Silver Efex Pro and Nik software suite now free from Google
Silver Efex Pro is one of my favourite monochrome processing applications and it has been a companion to my Lightroom for years. A quick run through Sefex and mundane, flat, black and white shots—especially DNGs from the Leica Monochrom—are brought to life.
Now, this wonderful add-on and the rest of the Nik software suite is free. A steal, indeed. Install it now without a licence and you won't be on the way the nearest nick.
When I first came across Nik's Silver Efex Pro I was floundering a bit with my post processing, especially of monochrome shots. It came like a breath of fresh air. So good did I think it was that I remember paying well over £100 for the privilege of downloading it. And that's just the one module, not the suite.
Silver Efex Pro and the other members of the suite do little that you cannot do yourself in Lightroom or any other post-processing software. But it is easy and quick and you can create presets that create just the right image.
Some of the standard presets can transform your bland RAW files in a couple of clicks. In the example below, the original file from the Leica Monochrom Mark I is typically flat and lifeless. A quick run through Silver Efex Pro produces this much more dramatic rendering. This is oversharpend and too contrasty for many tastes, but you can edit and adjust to your preferences.
Later, after Google took over the original company, I was offered the full Nik software suite, including Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, Dfine and Vivezza, for nothing. Can't complain and I didn't.
The wentire suite is free to all comers. There is now no longer any excuse not to add the Nik suite to your Lightroom (or Aperture if you are still using it) set up. It works discreetly within Lightroom and is only a right click away from action.
My only concern at this largesse from Google is what they intend to get out of it. It isn't advertising and it isn't a loss leader to something greater. My worry is that Google has given up and will do no further development. If this is true, there could be problems ahead for the old Nik.