Thursday, September 24, 2009

REVIEW: Nikon Capture NX 2 (compared against Adobe Lightroom 2.5) – Update Sept. 26, 2009

Nikon’s Capture NX2 is a product made using technology licensed under contract by my favorite add-in vendor Nik Software. I decided to take time to see if Capture NX2 is more of the magic that seems to make the Nik Software products so great, or if it was merely the bastard step-child that is plagued with the problems that you typically see in software from hardware manufacturers.

NOTE: This is not a review of Adobe Lightroom 2. I am reviewing Capture NX2 and using Lightroom 2.5 as the baseline for comparison purposes.

Capture NX2 – The Pros

Capture NX2 UI - Click for a larger version

I’ll admit, Capture NX2 is cool! There’s some great stuff included in the box and the value seems too good to be true. In fact, the average Joe could easily argue that you only need Capture NX2 to save yourself the expense of owning Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Truth be told, you probably could, but at what cost? I’ll get to that later, but first lets look at what is cool about Capture NX2:

  • It can read your NEF files. Yes, if you don’t have other software that can do this, then you’ll depend heavily on Capture NX2 as it is critically important to have a RAW file processor in your digital workflow.
  • It can mimic your in camera features. Yes, it is true that when shooting RAW you can save lots of time if you can use software that mimics the results you could have obtained had you shot JPEG, and Capture NX2 can do that very well in its Camera Settings Panel. You can change the white balance, picture mode, in-camera sharpening and Active D-Lighting, on the fly and see immediate results which mimic what your camera would have done in JPEG mode – cool.
  • Metadata and XMP/IPTC Support – Anything coming from or sponsored by a camera manufacturer should have this, but its treatment here is decent.
  • Noise Reduction and Sharpening Support – While the Noise Reduction isn’t as good as Dfine and the Sharpening isn’t as good as Sharpener Pro, what is here is way better than what you find in Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom 2. 
  • Distortion Control – This feature seemed to work fairly well in its default form and would be useful for wide angle lenses.
  • Color Control Point – This is the most powerful feature in Capture NX2 because it is the same thing you get with Nik Software’s Viveza, but unfortunately it doesn’t work quite as well due to subtle differences that favor Viveza. For example, Viveza features better negative control points and much better intelligent masking for large regions.
  • Auto Retouch Brush – Photoshop calls this the Healing Brush and Lightroom calls it the Spot/Healing brush. While this version is slower, it works fairly well for touchups like removing the label on the apple in the picture above.
  • UPDATE: Non-destructive editing of your NEF files – When I first used Capture NX and it would prompt me to save changes to my NEF files I’d say NO because I didn’t want to destroy my original. However, like DNG files, it seems that the changes you make are stored in the NEF file but without destroying the original as the contents of the Develop Edit List (see the curves histogram area in the image above). The only gotcha is that the changes seem to be additive so my files appeared to grow with each change.

Capture NX2 – The Cons

Click for a larger version

I’m a computer programmer by trade and any piece of complex software is going to have bugs – it’s just a fact that as software grows its impossible to test every permutation of the product. However, some products are more buggy than others. Now to be clear, when I say “bug” I don’t just mean software that crashes, I also mean user-interface features that just don’t work very well (i.e., text getting clipped, title bar controls getting hidden under panels, etc…). This product has these problems in numbers too great to count. It seems that every time I set out to accomplish a task, I discover a new bug I hadn’t encountered before. In fact, I’ve come to enjoy discovering that the latest quirk is as it amazes me one product could have so many easy to find bugs and still charge money for it! Here’s some other quirks I observed:

  • Capture NX2 can be very slow at times. Many operations require waiting instead of real-time feedback, which for things like Curves or before/after comparisons is unacceptable.
  • There seems to be a more aggressive highlight clipping alert in Capture NX2 than in Adobe Camera Raw 5.5 or Lightroom 2.5. This can result in making modifications that underexpose the image.
  • It runs out of memory fairly easily on my 32-bit Windows Vista system with 3GB of RAM. It’s the only program to ever give me a Out of Memory error besides a few select Photoshop Add-ins.
  • The UI docking story is horrific. If you don’t go mad switching between metadata displayed and not, then you are a very patient person.
  • The undo “step” system is the most confusing, horrible design I’ve ever seen. Frequently I’d go to a previous step to tweak a setting only to see my healing brush changes removed because I forgot that caused a reverse walk in the history stack. I absolutely despised this design. Lightroom is light years ahead with its history pane.

