Life After The Google Nik Collection

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Life After The Google Nik Collection

Photography by Mark Myhaver

Hi Folks,

Much has been said in the photography community in the past week regarding Google's announcement that they have no plans for future updates or additions to the Nik Collection of plugin tools. Much of these have been focused on how sad this is with statements such as "how could they", "If Google was not going to advance these tools why did they purchase them in from the original developer?" and even erroneous statements that Nikon should re-acquire the software for further development. I would like to offer a different perspective to consider. Along with that a bit of factual history is in order.

Nik Software, originally Nik Multimedia, was founded by Nils Kokemohr in 1995. That is the company who developed the Nik tools. Nikon never owned the company or the software. This is a mistaken association based partly on the name but also because Nikon used the "U Point technology" in their original Capture NX software which was developed by Nik Software. The U Point technology was later renamed Control Points within the Nik Software set of tools. At the time they were revolutionary and designed for pin point accuracy in color and tonal adjustments. I pre-ordered the Nik Software tools prior to the release of them back in the late 1990s and to me they were fantastic tools that were well worth the original price of about $500.00 or could be purchased individually. When Google bought the software in 2012 I will admit, though skeptical, it was my hope that they would continue to advance the power and future of the tools. In fact they not only continued to do so with regular updates but made those updates free for all those who originally purchased the tools. Not only that, but the software went way down in price to $150.00 for the whole collection.

In March 2016 Google made the entire collection available free. Rightfully so there was much speculation at the time that doing so would mean Google would not be developing the software in the future. This brings us to the news recently that it was in fact true. This should not have been a surprise to anyone. I have been an enthusiastic supporter and regular user of the software for many years. That being said, I have been using it and quite honestly all software plugins less and less over the years. The reasons being, as Adobe has continued to make great advancements in image editing I have also increased my own proficiency in using those advancements. Frankly, though the Nik Collection has remained very good software, it has met its limitations. What was revolutionary some fifteen to twenty years ago is outdated by today's standards. There are simply far better, more precise ways to do those things that the Nik Collection of tools originally were designed to do. Google is one of the most advanced, creative and forward thinking companies in the world today. As such they simply recognized when certain technology was no longer worth further development. It is worth noting that Nikon abandoned the use of U Point technology in later releases of their Capture NX and other software.

The Nik Collection is still very usable on both current Mac and Windows based operating systems. It just does not make sense to continue developing it to be used on other operating systems to come. My own conclusion drawn from this is that it is time for me to keep advancing in my knowledge of the tremendously powerful and precise image editing tools of our times. I encourage every advanced photographer to do the same. Don't get stuck using old technology. Adobe has continued to be the leader in developing those tools for image editing in a non-destructive way through their raw processing engines within both Lightroom and Photoshop. One of those most advanced tools is the use of luminosity masks. Even my use of the Nik Collection, Tonal Contrast tool, which I have always loved, in the past year has been greatly improved for in conjunction with the use of luminosity masks. Now I have taken that a step further by accomplishing the same Tonal Contrast qualities by simply using luminosity masks with the advanced tools already found within Photoshop.

In summation I am suggesting rethinking the eventual demise of tools like the Nik Collection as an opportunity for further personal growth and development.