Podcast 308 : Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 Walkthrough

by | Nov 11, 2011 | Digital Products, Podcast, Review, Videos | 5 comments

Today I walk you through the updated Color Efex Pro 4 from Nik Software. As you’ll see, this gives you amazing control over the look of your images, and I only touch the surface with regards to the available filters. I owned Color Efex Pro 3, as part of the Complete Collection that I bought a few years ago, but I never really used it. I just didn’t find it that useful, but now, with the ability to apply multiple filters and save your filter combinations and effects as recipes, this software really has become incredibly useful.

I often use Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 when I feel that the color gets in the way, or when black and white would enhance the image, and I often shoot with black and white in mind. I love the high contrast and often heavy skies I can get with Silver Efex Pro 2. Sometimes though, I feel as though I’m throwing something out when I get rid of the color, but now, with Color Efex Pro 4, I can create those amazing heavy skies and high contrast images without throwing out the color.

I certainly don’t think you need to use these filters on every image, but sometimes there’s more potential in an image than we are able to bring out with the camera and Lightroom or Photoshop alone. I find these plugins a great addition to my post processing toolbox.

Note that in addition to using a white vignette as I show in the video, you can also use the Vignette Lens filter to lighten the edges of a photo.

Remember, if decide to give Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 or any of Nik’s plugins a try, don’t forget to use our discount code, MBP15 when you check out. [The package is now free and being end-of-lifed so I’ve removed the links etc.]

Don’t forget to hit the full-screen button Full-Screen Button in the video window. If the full-screen button isn’t available, click on the Vimeo link and go full-screen from there.

Note that there is an iPod/iPhone version of this video in iTunes, but when watching on a computer, the video above is better.

Here are a few example conversions from the video. The Ship on Shore conversion is how I would use Color Efex Pro 4 here, not how we left on in the example in the video. Click a thumbnail to view the images. Once the image has opened, you can navigate back and forth by clicking the image.


Wrecked Minesweeper - Original (no processing)

Wrecked Minesweeper – Original (no processing)

Wrecked Minesweeper - Color Efex Pro 4 Version

Wrecked Minesweeper – Color Efex Pro 4 Version

Wrecked Minesweeper - Silver Efex Pro 2 Version

Wrecked Minesweeper – Silver Efex Pro 2 Version

Deception Island Iceberg - Original (Well, blacks were increased in Lightroom)

Deception Island Iceberg – Original (Well, blacks were increased in Lightroom)

Deception Island Iceberg - Color Efex Pro 4 Version

Deception Island Iceberg – Color Efex Pro 4 Version

A Mother's Love - Original

A Mother’s Love – Original

A Mother's Love - Color Efex Pro 4 Version

A Mother’s Love – Color Efex Pro 4 Version


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  1. Bill McCarroll

    I have Color Efex Pro 4 Martin, but it was really nice watching you use it. I picked up on a few things that I wasn’t aware of like the negative control point. Nice way to isolate areas that you don’t want to affect. Thanks again for a great tutorial.

  2. Martin Bailey

    You’re very welcome Bill. Thanks for watching!


  3. Tom Nevesely

    Great episode! I’ve been a user or Color Efex 3 for a while now and your podcast convinced me to upgrade to the new version. I really like how you can stack the filters now!

    I love your Deception Island photo!!!

  4. Mark Friedman


    Your demonstration of the software is very well done. But how does it work? Are the filters the equivalents of a “super” recovery or fill slider that give effects that could not otherwise be obtained with LR or ACR alone? Do you first optimize your images in LR or ACR before turning to the NIK software?

    As always, thanks for the podcasts.


  5. Martin Bailey

    Yes, Tom. Stacking those filters now is huge!

    Mark, I use recovery and fill sliders in Lightroom too, but this stuff is just not possible. For example, the second shot that we looked at already had a bit of Lightroom sliders applied, and this was as dramatic as I was able to get it without CEP 4. So, yes, I do work on them in Lightroom first, but if I can’t get them to look how I want them to, I jump into CEP 4.

    I really suggest you download the trial and give it a try for yourself. It really is quite amazing how easily you can get great results. Of course, I don’t use it on all my images. Many are fine with nothing other than simple Lightroom processing, but when you want that extra something, this really is worth trying.



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