What’s New in The Nik Collection 6
What’s New in The Nik Collection 6
On the 16th May 2023, DxO launched the Nik Collection 6. In this article and video, I look at the changes to the previous version of the software. This is going to seem more like a list than a detailed review because a lot has changed. Whilst some of the changes may seem minor, they combine to produce an excellent editing experience.
Nik Control Points
First up is the Control Points, which have been updated in many of the applications. I say many, as not every application in the Nik Collection uses Control Points. Additionally, these enhancements only apply to the Nik applications which have the new style, modern interface.
In a previous version of the Nik Collection, DxO added the Chrominance and Luminance sliders. These allow us to adjust the sensitivity of the Control Point to luminance (brightness) and colour.
Control Points work by sampling the area at their centre to determine the colour and tone of those pixels. They then select other pixels with similar colour and tonal values. What the Chrominance and Luminance sliders do is control how close a match a pixel must be to be selected. The following example should help to explain this.
Here you see a Control Point selection made in Nik Viveza. The only difference between the two versions are the Chrominance and Luminance settings which you can see below each. Move the sliders left to increase the range of pixels selected and right to reduce it.
You will also notice in these screenshots, the new Diffusion slider introduced in the Nik Collection 6. This Diffusion slider controls the feathering and spread of the selection around the edge of the Control Point. Have a look at the following example.
The selection on the left shows the Diffusion slider set to the default of 100%. This creates a soft blend, extending beyond the edge of the Control Point. The only change made for the selection on the right is to reduce the Diffusion slider. You can see how this controls the spread of the selection but also it seems to change the sensitivity of the Luminance and Chrominance sliders.
Initially I was a little worried by this, but in practice, it seems remarkably effective.
Nik Control Lines
The Nik applications with the new style interface also gain a new selection tool, the Control Line. If you are familiar with DxO PhotoLab you will probably recognise this.
If you look in the Selective Adjustments section of Nik Applications like Viveza, you will find there is a new icon for the Control Line. After clicking this, you can click and drag with your mouse on the image to draw the Control Line.
Once you have added a Control Line to the image, you can refine what’s selected by moving the small sample point. This is displayed as an eyedropper icon and can be positioned anywhere on the image. It doesn’t need to be within the selection area.
You can read more about Control Lines and how to use them in this article I posted about DxO PhotoLab.
Inverse Selection Option
The next new feature in the Nik Collection 6 is an Inverse option. This is a small icon that’s been added below the selection list in the Selective Adjustment section of many of the Nik applications. You can see it indicated in the screenshot below.
This is very easy to use and something that’s been missing from the Nik Collection for a long time. After adding a Control Point or Control Line to an image, click the Inverse icon to invert the selection.
Here you can see the Control Line example from the above section has been inverted by clicking the Inverse icon.
Return of the Control Arm
If you’ve been a Nik Collection user for a while, you may remember that Control Points used to feature slider controls. They didn’t always work as they should, but they allowed you to add and adjust a Control Point without keep moving to the right side of the interface. Then when DxO began migrating applications to the new style interface, the Control Arm was removed.
I’m pleased to say that the Control Arm has made it’s return and more importantly it’s been enhanced with additional controls, including the mask controls.
You will now find a small icon above the list of selections in the Selective Adjustment section of Nik applications. Clicking this toggles the control arm display off and on.
Sometimes when using the Control Line, the controls can get in the way of positioning the sample point. Being able to hide and show the controls in this way is extremely useful.
Preset Search Bar
Many of the applications in the Nik Collection feature presets. And with the ability to save your own custom presets, being able to search for them with the Search Bar is helpful. You will find the Search Bar above the presets list as well as above your custom presets.
To use the Search Bar, click the field and enter part of the preset name you are searching for. The presets are then filtered to display only those with a name matching the entered text. The name doesn’t need to be the full title of the preset but can work with partial names.
Nik Color Efex HSL Filter
Nik Color Efex has received a new HSL filter in the Nik Collection 6.
To use this, click the colour range that you want to adjust and then move the Hue slider to change the colour. You can also adjust the Saturation and Luminance of the colour range.
The HSL filter seems to produce very good results in the images I’ve tested. The only downside is that it’s a global adjustment. It would have been nice if it combined selective adjustments (Control Points and Control Lines) like many of the other filters.
Last Edit Feature
In a previous release of the Nik Collection, DxO introduced the Last Edit feature. I’ve found this extremely useful where I wanted to repeat an adjustment that I had forgotten to save as a preset. It’s also useful when working in Photoshop, and I find that I’ve forgotten to create a Smart Object layer to work with.
Now in the Nik Collection 6, the Last Edit feature has been extended to include the last 15 edits that have been applied with that Nik application.
Whilst the Last Edits option is still available in the Nik Collection Photoshop tools palette, we now have the Last Edits panel inside the applications.
When you select the Last Edits panel you will see the last 15 edits. Each is displayed as a Thumbnail showing how the current image would appear if the edits were applied to it. You will also see a date and time stamp below each. Then to apply the adjustments, click the thumbnail.
Smart Objects in Photoshop
In the previous section, I mentioned Smart Objects. Smart Objects are a feature of Photoshop that allows some filters to be applied as Smart Filters. When this happens, the filter data is saved as part of the Smart Object. It may sound confusing but what it means for the Nik Collection is that your filter settings are saved as part of the image layer. If you then reopen the filter, you will find your filter settings are still in place and can be adjusted. This makes editing non-destructive.
The Smart Object feature has been around for a long time. The only downside was that you needed to remember to create a layer in Photoshop and convert it to a Smart Object before starting to edit. Often you will forget to do this which is where the Last Edit feature was useful.
Now in the Nik Collection 6, it’s possible to convert the layer you’re editing to a Smart Object from inside the Nik application. This means you don’t need to remember to make the conversion before launching the Nik application.
You will find this option at the bottom right of the interface when working with the Nik Collection as a Photoshop plugin. Remember though, this only appears in compatible Nik applications which have the new style user interface.
New Interface Design
I’ve mentioned the new style user interface several times in this article. DxO began moving applications to this a few versions back. And in the Nik Collection 6 we see the Nik Dfine application migrated. This allows Nik Dfine to take advantage of the new Control Point and Control Line features discussed above.
This leaves only Nik HDR Efex and Nik Sharpener Pro to be migrated to the new style of interface.
The good news is that these two remaining applications are scheduled for migration in the Summer of 2023. I also understand that this will be a free release for Nik Collection 6 owners once it’s available.
Nik Perspective ReShape Tool
The final new feature to mention in the Nik Collection 6 is found in the Nik Perspective application. This now has the ReShape grid which was introduced in DxO ViewPoint 4. It allows you to reshape areas of an image in isolation, without affecting the rest of the image. It’s probably easiest to understand by my review video published on YouTube.
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You can also watch this video on my YouTube channel. I publish a new video every week, often based on subscribers’ requests and feedback. Subscribe to my YouTube channel now and be sure not to miss future videos.
If you would like to try the Nik Collection 6 for yourself, you can download the trial version from the Nik Collection website.
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