File Management

Capture NX 2 File Browser Lightroom 2.5 Library View
Capture NX2 - Click for a larger view... Lightroom 2.5 - Click for a larger view...

There’s no comparison here as even Adobe Bridge CS4 has clear advantages over Capture NX2, and Lightroom 2.5 beats them both by a substantial margin. With support for easy filtering, advanced key wording, more batch editing options, superior triaging options, and fast search Lightroom 2 is the clear winner. The only advantage Capture NX2 offers is the lack of a requirement to import photos (which Lightroom needs for its database based file management system), but I found it to be useless as a file management system as it offers very little beyond what the operating system offers. 

Image Editing

While I’m more experienced using Lightroom 2.5, I’m also spending a lot of time in Photoshop and Nik Software products so I didn’t feel totally lost in Capture NX2. With that said, I played around with various features and tried to come up with what felt like a good result in each product. This isn’t scientific because the products aren’t directly comparable. However, using the tools and my subjective opinion in each product, here’s my results: (click each for a larger version)

Capture NX2 Photo Edit

Lightroom 2.5 Edit

Capture NX2’s strengths were:

  • A far superior healing brush solution. Lightroom’s spot version was terrible in comparison.
  • Local edits were faster and more powerful.
  • Its more aggressive highlight warnings were awkward to use but resulted in a less overblown image (the image above had no warnings in LR).
  • Superior Noise Reduction and Chromatic Aberration control
  • Easier to darken the exposure on the countertop at the top of the picture. Lightroom’s Gradient control sucks.

Lightroom 2.5’s strengths were:

  • Speed – it’s always immediate results
  • Sharpening was easier to use
  • White balance was easier to achieve (which surprised me because NX2’s system is more advanced)
  • Editing time was about 10% of that in NX2 which is partially my experience but a big part is the design of its Develop tab and presets
  • Post Crop Vignette – I could add one as shown in the image.
  • Undo persists across sessions, and snapshots allow for more experimentation
  • Virtual copies offer flexibility for radical different interpretations or crop of an image without incurring any disk space overhead
  • Support for add-ins
  • Additional modules (print, slideshow & web) offer much more features

In the end, with a little more experience I could get better results with Capture NX2 than I did here. However, i don’t think I could get better results than Lightroom 2.5 except in the areas of local adjustments where NX2 clearly shines. I do think Lightroom will always be faster given its presets concept and easier to use interface. In addition, Lightroom has a larger series of plug-ins available for it which makes its feature set grow when paired with these third party products.

RAW Processing – In-Camera vs Capture NX2 vs Adobe Camera RAW 5.5

The real advantage people perceive as a benefit of owning Nikon’s Capture NX2 (or Canon’s DPP) is that they will get RAW processing designed by the manufacture and in theory the best possible result. To test this theory I did a comparison of my own using an in-camera JPEG taken with the Standard picture mode. I then opened the NEF up in Capture NX2 and Lightroom 2.5 (which uses Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 5.5) and set the picture mode to Standard and simply exported minimal compression jpeg’s.

Below it is hard to tell much difference, but it does seem that the In-Camera version is brighter than the others with the darkest being the Capture NX2 version. You can click the images for larger file versions so you may do your own comparisons.

In-Camera JPEG

Capture NX2 Raw Conversion

In-Camera JPEG - Click for larger version... Capture NX2 Raw Conversion - Click for larger version...
Lightroom 2.5/ACR 5.5 Raw Conversion Lightroom 2.5/ACR 5.5 Raw Conversion - Click for larger version...
100% Crops

To really tell if there’s much difference you need to look carefully at a 100% crop, and the reality is they are all pretty darn close. The In-Camera JPEG had more sharpening and less noise than the others, but that’s expected as RAW images have minimal processing. It appears to my eyes that the Lightroom/ACR version was a slight bit sharper, but that can be easily corrected in both products.

The net result is that I couldn’t observe any advantage in Capture NX2 over Adobe Camera Raw 5.5/Lightroom 2.5. Click the images below to see larger versions.

In-Camera JPEG

Capture NX2 Raw Conversion

In-Camera - Click for a larger version... Capture NX2 - Click for a larger version...

