Last updated on May 5, 2024
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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.


This page presents Nik Silver Efex’s specific features and tools. All the tools common to the other Nik Collection plug-ins are presented in the Interface and common tools page of this user guide. Here you’ll find information on the following points:

  • Preferences.
  • Interface.
  • Categories, filters and presets management.
  • Local adjustments.

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 local adjustment sections as well as a magnifying loupe and histogram available from top to bottom:

Nik Silver Efex Presets

In the left panel, Nik Silver Efex offers 64 different presets organized in categories 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 local adjustment 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 local adjustments.

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 section 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.

Local adjustments

Local adjustments let you modify certain parts of the image. Add a control point, line polygon or a luminosity mask and, when adjusting the corresponding sliders, only affect subjects or areas covered by the local adjustment tool.

Local adjustment sliders

When using local adjusments, the section displays, under the list of local adjustment tools, the associated sliders. These sliders are also available directly attached to the tool’s dot in the image. When using one of the sliders attached to a dot, the corresponding slider will also be changed in the right panel, and vice versa.

All sliders in the local adjustments section 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 local adjustment 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 local adjustment tools, 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 section 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 images.

Film Grain

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

Finishing Adjustments

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

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