HDR Efex Pro
Google’s Nik collection may be completely free, but this isn’t a case of you get what you pay for. You actually get a great deal for nothing at all. For starters, Google bundles HDR Efex with a whole suite of other image enhancement plugins, and HDR Efex itself isn’t short on features, with 28 preset effects and a good range of colour and tone adjustment options. There’s also Nik’s signature Control Point selective editing feature that’s great for quickly making targeted tweaks.
Right off the mark, HDR Efex produces attractive results biased towards realism rather than overcooked eye candy. But on closer inspection, boundaries between some component images in merged sequences can be noticeable, and HDR Efex doesn’t deal with noise particularly well. You’ll also need to run the software from a host program like Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture, it’s not standalone software.
Pros Very easy to use; produces realistic results; selective editing; fast. Cons Doesn’t give the cleanest results possible; relatively short on customisation options. We say
HDR Efex isn’t the best program on test, but you can’t complain when it’s free. Overall score
Useful split-screen view options, so you can see the effect of your changes, and a full resolution preview make HDR Efex Pro a pleasure to use