Lightroom 2.5/ACR 5.5 Raw Conversion

Lightroom - Click for a larger version...  
File Sizes

Another comparison I did was on file size, and ironically the Capture NX2 image was the largest which implies the least compression, but I’m not sure what caused the difference (i.e., image data versus metadata –vs- a poor compression algorithm). The in-camera image ironically had the smallest file size despite setting the D700 to maximum quality. It also had the sharpest image, whereas the largest file from Capture NX2 was the softest (by a small margin).

File Description File Size
In-Camera JPEG 4,120,795 bytes
Capture NX2 4,242,144 bytes
Lightroom 2.5 JPEG 4,123,104 bytes


When you start digging into the Capture NX2 to see what it really offers, you’ll find that Adobe Lightroom (and even Apple Aperture) offer similar features in a more reliable package. When paired with Nik’s Software’s Complete Collection for Lightroom (click link for product reviews), you have everything that is good about NX2 in a more robust environment that works faster and more effectively than what you can have with Capture NX2, albeit for a much larger price tag. With that in mind, the question becomes – should you invest in Capture NX2 at all? My contention is no. While NX2 is cheaper, Lightroom 2.5 is a far superior file management system which offers great speed and features (like persistent undos, snapshots & virtual copies) due to its underlying design which uses a database. In short, you get what you pay for. Capture NX2 doesn’t suck and will work if you can’t afford Lightroom but I don’t believe it offers anything unique like better RAW file processing.


There’s no mistaking that Capture NX2 is a decent value at over $100 less than Lightroom 2. To get parity with some of Capture NX2’s features, Lightroom owners would have to purchase Nik’s Software’s Complete Collection for Lightroom. Even with the discount on my Discount Coupon Code page, it is still $254.99 (as of the time of this writing - price subject to change) which is more than Lightroom itself. As a result, the better solution I recommend is a big jump up in price which will make some wonder if they should just buy Adobe Photoshop CS4? However, Photoshop wouldn’t include the Complete Collection and the combination of Lightroom 2 with the Complete Collection is one that would make Photoshop unnecessary for all but the most faithful Photoshop diehards.  For some, price will be a major issue but I feel that the superior file management and additional features of Lightroom 2, even without Nik’s Software’s Complete Collection for Lightroom make it a far better overall solution.

I shoot Nikon, so I need Capture NX2

Those who are new to DSLR photography quickly learn that shooting RAW format (NEF files in Nikon) is a good thing because you are getting all of the data stored in the sensor so the flexibility of what you can do with white balance, exposure, etc… in a non-destructive way during post processing is fantastic. Of course, the first exposure any Nikon owner will have to RAW processing software is an ad for Capture NX2 in the box with their camera which might prompt them to check out the cool Capture NX2 web site. To the newbie, the site is really cool and you quickly learn about the power of RAW and U-Point technology (called Control Points on Nikon’s site). It’s really cool stuff, so you think – wow, I’ve gotta have this so I can make my pictures look great! Hopefully you’ve seen in this article, that isn’t the case as there seems to be little advantage to the RAW processing in NX2 versus Lightroom.

Sorry Ron, I already own Capture NX2 and I’m not switching

Okay, I know I won’t convince some existing NX2 owners to switch to what I believe is a better solution, however I think you’d enjoy your copy of Capture NX2 MUCH more if you considered owning Color Efex for Capture NX.  Why? Well start by checking out my Color Efex for Lightroom review which also references another review. All of the features shown in that article as well as my digital reflector article can be accomplished using Color Efex Complete for Capture NX2. Unfortunately none of the other great add-ins found in the Nik’s Software’s Complete Collection for Lightroom are offered for Capture NX.

Hey Ron, I shoot Canon, what about Canon’s DPP?

I shoot Canon too and I won’t be reviewing DPP because it is a free product -- and that’s almost too much to pay for it. While it is great because it offers access to additional metadata not available in Lightroom (like AF point location) and much better file management than Capture NX2, it still sucks pretty bad. I applaud Canon for including it along with other more useful tools like the EOS Utility, but it doesn’t even come close to what Capture NX2 or Lightroom offer. 

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This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity


James Clarke said...

Interesting review. I must admit as an NX user my biggest blocker to moving from NX to Lightroom is that when I installed the trial and used the two side by side, the color's seemed way off in Lightroom at initial import of my NEF files which made me very nervous. Granted I don't (yet) have a calibrated environment but the difference wasn't subtle.. it was very marked with the windows open side by side. Lightroom's UI and file management blows NX 2 away for sure and the lack of SilverFX Pro is another major blow against NX.

