What software(s) do you use for NEF

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by cc_chang|1, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. I have searched a few postings on this matter but did not find a clear answer to my needs so I am posting it with my own perspectives. Hope you don't mind.
    I have a D80 and shoot RAW. I have PS CS2. I also have two Nikon's free softwares, "Nikon Transfer" and "Nikon View," which can transfer and perform some basic editing to NEF files. I do not like PS because the NEF files that it processes are not as sharp as those cprocessed by the Nikon softwares; furthermore, the images processed by Nikon are slightly warmer and more pleasant to look at. The PS processed files are more subdue in color.
    While the Nikon free softwares serve me well so far, it does have two major issues. The first one is obvious for a free software that it is limited in its ability to edit NEF files. It can only adjust exposure, WB, D-lighting, and saturation. I can live with these since these are very useful, and I can always use PS for more advanced editing. The second issue is the speed with which it converts files into JPEG. In my iMac G5, it takes several min to convert a NEF file to a "good" JPEG. I could address this by batch convert them so I can walk away to watch TV.
    Thus my question to you is what is your favorite softwares to process the NEF files with respect to the issues that I raised? If I buy the Nikon Capture software, will it address my two major problems in a cost-effective manner?
    Thanks.
     
  2. More modern versions of the Adobe tools won't have the cooler, flatter look -- starting with Lightroom 2.2 and ACR 5.2, there are camera profiles included that are designed to mimic the Nikon look.
     
  3. Nikon Capture NX. I also have Photoshop CS2. My opinion is that Nikon Capture NX is far better than Photoshop CS2 at convertng a NEF file to TIF (I work with TIF files). I couldn't believe how much better my photos were using the Nikon software.
    Eric, why don't you download the trial version of Nikon Capture NX2 and see what you think of it?
     
  4. Since you are using a Mac, you may want to look at Aperture 2.1 from Apple. I use it for RAW editing from my D300. It is very easy to use and I've been pleased with the results. They have a 30 day free trial from the Apple website.
     
  5. Capture NX2. There is no better NEF converter out there.
     
  6. Capture NX2.
     
  7. In my opinion Capture NX. Ive tried Photoshop, Lightroom, Irfanview and RawShooter as well. Only prob with Capture NX is it needs bundles of Ram (2 gb for comfort) and the healing/cloning procedure is very laboured..I use photoshop once the conversion is done...
     
  8. You'll get the same conversiion quality and a lot more control with Capture NX, but I don't think you'll improve the speed - time for an upgrade to Intel?
     
  9. I'm afraid Richard W. is right. It's not so much the software as it is your computer. Look for one with the Leopard OS.
     
  10. Eric,
    I am using Nikon Capture NX & NX2 - mostly NX2 these days.
    I have a friend who used to use NX2 on his PC which crashed. He then proceeded to buy a Mac. He tried Aperture & he liked the way it organizes things. But for IQ on Nikon NEF files he says nothing beats NX2 - - so he no longer uses Aperture & has gone back to NX2
    Good luck & do use the 60 day trial version of NX2 off Nikon's web site. I bought NX after 14 days of my trial.
    Lil :)
     
  11. Capture NX2
     
  12. I use Nikon Capture NX2 for my D 200 and D 300 NEF images on my windows pc with 4 GB of RAM. I used to use Nikon Capture NX. After downloading them, I use Nikon View as a browser and them edit them in NX2. I do not use the batch mode. Making a JPEG is not time consuming on my pc.
    If you need to process after NX2, just make a TIFF and take it into PS.
    Download it and try it. If you like it buy it.
    Then consider getting Jason O'Dell"s guide to NX2: http://www.luminescentphoto.com/nx2guide.html
    Joe Smith
     
  13. I use DxO 5.3.
     
  14. Thank you all for the answers. I did download and try the NX once, but I did not like the complexity of its user interface. PS is not all that better in this regard but at least I am familiar with it. Since I use the free Nikon View program to perform basic editing, I hesitate to buy another software, unless it can improve on the speed issue. It seems that computing speed is the major problem here since iMac G5 is now several generations older than the Intel and has limited RAM and HD space.
     
