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Thread: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

  1. #1

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    Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Hello,
    I currently use Photoshop Elements 10 to edit Raw and Jpeg files from my Nikon D90 camera.
    I am thinking of upgrading to Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4 and would appreciate any views/advice.

  2. #2

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    I think the only method of determining which one will be the best fit for you is to give both of them ample attention. NX2 has a trial period that lasts 60 days, which is unusually long in the industry.

    I'm an avid NX2 user and I have never used Lightroom. Even so, I can mention a few basic differences that may be helpful as part of your evaluation process.

    The main difference between the two programs is that NX2 can make adjustments to pixels but it can't edit them for the most part (explained below). As an example, you won't be able to reliably remove a telephone pole using NX2 but you will be able to do that using Lightroom. You won't be able to correct keystoning and other perspective issues using NX2 but you will be able to do that using Lightroom. Now that you already have Elements, those few things things that simply can't be done using NX2 can easily be done using Elements once you have saved the file to a TIFF or JPEG. (I use Elements for those purposes.)

    NX2 does have a tool that is similar to a clone tool. However, unlike when using a clone tool, the user has no control over the source pixels being used to replace the unwanted pixels. It works really well for removing dust bunnies and similarly small imperfections. It sometimes works in more complicated situations but only sometimes. When this tool doesn't accomplish the required task, you will need to save the file as a TIFF or a JPEG and use Elements to complete your post-processing.

    Theoretically, NX2 will do a superior job of converting NEFs because the product is a Nikon product and only Nikon knows the proprietary information stored in NEFs. Indeed, the widespread reputation in the past was that no other program converted NEFs as well as NX2. However, I have seen so many reports by people who are thrilled at the improvement Lightroom has made when converting NEFs, especially in its latest version, that Lightroom seems to be giving NX2 a serious run for the money. That leads to the next point.

    If it is important to you to license a product that will surely continue to be upgraded with lots and lots of improvements to be available in the future, you really do need to think twice about licensing NX2. There has been no upgrade since it was released more than four years ago. Though nobody has a crystal ball, I would bet that it will never be upgraded if I had to make a bet.

    Nikon continues to regularly provide free updates that make the product compatible with RAW files created by newly released Nikon cameras, 64-bit operating systems and Windows 7. The company very recently announced a plan to determine whether NX2 is compatible with Windows 8 (many users have reported that it is) but didn't announce whether NX2 will be made compatible if they deem that it isn't. I would be willing to bet that Nikon will make the product compatible with Windows 8 and provide support, as I don't think they have any reasonable alternative.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 23rd November 2012 at 04:57 PM.

  3. #3
    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Don't know anything about NX2 but I am a fairly novice PPer who bought LR4 (already had PSE9) a few months back. What an eye opener. Powerful product and easy to use. There are certainly things it can't do (it doesn't have layers for example) but it will satisfy me for a few years. Since you already have PSE10 you'd have the full set (apart from CS of course).

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    I'm using Lighroom 4.2, Elements 11,DxO8 and some filters right now. The Raw-Module of PSE11 is identical with LR4.2, but lens correction is missing. Upgrading to PSE11 could be a choice. I'm not using NX2 and have no expertise there.

    I love Lightroom4. The new development engine is great, but the lens correction isn't good. If you want to correct distortions DxO8 is the best imo.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    A number of Nikon users have found that the RAW conversion in the Nikon software (whether using either View NX2 or Capture NX2 ) does a better job than the Adobe software when it comes to colour accuracy.

    I find that every time I start off working something in Lightroom, I end up finishing up in Photoshop, so I just go to straight to Photoshop now.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    A quick comment about NX2. It is written by Nik Software which was just purchased by Google. There is no way of knowing if this is good or bad news for Capture NX2 and their relationship with Nikon.

    For me I started out with NX2 when I bought my first Nikon DSLR and was very pleased with it. I have since moved on to CS5 then CS6 as my interest in post processing has grown.

    John

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    David, I too just finished the same evaluation and questioning process your undertaking so I'll try and convey the info I found. I've only been into the digital world for three years and minor editing about one year. After researching what was available at the time I went with Elements 9. The Photoshop CS was way more than I needed and Lightroom at the time was more a cataloging program for professionals taking a zillion shots of the same event.

