Google recently added another filter to the Nik Collection (Analog Efex Pro). Okay, it didn't get widespread press and I can't find a press release on the Google site, so the first of Google's problems with Nik is: invisible news.
Okay, so how do you get the plug-in? It's not intuitively obvious, but it seems that Google wants you to click the Try Now button up on top of the Nik Collection pages now moved to Google. Okay. That does indeed download the full suite of Nik products.
So I installed it. In Photoshop, I now had two folder entries—Nik Collection and Nik Software—in my filter menu. Within my Nik Software folder half of my previously installed plug-ins were now gone. That seemed strange. All the plug-ins showed up in the Nik Collection folder, though, so maybe things were okay.
Clicking on one of the items in the Nik Collection folder I got the new Demo/Buy dialog. Oh oh. Something's wrong with product activation.
Okay, Google has a Troubleshooting and FAQs section on their Help page, let's go there. Let's look at the entry for "Nik Software Product Keys and Activation." This helpfully tells me that "One of the improvements to the Nik Collection is the change to the activation process — there is no longer the need to enter a Product Key number to activate." Oh oh. Something's wrong with the product activation. Hey, didn't I just write that?
There's also a "Plug-ins disappeared from host application" FAQ. So let's try that: "Please download and reinstall the Nik Collection to your computer." Oh oh. We're in a loop, folks. Oh, and this helpful message says the version should be 1.107 that you download. What's the download that's available? 1.105. Oh oh. We're in a loop that's lying to us.
Okay, so what next? Click on Contact Us and you have two options: email and phone. I tried both. Email came back with "one to two business days to answer your question." The phone option generated a callback almost immediately, and the problem was solved by sending me a new installer with my activation codes.
So what is Analog Efex Pro? It turns out to be one of those Instagram relatives that provide some vintage-type effects:
Besides the presets, you have the ability to pull up Basic Adjustment, Lens Distortion, Bokeh, Zoom & Rotate Blur, Light Leaks, Dirt & Scratches, Photo Plate, Lens Vignette, Film Type, Frames, and Levels & Curves panels. Overall, not as useful as the previous Nik plug-ins for me, but it's nice to know that I can now do many of the same things on an expensive computer that I can do on my iPhone. In other words, there's some novelty here, and creative folk will probably find something that they can use from time to time, but it's not as mainstream as Dfine, Sharpener, or Color Efex Pro, for instance.
So, it's nice to know that the suite is still alive and getting augmented, but the augmentation didn't go particularly far. In some ways, Analog Efex Pro is kind of a more logical extension and grouping of some of the funkier Color Efex Pro filters. Nice to have, but not a necessity.
But what the heck, I can't resist playing with a new toy: