Verdict: 5 stars Analog Efex Pro 3 is a new and revamped version of the analog effects plug-in in the DxO Nik Collection. It goes way beyond most analog photography tools, offering not just film styles, grain effects and borders, but creative vignetting, bokeh, lens blur, lens distortion, double-exposures, motion blur and more to simulate a huge variety of ‘old camera’ looks. There are other good vintage/analog tools out there, but none that go as far as Analog Efex Pro, and version 3, introduced with Nik Collection 5, is streamlined, updated and even better.
Plug ins are like add-on programs which work from within your regular software. They provide specialised effects or in-depth tools – or simply a an easier way of working – that aren't part of mainstream photo-editing applications.
Probably the best known is the Nik Collection, a suite of plug ins which includes Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Dfine, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, Silver Efex Pro and Viveza.
Others include Topaz Studio and the MacPhun Creative Kit. Some programs that started out as plug ins now work as standalone applications too, including Alien Skin Exposure X and ON1 Photo RAW.
Plug ins need a 'host' application, usually Photoshop, Lightroom or – for those still using it – Aperture. Other host apps can often work with plug-ins with a little manual configuration.
If you had to characterise these two types of software you might say that 'host' apps offer routine image enhancements and adjustments while plug-ins provide inspiration and ideas, though the boundaries are becoming blurred.
You can use Aurora HDR 2019 as a standalone program, but if you have Lightroom it’s a lot easier and more efficient to launch it from Lightroom as a plug-in. You can use Aurora HDR with Lightroom very easily, but the method is not the same for single images and bracketed exposures.
Apple Photos has some useful editing tools already, but with the launch of the El Capitan operating system, Apple has gone a step further with Apple Photos Extensions. These are equivalent to the the image-editing plug-ins used with Photoshop and Lightroom. Software publishers have been keen to make use of this, and already there are a […]
Despite the name of this site, I’ve got nothing against Photoshop! Even if it doesn’t have all the effects filters and organising tools you might be looking for (hence this site), it’s still worth having in your software armoury, especially if you get a good deal on an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription. Photoshop has limitations, […]
Just in case anyone thinks I have something against Photoshop… I don’t! Photoshop is really good at what it does, it just doesn’t do everything I want from a digital imaging application. But it is really good ‘host’ application for plug-ins. One reason is that I’m having a few problems with Aperture and Google Nik […]