Nik Collection 5 - Critical Issue

(As I have subsequently found out, this also applied to the upgrade from Collection 3 to Collection 4, but it does not affect me as much as this upgrade.)

I was happy to see that Collection 5 was released, since it updated CEP4 to CEP5 … long overdue. As I usually so, I installed the trial version to make sure everything ran in my environment before fully committing to the purchase. All was OK until a colleague emailed me the following clip from a FB group he follows …

“Caution installing NIK 5 if you use Smart objects. When I installed NIK 5 it deleted NIK 4. I use ColorEffects pro extensively. PS did not recognize the CE 5 and CE 4 were the same program. I lost every edit I made as a smart filter. I have contacted DXO support. Hopefully they will get back to me quickly I will keep you informed.”

Holy Cow … I almost always use PS Smart Objects for my work in Nik … have done so since starting with Nik. For me, it is the only way to fly. But if true, this would affect hundreds of images post processed and made better with Nik filters over the past 13 years.

I quickly devised a test for each Nik filter that works in a PS Smart Object environment, and sure enough: this “bug” affects both the CEP and the AEP upgrades provided in the Nik 5 release: Any Smart Objects containing edits in CEP 4 (or earlier) and AEP 2 (or earlier) would not process in CEP 5 or AEP 3 respectively … meaning that those edits would be lost forever, as the message quoted above indicates.

This also caused me to question whether or not the upgrades to Viveza and SEP supplied in Nik 4 suffered the same issue … and after some further testing, it was apparent that they do! It appears that any edits created in a Smart Object using Viveza 2 (or earlier) and/or SEP 2 (or earlier) will also not be processed in Nik 4. (Fortunately for me, that is only a handful of images processed over the past year.)

For clarity, the message from Adobe regarding this is:
“Filter not available or cannot be applied to this document.”

As a result, I have returned to Nik 3, and I am recovering those images where I have used Viveza 3 and SEP 3 in the past year so that I can continue to work with them. The integrity of the post processing work I have done previously is more important to me than any product updates that have been made by DXO over the past year. Nik Collection 3 works just fine for me, thank you.

Don’t get me wrong … I think the Nik Collection is one of the best products I have used in the digital darkroom, but this issue is a deal breaker - I have now back-leveled to Nik Collection 3, and will not move past that level until DxO addresses this issue, and my testing indicates that it is safe to do so.

Please, DxO … make your future releases 100% backward compatible.

And please alert your customer base when your current and future releases have a profound and permanent consequence to user work … treat us well and we will return the favour.

Possible fixes …

  • Allow Viveza, AEP, SEP, and CEP (as well as any future versions of themselves and updates to other filters) to correctly recognize and process images created in Smart Objects using predecessor versions of those filters.
  • Allow multiple versions of the collection to co-exist. Don’t just overwrite the previous version, but give the customer the choice of deleting those previous versions, or installing the new version in a different folder.

I hope that this acts as a cautionary tale for other users who have used Smart Objects to contain their Nik work. In any case, buyer beware: do your own testing of new release to ensure you make an informed upgrade decision.


It’s a shame this isn’t explained properly in the release notes.

See this for more info: Opening Silver Efex 2 Smart Object with Silver Efex 3

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Thanks, @Egregius … I kinda figured that was where the solution lay. But it is not a particularly palatable approach. The issue happens now with all 4 products that have been updated: Viveza, CEP, SEP, and AEP, so it would be a long running task to go through and update all the files in this manner. Then there is the spectre of all 8 filters eventually migrating to the new model … ouch. Using such an approach, it would be better to wait until they are all “there” to undertake that work, unless a dire emergency.

Of course, it would only be for those images that require some form of reprocessing, and I cannot predict if any particular image used Nik, and if so used it with the supposedly safe SO technique, until I revisit it.

And then there is Viveza, which only allows presets with its latest release (a welcomed addition to be sure, and I will miss that capability, but I’m used to hand crafting each image with Viveza anyway). And components like PEP, that do not offer presets, would need to be reworked by hand anyway … and since it causes some extreme pixel pushing, such images would likely need to be completely reprocessed. But fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever used it.

And last but not least, it would all require keeping some fairly reliable old iron around to run back levels of the software to pick off the parameters and/or make presets. I recall Nik changed the preset format in the past which caused some grief, but was an easy work-around. And will old parameter/preset formats still work in the new environment? I dunno - too many known unknowns for my comfort.

So, while this work around, painful as it is, might work for occasional use, it is not a great long term solution, particularly in a library that contains 10’s of thousands of images.

The best solution is for DxO to bite the bullet and give us a migration path to bring old usages up to their latest offerings - or support the old formats in the new software. Frankly, that is probably the only thing that will entice me to move forward from Nik3, short of a total collapse of that older version.

Having spent a 40-year career in software development, coding that change may be difficult, but is not impossible … ISAMOP (it’s simply a matter of programming). :slight_smile:


I reported this bug to DxO support, and they were kind enough to send me a quick reply and some suggestions on how I can resolve this issue for myself. Also, DxO classed the ticket as “Solved”:


  • From our developers:*

It is not possible to convert SmartObjects from an older version of Nik Collection by DxO into SmartObjects for the newest version of Nik Collection by DxO. We can advise only to finish the work for the images in the previous version of Nik Collection by DxO and then upgrade to the newest version of Nik Collection by DxO. Or, if the number of the corrections is not very big - convert them into the presets in the software from the previous version of Nik Collection by DxO and they will be converted into the newest version of Nik Collection by DxO’s parameters and then reapply from the software in the newest version of Nik Collection by DxO.

We do not know if/when this will be changed in the future.

P.S.: It is best not to install the old version of Nik Collection by DxO over the new version of Nik Collection by DxO as it could lead to unexpected issues in Photoshop and could override improvements done for other plugins.

[name redacted by me] - DxO Labs Support Team

So, basically, DxO is aware of the issue, but has so far refused to do anything about it.

I will leave it to you to take from this what you will, but the response is not acceptable for me. Consequently, my wallet will remain closed to DxO. But that’s just me - I would rather do creative work with tools that work, than waste time arguing with software companies that refuse to do the right thing: life’s too short.