Nik Collection Tutorial: How To Download & Get Started

Nik Collection Editing Software

Nik Collection is a set of plugins that were developed to assist in photo editing.

Nik Collection can be installed and used in Photoshop or Lightroom and each of the Nik Collection plugins has its own purpose. Some plugins apply vintage filters while others enhance color, and sharpness or create beautiful black-and-white photos.

In this post, we cover how to download Nik Collection, how to get started, and use a few of the most popular tools from this software to edit your photos.  

How Much Is The Nik Collection

Over the past few years, Nik Collection has been owned by a couple of different companies and the cost of Nik Collection has changed along with each new acquisition.

Currently, there are two Nik Collections available for download. The latest Nik Collection is owned by DxO Company and comes with 7 different plugins.

As of now, DxO offers a 30-day free trial of the Nik Collection so new users can check it out and get familiar with it.

After the 30-day trial, you will need to pay $149 if you like the Nik editing software and want to continue using these plugins. In this post, we will focus on the DxO version since it’s the most recent one available out there.

Before Nik Collection was acquired by DxO it was owned by Google and they offered a free version of the Nik Collection. If you’re interested in downloading the older free version you can still do that.

Note that if you choose to use the older Google version, DxO does not offer customer service or support for this version. So if something isn’t compatible or doesn’t work right, unfortunately, you’re on your own. If you want software assistance, I recommend downloading the newer version which does cost $149 but will come with DxO software assistance.

How To Download Nik Collection

To download the latest Nik Collection you can go to the DxO Nik Collection website and click download.

It will ask for your email address which you can enter in the box and click “Submit”.

After entering your email address you will receive a link in your inbox to download the Nik Collection software. Click on “Win” for Windows or “Mac”.

I clicked on Win and got a “Thank You For Downloading” pop-up.

Once the software has been downloaded a small icon will show up on the bottom left corner of your screen and you can click on this file icon to start the installation process.

If you don’t see the pop-up in the bottom left corner you can also go to your Downloads folder and click on the Nik_Collection_2_byDXO file. This will launch the program setup.

Once you start it will ask “ Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?” Say “Yes” otherwise it won’t get started.

Then you will need to select your preferred language and go through more setup steps.

Click on “Next” or “Agree” until you get to the Activation screen.

In the Activation screen, it will ask for your license number which should be given to you if you purchased the software. If you want to try it out for free for 30 days first, click on “Try”.

Then click on “Next”.

After that, you will get a pop-up saying “Welcome to the DxO PhotoLab 2 Setup Wizzard”.

Click “Next”, then select the “I Accept The Terms” box and click “Next” again. It will continue the installation process.

Once everything has been installed click on “Finish”.

Getting Started With Nik Collection

Now that you have Nik Collection installed on your computer, the next step is getting started with editing your images.

Nik Collection is compatible and can be used with either Photoshop or Lightroom editing software.

I personally use Lightroom to edit my photos but there are a lot of Photoshop fans out there. Whichever program you like best, open it up and you’ll get a pop-up letting you know that Nik Collection plugins were installed.

To edit your images with Nik Collection in Lightroom simply right-click on the image, select “Edit In” and select one of the plugins listed in the drop-down options.

It will ask if you want to “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments” – select this option.

It will create a second image file instead of working on the original. This way the edits are non-destructible and will not affect the original file. 

In the next section, we’ll cover how to use a few of the most popular plugins from the Nik Collection.

Analog Efex Pro

The first Nic Collection plugin that we’ll try out is Analog Efex Pro.

Analog Efex Pro is a fun plugin that comes with different filters and effects that can recreate looks as if photos were shot on antique cameras. This plugin will make adjustments to color, fade, contrast, vignette, and other settings to make your photos look vintage, similar to VSCO filters.

To use the Analog Efex Pro plugin in Lightroom, open the image that you want to edit, right-click, choose “Edit In” and then select “Analog Efex Pro”. This will open up the Nik Collection editing screen.

On the top left side of Analog Efex Pro, you can scroll through previews of different vintage camera filters. For this image of the cabin, I settled on the Classic Camera 6 filter that adds a lot of fade and vignette.

Within this Classic Camera 6 filter, you can also make adjustments to contrast, warmth, color, and more. You can also unselect and remove the Vignette or Dirt & Scratches effects if they look too much.

