The Nik Collection is a set of photo editing plugins that have been trusted by photographers for more than a decade. Those who have used their tools since the beginning might remember it being acquired (and made free) by Google in 2012, then later to be discontinued until DxO acquired it in 2017.

While it’s no longer free, DxO has put a lot of effort into building and improving the eight photo editing plugins. Version 5 and 6 have been a favorite amongst many photographers for years, but what about Nik Collection 7? Is it worth purchasing? Is it worth upgrading to?

In this Nik Collection 7 review, we will take a closer look at what the collection has to offer and whether or not it should be part of your post-processing workflow.

Note: A 30-day free trial version is available and allows you to properly test all the tools before making a final decision.

What is Nik Collection 7?

I realize that not everyone is familiar with DxO or the Nik Collection. So, let’s first take a quick look at what this software actually is.

The Nik Collection consists of seven photo editing tools that can be used as plugins for Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, DxO PhotoLab, and Serif Affinity or as standalone editing tools.

Every tool has a unique purpose, and you’ll quickly find which fit into your workflow and which don’t.

Both beginning and advanced photographers will find the different plugins useful. The collection includes everything from basic one-click filters to advanced adjustments and precise masking techniques. All are built with the same advanced technology.

The full list of plug-ins found in the Nik Collection 7 is:

  1. Nik Analog Efex
  2. Nik Color Efex
  3. Nik Dfine
  4. Nik HDR Efex
  5. Nik Silver Efex
  6. Nik Sharpener
  7. Nik Viveza

We will take a closer look at each of these plugins later in this Nik Collection review and in their own separate articles.

What are the Requirements to Use the Nik Collection 7?

The Nik Collection plugins should work without a problem on most modern computers and laptops. However, it’s good to know that the better the computer, the faster it will perform. Some users have found certain tools to work somewhat slowly, and this might be the case for older computers.

For those who are interested, here are the setup requirements provided by DxO to run the Nik Collection tools in 2024.

Microsoft WindowsApple macOS
Minimum system configuration:
Intel® Core™ or AMD Ryzen™ with 4 cores
4 GB available disk space
1280 x 768 display
Microsoft Windows 10 or 11 version 21H2 (64-bit)

Recommended system configuration:
Intel® Core™ processor or AMD Ryzen™ with 8 cores
6 GB available disk space
1920 x 1080 display
Microsoft® Windows® 10 or 11 version 21H2 (64-bit)
Minimum system configuration:
4 GB available disk space
1280 x 768 display
macOS 13 (Ventura)

Recommended system configuration:
6 GB available disk space
1920 x 1080 display
macOS 14 (Sonoma)

When using the Nik Collection tools, you have the option to either use them as standalone photo editors or as a plugin on one of the following software:

  • Adobe Photoshop 2023 to 2024
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 2023 to 2024 (except HDR Efex Pro, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC 2023 through Classic CC 2024
  • DxO PhotoLab 6 and 7
  • Serif Affinity Photo 1.8 and later, Serif Affinity Photo 2.0 (apart from Nik HDR Efex [Merge feature] and Switch to another Nik Collection plugin feature, which is incompatible with Affinity Photo).

Don’t have any of the software above? No worries. All seven tools work just as well on their own. In fact, it’s the exact same tool that is used. The only benefit of using it as a plugin is that it becomes part of your already existing workflow.

For example, you might find that one or two adjustments in Nik Color Efex complement adjustments you’re already making in Adobe Photoshop. More on that later.

Note: You can activate Nik Collection 7 on up to three (3) computers

What’s New in Nik Collection 7?

Version 7 of the Nik Collection was released in the beginning of May 2024 and mainly came with significant improvements to their U-Point technology. However, there are a few additional changes that are important to be aware of:

Nik Perspective: The Perspective plugin has been removed from version 7. If you use, and want to continue using this tool, DxO suggest you keep version 6 as a parallel. As an alternative, DxO Viewpoint includes all features from Perspective, and more.

U-Point Technology: In version 7 you’ll find three new tools to improve your masks. You now have a Polygonal Tool to mask out irregular shapes and allowing standard Control Points to be shaped into any elliptical form, a new color picker tool to make masks based on hues and tones, and a Luminosity Mask tool that can be used to target levels of brightness.

