As many of you know, Nikon is eliminating their image editing program Nikon Capture NX2 and is replacing it with a new software package called Capture NX-D. They recently announced that they will cease supporting NX2 at some point during the summer of 2014.
If you are a NX2 user, then what how should you manage the photos you’ve created when support for the software ends? What software should you use moving forward?
Quoting from Jason’s website:
“In this episode of The Sensor Plane, I sat down with Mike Hagen, a professional photographer from Washington state, USA. Mike and I have both published books on Nikon’s Capture NX2, and were avid Capture NX2 users. We discussed the current state of Nikon NEF processing in light of the recent announcement that Nikon was dropping support for Capture NX2 and releasing a new product, Capture NX-D.
Mike and I discussed some options for current Capture NX2 users looking to move forward as Nikon transitions to the new Capture NX-D software.”
Nikon just released an update for their editing software Capture NX2 ($139 at Amazon). This update provides support for the Nikon D3300 and also improves the white balance adjustments in the program for cameras newer than the D7000.
Updates that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions:
– Support for RAW images captured with the D3300 has been added.
– Advanced settings, such as Sharpening, under Camera Settings > Picture Control in the Develop section of the Edit List palette can now be adjusted, even when Unchanged is selected for Picture Control when RAW images are opened.
– The following modifications and additions have been applied to White Balance > New WB in the Camera Settings portion of the Develop section in the Edit List palette.
– An Auto 1 option has been added to White Balance > New WB options. Capture NX 2 adjusts white balance for colors similar to those achieved in images captured with a camera’s Auto 1 (Normal) * white balance setting.
However, only RAW images captured with the following cameras are supported.
– The D7000 and later digital SLR cameras
– Advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses
– The COOLPIX A as well as the COOLPIX P7100 and later COOLPIX cameras that support recording in the NRW format
*Auto white balance setting with cameras that do not offer an Auto 2 (Keep warm lighting colors) option
– Adjustment units available with the Tint option have been changed from 1 to 0.01 for more precise specification.
– The adjustment range for Fine Adjustment when Direct sunlight is selected for Daylight has been expanded from 4132–7042k to 2500–7042k.
– Adjustment using Fine Adjustment and Tint is now possible when Recorded Value, Auto 1, Auto 2, or Underwater is selected.
The following issues have been resolved:
Windows version only
An error occurred when XMP/IPTC files created with Capture NX 2.4.3 or earlier were opened:
Details specified in the Print layout dialog and page setup dialog displayed with selection of Page Setup… in the File menu were not applied.
Macintosh version only
When image files saved to a disk formatted using the FAT32 architecture were edited and saved, editing details were not applied.
Support for Mac OS X version 10.6 has been eliminated
Updates included with 2.4.5
Updates that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
Support for RAW images captured with the D5300 and the Df has been added.
The Better Quality 2012 option under Noise Reduction in the Camera Settings portion of the Develop section in the Edit List palette has been changed to Better Quality 2013.
Applicable from this version, Intensity and Sharpness can now be adjusted separately for both Luminance and Color. Therefore, when images to which Better Quality 2012 was applied with Capture NX 2 Ver. 2.4.4 or earlier are opened in Capture NX 2 Ver. 2.4.5, the effects of Noise Reduction adjustment may change.
Updates that apply to Macintosh versions:
Support with Macintosh OS 10.9, “Mavericks”, has been confirmed.
Updates enabled with 2.4.4
Updates that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
Support for RAW images captured with the D610, Nikon 1 AW1, and COOLPIX P7800 has been added.
An Automatic (Underwater) option has been added to the Auto Distortion pull-down menu under Camera & Lens Corrections in the Adjust section of the Edit List. However, the Automatic (Underwater) option is only displayed when all of the following conditions are met:
The image was captured with an advanced camera with interchangeable lenses that supports underwater automatic distortion control, and a lens that also supports the function.
The image was captured in RAW format or in JPEG format with the camera’s Auto distortion control function disabled.
The following issues have been resolved with this release:
When the slider bar was manipulated while applying settings such as Gaussian Blur, High Pass, or Colorize, flicker in the form of random blocks was sometimes displayed.
For Windows only:
When OK in the Page Setup dialog opened from the Print layout dialog was clicked after changing printers using the Print button in the Print layout dialog, only the default printer (that is normally used) was named in the Printer section at top left in the Print layout dialog.
“aaa…” was displayed for Artist in the File & Camera Information section of the Metadata palette. (language versions other than the English version)
When an image was edited using the LCH tool in the Adjust section of the Edit List, a message prompting the user to restart the application was sometimes displayed.
Modifications enabled with 2.4.3
Modifications that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
Information for lenses used with the Auto Distortion function under Camera & Lens Corrections in the Develop section has been updated.
Modifications enabled with previous release 2.4.2
Modifications that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
An issue has been corrected where a bright, whitish diagonal line is shown in images from D600 (C firmware version 1.01) when DX Crop mode and Active D-Lighting were used.