    I played around with Elements for awhile but found the ACR part really lacking in options. I downloaded the free ViewNX2 from Nikon and worked with that for awhile. What I found was I was doing 95% of my adjustments in ViewNX2 to the basic raw data. Really just making corrections to compensate for the inherent problems with a DSLR. Those being sharpening and contrast with some occasional cropping thrown in. As I developed a bit further I kept up the learning. I found Elements restricted my efforts compared to others as Elements ACR only allows global changes to the raw data and is restricted in features. The ah-hah moment came when I watched a couple of videos on what could be done with curves. I was hooked. Had to move up a step.

    With so many people having different opinions on which route to follow I initially went with the wallet. Elements+ has curves and a few other things unlocked within Elements and all for about 13 dollars. Gave it a try and still think it's a great program opening up many of the Photoshop options that are in Elements, just locked up. Take a look here for what's available in the program http://simplephotoshop.com/elementsplus/

    I still wanted to be able to do more with the raw data as I found working with the jpeg's in Elements became less and less a concern. I really had little need to go there in a majority of my photos. Because I was familiar with ViewNX2 I downloaded the trial of CaptureNX 2 and gave it a try. To be honest I really couldn't get my head around the work flow of the program. Others on this forum and elsewhere loved the program so I kept trying it for about 3 weeks and had problems every time. CaptureNX 2 (or me) also had serious problems with some of my landscapes. Blue sky, mountains and ocean played hell with the Control Points. I finally gave up and decided to give Lightroom a go. It's important to note that Lr had by then evolved way past just being a catalogue database and contains far more ACR options than it had, or Elements has. I had to do quite a bit of research on this one because I could not download a Lr trial version. Lr4 does not support Windows XP Professional which I refuse to move from unless something major forces me. I had to be certain ahead of time so I spent many hours going over videos from a few sources. Finding a retail version of Lr3 was a bit of a problem but I finally found one. Another huge part of my decision was based on the support for Lightroom. On-line courses and videos are endless. CaptureNX 2, not so much. In fact quite lacking.

    The biggest reason for moving to another program from Elements was for the control of raw adjustments. Elements ACR changes are global so any modifications to part of the photo requires masking and adjustments. Capture and Lightroom can adjust selected areas quite easily.

    I've only had it loaded for a couple of weeks and am just playing around with it but Lr seems more intuitive. In Capture, you had to make all the changes you wanted then go back over adjacent areas with more colour control points to prevent changes in areas you didn't want effected. Almost doing things twice. Lr is move like painting. Make the changes you want with a brush or gradient only to the areas you want and move on.

    As far as ease of use goes I've also read the exact opposite of what I've said. Some found CaptureNX 2 to be more in tune with their thought process. To that I have to say take a couple of weeks and give both a try with their free downloads. I'm sure you will find your own reasons for whichever you choose.

  8. #8

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    What one person finds intuitive, another person finds unintuitive. So, Andrew and I agree about the importance of test driving the software to determine which might be a better fit for you.

    We disagree in his thinking that the availability of learning tools for NX2 is lacking. There are at least four widely regarded eBooks written by Jason Odell, Ben Long and Mike Hagen that explain workflow, the tools, and everything you would want to know about how to use the product. One of Odell's eBooks is dedicated to using NX2 to convert to black-and-white images. Ben Long also has a complete set of about 75 tutorials available at Lynda.com. Nikon has over 30 free tutorials at my last count; that was years ago and there might be more now. I just now pulled up a website I wasn't aware of that had about 75 tutorials provided by a variety of sources.

    In Capture, you had to make all the changes you wanted then go back over adjacent areas with more colour control points to prevent changes in areas you didn't want effected. Almost doing things twice. Lr is move like painting. Make the changes you want with a brush or gradient only to the areas you want and move on.
    I'd like to provide some clarification, actually a correction, about that. If you use color control points or selection control points, Andrew is correct that you might need to select areas using them and then deselect areas that you don't want them to affect. (Even so, I find the use of selection control points one of NX2's best capabilities.) If you prefer instead to paint your selections using brushes or gradients as he describes is done using Lightroom, be aware that NX2 also has those tools. Depending on the situation, I use control points, brushes or a combination of both and like that both are available.

    Please understand that I'm not "defending" NX2. It really wouldn't bother me in the slightest if I was the only person on the planet using the product, as I have no pride in ownership. Indeed, I could provide a list of NX2's inadequacies and would be happy to do so if you were interested in them. I already mentioned a major concern in my first post about the likelihood of future upgrades. For another example, people on another forum joke about how they wish Nikon would add a reverse selection tool to NX2 just so they would no longer have to put up with me complaining about that lacking.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 24th November 2012 at 01:51 PM.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Thank you all for your detailed replies. At the moment I am leaning towards Capture NX2 but I guess I should download the free trial of both programs before making a final decision.

