Category Archives: Reviews

Why I still use Nikon’s Capture NX2

Find out why I'm still using this program for my image editing.

It’s been over two years now since Nikon released Capture NX2.  In that time, the competition for our image processing dollars has been furious.  Adobe has updated Photoshop Lightroom to version 3; Apple has done the same with Aperture.  And yet, despite the temptation to switch, I still use Capture NX2 almost exclusively. Let me explain why.

The first thing that you have to understand is that Capture NX2 has only one mission: image editing (particularly NEFs). Capture NX2 is not a pixel editor, at least not in the sense that Photoshop is.  Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture also behave differently.  They are image management applications that also offer editing features. Comparing Capture NX2 to either of these products is apples to oranges, unless you only focus on image editing capabilities.  And that’s where I feel Capture NX2 still holds its own in many regards.  I will also address what I feel are the program’s weaknesses and areas for improvement.

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HDR Efex Pro vs. Photomatix Pro

Sunrise over the Maroon Bells, Aspen, CO. 5-shot HDR image

I’ve been dabbling in high dynamic range (HDR) photography since 2005, when Adobe released Photoshop CS2 and the “merge to HDR” command.  The big challenge with HDR in Photoshop has always been the tone-mapping step.  Tone-mapping is where you tell the software how to squish the 32-bit/channel (HDR) image into a 16-bit/channel color space.  Tone-mapping controls not only the global image contrast, but also local contrast (micro-contrast) between adjacent tones.  I’ve seen a lot of bad attempts at tone-mapping, and part of the reason is that the on-board Photoshop tools just aren’t very easy to use.

While there are lots of HDR software options available today, I have always gravitated towards using Photomatix Pro (www.hdrsoft.com) for my images, because I was able to get good results for my natural landscapes.  In October, 2010, Nik Software released HDR Efex Pro, a plug-in for Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperture that performs HDR tone-mapping.  I like both programs, so here’s a quick comparison and review.

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Nikon Coolpix P7000 Hands-On Review

Nikon Coolpix P7000
The new Nikon Coolpix P7000 (image courtesy of Nikon, Inc.)

Does the new compact camera from Nikon live up to it’s marketing hype as a compact camera with the features of a DSLR?

I recently got my hands on the new point and shoot from Nikon, the Coolpix P7000.  Nikon’s Coolpix line of compact cameras has been the frequent target of much criticism over the years, and I have to agree with most of it.  After all, I think I’m a better photographer than Ashton Kutcher (no offense)!  I know a lot of pro photographers, myself included, who are looking for the ideal “point and shoot” camera.  Why?  Well, we take vacations, too.  We don’t always want to lug that D300 or D700 around with a compliment of lenses– they are heavy to carry and large to pack.  The problem is that as a professional, I have grown accustomed to having a certain degree of control over my camera and also a certain level of image quality.  This is where most Coolpix offerings have fallen woefully short as compared to the competition.  The Nikon P7000 has a number of features that are very appealing to the advanced photographer, including:

  • 10MP sensor (reduced from 14MP in the P6000) ISO 100-3200, expandable to ISO 12,800.
  • 28-200mm equivalent zoom lens with optical stabilization (VR)
  • Large, 3″ high-resolution LCD screen
  • M/A/S/P exposure modes in addition to the preset scene modes
  • External controls for major features, including EV compensation
  • Optical viewfinder with diopter adjustment
  • Ability to produce a RAW (NRW-format) file
  • Support for external shoe-mount CLS Speedlights
  • 720p video recording

On paper, this looks to be an impressive little camera.  Let’s see how it works in reality.

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Feedback on my Capture NX Sharpening Video

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from people who have purchased Sharpening Techniques for Capture NX 2 and the response is overwhelmingly positive.

Rob says: “What a wealth of information, I’m sure it will take several viewings to absorb it all (and lots of practice).  This is a great addition to your Capture e-book, which I’ve used for more than a year.”

From Kibsgaard, in Denmark: “This sharpening technique-video  is very well done. Amazing results and a so clear and easy to understand video, also for not english people, like me.”

Phil says: “I just downloaded and watched your new video Sharpening Techniques for Capture NX 2.  It is excellent, excellent, excellent!”

Eamon writes: “Thank you for producing the Sharpening instruction video for CNX2. I purchased and downloaded today and found it really clear and easy to follow. Great addition to your CNX2 ebook and other support videos.”

Thanks to all my customers who have purchased my new training video.  I appreciate it!

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Nik HDR Efex Pro First Impressions

Sunrise in Canyonlands, processed in Nik HDR Efex Pro

Nik Software has recently announced HDR Efex Pro, a new application for creating high dynamic range images.  The new software functions either as a stand-alone application or as a Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperture plug-in.  I’ve had a chance to demo the release (1.0) version of this software; this is my initial report.

Compatibility

Nik HDR Efex Pro is a native 64-bit application. It is not guaranteed to work under 32-bit operating systems, so be sure to download the demo before purchasing.

Interface

The HDR Efex Pro interface will be very familiar to users of other Nik plug-ins.  The left-hand side of the window contains a listing of starting point presets (with thumbnails), while editing controls are on the right.   There is a zoom (loupe) window in the lower right-hand corner that allows you to see your image at 100% as you move the cursor over the image.

The Nik HDR Efex Interface

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