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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Disappointing
Many photographers, after learning to use image processing software, start to think about getting a further edge in picture improvements. Quite often they turn to the filtering software of NIK Software, Inc. Unfortunately, the various pieces of software don't provide robust help facilities and the NIK website has plenty of training videos but most don't have a lot of...
Published on November 23, 2011 by Conrad J. Obregon

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86 of 86 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In some ways, this should have been the software manual
I purchased this book, because I found the Nik Software Collection's built-in help to be very perfunctory. The built-in help summarizes what a particular tool does and briefly describes the controls. However, it doesn't always describe what the ramifications of changing those controls do to the photo. That is why I wanted to buy this book. However, the book ends up...
Published on December 20, 2011 by S. Tang


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86 of 86 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In some ways, this should have been the software manual, December 20, 2011
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
I purchased this book, because I found the Nik Software Collection's built-in help to be very perfunctory. The built-in help summarizes what a particular tool does and briefly describes the controls. However, it doesn't always describe what the ramifications of changing those controls do to the photo. That is why I wanted to buy this book. However, the book ends up being a mixed bag.

1) The first chapter covers some aspects of capturing photos and selecting photos to edit in post-processing. I felt that this chapter was unnecessary, because its space could have been used to talk more about the software. There are plenty of other books dedicated to the topic of capturing photos (composition, etc.) and selecting photos. Even this book states that this topic "could fill volumes" (page 3). The book may have been better off providing a short bibliography for such topics.

2) The images that show off the Nik Software interface are too small, as other reviewers have mentioned. For a book about teaching the reader how to use the software, it is essential that the images of the software interface be readable. Not everybody has good vision. In addition, the authors do not highlight parts of the interface when talking about a particular function like other photography software books. For example, the author would talk about a function and then refer to Figure X.Y. When you go look at Figure X.Y, it's hard to tell what in the interface has changed. The book should circle the area in question, use a callout, or some similar technique.

3) My main interest was in learning about all of Color Efex Pro 4's controls. On page 144, it says "With 55 filters and a pretty good online help system, we won't go into what each slider does in this book." Unfortunately, most people buy these books, because the online help is bad! Software vendors have spent so little money and effort on their instruction manuals that customers have become accustomed to them being bad.

To be fair, I did check out Color Efex Pro 4's online help. It shows you an HTML version of the interface with hot points that you can click to bring up help for it. The content in the online help describes what the controls do, but it is still basic. For example, when I checked out the Global Contrast control for the Bleach Bypass filter, the online help says, "Controls the overall contrast of the image." That is somewhat of a "captain obvious" description, and something I have come to expect from an online help system or software manual. This is why I would have expected this book to delve further on topics like that, but the book does not sadly.

4) The book's writing is very good. The writing is not too dry and also does not try to get too funny like some of Scott Kelby's books.

In conclusion, I can't but feel that this book should have been the software manual. The biggest letdown is the Color Efex Pro 4 section, since it does not cover every control of every filter. I suspect another author will be publishing a book about this, to which people will have to pay again. :-(

When the software maker publishes a book about their own software, I expect it to be comprehensive and go beyond the software manual or online help. This book isn't there yet.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Disappointing, November 23, 2011
This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
Many photographers, after learning to use image processing software, start to think about getting a further edge in picture improvements. Quite often they turn to the filtering software of NIK Software, Inc. Unfortunately, the various pieces of software don't provide robust help facilities and the NIK website has plenty of training videos but most don't have a lot of depth.

It's into this vacuum that Cobell and Haftel have stepped. The book opens with chapters on editing basics and digital workflow and then reviews the editing environment (including host software Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and Aperture). There is a discussion of NIK's standardized interface and its special feature, U Point technology. Chapters, which included examples, followed on NIK's programs: Dfine 2.0; Viveza 2; HDR Efex Pro 3.0; Color Efex Pro 4; Silver Efex Pro 2; and Sharpener Pro 3.0. The authors present several examples of the joint application of several of the programs and then provide a brief history of digital photography and the history of NIK.

My experience has been primarily with HDR Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro 4, so my review of the software chapters emphasized those. The overall description of the interface, U Point technology and the individual interfaces for HDR Efex and Color Efex was far more comprehensive than anything I'd been able to learn from NIK's online help, including its extensive collection of videos. I certainly learned a few new tricks, especially about control points. On the other hand I wanted more, particularly about the 55 individual filters in Color Efex. Each of these filters has a different effect, and creates different results with their particular sliders. The software allows you to use presets to get a general idea of what each of the filters does, but to really get the most out of the software one needs to understand what individual sliders do. Although the authors provide a few examples, they acknowledge that it's hard to learn and understand what each filter does and how to manipulate it, but they suggest a lengthy process of playing with the filters. They did not even suggest going to the NIK web site where one can at least find a filter list with a description of each filter and its settings. (As a side note, I've got a permanent link to this page pinned on the taskbar in Windows.) The discussion of the sliders in HDR Efex was a little more detailed but still not comprehensive.