Performance Improvements: Improved speed and performance has become a regular part of the Nik Collection updates in the past years. This time is no different, and version 7 comes with a Quick Search tool that allows you to better organize presets and filters, a Quick Export tool, the possibility to seamlessly switch between plugins, and up to 30% quicker loading speeds when opening an image.

Nik Color Efex: Finally, Nik Collection 7 introduces an extended HSL filter and a new stacking feature to Nik Color Efex. You’ll now find a Vibrancy slider in the HSL filter.

How to Install Nik Collection

Start by purchasing or downloading the free 30-day trial from the Nik Collection website. Note that you are not limited in any way when using the trial version. It is the full version, and you can access all the tools immediately.

I strongly recommend taking advantage of the free trial if you haven’t used the software before. It’s a great way to get a better insight into how the tools work and if it is something you’ll find beneficial for your post-processing workflow.

Once you’ve downloaded the software, locate the installation file and double-click on it to begin. From here, simply follow the on-screen instructions. After a few quick clicks, the Nik Collection tools are installed and ready to be used both as plug-ins and standalone editors.

How to Use the Nik Collection

No Nik Collection review is complete without looking at what really matters. In this case, that’s the seven editing tools the collection consists of.

These eight tools are the meat of the collection. Personally, I find some more useful than others. Some have a crucial role in my post-processing workflow, while others have rarely been opened. I’m sure this will be the case for most. As with anything, it takes time to develop your own workflow. What works for some might not work for others.

Below, I’ll go through the main purposes of each plugin and share some thoughts about its importance, particularly for landscape photographers:

Analog Efex

With Analog Efex, you can simulate vintage cameras and shooting techniques to give your images a nostalgic old-school feel. It contains an abundance of filters that instantly make your image look like it was shot on specific cameras, but you also have the option to manually apply adjustments to create your own looks.

Nik 6 Analog Efex
Create vintage looks with Analog Efex

This can be a fun plug-in to play around with, though I don’t believe it’s the go-to photo editor for most photographers. Its purpose is mainly to create a vintage look. Yes, you can use some of the adjustments for “non-vintage” processing, too, but there are other plugins that are better suited for that purpose.

Nik Color Efex

Most landscape photographers find Color Efex to be the number one reason for using the Nik Collection. This has been a trusted plugin since the very beginning of Nik and it’s here that you find the most powerful tools for processing your color photos.

The tool includes an extensive library of filters that are used to instantly apply creative effects and looks. As with other tools in the collection, you’ll find several presets that are easily applied to your images. However, the powerful creative filters are the main draw for most photographers.

As of writing, there are more than 50 filters that can be applied to your photos. Each is customizable (often consisting of multiple sliders and/or options), and you can add as many filters as you want. Control Points are used to create advanced masks that allow you to apply the adjustments to specific places only.

Nik 6 Color Efex
Nik Collection 6: Color Efex

Those who have used Color Efex in older versions will notice that the interface was redesigned in Nik Collection 6. It took me some clicking around, but I find it easier to use than previous versions. The overall feel is a lot better, which makes the experience smoother.

Version 7 came with an improved U Point local adjustments that makes it possible to create Luminosity Masks, Color Range Masks, and Polyganol Masks. Standard Control Points can also be shaped into any elliptical form (Control Points are what’s used to create masks in the Nik Collection)

Color Efex is reason enough to get the Nik Collection. This is a trusted tool in many photographers’ processing workflows, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Nik Dfine

It’s easy to think of Dfine as the simplest of the eight plugins, as it serves only one purpose, but the underlying technology is far from simple. This tool is designed to remove digital noise (color and contrast noise), and it does so very well.

Noise reduction is often a scary topic, as there are many confusing terminologies, but Dfine is as straightforward as it gets. They have removed all the clutter and made what many consider the best noise reduction software out there.

Nik 6 Dfine
Reduce Noise with Nik 6 Dfine

There are two noise reduction methods to choose between: Automatic and Manual. While I’m often skeptical of automatic modes, I’ve found this one to do a great job for the majority of images.

HDR Efex

In Nik HDR Efex you can create an HDR image from one or more images. A single-file HDR is created by mainly extracting details from shadows and recovering them in the highlights, while a multiple-image HDR is created by merging images of different exposures into one well-balanced file.