  10. #10
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Hi, David;

    I'm another Capture NX2 user and I thought I'd chime in with my observations.

    I've used Photoshop exclusively for photo editing ever since version 7; and a precursor program (Aldus Photostyler) since the early-mid 1990's. I only switched to digital capture (from scanned 35mm film) in 2008; so, that's when I first needed to work with a raw file converter.

    I would have been happy to work exclusively within Photoshop, through Adobe Camera Raw; and indeed, with my first test digital camera (an Olympus e510) I did do that, converting my files into DNG format. When I decided I really needed a full frame sensor a little later that year, and opted for the Nikon D700, I was still inclined toward Photoshop and ACR. However, I soon found that there were issues with ACR's handling of NEF files; specifically, at a Santa Claus parade, I found that ACR rendered the shaded areas of Santa's suit under his arm in with noticeably banded transition. I reconverted the files using Capture NX2 and the transitions were all seamlessly smooth, with no posturization in the tonal gradients at all.

    A couple of points here: others have pointed out that I could no doubt resolve that issue in ACR by tweaking the conversion settings; and this happened several years ago so no doubt the issue has been resolved by now (?).

    I was already using Photoshop to edit my images, so I continue to do this and I just use Capture NX2 to convert my NEFs into TIFFs. I use Nikon Transfer and View NX anyway so I assess my images there and then jump into Capture NX2 to do my conversions. I don't use the 'control point' feature of Capture NX2 for image editing (although I keep telling myself I should learn that).

    Often, I am doing HDR work so my initial conversion to TIFFs is just basic prep for other programs than Photoshop. I end up in Photoshop to edit the HDR images I create so it is easier to have the HDR versions and the original file in the same format (TIFFs) - that way, I don't have any unexpected alignment and registry problems when I go to blend the HDR version with one or several of the initial capture sequence.

    I've never used Lightroom, or Elements (well I tried it once or twice but found that it was a little too user friendly, making decisions for editing steps that I needed to be determining for myself); so I guess all I can tell you is that I use Capture NX2 as a raw converter for my NEF files and have no intention of switching from doing so.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    I use Nikon Transfer and View NX anyway so I assess my images there and then jump into Capture NX2 to do my conversions.
    If David wanted to use a Nikon product to convert NEFs, he could use View NX2 which is free. He could even batch convert them to TIFFs or JPEGs for further post-processing in other programs. I'm not familiar with View NX2's limitations beyond merely converting NEFs, but the documentation does indicate that it can be used to convert them.

    View NX2 also includes Transfer 2, eliminating the requirement to use one program to download and another program to cull and convert as was the case in the past when View NX (not version 2) and Transfer had to be used separately. John, considering that you are still using View NX and Transfer, you might want to look into that.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post

    View NX2 also includes Transfer 2, eliminating the requirement to use one program to download and another program to cull and convert as was the case in the past when View NX (not version 2) and Transfer had to be used separately. John, considering that you are still using View NX and Transfer, you might want to look into that.
    Hi, Mike;

    When I plug my camera into my computer and turn the camera on, Nikon Transfer automatically loads. After my photos have uploaded, it shuts down and ViewNX automatically starts up. I can review my images, double clicking to get a full screen view and clicking in the image to see it at 100% at the spot I clicked, and compare them that way before assigning a ranking. Then I can engage a ranking filter and select the images I want to work on from those I've chosen to rank, opening them in Capture NX2. I can also check the metadata to make sure I am using the correct sequences when working toward creating an HDR panorama, and use the ranking system to group panorama sections together without renaming files (which I do when converting to TIFFs).

    I can take one characteristic image from a set, adjust the white balance by way of color temperature, and make whatever other global adjustments I think are necessary; then I can save those settings and apply them to all other appropriate images.

    That pretty much gets me ready for HDR conversion and editing in Photoshop.

    Not sure I'g gain any benefit from having View and Transfer more integrated than they are; but thanks for the heads-up on that.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    If David wanted to use a Nikon product to convert NEFs, he could use View NX2 which is free.
    I use Capture NX2 and PaintShopPro x4 as my main tools for post-procesing. I use Capture NX2 mostly for the low-end adjustments -- lens distortion correction, white balance correction where necessary, tone mapping and exposure correction, and initial cropping/straightening. The thing that View NX2 really fails to do in my experience is tone mapping. Its interface for dealing with the range of data beyond 8-bits per channel is completely opaque to me. Capture NX2 is far from perfect, put provides enough information that you can make the adjustments with reasonable confidence.

