Viveza 3 verdict
Viveza 3 is still a useful tool for making fast and effective adjustments to color images, but even with the new presets and Control Point masking in version 3, it feels a bit redundant. The other creative plug-ins in the Nik Collection come with equally powerful control point corrections of their own, as does DxO PhotoLab. These days, anyone shooting raw images will be better off making local adjustments like these directly to raw files, whether this is in PhotoLab, Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom or Capture One.
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What is Viveza 3?
Viveza 3 is a major update of Viveza, the Nik Collection’s color adjustment plug-in. This was always a bit of an odd addition to the Nik Collection in that it didn’t have any creative presets, just the same Control Point adjustments found throughout the Nik Collection suite. The best way to think of Viveza is as the colour equivalent of the dodging and burning tools you might use in black and white.
But DxO says that Viveza is one of the collection’s most popular plug-ins and, along with Silver Efex Pro, has given it a big upgrade for the Nik Collection 4 release, adding in new presets, more advanced Control Point masking with Luminance and Chrominance sliders, and a new interface which shifts the local adjustments to the sidebar instead of having them attached to the Control Points themselves.
How does it work?
The control points in Viveza are more sophisticated than those in the other Nik plug-is, however. With each one you can adjust Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Structure, Shadow Adjustment, Warmth, Red, Green and Blue and Hue. You can duplicated control points and their settings and group control points so that they act as one – it’s a way of adjusting large and complex areas quickly.
That brief description describes pretty much everything Viveza does. Outside of these control points, the only controls is a global levels/curve adjustment and new White Balance and Selective Tones adjustments (Highlights, Midtones, Shadows, Blacks). These last two adjustments are not quite how they sound, since you’re already working with a processed TIFF or JPEG image and there’s no additional color or tonal information to recover like there is with a RAW file.
In Vizeza 3 you can now create and apply presets and, as with Silver Efex Pro 3, you can save Control Point adjustments within a preset.
Like the rest of the Nik Collection plug-ins, Viveza 3 works as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop and DxO PhotoLab, but can also be used as a standalone program. However, it seems to suffer from the same glitch as Silver Efex Pro, where it sometimes opens in plug-in mode even when launched separately, making it impossible to open and save files.
Is Viveza 3 any good?
Viveza’s strength only emerges gradually. You can add a single control point, make a couple of adjustments and wonder what all the fuss is about. But if you take a little more trouble, create groups of adjustments and start experimenting with ‘relighting’ your photos, you start to understand what Viveza can do.
Arguably, there’s nothing here that you couldn’t do with layers and masks in Photoshop or local adjustments in PhotoLab, Lightroom or Capture One, but Viveza encourages you to visualise and build your adjustments in a different way. When I’ve used it I’ve found myself creating effects that I wouldn’t have thought of producing in another program, purely because the control point adjustment method has led me to approach the process more intuitively.
And while, individually, control points can look like a somewhat crude and imprecise way of selecting and adjusting areas of a picture, when they’re used together and, in particular, when you use two ‘competing’ control points close together, they do actually produce very precise and natural-looking tonal transitions around object edges. The new luminance and chrominance masking sliders let you refine your control point selections still further, but I’m not a big fan of the relocation of the adjustment sliders to the sidebar.
For those used to the precise, controlled world of selections and masks, Viveza’s control points might feel vague and unsatisfactory, but if you stick with it and you’re prepared to work in a looser, more intuitive way, you may start to see the benefits.
Having said all of that, Viveza is not one of the strongest components of the Nik Collection. Its enhancements are subtle rather than dramatic and it takes a lot more work than the single-click results offered by Analog Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro. It’s worth having, certainly, but it may not a tool you’re probably not going to use that often.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that since Viveza was first released, non-destructive RAW processing tools have advanced hugely, and now there’s little you can do in Viveza that you can’t already do in your ‘host’ software like DxO PhotoLab, Lightroom or Capture One while you have the full extended RAW data at your disposal.