Nikon’s announcement of Capture NX-D was far from a surprise to me.
I had long ago realised Nikon had two options with their major raw file software, and this was most likely to be the outcome.
Briefly, before getting onto Capture NX-D, Nikon Capture NX 2 – the main chargeable product – failed to get the response hoped for in numbers of users I would suggest.
Therefore, along with the parting of the waves with Nik Software (Nikon sold control to Google) and their ‘U’ Point technology, it was not going to be worth developing to make it viable as a retail product at well over £100 going forward. There are simply too many higher profile products out there firmly established now.
That is a big disappointment to those of us (very much the small minority) shooting Nikon in it’s ultimate ‘Total Imaging System’ concept.
So bad has been the explanation of this approach, that most Nikon users today, do not know of it I would guess.
I can make a really strong case for Capture NX 2 being the best raw file converter for NEF files bar none, if you use that Nikon Total Imaging concept.
That is only my own, but honest opinion nevertheless.
But probably due to a missunderstood product at its launch, most Nikon users show scant regard for Capture NX 2 today, and its role in the scheme of things.
I don’t think this is their fault, as I have also been surprised over the years of how Nikon’s own staff seem largely ambivalent to it. Ironically, it is those operating in the technical roles rather than sales/marketing that seem like me, to be in the minority of admirers.
Obviously my Nikon and general technical background in photography helps, as I understand the idea. While my career as a pro photographer helps me utilise it in the real world to see its worth.
Don’t get me wrong, Capture NX 2 can be frustrating with some annoying traits, but if you can put up with or work around them, just as with any program…
Enter Capture NX-D
So the announcement that Capture NX 2 will no longer be supported once Capture N-XD is out of beta testing, was a disappointment, even if expected.
Whilst Capture NX 3 or similar full package is not off the the table theoretically at some stage, Nikon have understandably realised I think we live in a largely Adobe or similar world.
And selling dedicated camera manufacturer software has largely failed in all quarters anyway, so Nikon are not alone. In fact they should be praised for sticking in there as long as they have.
Just in case you think I am decrying third party alternatives, some of you also know of my Adobe expertise and respect for those products. With Adobe’s blessing I help show people just how good those products are on appropriate courses I run.
So in truth, my current workflow goes Capture NX 2 with all of its foibles mostly for its unique Raw file control, then the uniqueness of Photoshop if needed (can’t be without a Photoshop option even if just for occasional use).
Finally and strangely, it will not doubt seem to most, I use Lightroom last. I might explain more on another day about that.
Apple’s Aperture I like, and lots of pros swear by Capture One to name just a couple of other options, that you can do good stuff with.
But I have a workflow that works for me, including maintaining the technical standards I desire to work around. And Capture NX 2 has been crucial.
Nikon’s software is the only one to truly read what you shot in a Nikon camera, show that, then allow post capture changes to many camera settings just as if re shooting for even better results.
And all the time, you can stay in the NEF format, you do not have to convert to Jpeg or Tiff files.
As with many of the aspects I cover on my courses, I don’t just say things I do try to do them ‘live’ so people can see because I realise where Capture NX 2 is concerned that is the only way for people to see the benefits.
So at appropriate events, I have done the same with Capture NX in it’s various forms. And although people don’t like it greatly when they use another program, there is no disputing certain things when it happens before your eyes.
That said, I completely understand that other programs suit many people better because of other things they do.
Now for the good news. First Nikon View has been supplied for basic Raw file conversion and other manipulation free with Nikon DSLR’s for a while. It is a reasonable program for supplied software. Not a great fan of it myself, but as I say its free, and does get new Nikon users up and running from the box.
Capture NX-D in its beta form looks like it could be better than this, I will comment more once I have used it for a while. It should take the benefits of both of the other Nikon programs, and as it will also be free, offer a package for those using the ‘Total Imaging System’.
But if you like Control Points, at the moment that is an obvious miss. So ironically you have to go into a third party program and use a plug-in. No auto retouch tool either so far to name another.
So, Nikon’s Total Imaging System may not be dead when Capture NX 2 is no longer supported for new cameras. It might just have been streamlined in the knowledge that most will want to enter Lightroom/Photoshop or another option, even if that has both benefits and drawbacks. It is probably also worth noting that Nikon have also been at the forefront of in camera post capture processing and that will keep going.
I will talk more on Capture NX-D once I have used it for a while. It may be that it does some of the same things but better being a later product. But I am also tempted as this is a beta version to stand back, not waste my time and keep using Capture NX 2 for now.
I would then try Nikon Capture NX-D once it is a final product. If I do not like it then new workflow decisions will have to be made as soon as I update any Nikon cameras. That goes against Nikon’s traditional system support to me.