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Google's Nik Collection photo software is now free

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A powerful photo-editing program that once cost Rs.30,000 is now free for anyone to use. The Nik Collection, which is owned by Google, is a package of seven desktop plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop. It’s one of the best programs of any kind to be made free in recent years. The plug-ins include tools for improving a photo’s colour, for editing photos in black and white, and for applying effects to specific parts of an image.
Google had bought Nik in 2012, when the software was priced at Rs.30,000, and was used mainly by professionals. Google then cut the price to Rs.9000 (around £105), where it had remained until March this year.
The main reason Google bought the company was not to own these plug-ins, but to obtain Snapseed, a photo- editing app for Android and iOS that Nik launched in June 2011. Six months later, Apple named Snapseed its iPad app of the year.
In a statement (, Google said it was making Nik free so it could focus instead on developing Snapseed and Google Photos (its online photo-storage service). This was also given by Google as a reason for closing Picasa. Google later confirmed to the website Quartz that there will be no new versions of the Nik plug-ins, but they will be updated to remain compatible with Photoshop and Windows.
Anyone who has already bought Nik in 2016 will get their money back. To get the program go to and click the top-right ‘Download now’ button.

The plugins offered include:

Analog Efex Pro 2: This is the only plug-in produced by the Google team – all the rest were inherited from Nik Software when Google bought that company out. Analog Efex 2 is designed to replicate the look of old films and darkroom techniques by adding grain, fade, borders, like leaks, toning, cross processing effects and more.

Color Efex Pro 4: On the surface, this looks like little more than a large collection of filter effects, some more useful than others. In fact, each one can be customised and controlled and they can be ‘stacked’ and saved as ‘recipes’. Color Efex Pro 4 is an effect generator and image editor in its own right.

Dfine 2: This is a noise reduction tool which analyses the noise properties of the image and then applies noise reduction in a two-step process – you can use automatic or manual noise analysis and you can use the default noise reduction settings or adjust contrast and colour noise manually.

HDR Efex Pro 2: HDR Efex Pro 2 uses tone mapping tools and a variety of HDR algorithms on either single images or HDR exposure series, which it can merge with automatic alignment, ghost reduction and chromatic aberration removal.

Sharpener Pro 3: Like Dfine 2, Sharpener Pro 3 is an image enhancement plug-in rather than an effects tool. It takes a scientific approach to sharpening that will appeal to purists, separating capture sharpening (overcoming camera/lens softness) from output sharpening (preparing images for different print/display devices).

Silver Efex Pro 2: A powerful black and white conversion tool that simulates the appearance of classic film emulsions and darkroom printing techniques. It offers a range of preset effects backed up by powerful and extensive manual adjustment tools.

Viveza 2: Viveza offers the equivalent of dodging and burning in black and white, but for colour photos. It uses Nik Software’s control point technology to both mask and adjust areas of the image in a single operation.

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