ZoneDancer said...

As a NikSoft Complete owner I have to totally agree with you on the bad UI in NikSoft.

James, in LR try setting the camera presets, Develop -> Camera Calibration -> Profile

The default profile is ACR and this is kinda bland.

SideCarBlue said...

Great review!

I'm testing NX2 trial too and I find the UI a bit cumbersome. It requires you to frequently shift the mouse from the left side of the interface to the right side to get what you want to do. I liked the original NX UI better.
But I cannot argue against the picture quality features for Nikon images that NX/NX2 have.

I like LR UI better for its excellent file mgmt feaures but I wish they'd allowed to insert keywords right into NEF files as NX/2 does - instead of the sidecar xmp files. That single missing feature makes LR much less useful for my workflow.

Ron Martinsen said...


If you import your images into Lightroom and convert them to DNG files (Adobe's version of RAW where you can embed your NEF so there's nothing lost), then it will also write your changes into the DNG file just like Capture NX2 and you no longer have to worry about sidecar files. In addition, you don't need to have sidecar files in Lightroom (I never use them), but if you go this route be sure to backup your LR database regularly (it will prompt you by default).

I didn't observe any benefits for IQ of Capture NX2 over Adobe Camera Raw (which is what LR uses).

John Taylor said...

I have been using NX2 to process my images from a D300. I sort and rate my images using View NX. I use an older iMac G5 and find the application runs just as fast as Lightroom and CS4, both of which I have trialled. I also use ColorFX Pro plugins for NX2 and I find this makes a big difference to the workflow. I think even if I was using Lightroom, this would make a big improvement to that programme as well. The results I get are very good and I find being able to start off with and alter, the camera settings as a starting point saves a lot of time. The biggest downside I find is not having the full Nik plugin package available for NX2.
John Taylor

Anonymous said...


I think you're a little hard on NX2. I'm a new Nikon DSLR user (as of July this year) ... actually, new to interchangeable lens cameras, in general ... and I've only been shooting in raw precisely because I wanted more latitude with re: to correcting my mistakes ... I should add that I'm not a pro nor someone who shoots 100+ shots each week ... I've found NX2 to be very easy to use, helps produce excellent photos, and is even better if you get the Nik Color Efex Pro ... I think for people like myself who haven't used Photoshop nor Lightroom, and thus don't have any emotional nor financial (yet) investment in it, a lot of the comparisons between those programs and NX2 don't hold up as well ... also, and maybe it's just me, trying to distinguish b/n the various PS versions and how it all compares to Lightroom ain't easy (and I don't find the "download the 30 day trial and see for yourself" to be a panacea). I'm not saying that I won't one day add PS or LR; and I sure would like to be able to use Silver Efex along with Capture NX (and this reason alone might lead me to the Adobe world)... but NX2 is more than solid ... yes, there are some user interface imperfections but, again, if you're not processing large numbers of photos these issues are much less problematic ... anyway, I'm just offering a different perspective and saying that NX2 shouldn't be (nor can it be, really) dismissed as having no substantive role in the post-processing world (and, no, I don't work for Nikon ... but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn). Thanks

Ron Martinsen said...

Anonymous - Thanks for your feedback. I've wanted to do a Lightroom review for quite some time, but I know that by the time I'm done with it, that it would be a book. That's why I suggest installing it and playing around with it. However, I recognize that like most Adobe products it isn't exactly easy to pick up and start using it properly because some things are just difficult to get used to (like why there needs to be a develop versus library tab - shouldn't the "loupe" view just be the edit mode?)

Capture NX2 isn't a bad product, and if you have a small workload then I'm sure it probably suits your needs. If so, use it and enjoy it.

The purpose of this article though was to provide some info to those who haven't used it and are trying to decide if they should go with Capture NX or Lightroom 2.x. My recommendation for those trying to make that decision is that they should go with Lightroom for the reasons discussed in the article, plus the fact that they can extend Lightroom easier (for things like Silver Efex that you mentioned in your reply, plus many more).

Micheal said...