    I output 16 bit per channel TIFF for import into PSP, and apply Topaz plugin filters for noise reduction and detail enhancement as appropriate. I finish with FocusMagic's plugin to sharpen the final output just berfore saving as a JPEG. PSP is able to use the PhotoShop plugins that I care about, and I mostly use PSP as a platform for third-party plugins, so it s a cheap substitute for PS. I do employ PSP's perspective correction, median filtering, and layers support on occasion, but I don't usually do any of those things with my photos. FWIW

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    Not sure I'g gain any benefit from having View and Transfer more integrated than they are
    I'm not sure either, especially considering that I have never used View NX2. I only know that it includes Transfer, which is not the case with View NX.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Everyone seems to have focused on the processing aspects of Capture NX2 compared with Lightroom. But I don't feel the two products are comparable. Lightroom's forte is image management, the ability to add keywords, geotag them, make collections, etc so you can organize and find your photos. Capture NX2 is not designed for that.

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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    Everyone seems to have focused on the processing aspects of Capture NX2 compared with Lightroom.
    That's at least partly if not entirely because the OP asked about that comparison.

    But I don't feel the two products are comparable. Lightroom's forte is image management, the ability to add keywords, geotag them, make collections, etc so you can organize and find your photos.
    I have never used Lightroom. However, based on everything I have read about it, its strength is that it has a certain degree of post-processing and Digital Asset Management (DAM) capabilities that meet the needs of photographers who don't need the high end of either post-processing or DAM capabilities.

  17. #17
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    I have always found NX and NX2 are wonderful bits of software and were for a long time the quick and easy workflow with CS doing the bits that NX2 couldn't cope with. Unfortunately a glitch occurred when Apple went from Snow Leopard to Lion that completely screwed NX2. Long phone calls and emails with Nik failed to resolve it. Yes I solved it in the end by creating a dual boot and reinstalling NX2 on Snow Leopard, but it is a faf for a software that was quick and easy particularly when I want to go back to tweak something with CS.

    Then I started working at a place where CS6 Master Collection was available on my work computer for the asking, so I now take my stuff there and do a little overtime! Unfortunately it means that NX2 no longer gets used and with Nik software being swallowed by the 'Google', who knows where it will end up. Might be better in the end, but they are only a small part in a mighty cog now, although Google should consider their investment carefully and develop NX3!

  18. #18
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by shreds View Post
    I have always found NX and NX2 are wonderful bits of software and were for a long time the quick and easy workflow with CS doing the bits that NX2 couldn't cope with. Unfortunately a glitch occurred when Apple went from Snow Leopard to Lion that completely screwed NX2. Long phone calls and emails with Nik failed to resolve it. Yes I solved it in the end by creating a dual boot and reinstalling NX2 on Snow Leopard, but it is a faf for a software that was quick and easy particularly when I want to go back to tweak something with CS.

    Then I started working at a place where CS6 Master Collection was available on my work computer for the asking, so I now take my stuff there and do a little overtime! Unfortunately it means that NX2 no longer gets used and with Nik software being swallowed by the 'Google', who knows where it will end up. Might be better in the end, but they are only a small part in a mighty cog now, although Google should consider their investment carefully and develop NX3!
    The problem is the format of your system-partition. Capture NX2 does not work if your disk is formatted Case-Sensitive. I have a Mac running 10.7 and Capture NX2 works perfectly.


    Cheers
    A.

  19. #19
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Thanks Andrea,

    I cant recall how the disc was formatted now, as the problem occurred at the beginning of the year. Shame Nik couldn't have suggested that.

    A new MBP is on its way, so I can try installing NX2 on that, although it will have CS6 on it anyway.

  20. #20
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    Re: Nikon Capture NX2 or Lightroom 4

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    We disagree in his thinking that the availability of learning tools for NX2 is lacking
    The availability of resources related to PS/LR/ACR was a compelling consideration for me some years back. I was considering PaintShopPro (PSP), which has Lots of capabilities and reasonably priced.

    However, my intention was to stay seriously involved in photography for years/decades, and the amount of literature (books, websites, blogs, tutorials, youtube's, etc.) is overwhelmingly a positive plus for PS and LR. I can count on an up-to-date PS or LR book from Martin Evening, Scott Kelby, et'al soon after a new CS# is released.

    PS is a huge, complicated, pricey piece of software, but it is the industry standard.

    My 2¢, and YMMV.
    Last edited by ldasignup; 8th December 2012 at 08:31 PM.

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