Last updated on August 29, 2023
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The Nik Silver Efex plugin lets you discover (or rediscover) black & white photography thanks to numerous presets, global and selective correction tools, copious filters and colorization effects, tone curves, analog film simulations, and finishing tools (with vignetting, burnt edges, and image contours).

Although the carefully designed, ready-to-use renderings might be more than enough to meet your needs, you can modify them as you like or create new renderings from scratch. You can also share them with other Nik Silver Efex users.

When image opens

When you open an image in Nik Silver Efex, it is converted to black and white with the default setting 000 Neutral, all tools in the right panel will be at their default value of 0, and no film effects are applied.

The right panel contains all the global and selective adjustments palettes as well as a magnifying loupe and histogram available from top to bottom:

The description and operation of the magnifying loupe and histogram are discussed in the Common Interface and Tools chapter > Interface > Right panel.

Nik Silver Efex Presets

In the left panel, Nik Silver Efex offers 64 different settings as follows:

To apply a Nik Silver Efex preset, click on the thumbnail; the tools in the right panel show the settings of the applied effect.

Overall and Selective Correction Tools

Nik Silver Efex permanently displays all available tools in the right panel, with settings that will depend on the selected effect in the left panel.

In this section you will find a description of all of these tools, both for overall correction of images as well as selective adjustments using control points and control lines.

These tools can be used when you open the image (000 Neutral by default), or after applying a preset from the left panel.

Zone system

Above the histogram are blocks numbered from 0 to 10. This is the “Zone system”: when you click on one of the blocks, the parts of the image that correspond to that level of brightness are highlighted by a colored, hatched mask. Zone 0 is deep black, and Zone 10 is pure white, which can help you adjust the tonality of your image so that it doesn’t have clipped tones and therefore loses detail.

The Zone system is enabled by default, and you can disable and re-enable it by clicking in the first box on the left. It can be used regardless of the histogram display mode (RGB, R, G, B or L).

Global Adjustments

The Global Adjustments palette lets you correct and adjust image tone, brightness, contrast, detail and texture using the following 4 groups of sliders:

  1. Brightness Adjustments :
    • Brightness: changes the brightness of the image. Moving this slider to the left darkens the image while moving it to the right increases the brightness of the image.
    • Highlights: adjusts the brightness of light areas in the image.
    • Midtones: adjusts the brightness of midtoned areas of the image.
    • Shadows: Adjusts the brightness of dark areas in the image.
    • Dynamic Brightness: uses a unique algorithm that automatically adjusts to different areas of the image. This slider allows for finer changes in brightness, ensuring that the image retains a good range of detail, preserves contrast and intelligently applies brightness values to different areas of the image. Move the slider to the left to darken the image while retaining detail in the highlights. Moving the slider to the right will lighten the image while retaining detail in the shadows.
  2. Contrast Adjustments :
    • Contrast: controls the overall contrast of the image, i.e. the difference between the density of the dark areas and the brightness of the light areas.
    • Amplify Whites: The slider uses an algorithm that provides unique control over the highlights of the image. By moving this slider to the right, the highlights in each area of the image become brighter. Because of the adaptive nature of the algorithm, each area is treated differently, taking into account its particular characteristics.
    • Amplify Blacks: Similar to the Amplify Whites slider, this slider uses a unique algorithm to control the tone of the image. Move this slider to the right to make the darker tones in each area of the image even denser. Because the algorithm is adaptive, each area is treated differently, taking into account its particular characteristics.
    • Soft Contrast: the purpose of the slider is to provide a different approach to contrast, less harsh and with much more diffuse transitions.
  3. Structure Adjustments :
    • Structure: controls the overall structure of the image. Increasing the setting emphasizes detail and texture, while decreasing softens fine detail for smoother surfaces.
    • Highlights: selectively adjusts the structure of light areas in the image.
    • Midtones: selectively adjusts the structure of midtones in the image.
    • Shadows: selectively adjusts the structure of darker areas in the image.
    • Blacks: selectively adjusts the densest areas of the image.
    • Fine Structure: similar to the Structure slider, adjusts the finest details in the image.
  4. Tonality Protection: these sliders allow you to recover details in shadows and highlights that were lost during brightness and/or contrast adjustments.
    • Shadows : when moved to the right, the slider will only lighten shadows and restore black details in dense areas.
    • Highlights: when moved to the right, the slider will darken only the brightest areas and recover the details that have been lost.

