflow, reduce time spent editing, and maximize the impact of your photos, I suggest taking the Nik Software suite for a test spin. Even if you find that you believe you need only of these modules, you will likely still be ahead of the game financially by purchasing the Nik bundle vs. some of the modules offered by the competition. Once you start using the various Nik Software modules, I suspect you will wonder how you performed your post-processing tasks without them.