Color Efex Pro Review

Nik Color Efex Pro Review

Color Efex Pro 4 is one of my favorite photo editing programs in the Nik Collection. A software collection that gives you quick and easy control of photo manipulation without any advanced photo editing knowledge.



NIK Color Efex Pro Review

You can pick it up from the developer’s website for free: Niksoftware


Initial Thoughts

When I first picked up this program I didn’t really like it much. I didn’t like having to leave Lightroom to alter my photos. It added steps in my workflow and made additional tiff files of each photo which were huge. Plus it was slow and requires a lot of ram. I felt it was really just a program of filters, most of which can just be achieved if you know Lightroom or Photoshop very well. So I hardly used it.

Then I went through this phase where I really wanted a few looks with my photos that I could not figure out how to get with Lightroom and Photoshop. So I started playing around with Nik’s Color Efex Pro a lot more and its various filters. That’s when I discovered its power.

It’s now a staple software I use on almost all of my photos. Here is why.


The Recipes

The most powerful feature of Color Efex Pro is by far its recipes. You can create and save different combinations of filters and their settings to form custom looks that you can use over and over. So now there are certain styles and looks I have in, for example my night photos, or my Landscape photos. All of which use similar filters and settings that I’ve built and that work for what I want.



My Workflow

So now my workflow goes something like this. Adjust the lens profiles in Lightroom, clean up the photo a little bit and export for Color Efex Pro 4. I load up some of my custom recipes until I find the one I like. From there, do a few tweaks. Export back to Lightroom for final color or sharpness, which sometimes I’ll do in Photoshop. My HDR workflow is a little different. It always create the HDR file before going into Color Efex Pro.



Great Filters


The Cross Balance Filter

This filter has an interesting way of creating Tungsten to Daylight or visa versa. It has a few different tools that can create a really cool look that I like for my night cities photos.

Shanghai City Lights, China, HDR photography


The Detail Extractor

This filter pulls out detail. It’s got a few great settings to refine and give you the look you’re going for. This is why many of my photos look so crisp.

Bali Rice Fields


The Sunlight Filter

I like to use this one on my Landscape. It can be used to add a nice warmth-like glow to the photo which makes the overall mood of the image feel a bit brighter and alive.

Autumn in Japan at the Takachiho Gorge, Gokase-gawa River


Filters I Use Regularly

Cross Process

Gives you that shifted colors look.



Can be used to shifting the colors or creating an old film look.


Pro Contrast

Amazing contrast tool. I could do a full several page post just about how great this tool is and what it does. You’ll just have to play with it.


Bi-Color User Defined

Adds color gradients to your photos.



Color Efex Pro | Sample Photos

Manai Falls at the Takachiho Gorge

Kawabata Street Fukuoka Japan

Yutoku Inari Shrine, Japan, HDR photography