Nice review but I feel you have a bit of attachment to LR. As a newbie to the digital processing I had tried a few different product offerings. While I agree that Photoshop is still the monarch in the image processing world I found it slow to learn and slow to do basic image improvements. Our marketing department who are skilled users of Photoshop are having me do the quick n easy mods with NX2. Yes some of the UI is a bit clunky and needs improvement. For the pro LR may be a better deal, for us rank photo newbies that do not have a emotional attachment to another product (or the acquired skill level)I found NX 2 to be a good combination of price, production quality and easy to learn. As for results from NX 2 I am getting good results quicker than I was with my 3 month long foray into other products. If I was cranking out dozens of images per week I might have a different story. When I get to that point I will take another look at LR and PS. Thanks for giving me more to think about.

Ron Martinsen said...

Hi Michael,

I understand your frustration with Photoshop. I owned it for about 10 years before I ever did more than choose auto levels, auto contrast, and auto color. Seriously, I'm a programmer and hold patents for computer technology, but Photoshop is one of the worst user interfaces on the planet for beginners. This is why I wrote this article to help people like you so you don't suffer like I did.

In addition, what makes you successful with Capture NX2 is primarly what Nik Software has done with their U-Point technology, so when you combine this with Lightroom or Photoshop you have the power of those superior products with the tools to make some amazing images.

Try out the demo versions of the other Nik Software products with Lightroom. You can do a ton and never fire up Photoshop, but you'll get much more amazing results.

Capture NX2 is great for what it is, but it's kinda like comparing Microsoft Works to Microsoft Office - it "works", but just barely.

Micheal said...

Thanks, I will take a closer look at Lightroom. I noticed from many of you images on your site you seem to use a lot of the NIK products. Do you use these in conjunction with other products (LR) or more as stand alone products? I am trying to find the best combination of solutions for something I can afford, or purchase as I go. Every dollar on software is one less spent on hardware (such as a good Micro). Thanks, Mike

Ron Martinsen said...

Nik Software products are the key component of my digital workflow. I use them as Lightroom plug-ins for light work (although you can do some pretty amazing stuff with Viveza 2), but more often I use them in Photoshop for one primary reason - so I can use the "brush" feature which basically creates a mask so I can control where the effect is applied and where it isn't. Technically you can use U-Point controls do to the same thing, but it can be tricky if you want to do something like apply heavy sharpening on eyebrows without applying it to the face. It's possible with U-Point, but perhaps not as efficent.

Michael said...


I'm considering the purchase either of Lightroom or NX 2. At the moment, I use the Nik Suite in conjunction with PS Elements. I'm concerned that the older U-Point technology that NX 2 incorporates is not nearly as effective as that in Viveza 2. Also, how does Photoshop integration in Lightroom (both developed by Adobe) compare to that of NX 2?

I was originally attracted to NX 2 for its RAW conversion capabilities, but Lightroom's organizing features and the Nik Suite's additional plugins seem to tip the balance in favour of Lightroom.

Michael Black

Ron Martinsen said...

Michael - go for the Lightroom combo given what you have now. You can see from this article that the Lightoom and NX2 raw conversions aren't drastically different, and any percieved differences can definitely be corrected while editing the photos.

Thanks for suppporting the blog!


Chris said...

I am kinda in the same boat as Michael but I don't have lightroom. I use PSE 8 along with Win7 64 bit along with NIkon transfer and View NX convert RAW NEF files to JPEG and TIFF.

I do use Noiseware which I love. What I am looking at doing is just get the Nik collection but I am torn between the lightroom or Photoshop sets. Since I have PSE 8 the collections by NIk are specfic to LR or Photoshop and going to LR I loose those layers etc.. that PSE 8.0 has.

Would LR with the Nik collection still be a better position to take or just get the photoshop Nik Collection and say heck with PSE and LR and for sure NX 2.2.4.

Carmela said...

Ron ... I am going in circles. I am a Nikon shooter (D300)I have used Lightroom since its inception and consider myself an advance, if not expert user. I find the adjustment brush useful but unwieldy ) I also used Wacom pen and tablet). I am very comfortable in LR and have no desire to leave it. I also use Photoshop (CS3) and am probably an intermediate level user there. I use it about 10%-15% of the time - mainly when I need layers, masks, channels .... Recently I have seen the work of some other photogs who are using nik software - primarily Color EFex I am very impressed with the filters and think the color point technology is something I want... Meanwhile several people have been telling me that I NEED Capture NX2... SO, I have been doing my homework (that's how I found your blog !). I am ready to buy, but I am not sure what I want and need. I am leaning toward buying the complete collection for Lightroom. At a cost of less that Color Efex for PS, I can have the whole collection for Lightroom. This will not give me the photoshop plug in but that collection costs $300 MORE - eek ! So I guess my questions are !Do I need Capture ? Do I need the ultimate collection. Money is not the greatest consideration but I would rather not pay hundreds of dollars for something I don't need. What do you think ???