Topics this month include:
– Nikon D800 and D4 Setup Guides
– New Workshops Posted and New Books Are Selling Well
– Stuff I Like This Month
– March GOAL Assignment: Walking Zoom
– April GOAL Assignment: Window Light Portraits and Book Giveaway
– Product Review: Joby Gorilla Pod
– Digital Tidbits: How to Fix a Red Face in Nikon Capture NX
– Workshop and Business Updates
I know you’ve all heard this a million times before, but if you are a photographer, then you should always have a camera with you. I don’t care what type of camera you take, but it should be something that allows you to snap an image. Cell phone. Point and Shoot. dSLR. Rangefinder. EVIL. ILC. Anything.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve had lots of family staying with me at my home in Gig Harbor, WA. Each day, we’ve gone on hikes and adventures exploring this beautiful corner of the world. Over the last two days my nieces, nephews and I have been exploring the local Puget Sound beaches. The kids and I have been having a blast skipping rocks, climbing cliffs and looking for jelly fish. The entire time I’ve slung my little Nikon D7000 and 18-105mm kit lens over my shoulder everywhere I go. It’s been wonderful to capture these great images that I normally would have passed by.
“You can’t get the pics if you don’t have the camera.”
There are many plugins and special software products designed to help you enhance your photographs. I use a lot of them and think they are extremely helpful for our digital workflow. However, I hear from lots of people that they don’t want to use all the fancy software. Rather, they just want something simple they can use to make their photographs look better.
One of the most widely available tools in photo software is the curves control. In fact, just about every piece of modern imaging software includes a curves control. Using the curve is simple and doesn’t require much knowledge to quickly improve the look of an image. The fundamental purpose of the curve is to adjust brightness and contrast. Since most images need just a hint of extra contrast in order to pop from the page, doing this with a curve is sometimes the fastest way to improve the photo.
To activate a curve in Photoshop, add an adjustment layer or simply type CMD/CTRL + M on your keyboard. In Lightroom 3, go to the develop pane and adjust the curve from there. With Nikon Capture NX2, add a New Step, then choose Select Adjustment –> Brightness/Contrast –> Curves.
When the curve starts out, it will be a straight line. Your goal is to make the darks (shadows) just a bit darker while simultaneously making the brights (highlights) just a bit lighter. You do this by making an S-Curve like I show in the examples below.
The lower left part of the curve adjusts the shadows and the upper right part of the curve adjusts the highlights. If you move any section of the curve down (below the diagonal line), it will make that brightness darker. The same, but opposite is true if you move any section of the curve up (above the diagonal line).
Moving the lower left portion down (darker) and the upper right portion up (brighter) adds contrast to your image. You are effectively making the darks, darker and the brights, brighter.
Here’s one more example on an old barn door just to make it clear.
Do you aspire to get the photo as close to perfect in the camera or do you wonder how that photo might look if you continued processing it in software? It is an interesting dilemma and one that can never be truly answered for everyone. Many people state, “I’m a purist. What I see in front of me is what I strive to represent in the camera.” Others will say, “I’m an artist and the end product is more important than what I see in front of me.”
Regardless of your feelings on this matter, I want to encourage you to “think in Photoshop.” What I mean by this is that I want you to imagine what your photo might look like after some additional work in Photoshop or Lightroom or Nikon Capture NX2. Might it look better in black and white? How about a sepia tone? What if you simply improved the color balance just a little bit and added some contrast?
Look through the images below to see what I mean. Each photo is a different rendition of the same image. The first one is what the image looked like directly out of my camera.
My point is that you can often arrive at a much better or more interesting image after working on the file in Photoshop or Nikon Capture NX2. The simple act of playing with your images in software can open up whole new worlds of creativity for you. Don’t hesitate to think in Photoshop.
Yes, that’s right. Convert JPG to RAW.
In my workshops, I show how it is possible to do this using Nikon Capture NX2 as well other software packages such as Lightroom and Aperture. I want to state up front that what I describe here isn’t truly creating a RAW file from a JPG. Rather, it is converting the JPG into a file that allows you to make nondestructive changes to it. Fundamentally, what you are doing is taking a JPG, which is a lossy file format, and bringing it into a new architecture that makes it a lossless format.
After you convert the JPG into a RAW, it still remains at 8-bits per color channel, versus 12 bit, 14 bit or 16 bit per color channel for RAW files. Also, even though this conversion doesn’t allow all the flexibility of RAW files such as white balance, it is still a worthwhile process because you’ll be able to make all kinds of changes to the image without recompressing it each time you save your changes.
How it Works
I use Nikon Capture NX2 and Adobe Lightroom in my workflow, so I’ll talk about both of them here.
In the case of Nikon Capture NX2, open up a JPG photo that was taken by any camera. Make any changes you want to it such as New Steps, Color Control Points, Hue, Saturation, Nik Color Efex Pro filters or anything else. Then, save the file as a NEF/NRW. The acronym NEF stands for Nikon Electronic Format and NRW stands for Nikon Raw.