  15. I'll be the contrarian here. I have used Photoshop Elements 7 which automatically opens NEF files from my D300 and offers me all the tools that I need. I would caveat this by noting that I spend a lot of time thinking about and composing the picture before making the exposure (a by product of 30 years of 35mm film photography). It's my experience that the resulting colors are accurate from what the actual scene presented. I also do a lot of B&W conversion from the digital image and Elements does a great job at that as well. I'm also a bit of a computer minimalist; the fewer software programs, the better. I organize everything by direct download from the cardreader built into my HP desktop and use Windows Explorer to create the file hierarch and move things around. Works like a charm.
     
  16. Bit of a maverick here - RAW Therapee.....
    Jay
     
  17. In my experience Capture NX2 gives the best conversion. However I like the tools in Lightroom best. So I find myself using those mostly.
     
  18. NX2 for basic adjustment, cropping and sharpening, save as tif and then use PS for any real graphic modification.
     
  19. I edit in with Capture One Pro. With my selects I do overall color balancing and tonal adjustments to end up with a nice tiff. I then use PS for all retouching and any local adjustments as well as creative work and final print preparation.
     
  20. I use ACR with CS3. I have to admit though, there seems to be a majority of the folks here who like NX2. Hitherto, I've always been happy with Bridge + ACR + PS to manage and manipulate my raw files, having set the ACR defaults to values that seem to work for me.
    But along the lines of the OPs question to those of you that have used both NX2 and ACR extensively -- is NX2 really that much better, or is just that it worked better out of the box?
     
  21. I really, really like the integration and power of Lightroom. You can go from organizing to editing in one keystroke. When an image needs more than Lightroom can do -- and Lightroom can do quite a bit, it's only two mouse-clicks to open the image in CS4.
    I have not compared the rendering of Capture to ACR for a long time. In the past, perhaps pre-CS, ACR didn't do well and I used Capture. Current ACR versions, such as the one in Lightroom, do much better and are good enough for my use. The way ACR is embedded makes it much nicer to use than in Photoshop.
    For batching images into JPEGs (or TIFFs or whatever), Lightroom is flexible and super simple to use. It takes only a couple of seconds to set up an export. The export speed is going to depend on a lot of factors.
     
  22. I'm a little like the gentleman above who believes in getting it right in the camera. However, there is always a little that can be done and there is almost always some improvement with sharpening. For those things, I like Picture Project (but organize mostly with directory structure) and Capture NX since they work well together. I love the control points in Capture NX and I can do the most common adjustments in less than a minute. If I need to do something complex, I do everything I can do easily in NX and save a TIFF or JPEG. Then I do the final, complex editing in PS7.
     
  23. Capture NX2 - it doesn't have the easiest to use interface, and it isn't the fastest but once learned, it is very powerful. As others have stated, it is probably the best RAW conversion software for Nikon.
    In any case, it is pretty much the only thing I use. I'm on a Macbook Pro, by the way.
     
  24. Capture NX2 - it doesn't have the easiest to use interface, and it isn't the fastest but once learned, it is very powerful. As others have stated, it is probably the best RAW conversion software for Nikon.
    In any case, it is pretty much the only thing I use.
     
  25. I use Photoshop Elements with my iMac-the latest version for Mac is PSE6; you can get a 30 day free trial from the Adobe site (make sure you download the Mac version). regards, cb :)
     
  26. I use Photoshop CS3 and have very good results. I shot with a D200 and a D700. I purchased Capture Nx and found it very limited. I am a windows vita user and have zero experience with Mac’s.
     
  27. bmm

    bmm

    Capture NX2 as long as you have enough RAM and processing power in your computer. It is very good.
    Plus as others have said the 60 day trial gives you plenty of time to decide whether and how to work with this tool.
     