Selective Adjustments

In this paragraph, only the tools specific to Nik Silver Efex are discussed. The basic operation of control points and control lines is discussed in the Common Interface and Tools chapter > Control Points and Control Lines.

Selective adjustments let you modify certain parts of the image. Add a control point or line and, when adjusting the corresponding sliders, only affect subjects or areas covered by the control point or line.

Selective Adjustment sliders

When using control points or control lines, the Selective Adjustments palette displays, under the list of points and control lines, the cursors associated with the point or the active control line. These sliders are also available directly attached to the control point or to the control line dot. When using one of the sliders of a control point or a control line, the corresponding slider will also be changed in the right panel, and vice versa.

All sliders in the selective adjustments palette have their equivalents in the global settings, with the exception of Luminance, Chrominance, Diffusion and Selective Colorization.

The sliders are organized this way

  1. Color Selectivity :
    • Lm (Luminance).
    • Chr (Chrominance).
    • Df (Diffusion).
  2. Standard selective adjustments sliders:
    • Br (Brightness).
    • Ct (Contrast).
    • Str (Structure).
    • AW (Amplify Whites).
    • AB (Amplify Blacks).
    • FSt (Fine Structure).
    • StC (Selective colorization).
  3. Selective Tones :
    • ST HI (Highlights).
    • ST Md (Midtones).
    • ST Sh (Shadows).
    • ST Bl (Blacks).

Color Selectivity

The Selective Colorization slider restores the colors of the portion of the image on which the control point was placed on a black and white image. This allows you, for example, to highlight an element or detail in a photo.

Of course, you can fine tune the effect by combining multiple control points and/or control lines, by using the monochrome display mask, and the selective color sliders.


ClearView allows you to correct the effects of atmospheric haze and fog, which significantly alter the image, especially in distant shots. By restoring black levels, the tool will restore contrast, microcontrast, and saturation to your images. You can also use it to enhance the impact of images taken on a clear day.

The Intensity slider, set to 0 by default, allows you to adjust the effect of DxO ClearView Plus on a scale of 0 to 100.

Color Filter

The Color Filter palette allows you to simulate the look of the color filters that phoographers used to screw onto the lens to alter the contrast of their black and white film, depending on the subject being photographed (making the sky denser, clouds brighter, skin more radiant, etc.).

Film Types

Nik Silver Efex offers a collection of black and white films that simulate characteristics such as grain, contrast, and color response. You can also modify the characteristics as you wish using the tools available in this section.

You can give a specific rendering to your image, or use grain to mask certain problems inherent in the lack of sharpness or excessive smoothing of noise (and details), or quite simply, to get away from the sometimes too-perfect rendering of digital


Film Grain

In the Grain palette, you can choose analog film simulations created by DxO, renowned for their fidelity, behavior, and realistic appearance:

Finishing Adjustments

The Finishing Adjustments palette is purely creative, and lets you apply toning, vignetting, burnt edges and framing effects to your images.

Creating a custom Nik Silver Efex preset

You can create your own Nik Silver Efex preset by altering the settings of an existing preset:

  1. In the Presets palette in the left panel, click the presets you want to add to the right panel. You can also use an existing setting in one of the Custom, Import or Last edits sections.
  2. Proceed to the desired settings in the palettes in the right panel.
  3. Click Save Preset then name it and click save in the dialog box that appears (you can also save your control points and/or control lines using the checkbox in the dialog).
  4. Your custom settings are available in the Custom section.

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