Personally, the outputs give me a Photomatix vibe. Those who’ve been around for a while know this isn’t necessarily good.

The filters often give the image a grungy look, and many elements ruin the image instead of improving it. I know this is a matter of taste, but certain things just look bad.

That being said, it is possible to use the sliders to adjust and improve the output. Sometimes it doesn’t take more than some corrections to the contrast and color before it looks better.

HDR Efex Pro is good for those who want a quick and easy way to create HDR images, but I believe there are much better methods for those who are slightly more advanced in their Photoshop skills (such as manually blending images using Luminosity Masks)

Nik Sharpener

Sharpening is a crucial part of a photographer’s post-processing workflow. In fact, two types of sharpening should be done: input – and output. This is exactly what you can do in Sharpener Pro.

Sharpener Pro consists of two separate modules: RAW Presharpener (for preliminary sharpening) and Output Sharpener (for output sharpening)

The RAW Presharpener is used for sharpening your RAW files. Many photographers (myself included) use Adobe Lightroom’s Details Tab for this exact purpose, but after some testing, I find the RAW Presharpner to do just as good of a job. If not slightly better. It’s also got fewer sliders to worry about, making it ideal for those who find too many options confusing.

Nik 6 RAW Presharpener
Nik 6 Presharpener (300% Zoom)

The Output Sharpener should be used when you’re done processing an image. This module is slightly more advanced, and you’ll find three tools: Output Sharpening, Creative Sharpening, and Selective Sharpening. I won’t go too much into each of them now but shortly put, they are used to 1) choose the output media, 2) enhance the result, and 3) selectively apply the sharpening.

Nik 6 Sharpener Output
Sharpener Pro 3: Output Sharpener (100% Zoom)

Both modules do an excellent job, and I haven’t found much to complain about. Sharpening is something that you should always be careful with, as pulling too much in the sliders will lead to artifacts. That is also the case in Nik Sharpener; too aggressive sharpening will result in unwanted artifacts.

There are many great tools for sharpening out there (take a look at The Best Web Sharpeners for Photoshop here) but I believe Nik Sharpener is among the best options currently available. Especially if you’re looking at using the Nik Collection as a standalone software.

Nik Silver Efex

Just like Color Efex Pro, the Silver Efex Pro tool has been a favorite of photographers for more than a decade. This plugin is for many the go-to for anything related to Black & White photography.

As of writing this, the tool consists of 64 ready-to-go presets. Simply scroll through the list, find one you like, and click to apply it. That’s how easy it can be. However, for those who like more control, a series of adjustment sliders can be used to achieve exactly the look you want.

Nik 6 Silver Efex
Nik Collection 6: Silver Efex Pro 3

Silver Efex Pro is one of the most well-known tools in the Nik Collection, and it’s not without a reason that Black & White photographers view it as an essential part of their workflow.

Note: Make sure to check out our course “Black & White Photography: A Complete Guide for Nature Photographers” to learn how to create compelling B&W images. There, you’ll also learn how to get the best results out of Silver Efex.

Nik Viveza

Viveza is the final of the seven tools found in Nik Collection 7. Its purpose is to adjust the photo’s saturation, contrast, and luminosity. You can also use Control Points to apply the adjustments to only specific parts of the image.

Nik Collection 6: Viveza 3
Nik Collection 6: Viveza 3

Those who use Nik Collection 7 as a standalone tool might find Viveza useful when working on colors and tonality, but I find photo editors such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW, and Luminar Neo (or DxO’s own PhotoLab 7) to do a better job. There, you have better control and more adjustments to choose between.

As a standalone tool, Viveza does what it promises. Perhaps I just need some convincing.

How to Use Nik Collection 7 in Photoshop

Most photographers will use the Nik Collection as a plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom, or Affinity. It’s a great standalone tool as well, but most choose to use it to complement adjustments made in other photo editors. Luckily, using the Nik Collection 7 tools as a Photoshop plugin is a seamless experience.

You can open an image from Photoshop and to a Nik plugin at any stage of your workflow. For example, you can apply various adjustment layers in Photoshop, open the image in Nik 7 Color Efex to apply a filter, go back to Photoshop for a few more adjustments, move to Sharpener Pro: Output Sharpener, and then back to Photoshop to save the file.

