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Nik Software: Color Efex Pro 3.0

review note by Uwe Steinmueller

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7/17/2008 Now 3.1 compatible with CS3 Smart Filters

Color Efex Pro 1 and 2 belonged always to our favorite effect filters (where effect also means image enhancing). We have written a few articles about the previous versions of Color Efex.

We had one major critique at that time: "The only complaint we have is that we would like to see larger previews as most effects cannot be properly judged on a small preview.". With Color Efex 3.0 this is history. The interface is completely new and features very large previews. By the way, this alone would be worth the upgrade.

The new UI can use the full screen of your monitor:


  • Filter list left
  • Preview center (here in before/after split view)
  • Filter settings right
  • Loupe down right

There are so many filters that we can only list the ones we like most (and more to explore).

  • Sunshine (does some magic, always one of our top filters)
  • Tonal Contrast
  • LowKey
  • Brilliance/Warmth
  • Bleach Bypass
  • Monday Morning
  • Polarization (can remove some haze too)


  • B&W (works just great for some conversion)


What about using CEF 3.0 as a Filter in CS3?

Version 3.1 now compatible with CS3 Smart Filters.

We recently started using Smart Filters in CS3 more often. So we were kind of disappointed that CEF 3.0 don't support Smart Filters out of the box. Fortunately you can quite easily enable the use of CEF 3.0 as Smart Filters. How that?

As part of the CS3 delivery you can find a Java script called "EnableAllPluginsForSmartFilters.jsx". If you run this filter you can enable all filters to act as Smart Filters. The same is true for CEF 3.0.

Note of caution: This works fine for CEF 3.0 but don't expect the same be true for all filters that are not enabled to run as Smart Filters. If the filter developer did not follow certain rules then it won't work properly. As said we this is all fine for CEF 3.0.

How does CEF 3.0 compare to Tiffen Dfx Tools?

Up until recently we did not really see any product like Color Efex in the market (at least not in the same class). This year we reviewed Tiffen Dfx Tools and found it to be excellent. CEF 3.0 is in the same class of filters. There are some overlaps but in the end both filter sets complement each other more than compete.


We are very pleased about the new CEF 3.0 filter set. Working with CEF 3.0 is a lot of fun and a very creative exploration.

Highly recommended

You can find more info on the CEF 3.0 product page (see also discount offer below)


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