Emcam wrote:I haven't tried any of NIK's other programs....I guess I should check 'em out.
Any favorites? and if so why?
I have them all and they are all good.
I really like Color Efex 3.0 but mind you that I don't run a filter on an image and call it done. I use them "gently" as building blocks for the final result and have created a few actions using them as a step. But like all filter sets, there are a lot of (IMO) useless ones. In fact, I find that there are only 5 or 6 that I'll use with any regularity, and maybe 20 that I would use at all. The reason why I like them is that although I can get very similar results in Photoshop via it's own means, it consists of many more steps and thus takes tha action longer to run. Plus the result from certain effects are cleaner than those from Photoshop. For example, "Bleach Bypass" in Color Efex 3 is pretty much the same a copying a B&W luminance channel onto a regular layer, only I get more control over the effeced range of the image thanks to the sliders in the filter. In Photoshop I can only choose one of three color channels to duplicate to a layer and then have to adjust curves or levels to rework the toneality. That's three times as many steps to get to a similar end result in photoshop and I like the look of the Nik version a little better.
Viveza, as you know, is good for very specific tasks where masking is not the efficient solution. I recently had an image of a couple that I shot through an old iron gate and I wanted to manipulate the colors behind the gate without affecting the gate. This could have been a serious effort for masking accurately but Viveza did it in mere seconds.
Dfine 2.0 is noise reduction. It's very good and offers more NR control than anything I've seen, but I don't have much of a need for it with the 5D & 1D Mark III. What little color noise there is at hi-ISO is snuffed out in Light Room before it makes it to Photoshop. I keep it handy for images where a process I use adds unwanted noise. But I tried using it to remove camera noise and it's very smart, but like anything else, can be overdone. The use of control points is also a plus with this. But you can selectively reduce noise in a specific color range, or tonal range as well.
Sharpener Pro is very good and I do use it for my inkjet printing. I sharpen lightly globally and then again locally for the best possible print. Sharpener Pro appears aggressive so I tend to tone it down a bit when I use it. I like the look of it for some things, but not everything. This is one you could live without if you already know how to sharpen for specific output sizes.