Even without doing any adjustments, the Classic Camera 6 filter creates a beautifully edited photo with a subtle vintage look. You can easily see the “before and after” photo in the comparison window.

When you are done with your edit, you can click save and it will bring the saved changes into Lightroom. Lightroom will create a second file with the effects instead of applying them to the original photo.

If you wish, you can continue editing the photo with more adjustments in Lightroom directly until you get the desired finished look.

Color Efex Pro

The next Nik Collection plugin that we’ll take a look at is the Color Efex Pro.

Color Efex Pro is a powerful plugin that offers more than 55 color filters and editing tools. The editing options with the Color Efex Pro plugin are endless especially when it comes to color enhancement.

For this example, I chose a photo that was shot a bit too dark. We’ll use the Color Efex Pro plugin to brighten and add vibrancy to our image.

When you open the Color Efex Pro plugin you’ll see Filter Library and Recipes listed on the left.

To access all of the available filters select “Filter Library” in the top left corner and click on “All”. This will open a drop-down menu of all the Color Efex Pro filters.

Within each filter, you can access more editing options. For this photo, I selected the High Key filter and clicked on the grey rectangle boxes next to the filter name to expand the options. Then I selected the “Washed Out” option that adds saturation and contrast.

But the image still looks very dark so I experimented with the editing tools available on the right-side toolbar like Standard High Key, Dynamic High Key, Saturation, and others until I got a bright, colorful image.

If you like the edited image, you can click Save to save the changes. If you want to add another filter, click on + Add Filter to continue editing.

I clicked on + Add Filter and went back to the Filter Library to see what other cool filters I could find. I personally like a warmer-looking image so I clicked on the White Neutralizer filter and selected the Wedding Dresses option.

This filter didn’t make a drastic change to the image but it did add a warmer yellow tone to it.

If you like the end result click on Save. If not, keep messing around with the different filters.

Silver Efex Pro

Silver Efex Pro is one of the most powerful black-and-white editing tools. This entire Nik Collection plugin is designated for creating beautiful black-and-white photos by using filters and editing tools like contrast, brightness, and more.

For the Silver Efex Pro plugin example, I’ll use a portrait.

After opening the image in the Silver Efex Pro plugin you can see all of the black-and-white filter choices listed in the top left corner.

If you click on ALL it will show all 48 filters listed below or you can click on each subcategory like “Classic” or “Vintage” to see only the filters that fall under that category.

For this example, I want to create a simple black-and-white look so I chose to go with the Classic–Neutral Filter.

This filter offers a pretty good balance between the grey tones and I like that it’s not over-the-top.

Then I went to the right side toolbar and slightly increased contrast, brightness, and decreased structure to make it look dreamier.

The end result is a beautiful black-and-white photo.

I love the Silver Efex Pro tool for editing portraits and wedding photos to make them look vintage and old-timey.


The Nik Collection plugins that we’ve covered so far are mostly filter based. Viveza plug-in, on the other hand, doesn’t have any filters.

Instead of using filters, the Viveza plugin comes with different editing tools like brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, and others that can be used to fix lighting and color issues in photos.

For this example, I chose an image that was shot during sunset and came out a bit too dark. Without any edits, it’s hard to tell what we’re looking at and the image looks colorless even though the sunset in real life was pretty epic.

After opening the photo in Viveza I started messing around with the tools available on the right-hand side toolbar.

I started with basic adjustments to fix lighting and color. I increased brightness to make it lighter, increased saturation to make it more colorful, and increased structure to add more clarity.

I also increased shadows to make it look lighter and added warmth to make it more yellow like a sunset. Just with these few adjustments, the image was already looking so much better.

Then I scrolled down to the color and RGB curve adjustments and played around with those until I got the color combination that I liked. This is where you can really get creative.

The end result is a bright colorful photo that clearly showcases the beautiful scenery.

The best part about Nik Collection is that it eliminates a lot of confusion and uncertainty when it comes to editing photos.

Sometimes Lightroom and Photoshop can feel so complicated because the editing choices seem endless. Nik Collection plugins eliminate most of the confusion and the program does all the hard work for you.

We hope that you enjoyed this intro post to Nik Collection. Here are a few other editing blog posts and resources that you may like:

Interested in stepping up your photography game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:

  • Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, and durable – in other words, amazing!
  • Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
  • Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
  • Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
  • Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra-fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
  • Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set.
  • Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.

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