CS3 vs. Capture NX

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rick_pascale, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Hello Everyone,

    Well, once again I come to this fine group seeking some advice and direction.

    Ive been into photography for about a year now and have tried to learn as much as possible by reading, researching
    and participating. There truly is an amazing amount to learn and many top professionals have stated that you never
    learn it all, but just try to learn something new as often as possible.

    With that said, Im going to ask a question that Im sure has been discussed often and if this is one thats being re-
    visited I appologize in advance, but it is one that Im sure many photographers, especially newbies, are interested in.

    Which editing application really is the best to use if you own a Nikon D300???

    I use Photoshop Elements 5.0 and Capture NX 1.3 and I like them both for different reasons, however, I am going to
    invest some money and time in trying to learn photo editing and wanted to get your input as to which one you feel is
    worth spending the most time and dollars with and why.

    My dilema right now is do I purchase Photoshop CS3 or do I go with Capture NX2, keeping in mind that, again,
    clarity and sharpness are my top priorities.

    When I do invest in this Id like to try to go in a single direction as much as possible because I believe when you are
    new at something if you can limit your focus (no pun intended) somewhat you can kind of target your resources and
    time into one direction and possibly keep things a bit less confusing.

    One thing Ive learned in my first year of photography is that great focus, clarity and sharpness are the most
    important to me personally. If I can really concentrate on those areas and succeed, Im really happy!

    Considering that........do you believe that Photoshop CS3 is the best way to go or should I spend most of my time
    learning and investing in NX2? Im willing to spend the time and the money, but would love to have your comments as
    to what might work best, especially considering the aforementioned priorities.

    Thanks is advance for your input. I understand that this is a very broad based question, but your advice is very
    important to me and Im anxious to move forward. Im just not sure which application should receive the most attention.

    take care!

  2. I use both. I prefer CS3's interface and speed but like NX's RAW options. Tough choice.

    Both offer free trials, from 1 month for CS3 to 2 months for NX2. Try them out for youself!
  3. Hi Rick! Since you have been in photography just for a year that means we are about the same level. I've been using AF
    and digital since 1986. I have tried Lightroom, Capture and now I'm learning NX2. First of all if you are using Capture you
    should download Capture 2 trial version, it is much much better and that also goes with NX. I never really tried NX 1
    because some computer problems but NX 2 runs great on my comp. That said, to get the best you can straight out of
    your camera I found the hard way that you have NX. If you can set up Lightroom or Aperture in a way that comes close
    to what you are expecting out of your D300 either one of these 2 applications are really easy to use compare to NX but I
    could never get a setting I really like, but that is me just not being able to. other people use it and they are happy with it.
    I never touch PS CS3. I have it in my office but for other purposes at work. I really like my pictures to be as close as I
    can get them to the real thing I saw when I took them, so I don't get into manipulating them. Some guys do great works
    of art with PS but I considered to be another art based in photography. If you like that PS is also a must have. At the
    moment that's all that came out from my head.... you will get better opinions for more professional people here! Nice to
    have you back, good luck. Rene'
  4. I use CS2 and have used PS7 for quite some time. CS2 will not directly let me use D300 files, so I must upgrade or CS3 or buy NX2. About the same cost for either. CS2 offers much more in editing than NX does, it depends if you need the features or not, specify what you want your software to do and I am sure you will get a better idea of what is best for you.
  5. To clarify, CS2 will not let me edit NEF files directly, NX does. So my quandry has been upgrade to CS3 or buy NX2. I have been trying the trial version of NX2, nice but doesn't have the features of CS2 or even CS3 for that matter. I don't think you can go wrong with NX2 but it depends on whether it will do all you would like in a software package.
  6. Rick NX and PS are so wildly different products that you really should try out the demo versions of both. Once you used the programs intensely it will be obvious to you what you need.
  7. Sorry... that's funny! i meant 2006! digital wasn't that great in 1986!
  8. until you figure what CS2/3 features you *need*, you can't really make that decision. seems like many people use CSx a lot less these days. if you fit into that group, then perhaps NX2, export to TIFF and work in PS w/ the TIFF.
  9. A lot of us use some version of NX and some version of PS in tandem. IMHO, NX gives the best raw conversions, has
    has some great quick fixes, and does the neat control point stuff, but PS is otherwise a much more sophisticated
    editor, and is perhaps the best thing to get if you're going to invest a significant amount of time in learning
    about image editing. You mention NX 1.3 - is that the full version? One popular workflow is to use NX in place of
    ACR (as Howard mentions), and PS for downstream editing. For this type of work, the benefits in upgrading to NX2
    could be quite limited (though NX2 does have a better browser and some additional tools), and your money might be
    better spent on upgrading to a full version of PS. Note also that 'CS4' is probably only a few months away -
    there are already betas for some components of the next Creative Suite (though not yet PS itself).
  10. Hi Rick, welcome to the forum and digital photography. It is fun, isn't it? I have Photoshop CS2 and Capture NX2. I found that Capture NX converts my NEF files into TIFF files far better than my ability allows me to do so in Photoshop CS2. I was hooked the first time I tried Capture NX. My curiosity in Capture NX occurred after reading numerous postings here about what a great job it does in converting NEF files. And it does!

