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I was starting to get a little worried about the fate of Nik’s software collection. Since the San Diego-based company was purchased by Google in 2012, Nik’s products had slowly drifted off my radar, which is a shame since I’ve always felt their plug-ins and stand-alone apps were among the best photo software out there.
And then there were all the rumors about what Google was planning to do with the software. Would it simply take Nik’s popular Snapseed mobile photo app and get rid of everything else? Was Google’s plan to integrate it all into Google+? What would happen to my beloved Silver Efex Pro black-andwhite conversion plug-in? And what about Color Efex Pro, Viveza, and all the rest?
It was with some relief that I received an email in May from Google telling me the company was launching a new edition of its Nik Collection by Google: Analog Efex Pro 2. By its name alone, you can probably guess that Analog Efex 2 fits into the growing group of film emulation programs out there right now. These retro apps, epitomized lately by Alien Skin Exposure and VSCO Film, were in some ways pioneered by Nik and the simulated film types in Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro. I still love that I can dial in Kodak P3200 TMAX Pro in Nik’s black-and-white app when I want to add a distinctive, monochrome look to my images.
In Analog Efex Pro 2, you can do all that and more, though the app doesn’t use specific film type names (probably for legal reasons). Instead, film type selections include odd titles like Snowdonia, Northumberland, Akan, Oze, and Sable. Much like the other apps in the Nik Collection by Google, you’re initially presented with a variety of pre-set filters in the left panel including Classic Camera, Wet Plate and Vintage Camera and new Black and White, Subtle Bokeh, and Simple Color options.
If you want to fine-tune these filters, there are a variety of slider and curve-based adjustments in the right panel. Perhaps the biggest addition to Analog Efex Pro 2 is that you can now employ Nik’s powerful control points, which let you fine-tune the Photo Plates, Light Leaks and Dirt & Scratches filters along with Basic Adjustments to create a localized effect. The app also lets you build your own virtual Camera Kit by picking a collection of filters and effects to use in unison, including the new Motion Blur, Multilens and Double Exposure.
There’s always been an addictive quality to Nik’s apps because the interface is so user-friendly and the effects on your photos can be added, adjusted or removed instantaneously. The one thing to be aware of, as with all the apps in the Nik Collection by Google, is that’s it’s very easy to overdo it. Know when to say when.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Rumors of the Nik Collection by Google’s demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated. The excellent new Analog Efex Pro 2 retro app is a worthy addition to the group, combining an easyto- use, fast interface with some classic analog-style effects you can now further fine-tune with the help of the powerful control points feature. Our only gripe is that you can no longer purchase each program individually, but at just $149 for the entire Nik Collection of seven apps, it’s still a steal.
PROS: The Nik Collection by Google is still alive and kicking thanks to this excellent new retro-filter photo app.
CONS: You can no longer purchase apps in the Nik Collection individually.