Must-Have-PluginsWether you use Photoshop or Lightroom there are some plugins that are must have for editing your photos and giving them an extraordinary look and feel. You can own one of them or all of them but I can say for sure you won’t be disappointed with either of them and nor will you find a look that you like. Personally I own both Nik Collection by Google and OnOne Perfect Suite however not Topaz (not yet). This blog post is neither paid for, nor sponsored by any of these companies. Although if you work for these companies and want to sponsor I would love to hear from you.

Nik Collection by Google

Nik Collection is a great collection of plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom and as a standalone software. Nik Software as it was called a few years ago is a great collection of plugins that will enhance your images, create amazing black and white images, create HDR Image, sharpen and de-noise your images. The complete set of plugins used to be around $400-$500 but ever since Google came along and purchased the company they are literally giving away the plugin for $149 plus you get free upgrades. Now you might be wondering if they are giving it away for so less, what’s the catch. Well there isn’t. Google is still developing the plugin suite and have released a new plugin to the collection since acquiring Nik Software. Its the Analog Efex Pro and Pro 2. I use this plugin quite a lot for adding additional touch of creativity to my images. The complete collection includes:

  • Analog Efex Pro – Old/Classic camera, film and lens looks for your images.
  • Color Efex Pro – Creative effects, colour correction and retouching for your images.
  • Silver Efex Pro – Black and White conversion for your images. This is my goto plugin for any and all Black and White conversions.
  • Viveza – Selective adjustments for your images for colours and tones in your image.
  • HDR Efex Pro – Create subtle to drugged HDR images. Very easy to use plugin and my only choice for HDR Image creation (at the moment).
  • Sharpener Pro – Sharpen your images like a Pro suitable for Display or Printing. Comes with lots of pre-configured options for printing on various types of paper and size.
  • Dfine – Noise reduction tool for your images. Works quite well but if you crank up the sliders then you get patched and banding on the image.

Google_Nik_Collection

OnOne Perfect Suite

OnOne Software’s Perfect Suite 9 is another great suite of plugins that works in Lightroom, Photoshop and as a standalone application. However on the contrary to other plugins Perfect Suite has additional features that make it more like mini-Photoshop. These may not make sense but if you are not familiar but Perfect Suite allows you to use Layers, Blending modes and Masking much like Photoshop. Best of all it can save your edited Images in PSD (Photoshop Document) format so if you later get Photoshop or want somebody to edit your image further in Photoshop you can open them easily in Photoshop. Ever since Google acquired Nik Software, OnOne Perfect Suite has matched their plugin prices as well. So you can get the complete plugin suite for $149 and there is always some sort of bundled deal on offer so you get more than your money’s worth which makes the decision to buy the plugin that much easier. I’ve been using these plugins since version 8 and enjoy them just as much as any other plugin.

  • Perfect Browser – Not much to say but its a image browser that allows you some sorting and organising capabilities. However nothing beats Lightroom so if you use it then stick with it.
  • Perfect Enhance – Image processing tool that allow you to adjust things like Exposure, Contract, Colour, Noise and Detail etc.
  • Perfect Layers – Blend images together, mask selections and create your final artwork with ease.
  • Perfect Effects – Make your images stand out and give them your unique look and style. There are some very cool effects in this one that I love.
  • Perfect B&W – Black and White editing for your images but I’m a fan of Silver Efex Pro so I don’t use it much.
  • Perfect Portrait – Portrait retouching made easy, face detection and retouching based on ethnicity. It also gives you full control to smooth the skin, get rid of blemishes, brighten eyes, whiten teeth and much more. Save time and do it with ease in Perfect Portrait rather than spend hours in Photoshop.
  • Perfect Resize – This plugin is primarily used to enlarge images for large format printing and gives you access to powerful algorithms that with enlarge the image without introducing artefacts and noise. I’ve never had to use this.

OnOne-Perfect-Suite-9

Topaz Labs

Topaz also has a great collection of plugins and they start from $30 up. You can buy the complete bundle also for under $500. A few of my fellow photographers use some of their plugins such as Adjust, Clarity, DeNoise and Detail etc but having never used any I can’t comment too much on them. Some of the industries (that’s photography) most popular photographers such as the following use these plugins so them must be good.

  • Tim Wallace – Amazzzzzingly brilliant car photographer. Primarily works in the high end market such as Aston Martin, Maserati etc.
  • Trey Ratcliff – Pioneer of HDR Photography and travel blogger over at Stuck in Customs, only the number ONE travel blog on the internet.

Topaz_Labs_products