  28. I use Aperture for the Mac. I have processed in excess of 100,000 images over the last couple of years.. and find it is a very robust and capable software. As my plugin, I use CS3. You can look at my images here and see the outcome of the process. In the past, I used Extensis and switched. Not sure Lightroom offers enough for me to switch.. given the enormous effort to make the transfer and what, on the surface, appears to be no meaningful advantage.
    NX2 is really not a workflow program. I would prefer Nikon partnering with Apple to generate an unbelievable win/win piece of software. A 5% royality stream off of Aperture, plus a packaging strategy for Nik filters plug into Aperture, for access to the decoding from NX2 seems to me a winner of huge significant. Why? All other camera makers would follow suit, and Aperture thus becomes the default RAW converter program, rather than a reverse engineering solution..which is good, but...
    Food for thought!)) Nikon/Apple...are listening??
    Regards, Steven
     
  29. I use Aperture for the Mac. I have processed in excess of 100,000 images over the last couple of years.. and find it as a very robust and capable software. As my plugin, I use CS3. You can look at my images here and see the outcome of the process. In the past, I used Extensis and switched. Not sure Lightroom offers enough for me to switch.. given the enormous effort to make the transfer and what, on the surface, appears to be no meaningful advantage.
    NX2 is really not a workflow program. I would prefer Nikon partnering with Apple to generate an unbelievable win/win piece of software. A 5% royality stream off of Aperture, plus a packaging strategy for Nik filters plug into Aperture, for access to the decoding from NX2 seems to me a winner of huge significant. Why? All other camera makers would follow suit, and Aperture thus becomes the default RAW converter program, rather than a reverse engineering solution..which is good, but...
    Food for thought!)) Nikon/Apple...are you listening??
    Regards, Steven
     
  30. If you use Nikon NEF files, Capture NX 2 gives you the best bang for the buck. It is the only program that will preserve all your in-camera settings when you open the NEF file, a big plus. Why do everything twice in another program? I got Capture NX before I ever shot RAW and have stuck with it ever since, over 2 years now.
    I got Jason Odell's excellent e-book on Capture NX, then NX 2. He was right about using Photo Mechanic as a front end for NX - it is a great photo browser for NEF files. He gives you all the info you need to get up to speed, and on your way to getting the most from Capture NX (an image editor). Capture NX (2) is the best RAW converter for NEFs. I also have Nik Color Efex Pro Filters (Complete) for ultimate image control. NX 2 has a decent auto-retouch (spot healing) tool that wasn't in NX. Photoshop and all its tools still has it's place at times (a pixel editor).
    I find Capture NX 2 control points much easier and faster to use than layers in Photoshop, and I own CS3. There's even a plug-in for Photoshop called Viveza from Nik Software so Photoshop users can get the ease of use of the control points already built into Capture NX. And price-wise Capture NX 2 and Color Efex Pro Complete are about half the price of Photoshop CS. But there are times I export to 16 bit TIFF and use CS3 for more complex pixel/image editing, but it's rare.
    Yes, Capture NX is memory and CPU hungry, which could improve someday, but don't hold your breath. My PC has 4 GB RAM and an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU (2.4 GHz). It can never be fast enough. If you can't upgrade the PC add as much RAM as possible, it's the cheapest upgrade you can make a difference with. But I batch everything I can, have a standard set of adjustments I add and then tinker with, sometimes I have settings disabled but part of the adjustment set I add. I find it faster than adding the common things in one at a time. Very flexible. And with NEF files you can just check or uncheck an option saved in the file.
    You've got my 2 cents now, spend it wisely ; )
     
  31. Eric,
    make sure you watch the tutorials Nikon have available. They'll get you up & going in moments flat.
    Lil :)
     
