It's a double celebration for DxO as it releases updated versions of the Nik Sharpener and HDR Efex plug-ins, the last two to be modernised from the days when the Nik Collection was owned by Google.
DxO acquired the Nik Collection from Google in 2017, just when it looked as if one of the best photo editing software suites might be lost for ever, and has spent the last six years re-authoring "millions" of lines of code, much of it undocumented, to make it fully compatible with modern hardware and systems, including Windows, MacOS and Apple Silicon, which is now used for many of the best MacBooks for photo editing, for example. The update also adds support for the best 4K monitors and beyond as high-DPI monitors become the norm.
Nik Sharpener is a two-part tool which offers a 'presharpener' for general detail enhancement and an 'output sharpener' to optimise sharpening for specific print sizes and output devices. This is actually an important technical process that's often overlooked but is key to the best print quality.
Nik Sharpener now has the latest interface design shared by the other Nik Collection plug-ins, with a "clearer, cleaner" look and the option of using DxO's local adjustments via sliders attached to control points in the traditional manner or via sliders in the sidebar.
The same update has been applied to Nik HDR Efex, another older Nik plug-in that was due some attention. HDR Efex can merge separate bracketed exposures into high dynamic range images, and it can also apply its HDR effects to single images too.
Both plug-ins get DxO's latest Control Line local adjustment tool, which works rather like a gradient mask but with an eyedropper to select the tones to be affected by the adjustment.
There are some workflow improvements for Photoshop users too, so that it's now possible to turn an image into a Photoshop Smart Object even after you've started editing it, and the ability to apply any of your last 15 Nik Collection edits with a single click.
Also, the Nik Collection now automatically detects Affinity Photo during the installation, so that you can easily launch the Nik plug-ins from this program too.
For existing Nik Collection 6 owners it's an easy decision, as Nik Collection 6.3 is a free update. Otherwise, it costs $149 / £135 (about AU$229) for new users and $79 / £69 (about AU$121) for owners upgrading from Nik Collection versions 4 or 5.