Nikon Capture NX-D: The end of Capture NX as we know it

Nikon Capture NX-D: A return to 2004 RAW editing workflow.

Nikon Capture NX-D: A return to 2004 RAW editing workflow. I made this screen capture before the beta software stopped working on my Mac Pro.

Along with the Nikon D4s announcement, Nikon yesterday also announced a long-awaited upgrade to Capture NX2. Called Capture NX-D, this Nikon RAW converter is being offered for download while in beta form. Public beta testing is something Nikon has been reluctant do to in the past, and it’s something I applaud them for. I downloaded the beta of Capture NX-D to see what it would do. Unfortunately, it is clear to me that this new product is more notable for what it lacks than what it offers. Continue reading

Color Efex Pro 4 for Portraits

I used several filters in Color Efex Pro 4 to get this "glamour" shot of Otter.

Ok, so I’m not a glamour/fashion photographer. In fact, the only member of my household that even comes close to posing for me is our golden retriever, Otter. So when I play around with effects and gear, he tolerates me quite well.

We had some nice window light coming into the house this morning, and Otter was the only one willing to pose in it. So I played around with my Nikon 1 V1 and 50mm f/1.4 AFS G Nikkor using the FT1 adapter. That’s the equivalent of using a 135mm f/1.4 lens on a 35mm format camera… a nice portrait lens. This image was shot at 1/160s @f/2.5 to get the nice bokeh.

The as-shot image, before processing in Capture NX2

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Choosing a RAW converter– My Karma ran over your Dogma

Which image is better? (Click to enlarge)

It seems like no matter what you do or where you go, you can never escape the incessant drone of “my product is better” posts out in cyberspace. Name a photo product, and you’ll find fanboys (and girls) trumpeting the merits of their particular choice in gear, software, whatever. We live in a world where product diversity and competition is fierce, but one thing is completely evident to me: when it comes to RAW processing software, you really can’t go wrong with most of the popular choices out there right now.

The one thing that has started to irk me, though, is the beating of drums from people who claim Product A is superior to Product B based on no provable fact. Case in point: Nikon’s Capture NX. In 2005, I compared all the major RAW converters from a Nikon user’s perspective as part of a multi-part segment for The Image Doctors podcast. At that time, we were able to discern clear rendering quality differences between Capture NX and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Ah, but times have changed.

Since 2005, ACR has evolved better demosaic algorithms, new features, and camera profile settings that give you results that are at least as good, in my opinion, as what you can do with Capture NX2. The same is true for Aperture, Capture One, and other RAW processors. While there is no doubt that Nikon’s engineers understand the NEF format best, the argument that CNX2 somehow produces a superior conversion to everything else has gotten pretty weak over time. When I look at NEFs I’ve converted with Capture NX2 using standard settings and compare them to ACR conversions with similar settings, I don’t see anything between the two resulting images that would indicate that one is somehow “superior” to the other. What I see are two slightly different images, but neither one is “better” or “worse” in terms of detail, artifacts, or other obvious quality issues.

So what does that mean for you, the photographer, who is trying to filter through all the chatter and pick a RAW processing tool? Remove the subjective component of “conversion quality” from the discussion and instead look at features and workflow. Continue reading