  32. For anyone using it, Nikon info on Capture NX 2, including tips:
    http://www.capturenx.com/en/index.html
    Go here and look under Software for Capture NX and NX 2, good tips on tools and usage:
    http://www.nikonusa.com/Service-And-Support/Product-Support.page
    The Nik Software site, with NX 2 instruction including Jason Odell's ebook on CD and Vincent Versace's training DVDs (bottom of page). I have them both, great resources. The other book by Ben Long is on my 'buy' soon list:
    http://www.niksoftware.com/products/usa/entry.php
    Jason Odell's website with a downloadable version of his NX 2 ebook and settings files, and now he has 16 Quicktime training 'video companions' to his ebook for $1.99 each:
    http://www.luminescentphoto.com/
    Vincent Versace's website. He gave the first photography lecture I saw, at the Epson Print Academy:
    http://versacephotography.com/
    Under the DVD Tutorials link you'll go to Acme Educational, where there's training for Capture NX and Photoshop from Vincent and other photographers:
    http://acmeeducational.com/
     
  33. Card reader to transfer images unto hard drive. Bibblelite for RAW processing. Export to TIF and JPG. If further work to be done, Gimp.
    Environment: Linux.
     
  34. If you can't upgrade the PC add as much RAM as possible....​
    Note to XP users: The limit is 4GB. XP will see about 3GB of that. :(
     
  35. Ray House

    Ray House Ray House

    I'm with Jay Hopkins on using RawTherapee.
     
  36. Preserving the original details in the Nef file with NX (or I guess, NX2) isn't worth the hassle and aggravation of using Nikon's software in my book. It is slow as mollasses (on my first generation Power Mac G5 with 2 gig Ram and OS 10.4), convoluted and complicated, user-unfriendly (Nik have apparently never heard of «less is more») and, above all, it does not allow you to make last minute changes to individual files in a batch before launching the batch (the ulimate no-no, if I may). I gave it as many chances as I could, but no, sorry, for me NX is a PIA. As for control points, Lightroom 2's local adjustments win by a big margin.
    For me, it's Lightroom 2 and CS3 all the way.
     
  37. One version back of the current Photoshop. So now I'm on CS3. Really wish I could afford to keep up with the newest versions, but getting them at a bargain ain't bad either.
     
  38. I'm a big fan of CS3, and after seeing this discussion I downloaded the NX2 trial. I'm still not persuaded, because I love Recovery and Fill Light sliders in CS3 RAW.
    So what's so great about NX2 that's gonna make me switch?
     
  39. Lester, I posed a similar question further up this thread. I certainly believe that Nikon knows how to interpret their own data better than anyone else, however, I have seen no compelling evidence, nay, any evidence at all, that images produced with NX2 are noticeably "better" than images produced by other converters when the default settings for the other converters are set appropriately.
    For the NX2 advocates -- I'm not trying to start a flame war. On the contrary and in the spirit on the OP's question, it would be nice to see examples where NX2 produced results that converters like ACR and DXO were simply incapable of doing.
     
  40. Personally, I just like the workflow of ACR/PS. I started with CS and recently upgraded to CS4. I tried a version of NX a year or so ago and just couldn't get used to it and I didn't feel my images were any better.
     
  41. Here is my additional take on this subject. It is like buying a car. Many cars are out there that mecanically will get you from point A to B safely and reliably. However, I might choose car 1 over car 2 because I like the way its controls set up; my wife might choose car 2 for other reasons and reject car 1. At the end of the day we are both very satisfied customers with our separate cars.
    I am a former slide shooter, mostly nature work, and like to see my NEF images looking like what I captured in the camera. Well NX2 gives me that. PS and other products do not unless I make the extra effort to add back stuff that was already in the image. To do that I have to spend $655 for CS4 or $266 for Lightroom 2.2 and invest time and energy to learn how to use it. Instead I spend $140 for NX2 (for a less featured product, I will admit) but it allows me to process my images to the point that I can make award winning images 99.9% of the time. There is one feature I wish it had--the ability to add my copyright to my images. That is about the only time I create a TIFF and take the image into PS 7.
    If I already had invested the time and effort and really knew Lightroom or CS3, or CS4, then I probably would be tempted to skip NX2 and learn how to do the initial setups to add back the stuff not read by by the non Nikon raw processors. From seeing demos of CS3 and Lightroom, my brain can handle Lightroom much better than CS3, but that is me. Others will pick CS3 or CS4. You have to trest drive each product and then decide for yourself which one is best for you.
    When picking images for a nature contest two years ago, I asked a fellow nature photographer to help me make my selections. He is a Canon shooter and processes in PS. The contest required that I submit original raw images as well as the processed images. He could not believe the quality of the colors, etc of my original raw images as viewed in NX. And he is an expert PS processor. He said he could never do that with his Canon raw images in PS. That just confirmed my decision to stick with Nikon Capture.
    Joe Smith
     