Ron Martinsen said...

Hi Carmela,

If you are already using Lightroom and are comfortable with it, then there is absolutely no reason or advantage for you to own Capture NX2. You will do much better using the Nik Complete Collection which has all of the power of the NX2 and WAY more (think of NX2 as the "light" version of the real Nik stuff). This blog has a discount for Nik products, so you can use that to save a little money (and I think there is a 15 or 30 day return policy if you change your mind).

I own and use them both and NX2 isn't worth using once you have the Nik Complete Collection.


Ron Martinsen said...

Hi Michael,

Sorry for the delayed response.

NX2 is a great value and lets you hit the ground running very fast to create good results thanks to the power of Nik's U-Point technology.

I think of NX2 as having very basic and lightweight versions of the features offered in the full Nik products, so if you like NX2 you'll LOVE their real products.

Lightroom with the Nik suite is going to be sufficent for many, but when it is used with Photoshop you have the added benefit of using layer masks to selectively remove the impact of the filters in a way that in some cases might be faster or more effective than using U-Point controls. That's its primiary benefit, but that's a lot of money to pay to get that benefit.

I own Lightroom 2.x and Photoshop CS4, and I use the Nik products in both - but more often in Photoshop just because I'm very comfortable in Photoshop and use features that are not availalbe or possible in Lightroom. I still can't live without Lightroom though as it is my image management library and I generally use it to make final adjustments before printing.

Ram Mohan said...

I am new Nikon DSLR user. I reliazed very soon that image processing software is must for every DSLR owner to get the best result. So, i decided to buy one. I have two options.
1. Capture NX 2 or
2. Adobe Lightroom 4 + Nik Viveza 2

I have a doubt about the output quality of the above software.
Will Nik Viveza 2 produce same output quality of Capture NX 2?

I am asking this because... we can able to process the RAW (NEF) file in Capture NX2 but in Viveza we only process tiff/jpg.

Will Processing tiff file give the same quality of processing RAW file?

David Richards said...

Like most, I got caught up in Adobe's marketing net and herd mentality, so I purchased Elements11 and LR4. No doubt, both offer good value for the money. A few months after my purchase, someone suggested that I check out a trial version of CNX2 and closely compare preprocessed raw images in NX and LR side by side.

I was amazed at the differences in the images at 100% and 200% crop. NX rendered images were appreciably more accurate with no color or tonal bleeding or coagulation vs. LR's attempts.

When I postprocess, I want to know that I'm working with the most accurate rendition of what my camera's sensor captured. Granted, you can only see that by way of pixel peeping, but for me, that solidified my preference for CNX2.

David Richards said...

Like most, I got caught up in Adobe's marketing net and herd mentality, so I purchased Elements11 and LR4. No doubt, both offer good value for the money. A few months after my purchase, someone suggested that I check out a trial version of CNX2 and closely compare preprocessed raw images in NX and LR side by side.

I was amazed at the differences in the images at 100% and 200% crop. NX rendered images were appreciably more accurate with no color or tonal bleeding or coagulation vs. LR's attempts.

When I postprocess, I want to know that I'm working with the most accurate rendition of what my camera's sensor captured. Granted, you can only see that by way of pixel peeping, but for me, that solidified my preference for CNX2.

Marko Posavec said...

After years of fiddling with various open source, adobe and other software...

I now exclusively use Capture NX2 to convert my raw files... It gives me instant control over light falloff, chromatic alberation, d-lighting feature, whitebalance (love the channel multipliers!), exposure tweaking.... etc etc. And gives great colors by default. I would waste enormous amounts of time trying to make the images look good in adobe camera raw or lightroom.

The trick is to use another program like acdsee to sort your photos and simply drag and drop files into capture nx to edit. In fact i'd erase all the features except the right panel because it's the only thing i really need. The software is somewhat buggy, but the real problem are all the stupid interface mistakes.

Lightroom is great if you shoot events and need to edit photos in batches with control. But for my nature photography capture nx rulez!