It could be suggested that such an explanation would have been too lengthy for the book, but it seemed to me that a fair number of pages were devoted to basic image processing concepts with which a user ready to apply NIK filters would be well familiar. so that these pages could be devoted to something more useful.

I have to confess that although I do not use the full suite of NIK software, just reading about the elements that I do not use gave me an opportunity to consider acquiring these powerful pieces of software.

If your eyesight is weak, you may want to read this book with your magnifying glass at hand since not only is the NIK interface a dark grey on black but the screen captures were too small for convenience, and sometimes several pages removed from the relevant text.

This book did not mention much of what I wanted to know, but it certainly introduced me to some new ways to utilize the software. Moreover, as of this writing, it's the only book that covers this area.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete coverage of Nik Software tools, December 31, 2011
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
Nik's software plug-ins are fantastic tools, although documentation is sorely lacking, and the online videos only give hints at what functionality is available or how the tools can (and should) be used. "Nik Software Captured" does a good job filling this gap to provide the insights into the Nik Software plug-ins that you will have a hard time finding described elsewhere.

The book starts off discussing digital editing and workflow. One thing I found particularly valuable was a description of the pros/cons between the Lightroom/Aperture plug-ins and the Photoshop plug-ins. Had I known this earlier, I might have made a different purchasing decision. It's actually somewhat sad that this information isn't made more obvious in Nik Software's own website.

A good description of the overall interface, and the crown jewel of the Nik Software tools (U point technology) comes next. I found it refreshing to get a more technical description of how U Point works, and some commentary on how it should be used. Again, it's disappointing this information isn't really described well in other sources from Nik itself.

The next several chapters discuss each of the various tools Nik offers, with a tour of the interface and examples on how to use each product. The weakest of these chapters is probably the one on Sharpener Pro. Although there was some detail given motivating the need for the tool, I didn't find the explanations on when to use pre-sharpening vs. output sharpening very clear. It's still ambiguous to me after reading the descriptions given.

The final chapters give example sessions/workflow on example portrait and landscape photos. There are a few good ideas given, but there was nothing particularly remarkable about these topics.

If you are looking for a way to maximize your understanding (and value) of the Nik Software tools, this is a very good resource. None of the tools are particularly complex to use, so your alternative is to just play with stuff and examine the results. However, it's likely if you just experiment with the product, you'll be left puzzled on exactly how some things should be used (or even leave some of the power of the tools unexploited). So, although this book really isn't needed beyond a quick initial read, there is value you'll likely get out of it. Recommended.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is only useful to the most novice user., January 13, 2012
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
I've used Nik Color Efex 3 and Silver Efex for a couple of years and just recently decided to upgrade to the new Nik Collection. Since there are some titles in the Collection that I hadn't previously used, I decided to purchase this book in the hopes of learning the new titles and maybe get a few tips on the new versions of the titles I was already familiar with. For brand new users I can see where this book MIGHT be helpful if you insist on reading a book for instruction. Personally, I think the free video instruction (and webinars) offered on the Nik website are so much more helpful. For anyone with familiarity of any type of editing software, I'd think this book really won't give you any new information or insight on how to use the Nik software. Save your money and check out two videos on the Nik website and you'll be better prepared to tackle the software.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Increased My User Skills, January 1, 2012
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
The authors should be applauded for having brought forward this clear and concise text on the use of NIK Software's various image editing products. First, it is readable. Second, it is filled with "meaningful" illustrations, which actually teach. Third, the book explains some of the nuances and technical details of how the software actually acts on pixels. The progression of information laid out in each chapter follows a typical photographer's workflow in producing a final image. In other words, "the book speaks our language throughout". Each step along the way is illustrated with actual screen captures, often clearly showing fly-out menus and check boxes, to guide the reader and to demonstrate the effect of an aspect of the software. Alternatives are shown too--like, "What really happens if I check that other box?" The screen captures are clean and clear, with no squinting required. (BRAVO on that score!) Though, in just a couple of cases, the text moves on to the next topic while the page is still working through the illustrations; it would have avoided some page flipping if the text would not have continued until after the last illustration in the series. A little more attention in layout would have solved this. I did also find a few typos, like skipped articles in sentences ("a"), for example, but nothing that seriously hinders one in understanding the content. Nonetheless, a proof-read by a skilled user would have caught these.
Considering that the tech details of much software are closely guarded proprietorial secrets, the book does a fabulous job of detailing things like how and why to best place a Control Point for desired effect, whether one should merge that HDR image beginning in Photoshop or in Lightroom, or how this filter was used to accent that detail and why it acted like it did. Those familiar with the company's online webinars will recognize some of the images used in the book. And that is good here. Whether one learns best by seeing, reading, or doing, this book, those free webinars, and the content on the NIK Software website all add up to an effective total learning package. But, the book gives the most detailed explanation of the editing process and how the software really accomplishes the rendering intent of the user.
One last bit of praise--I use NIK Software products most days. And reading this book has increased my skill level doing that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource, January 11, 2012
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
I am a compulsive technique book buyer. I also use the Nik Suite of filters extensively in post processing. This book clarifies how to use them and the sequence of their use. There are nuances in the book on how best to use control points, and how to prevent them from "bleeding" into places where you don't want their influence. This makes a powerful set of filters even more valuable to me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than nothing for an excellent set of tools. (hire Scott Kelby), March 11, 2012
By 
Water Guru (United States) - See all my reviews
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The Nik Complete collection is an indispensable tool set in my post processing workflow. Using it to it's full power requires training and this manual provides it. That being set, I find the guide minimally fulfills it's goals and would have been improved with Scott Kelby style tutorials. These are step by step guides where you follow along editing photographs that you can download from Kelby. This book is not so easy to follow along and replicate. BTW - I am using the Kindle version.