  42. Lester,
    In Capture NX 2 you have the same capability as Recovery and Fill in the "Quick Fix" section, which also has a levels and curves function as well as a few others. In "Quick Fix" just use the Highlight and Shadow Protection sliders for your Recovery and Fill functions. It's always there, not just during the RAW conversion like with PS/ACR. Shift-H and Shift-S show Lost Highlights and Lost Shadows. It's all pretty much there - even a spot healing tool (auto-retouch in NX) except no cloning tool, no text or watermarking. No big deal for me, and it's probably in the feature add-in list.
    Capture NX's Color Control Points are a very fast and flexible way to make localized adjustments. Adjustments that are normally global can be localized (applied or removed) through the simple use of Selection Control Points, Lasso Tools, Selection Brush, and Selection Gradient.
    Capture NX preserves all your in camera settings. No other RAW converter including ACR can do that. If I bother to set sharpening, saturation, contrast, brightness, etc. why do I want to set those again in the RAW conversion process - waste of my time. (White balance is preserved for any package that uses Nikon's SDK to decrypt it, like ACR) And in NX I can save multiple version of edits in the same NEF file if I get crazy, like wanting a color and B&W version for example. Can't do that in Photoshop, right? And compare the size of a PSD file to a NEF saved in NX, no contest - NX is much more compact.
    Capture NX 2 - $179 new ($109 upgrade) : Photoshop CS4 - $699 ($199 upgrade)
    Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete - for Capture NX 2 $179 new ($99 upgrade) : for Photoshop CS $299 new ($149 upgrade)
    And to be fair, Adobe Bridge is included for free in Photoshop. Nikon has ViewNX (free) which I don't like. So I use Photo Mechanic as a front end for my NEF files. It's very fast and gives me a great work-flow now. So add $135 new ($80 upgrade) to my package. If you want Color Control Points in Photoshop you need the Viveza plug-in for $249.
    So, NX 2, CEP 3, PM = $493 new - versus - PS, CEP 3 = $878 new ($1,127 with Viveza)
    Only 20% of Photoshop users are Photographers, most are graphic artists, etc. It is a very powerful and extensive application - a true pixel editor. Most people never use most of the tools or features it contains, which is a waste of money. And it can be so complex to use that traning is a big industry for it. If you need many of it's features and can afford it, then get it. Capture NX (2) is an image editor with obviously less tools, but it was built based on photographers input, so it suits the needs for many of us. It's a valid option to Photoshop, the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
    So many photographers have blindly accepted Photoshop as the only tool that can suit their needs. Or the jsut want to be cool and have Photoshop. Many can't afford it so it's become the most pirated software package. One survey showed that 60% of Photoshop users and 55% of Lightroom users were using pirated versions. What's that say? I was able to get CS3 for $299 as a Photoshop Elements purchaser, couldn't turn it down. But I very rarely use it and won't upgrade it for years probably, but I will upgrade NX every time.
     
  43. Do take a look at RAW Developer and Raw Photo Processor - both offer sharp, detailed results and can be tried for free. You sometimes see in the results they produce a level of detail and local contrast that can be astonishing. Capture One 4.6 also has its strengths. The Lightroom/ACR engine is very easy to use and quick, and Lightroom works well as a catalogue manager. The raw conversion offers a good highlight recovery mechanism but can produce odd artefacts and often fails to do justice to either lens or camera.
     

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