    Capture NX does some things that Photoshop doesn't do, and Photoshop does some things that NX doesn't do. Like the others have said, you could download trial versions and see how you like them.

    You said, "One thing Ive learned in my first year of photography is that great focus, clarity and sharpness are the most important to me personally." In reference to that statement, I hope you are using a good tripod whenever possible. Also, there is a program that I use to "sharpen" my photos, Photo Kit Sharpener. I highly recommend it. It also gives me much better results that I would get without that program's assistance. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/software/pk-sharpener.shtml

    Richard, you don't mention if you're a student. If you are, or for others who are students, Adobe offers an Education Version of Photoshop that is a lower price if you're a student. I am a student and I have an Education Version, and I don't know what the difference is between the Education Version and the usual version.
  11. You may wnat to look at PS elements 6, it has most of the tools of CS but at a fraction of the cost and what you save buying this get yuorself NX2 to convert raw files as it does a far suprior job. Ive been usin NX2 for a couple of weeks now and it has become part of the workflow for me. It can be a bit slow but most of this is down to the pc, ive just upgraded mine and it works extremely well now.
  12. Rick,

    about a year ago, give or take, I was about to make this same decision. I downloaded & tried NX v.1, CS2, CS3 & Lightroom. I for some reason never tried Lightroom out, though I've seen it in action since & it seems ominous to me. I tried CS2, coming from Elements 4.0 and for some reason CS2 & I didn't like each other. CS3 had been out for a short while and we liked each other. CS2 was deleted & I went on to try NX on it's 30 day trial. I ordered it after 10 days (Adorama with manual etc was cheaper than Nikon). I ended up buying CS3 as well, cause I got a great deal on it due to my college aged daughter.

    To this day I still work in NX probably 99% of the time. CS3 is only pulled out if I need to clone a branch out or such. I have it, but don't foresee needing to upgrade it for a long time.

    I've been grinding my teeth over NX. Slow as it was as v.1, later versions have been riddled with bugs. I'm probably halfway through my 60 day trial of NX2 & after several installs, into different & new directories, it's now working for me. It's still slow, but as far as I'm concerned, an earlier version of Elements or CS is all I need to backup NX in any version. So, I paid for NX v.1, $ 130.00. I paid for NX v. 1.3 in the price of my D300. I will now have to pay about $ 100.00 for NX2. I'll suffer & grind my teeth over it - - but for what I do & need, NX in whatever version handles my NEF files best. So, as irritated as I am with Nikon on this issue (trust me I have reasons) - - - I won't be updating my CS3 & could just as well have stuck with Elements 4.0, but I will be updating my NX as time passes.....


    Lil :)
  13. NX2 is much, much better than v1.x, no question. Better integration with Windows user interface conventions, etc., but mostly it's far more likely, now that can open a RAW file in NX and render the final image I'll actually be using (including cloned-out bits and flaws) without having to go over to another editor. I like NX2 quite a bit, but I'm wringing every last second I can out of the 60 day demo period.
  14. Rick, I use Capture NX to process my NEF files taken with my D 300. I also own PS7. I will be trying NX2 any day now. 99% of my processing and printing is done in Capture NX. I use PS7 to add my copyright to my prints. NX with control points is powerful enough to do almost everything I need for my images. As primarily a nature phjotographer, I am not into cloning and digital manipulation so I do not need all of those tools in CS3.

    Capture NX and NX2 and its predecessors are the only raw processors that will read the camera settings applied to the images taken by any Nikon DSLR. Once I understood what that meant, I decided to give Capture a try. As a former slide shooter, if I got it right in the camera, why start over again or go backwards by using a non Nikon raw processor that does not use all of the info captured by the camera? Also I found NX to be very easy to learn how to use. The opposite is true for me for Adobe PS products.

    If you know PS, the use it. Your workflow might be to use NX2 to do initial processing and create a TIFF that you take into CS3 for final editing. The key is to make sure you learn how to use one of the processors really well and augment it when needed with other tools.

    If you decide to try NX or NX2, there are very good teaching aids by Jason Odel you can buy over the Internet. They are well worth the nominal fee he charges IMO. In fact, you might want to download the manual to NX2 and see if it is what you want or need.

