Friday, August 26, 2016

NIK and Topaz Tools Strange Color Shift!

I've discovered an anomaly when using NIK Color Efex Pro 4 quite by accident. It's not restricted to just NIK tools, as I've also seen it In Topaz Detail 3 and Topaz Adjust 5. I have NOT seen it in Topaz Denoise 6, But to be fair, Denoise underwent a major rewrite lately and I wonder if that is why it doesn't exhibit this flaw.

Let me give you some history.

When I installed the NIK tools in ACDSee Ultimate 9, I noticed that color and tonality from within NIK Color Efex was different from the color and tonality of the photo I sent to NIK Color Efex from ACDSee Ultimate 9.  It was driving me crazy!

Note the Sample Image Below:

The comparison between ACDSee Ultimate 9 and NIK Color Efex.  The difference is quite noticable.  Click on any photo to see it larger.

I discovered that if the photo's color profile was set to Pro Photo RGB then the color difference between the version displayed in ACDSee and the version displayed in NIK Color Efex was quite pronounced.

So I tried to invoke Color Efex from Corel PSP X8, and the colors were the same! At first, I was calling ACDSee all sorts of names, but then I noticed that PSP was ALWAYS converting the ProPhoto version to SRGB upon receiving the photo. (I checked and apparently PSP X8 doesn't support Pro Photo and defaults to SRGB!)

So I converted the Pro Photo color profile for my test photo to ARGB and to SRGB, and then invoked NIK Color EFEX 4 from ACDSee Ultimate 9 as a plugin.
All three color profiles look roughly the same When displayed in ACDSee Ultimate 9.  Click on any photo to see it larger

ARGB in NIK was very close but not identical to the sent ARGB version. 

I don't know if this screen print shows this, but there is a slightly extra amount of yellow in the NIK version, though I doubt the color shift is enough to make the NIK version unreliable, or even noticeable in most cases.  Click on any photo to see it larger.

The SRGB in NIK was virtually identical. 

Click on any photo to see it larger.

I brought this up on a popular photo forum, and another user reported the same behavior on Affinity Photo.  So, apparently this goes beyond ACDSee and Windows.

I'm not sure what the right thing would be for ACDSee to do in this case (if ANYTHING, is this really their problem?)   But if you are experiencing this odd color shift with NIK or other plugins, you might want to look into this possible cause!