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What are NIK plugins?
It's a bundle of post processing tools. You could do many of the things the tools offer in LR, but it would take a lot more effort. Here's my rundown:
One of the biggest features of all the tools is the ability to use control points. These are context aware points that let you make adjustments for specific areas in the photo.
Viveza: This is a good editing tool for color photos. Here's a couple of typical uses. After making global adjustments, usually in LR (you can do the same in Viveza), go into Viveza and work with control points in the sky. I can darken the sky, make it bluer, and add contrast and stucture to the clouds. On portraits, I use control points on the eyes to subtley lighten them and add contrast and structure. I also set control points on the teeth and desaturate and add a little cyan to whiten them.
Color Efex Pro - This has great fun tools to add effects. It also has a good dynamic skin softener.
Silver Efex Pro- My favorite tool of the bunch. I get the best B&W conversions using SEP of any method.
HDR Efex Pro - It's a good HDR program, but not the best IMO. You have to work with it to get natural HDR.
DFine - A good noise reduction tool.
Sharpener Pro - It makes sharpening for monitors or printing very easy and gives great results.
Download a trial and see what you think. There's also tons of tutorials available.