    Joe Smith
  15. If you're concerned about sharpness and you want great results and an unlimited array of tools, go for CS3. If you want something simpler that works like elements; I would say, IMO, go with Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is very user friendly, and suprisingly, really cheap. I use Lightroom 80% of the time and CS3 20%, both have specific purposes. But when I have a huge load from a wedding or a day out, Lightroom is the first program I open; it is truly revolutionary and I don't think you'll be dissapointed at all.
  16. Rick,

    While many folks on this forum (many far more talented and knowledgeable than I) recommend NX, I don't use it even though I got it free with my camera. Along with the praise for NX that you'll find here, you will also see lots of complaints - to the effect that NX is slow, it's buggy, its user interface is awkward, it isn't well supported by Nikon, etc., etc.

    I just decided life was complicated enough without trying to learn a new program that seems to have quite a few drawbacks - and for which there is relatively little instructional material available. Instead, I convert RAW files with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which is part of Photoshop CS3, and then finish them with CS3. I don't use Lightroom (because I don't have large numbers of images to process) or Elements but understand they have RAW converters that are nearly identical to ACR. ACR works with the RAW formats of many different camera brands and seems to be a sort of industry standard. There are tons of books about Photoshop and ACR and more information available on the Web.

    For now, anyway, I'm happy to forgo NX's special Nikon features and am happy with the stability and universality of ACR.

    Have fun.

  17. Jordan, which camera do you use? I wonder how you can get good NEF conversion quality with current cameras out of Lightroom.
  18. Nikon's software is typically somewhat buggy but it delivers superior image quality out of the box and respects
    in-camera settings. Also, it has interesting features not found elsewhere, such as the control points. The healing
    tool in NX2 is also faster to use than the healing brush in PS and LR2's brush is worst of all, since it
    makes a "guess" as to the reference point and it gets really annoying sometimes as it places it at strange locations.

    NX is not a complete image editor like photoshop but it's a really good raw converter and with the D3 high ISO
    files I
    wouldn't use anything else - a nice image organizer (LR) isn't a sufficient compensation for
    losing half the edge of the camera in terms of IQ. NX2 interface is better than NX1 and it seems to be a lot more
    stable in its file and memory management, too.
  19. Capture NX is what I've been using. Save edits back to the NEF, best image quality, enough editing that I only need photoshop (and the resulting intermediate 100mb TIF) for about 5% of my images now.
    If I was more concerned about speed than quality, I'd go with CS3... but quality is of the utmost importance and I have no problem taking 2x as long to process if I end up with 2% better images.
  20. Kent.... I seem to have started a similar thread the same time this one started. Do you really feel that a TIFF/JPEG
    opened with ACR looks like the original NEF? Try straight-converting an NEF in View NX or Capture NX, and in
    Adobe Camera Raw, and then compare the two resulting JPEGs against each other and the original RAW. As
    Joseph said above, it doesn't make sense to step backwards in the workflow. What you are starting with in ACR is
    not what you shot in
    the camera.

    This is the other Photo.net thread I started on Adobe Camera Raw:

  21. First, let me stress that I'm just a hobbyist and a beginner at digital. There are real experts here at Photo.net, but I'm not one of them. (So kids, listen to the experts please - not to me.) End of disclaimer. I'm still trying to learn the basics. Leaving aside the special features that each program has, the main advantages cited for NX over ACR seem to be (1) that NX recognizes the camera settings for sharpening, saturation, and so on and (2) that NX has "better IQ" or "better color" or some other vague something about it that makes better looking pictures. As to the first point, for me, I have enough trouble getting exposure and focus right - not to mention trying to point the camera at something interesting. Since it's my understanding that RAW is RAW, and whatever the camera can do to it can also be done in post, it just seems to make more sense for me to leave sharpening, saturation, and so on to take care of later and not have to worry about getting those things right in the camera. (Active D-Lighting, which I understand only works with Nikon software, may be a notable exception to this logic.) As to NX's indefinable something, I just haven't seen it yet. I probably lack artistic sensibility. FWIW, I'm posting three test jpegs. The first one was made using ACR's default settings, then sharpened what I think is a normal amount (per the advice in a recent article written by Photo.net member and post-processing expert, Patrick Lavoie), re-sized, and saved as a jpeg in CS3. The second one was processed with NX's default settings, saved as a tiff, and opened in CS3. There it got no sharpening (because I trusted that the camera settings would be picked up) but did get a curves adjustment to make the white and black squares of the ColorChecker match the ACR version. (I didn't "curve" the curves - just adjusted their endpoints.) Also re-sized and saved as jpeg from CS3. The last one was simply opened, re-sized, and saved as a jpeg from NX. I thik the first one looks best, but that's probably just due to my overall lack of skill and particular lack when it comes to using NX. Here's the ACR version:
  22. Here's the NX plus CS3:
  23. And here's the one straight from NX:
  24. I Use them together.

    You need both.

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