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28/01/2016

Why I still love Nikon Capture NX2

Capture NX2 featured

Capture NX2 is top application for editing Nikon cameras RAW files. However, it’s not very popular software due to specific interface, questionable efficiency and fact that Nikon Corporation charges you for the license. Anyway, in order to have the ability to squeeze everything from Nikon NEF files, probably you’re gonna need it.

My adventure with NX2 started unintentionally as I got it free with my D800E body. First impression confirmed common opinions from the internet: app is odd and unintuitive. However, along with diving into the documentation and subsequent exercises, I slowly started to like it.

Advantages

What differs Capture NX2 from other software? You may have noticed info on the box: UPOINT TECHNOLOGY by Nik Software. Nik apps (currently owned by Google) are famous for their solutions of local enhancement control points. NX2 uses the same approach to image editing and in short words: it’s awesome. Here is nice brief explanation:

What is U Point™ technology and how does it work?

This approach to image editing allows you to achieve good results in totally different (and quick) way comparing to Adobe Photoshop (but somewhat similar to Lightroom). Of course there is much more. Let me list some cool features of Capture NX2:

  • ability to control virtually all available camera parameters and settings recorded with the picture,
  • full support of Nikon NEF format features (e.g. automatic optical corrections),
  • fully non-destructive image editing,
  • very effective image zone adjustment system (UPoint),
  • most of the settings and corrections can be applied globally and/or locally,
  • when you plan further edits in Photoshop, NX2 is valuable time-saving preliminary step,
  • app is stable (at least on Mac),
  • helpful video tutorials are provided on the website.

There are some cons also:

  • not intuitive editing philosophy (that’s what you have get used to),
  • laconic documentation,
  • not efficient approach to batch processing.

You may wonder how Capture NX2 compares to Adobe Lightroom. Here’s quite old but good video you may refer to:

Performance tips

If Capture NX2 is your daily companion, consider some performance tuning of your workstation/laptop:

  1. Use multicore CPU (supported from version 2.3.1)
  2. Maximize your RAM (16 GB or more).
  3. Obtain fast storage for temporary files and set it in preferences.

Providing additional storage speeds up questionable batch performance, especially with fast-write output volume. If your workstation is capable, go with PCIe storage or SSD RAIDs. If you have laptop, think about some fast Thunderbolt/USB3 external SSDs. With optimal disk configuration NX2 can be quite nice performer.

Summary

To fall in love with this app, you only need to spend some time to learn it and optimize it’s working environment. After almost 5 years of use, Capture NX2 is still primary application for processing of my NEFs and the essential stage of my digital workflow.

28/01/2016