All of that can be done without having to save the file, locate it in your folders, open it in a plugin, save it again, etc. Everything takes place directly within Photoshop (the same goes for Lightroom and Affinity, too).

Nik Collection 6 in Photoshop
Using the Nik Collection in Adobe Photoshop

During the installation process, you were asked which Host Applications you wanted to use the Nik Collection with. After the installation is complete, the tools will automatically appear in these. In Photoshop, you can find the tools under Filter -> Nik Collection. From here, you can choose the one you want to use.

Make sure to create a Stamp Visible Layer before opening a tool. Otherwise, it won’t work. Consider converting it to a Smart Object as well if you want to revisit it to make adjustments later (Note that you can convert the layer into a Smart Object from within the plugins too).

Now, you are ready to open the Nik Collection tool you want to use. When you are finished applying the filters, click Done and the effect will be visible on your layer in Photoshop.

How to Use Nik Collection 7 in Lightroom

Using the Nik Collection in Lightroom works more or less the same way as in Photoshop. Again, it’s a seamless experience where the image seamlessly moves between Lightroom and the chosen plugin.

Also here, you can use multiple plugins for the same photo. For example, you can start by using the RAW Presharpener, then apply all your basic adjustments in Lightroom, open it in Silver Efex Pro to convert it to Black & White, and end by exporting it from Lightroom.

To open the Nik Collection plugins in Lightroom, you need to:

  1. Right-click on the image and hover over Edit In
  2. Select the Nik Collection plugin from the dropdown list
  3. Choose one of the “What to Edit” options (Edit a Copy With Lightroom Adjustments, Edit a Copy, Edit Original)
  4. Apply the adjustments as desired
  5. Click Done and wait for the image to re-open in Lightroom
Nik Collection 6 Lightroom
Using the Nik Collection 6 in Adobe Lightroom

The main difference between using the Nik Collection as a Lightroom plugin and a Photoshop plugin is that you don’t need to create a Smart Object (this isn’t possible in Lightroom anyway). As long as you are editing a TIFF file, you can re-open the plugins at any time to make changes to the settings you’ve applied.

This means that if you’ve used Silver Efex Pro but later feel that you applied too much Structure, you can go back into the tool again, and all the settings are still there. Then, you can simply reduce the amount of Structure, click done, and the image will be updated in Lightroom.

It’s rather convenient…

How to Install and Use Nik Collection 7 in Affinity

Serif Affinity is the only non-Adobe or DxO photo editor with which the Nik Collection works. To no surprise, it works just as seamlessly with Affinity as the two previous examples we’ve looked at. Also here you can hop back and forth between the tools while everything is being updated in your main photo editor.

The installation process is a little more complicated, though. Unfortunately, the Nik Collection plugins aren’t automatically installed in Affinity. Instead, you’ll have to follow a few manual steps:

  1. Launch the Nik Collection Installer and follow the instructions
    1. In step 8, you come to the Compatible Host Applications, click + to create a new folder to store the Nik Collection plugins, and click on Open.
    2. You’ll now see a new host in the list called Adobe Photoshop Custom1. This folder contains all the Nik Collection plugins.
    3. Complete the rest of the installer process and click Finish.
  2. Launch Affinity Photo and follow the next steps to import the plugins
    1. Go to Affinity Photo -> Preferences (Mac) or Edit -> Preferences (Windows). Click on the Photoshop Modules icon in the window that opens
    2. Click Add in the Search Folder section on the right
    3. In the dialog window, locate and select the “DxO” folder you created during installation and press OK
    4. In the Plugin Support folder on the right, select Authorize Global, then Authorize, without selecting anything.
    5. Check the Allow “Unknown” plugins to be used box found on the left section under Detected Plugins
    6. Click Close and select Restart in the next dialog window
Installing Nik Collection 5 plugins to Affinity Photo
Install the Nik Collection plugins to Affinity Photo

Follow the steps above, and you should now find all the Nik Collection plugins by going to Filters -> Plugins -> Nik Collection. Hopefully, installing the Nik Collection to Affinity Photo will be easier in the future. But, for now, this is the only way.