This action takes the JPG and then writes the settings into an instruction set that only Nikon Capture NX2 can read. If you open the image in Nikon Capture NX2 in the future, then you can change or modify all the adjustments previously make inside NX2. If you want to remove an adjustment or even perhaps convert the image to black and white, then you simply make those changes with no detrimental effects on the image. After you are finished working on the image, if you save it again as a NEF, then the save is nondestructive. You don’t degrade the original JPG image because you are actually just saving instructions for Capture NX2 to read.
Lightroom (and Aperture) work in a similar, but slightly different way. If you import a JPG image into Lightroom, then make a bunch of changes, it saves the instruction set with the original JPG as a sidecar file. This sidecar is called an XMP file and all the instructions are encoded here for future use in Lightroom.
What I described above does not apply to Photoshop. For example, let’s say you open a JPG in Photoshop and make changes to it. If you save that JPG over itself, then the changes are applied directly to the file AND you will recompress the data. Therefore, this action is a “lossy” save and will degrade your image (albeit slightly) over time. My recommendation for working in Photoshop is to use the Save As command so you keep your original JPG untouched.
One more point I want to make here regarding this idea of converting your JPG into a “RAW” file. This conversion is only visible inside the original host program. In other words, if you convert your JPG into a NEF inside Nikon Capture NX2, then try to open your new NEF inside Lightroom, you won’t see any of your NX2 changes. This is because Lightroom uses different instruction sets than NX2. In fact, neither program can use the other program’s instructions. Kind of a bummer, but that’s the current reality.
Here’s a question I received via email from C. Osborne in the UK.
He says, “Mike, I am enjoying reading your book Nikon Capture NX2, After the Shoot. One thing I need to know is, how can I get black borders on my prints in Nikon Capture NX2?”
The answer to his question isn’t intuitive, but works pretty well. Here’s an approach that you can try.
1. Open the photo in Capture NX2.
2. Process photo so it looks “good.” In other words, do all your white balance, brightness, contrast, conversion to black and white, etc.”
3. Choose the Lasso Tool. More specifically, you’ll need to choose the “Minus” rectangular lasso too. This is important because the “minus” tool allows the border to appear on the outside of the selection. Conversely, the “plus” tool will allow the adjustment to occur inside the selection (you don’t want that for this example).
4. Adjust the Edge Softness to your liking. An amount of 0 pixels will produce a hard-edge border and an amount of 50px to 100px will produce a soft-edge border.
5. Draw your marquee selection around the perimeter of your photo. Obviously, you’ll want to keep the box away from the edges of the picture. The distance the box is away from the edge will determine the width of the border.
6. Coose Levels & Curves from the New Step that was created after you drew the marquee border.
7. Take the black levels slider control (left side) and move it almost all the way over to the right side. This will cause the areas in the selection to turn black. This forms the black border for the photo.
By the way, this same approach will work in just about any image processing program. You can easily do this in Photoshop using the rectangular marquee tool or in Lightroom.
Since I was creating borders, I tried it on another image below. This is my small barn in the back of my house in Gig Harbor, WA on a cold morning a few weeks ago.
One of the traditional artforms in Tanzania is wood carving. Artists create all types of carvings such as faces, masks, people, bowls, bracelets and animals, but my favorite carvings are of faces. Makonde is the best known type of carving in Tanzania and is typically created using African Blackwood, or mpingo.
Mpingo is very dense and fine-grained, which allows the artists to create extremely detailed carvings. Buying carvings can be a great way to contribute to the local economy and prices for these pieces of art can vary between $10 USD to $10,000 USD.
Artisans are able to create emotions and expressions in their work that always amaze me. In fact, staring into the face of some of these carvings can be completely mesmerizing. Just like any good piece of art, I often find myself captivated in thought while viewing the carvings.
The images I show here were taken of carvings at an art center in Arusha, Tanzania. Since most of these pieces are outside in the weather, they are are beat up from years of sun and rain. I like the added texture derived from the weather and think it enhances the overall look of the carvings.
I processed these images in Nikon Capture NX2, using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0. I added just a touch of Bleach Bypass and increased the saturation by a few points. Bleach Bypass added to the grittiness of the images and the small punch of saturation returned a bit of color that was eliminated by the bleaching effect.
I’m posting new workshops for 2010 over at Nikonians Academy. Right now, I have dates for:
1/28/10 – 1/31/10 in Atlanta, GA
2/4/10 – 2/7/10 in Orlando, FL
2/25/10 – 2/28/10 in Los Angeles, CA
3/18/10 – 3/21/10 in New York, NY
3/25/10 – 3/28/10 in Boston, MA (will be posted in next day or so)
4/16/10 – 4/19/10 in Seattle, WA
5/20/10 – 5/23/10 in Houston, TX (will be posted in next day or so)
5/27/10 – 5/30/10 in Dallas, TX (will be posted in next day or so)
6/10/10 – 6/13/10 in Portland, OR (will be posted in next day or so)
I’ll be teaching a variety of topics on Nikon cameras, Nikon wireless flash system and Nikon Capture NX2.
See you soon!