Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 consists of a set of filters geared toward the digital photographer. It incorporates U Point® Technology which uses Control Points to select areas that will contain the effects. Whereas in most programs you have to make selections, Control Points do it for you. In Color Efex Pro 3, the Control Points in addition to marking the area for the effect, control the opacity of the effect. Nik plug-ins share a basic uniformity of interface and type of controls. This lessens the learning curve a lot although it doesn't eliminate it when using the different programs.

This interface is set up in a similar manner to their other plug-ins.

Different filters have different controls.


There are 4 sets of filters: Portrait, Landscape, Stylizing, and Traditional. Each is able to be manipulated to various degrees, so many different effects are possible for each filter. There are 52 filters with over 250 effects and styles and 30+ emulated film types. They are arranged alphabetically on the Nik Software Panel.

This next image was corrected in Nik Software's Viveza plug-in. I will use it as a base for different effects.

The first effect is for Graduated Fog. The fog could cover more or less of the image.

The next effect is Indian Summer. Notice the yellow-orange of some of the leaves.

And the third effect I am showing is Paper Toner. These were to some degree chosen at random because there were many other great effects I could have shown.

I took another image that was very different and applied some effects to it. Below is the image.

This effect that I like a lot is Detail Stylizer. Under the Quick Save Slots, you can save your settings.

I noticed by accident another way to manipulate this same filter. I decided to create it on the original image which was 42264 x 6660 pixels at 360 dpi while the one above is about 400 pixels in height at 72 dpi. Both were created using the images as stated above. The filter settings were kept the same. Notice the differences. I repeated this a few times to see if it was random, and it wasn't.

A filter that is very useful is the Polarization filter. Here it is used on completed images. The result is even more dramatic when used on an image where the blue sky is washed out.

System Requirements are:


  • 32-bit version of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista
    (64-bit operating systems with 32-bit host application)
  • Pentium III 1GHz or better
  • 1GB RAM
  • Adobe Photoshop 7 through CS4, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 through 7.0, or Adobe Photoshop plug-in compatible application**
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® 2.3 or later***
  • Capture NX 2 from Nikon Corporation (excludes Color Efex Pro 3.0 Standard Edition)


  • Mac OS 10.4 and later
  • G4, G5, Intel® Core™ Solo, Intel Core Duo, Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Xeon®
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Adobe® Photoshop® CS2 through CS4, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 and 6.0, or an image editing application that accepts Adobe Photoshop plug-ins compatible filters**
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.3 or later***
  • Apple® Aperture™ 2.1 or later
  • Capture NX 2 from Nikon Corporation (excludes Color Efex Pro 3.0 Standard Edition)

** Nik Software product filters are developed to integrate seamlessly into many popular image editing applications that support the Adobe plug-in architecture and there are numerous software applications that accept Adobe plug-in compatible filters. Please consult your image editing application’s documentation for compatibility and installation instructions for 3rd-party plug-ins.

*** Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.3 compatible with Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete Edition only.

There are three editions for Color Efex Pro 3. Click on the link to see what filters are in each edition. I reviewed the Complete Edition. The costs are: Standard Edition $99.95, Select Edition 159.95, and Complete Edition $299.95. You can download a demo of the Complete Edition. More information about the features, etc. can be found on the main page for Color Efex Pro 3. And information about all the Nick products can be found on their home page.

You can purchase the plug-ins separately or in different bundles. I am reviewing all the programs in the Complete Collection:

"The Complete Collection includes all of Nik Software’s latest award-winning plug-in software titles for Photoshop®, Lightroom® and Aperture™ including: Dfine® 2.0, Viveza™, Color Efex Pro™ 3.0, Silver Efex Pro™, and Sharpener Pro™ 3.0."

If you are planning on using a number of their excellent software, a one-time investment in the Complete Bundle will save you a lot of money.

These filters are excellent and easy to manipulate. The Color Efex Pro 3 Complete set offers a huge variety of filters and each filter has a lot of versatility. This software is an excellent addition to your toolbox.

Nik Software products Reviewed:

Nik Silver Efex Pro

Nik Dfine 2.0

Nik Viveza

Nik Sharpener Pro 3