Once you’ve successfully installed the plugins, you can use them just as explained for both Lightroom and Photoshop. What I like about Affinity is that they’ve got quite an active forum where you can ask questions about anything related to the photo editors and plugins.

My Experience with the Nik Collection

I first installed the Nik Collection on my computer back in 2012. All the photographers I looked up to were always talking about how great it was as a Photoshop plugin, so I saved up the bucks to try it myself. While I found it a bit overwhelming at first (as with any new software), it didn’t take long before it was an integral part of my post-processing workflow.

Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro were the only two plugins I used at the time. Quite honestly, I couldn’t tell you if there were any other tools in the collection; they weren’t of interest to me. Sometime later, I was struggling with noise in an image, and after doing a lot of manual work in Photoshop, I decided to see if Dfine could do a better job.

It could.

While I still mainly use Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Dfine, I have realized the potential of several of the other plugins as well. They might not fit in my workflow (except for the Sharpener Pro which I’m really growing on), but they will be important for standalone users.

There are still some minor bugs and issues that need to be solved, but overall, the Nik Collection plugins have come a long way since I first started using them. Many of the filters and adjustments are still there, but their performance, interface, and speed are at a whole different level now.

The Nik Collection (particularly the plugins just mentioned) is irreplaceable for me. I view it as a necessity and a crucial part of my Photoshop workflow.

Is the Nik Collection Worth the Price Tag?

The Nik Collection plugins have been an integral part of my workflow for a decade, but is it the right choice for you? Is it worth the price tag? The answer is yes. Most photographers will find at least one of the plugins useful.

If you purchase the Nik Collection 7, you also get a free download of DxO Photolab Essential, a powerful RAW editor developed by DxO. This is a big bonus for those who will use the Nik Collection plugins as standalone products.

Remember that you get full access during the free 30-day trial period. Take advantage of this offer if you’re still unsure if it’s a good fit for you.

Should you upgrade if you own Nik Collection 6?

Users of previous versions can upgrade to version 7 at the discounted price of $89. The new version comes with good improvements to local adjustments as well as a better speed performance.

The biggest improvement from version 6 to 7 is the upgrades to U Point local adjustments. More specifically, the possibility to make Luminosity Masks and masks targeted at specific colors. This allows you to create more precise masks than ever before.

Most of the tools and layouts are similar to what we find in versions 4, 5 and 6. Users of version 3, however, will find the updated version significantly better. Keep in mind that a lot has changed under the hood and the performance is a lot better than any previous version.

Personally, I’ve upgraded from version 6 to version 7. This has been a good upgrade that I’m happy I made, but I also don’t feel I’d miss out if I chose to stay with the previous one. The difference isn’t significant enough that you have to upgrade.


The Nik Collection by DxO has been a favorite amongst photographers for more than a decade, and it’s not without a reason. You most likely won’t end up using all seven plugins, but it won’t take long for you to find a handful of them integral to your post-processing.

Most of the filters can be replicated in Photoshop, but let’s be honest. It’s a lot easier to use an adjustable preset than to go through dozens of complicated steps to create the effect manually.

I sincerely believe that the majority of photographers who edit their photos will find certain plugins from the Nik Collection useful. After years of using it, I have nothing but good words to say. This seems to be the case amongst other users as well.

At the end of the day, can we really say no to something that will speed up your workflow, result in great effects, and is fully customizable?

The Nik Collection can be purchased on the DxO website for $159 (one-time payment). Owners of previous versions can upgrade for $89. If you’re still unsure, download their free 30-day trial and get full access to all the plugins.

Are you a Nik Collection user,, or do you have any questions? Don’t hesitate to comment below!


DxO Nik Collection
Christian Hoiberg
Christian Hoiberg is a full-time Norwegian landscape photographer and the founder of CaptureLandscapes. His goal is to help aspiring photographers develop the skills needed to capture beautiful and impactful images. Download his free guide 30 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography and start creating better photos today. Visit his website or Instagram to view more of his photography. 
nik-collectionThe Nik Collection plugins by DxO are tools that every photographer will find useful to have in their toolkit. It's unlikely that you'll end up using all eight plugins but this doesn't take away from the overall experience. Most photographers will appreciate Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Dfine and Sharpener Pro for their workflows. The collection has been trusted by photographers for over a decade, and there's nothing that indicates this will change any time soon.