For years, photographers have created color and special effects with filters that attach to the end of a camera lens. Now Nik Multimedia’s Color Efex Pro Complete Collection offers Adobe Photoshop users 55 powerful color-correction filters that mimic many of the effects real-world filters create. Color Efex Pro’s filters, which are Photoshop 7- and Mac OS X-compatible, imitate the ones that photographers use most often on their lenses. For example, a Red Contrast filter, like a traditional red lens filter, improves contrast in an image. Color Efex also includes yellow, green, magenta, blue, and cyan contrast filters.
Other real-world filters include a Skylight filter that reduces blue casts in outdoor photos; Lighten Center and Darken Center, which balance luminance in an image; and a vast assortment of graduated color filters. For example, the Graduated 0h (gray) filter darkens skies without affecting foreground elements.
All of Color Efex’s filters have a uniform, simple dialog box and a set of sliders that let you control filter intensity. In addition, the Graduated filters provide sliders for rotating the filter and changing the location of the gradient, allowing you to adjust for the horizon’s location in an image.
Color Efex also includes a Polarizing filter that tries to mimic the effects of a circular polarizer. Though it can’t eliminate reflections like a real polarizer, it credibly improved the contrast between skies and clouds. Note that many of these filters are available separately (and for less money) in Nik’s Color Efex Pro Photo Classic Set and Photo Design Set.
The Color Efex Pro Complete Collection also includes a number of filters that create effects impossible to attain with lens filters. For example, the Contrast Only filter allows you to change contrast in an image without adjusting the color, while Classical Blur creates a washed look that’s unlike the simple unsharpening effect of typical blur filters. The impressive Sunshine filter lets you add realistic sunlight to an otherwise dark, shadowy image.
Our only complaint about ColorEfex’s interface is the lack of a document preview like the preview in Photoshop’s native filters. Trying to judge results from the small thumbnail preview in the plug-in window is difficult.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Color Efex Pro Complete Collection includes a lot of everyday filters that all Photoshop users will turn to again and again. Pros who need to regularly perform complex color correction will benefit in a big way from this set.