After having viewed videos on Nik's site, youtube and elsewhere, I think you will learn more from the video. As a result, I feel this book is best as a reference guide.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MIxed Reactions, January 29, 2013
By 
RWT "Tennessee Photo" (Middle Tennessee, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
First, a lot of this book is well done and it is currently the best book available on Nik Software.

What I liked about this book is that it does eventually address all the applications included in the complete package sold by Nik Software. Their chapter on Nik Silver Efix Pro is excellent. Anyone who wants to convert their digital images to black & white will probably find this chapter helpful. Also, their chapter on Viverza 2 and Dfine 2.0 is helpful. Their chapter on U Point techonolgy (which is chiefly what Nik Software is famous for) is incomplete and had me searching the internet for a better explanation of how to use it.

What I was most disapointed with was the quality of the pictures/graphics in this book. The authors try to provide specific examples of how control points (or specific application control settings) are used in images, but unfortunately, the quality of the printing does NOT produce an easy way to see and understand/view what the authors are trying to explain. These images are mostly too dark and poorly produced to be of much value to the reader; unless the reader has prior experience with the application or really good eyes, the images are confusing and ineffective. A simple solution would have been to highlight the featured example with a simple highlight (such as a colored circle/highlight on the specific area described). The impact is that the reader is often confused with the example presented and doesn't clearly see what is trying to be presented (many of the images look identical). This is, in my opinion, just poor quality in publication and is a major flaw in this book.

My other concern with this book is that the authors do NOT fully engage in explaining each application opting instead to assume that the readers have an undestanding equal to their own. Readers without a good base in photo editing software, may find this book to be too technical or poorly explained for their level of understanding - too bad, as Nik software is not that difficult to use or understand.

In summary, I would recommend this book to people who have a little extra money and are looking for something which may help them understand the basics of Nik Software applications. It is NOT, however, a complete manual on how to use Nik Software or how to understand how to use Nik Software applications. It does provide some interesting information, especially on Silver Efix Pro, but it is not a complete manual. This book is not a Que Book or a Missing Manual book or a complete, step-by-step manual by any means.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start to learn the software, February 6, 2012
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
I purchased the Nik Software in order to do some fancy things with digital photos easier than by using just Photoshop. I am not a professional photographer nor a highly skilled amateur. I am 76, have recently taken college courses in digital photography, like working with digital photos on my Mac, and can afford to indulge myself in expensive software such as Photoshop and the Nik suite. The Nik website has many teaching videos. This is a common thing today with companies rather than generating texts. But I do not have a good high speed internet connection, and I prefer to sit in a chair and read a book to reading or watching things on the computer. I have become reasonably good in using Photoshop, but I wanted to expand my skills using the Nik software. This book, written by two Nik people, was perfect for me. It provides a good introduction to the Nik software. After reading the book, I felt I had a pretty good introduction in what I can do with the software and a better background for learning from the website videos. The book is probably a waste of time for people already familiar with the sort of digital manipulation the Nik software provides. That is evident in some of the low ratings I read. But, if you are relatively new to the topic, and especially if you prefer learning from a book, I think this book is a good place to start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Examples, November 28, 2012
By 
Les Stockton (Winchester, OK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools (Paperback)
I was new to Nik Software when I got this book and so that's why I got it. I was pleased that it helped bring my level of comfort up with the software. I was not disappointed. WHat I did learn is that the book covers the basics, but makes it clear that the various software packages from Nik have so much capability that it could not be contained in one book.
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Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide to Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools
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