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View Full Version : Should I buy Nikon Capture software?



Brian T. Faddis
01-11-2006, 05:13 AM
I am a new Nikon D50 user and was wondering if anyone could tell me the real benefits of capturing NEF files over JPEG and if the Nikon Capture software is any better than Photoshop for image processing?
Thanks very much!

BigConig
01-11-2006, 06:18 AM
I am a new Nikon D50 user and was wondering if anyone could tell me the real benefits of capturing NEF files over JPEG and if the Nikon Capture software is any better than Photoshop for image processing?
Thanks very much!

I personally like shooting RAW and using capture. It does require a decent PC to run well though.

The real benefit to shooting RAW IMO is that you can process the images after the fact without loss of quality to the original data. If you have white balance set wrong, or decide a picture looks better in a different color space o with different contrast or sharpening you can adjust it after the image has been saved and have the same quality as if you had adjusted the camera setting before taking the shot.

I'm pretty sure you can get a 30 day trial from Nikon so you might want to give it a try before commiting to the cost. But if you're like me once you start shooting RAW you'll end up getting it.


My 2

jcon
01-11-2006, 08:27 AM
There is a 30 day trial of Capture on the cd that came with your D50. Give it a try and see what you think!

erichlund
01-11-2006, 09:16 AM
There is a 30 day trial of Capture on the cd that came with your D50. Give it a try and see what you think!
I agree. Capture delivers excellent results with not unreasonable performance. There's actually a program with better measured results (perhaps debateable, but there seems to be some agreement on the point), but a change that takes 10 seconds on Capture takes over 5 minutes on that program (RAW Majick Lite). Now, if you are processing that once in a lifetime photo, then RAW Majick Lite may be a good choice.

Of course, there's also the consideration of the nature of the interface. Capture gives you tools that are the same as what's on the camera. There are other tools as well, but you have the camera controls at hand, so it's like retaking the picture, without losing the original. The other programs must do their interfaces in a different manner, especially for white balance (because Nikon encrypts that item).

Esoterra
01-11-2006, 03:27 PM
I bought Nikon Capture, and I wish that I hadn't. I am sure it's because I don't know how to use it all that well, but I find that it take FOREVER for the picture to be rendered accuratley, not to mention that there are no presets (for unsharp mask or any of the features) you have to make them yourself. I shoot only in RAW and find that my workflow is way faster and with better looking results using RAWShooter Premium 2006. I spent the money so I want to use it more- so I hope to hear from anyone with details on how they use Capture more effectively that I am apperantly.

erichlund
01-11-2006, 05:10 PM
I bought Nikon Capture, and I wish that I hadn't. I am sure it's because I don't know how to use it all that well, but I find that it take FOREVER for the picture to be rendered accuratley, not to mention that there are no presets (for unsharp mask or any of the features) you have to make them yourself. I shoot only in RAW and find that my workflow is way faster and with better looking results using RAWShooter Premium 2006. I spent the money so I want to use it more- so I hope to hear from anyone with details on how they use Capture more effectively that I am apperantly.
It sounds like you are not upgraded to the most recent version or you have a not very high performance computer (or both). Capture has had pretty decent performance since version 4.3.

I'm not sure what you mean by presets. Capture displays the shot you take with the settings you used on the camera. If you had med low sharpening set, that's what it displays. You can directly change that value, or you set None for sharpening and use the USM, at which point you have to understand how that works.

USM has three basic parameters and these can be applied to a combined RGB color set or to an individual color, Red, Green or Blue. I've not tried the latter capability yet, so I don't really know how you can combine those. However, assuming RGB, then you have Intensity, Halo Width and Contrast Mask (I forget the actual name for the last one). Intensity tells how much sharpening to apply as a percent, 0% to 100%. Halo width tells the tool how wide an area to look for an edge. You especially want to keep this number as small as is effective. The last item has to with the number of pixels that will be included in the test, based on the contrast level (0-255). 0 means all pixels will be included, 255 means none (do nothing). I've never used anything but 0, so I can't say how much affect this varies the result.

I've found I'm typically using between 5 and 15 halo width and between 45 and 70 intensity. You would see this listed as RGB, 45, 10, 0. If you set Halo Width too high (give it a try, max it out), you will see some really bizarre results.

Rawshooter is faster, and as long as you are satisfied with the results, it's a good tool. I've only used the free version, and only sporadically. I don't need the speed of Rawshooter, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable with Capture, so I'll stick with what I know.

Finally, I'll be the first to admit, there are a lot of things about Capture that could be done better in terms of automation, but again, I'm not in the need for speed, so all I can say is go with what works for you.

Cheers,
Eric

D70FAN
01-11-2006, 07:31 PM
I bought Nikon Capture, and I wish that I hadn't. I am sure it's because I don't know how to use it all that well, but I find that it take FOREVER for the picture to be rendered accuratley, not to mention that there are no presets (for unsharp mask or any of the features) you have to make them yourself. I shoot only in RAW and find that my workflow is way faster and with better looking results using RAWShooter Premium 2006. I spent the money so I want to use it more- so I hope to hear from anyone with details on how they use Capture more effectively that I am apperantly.

Make sure you have Nikon Capture 4.4 (latest) enough RAM (preferably 1GB) and at least a 2.4 GHz processor. I have not had good results with RSE 1.13 but maybe the commercial version is better. The free version is certainly no faster on my computer and batch processing was painful to say the least.

K1W1
01-11-2006, 08:11 PM
I am a new Nikon D50 user and was wondering if anyone could tell me the real benefits of capturing NEF files over JPEG and if the Nikon Capture software is any better than Photoshop for image processing?
Thanks very much!

Try using Nikon View and Nikon Editor (Both totally free and on the CD that came with your camera) to edit some NEF files. Edit is fairly basic compared to Capture and Photoshop but you can do a surprising amount with it - in fact virtually everything a beginer would want. Images can be saved in jpeg for further manipulation in a host of other programs if you want.

Before the "pros" jump in here this is not a professional solution but is an ideal way for a new D50 owner to start learning what can be done with the RAW format and to decide whether they want or need to progress to a more sophisticated program. In addition the hardware requirements for the host PC are substantially less. I have seen Edit run perfectly acceptably (if a little slow) on a Celeron 1 Ghz PC with 512 MB RAM!

Brian T. Faddis
01-12-2006, 04:15 AM
Thanks to everyone for their responses. I did install the trial version and will start playing immediately. It's always great to get feedback from those more experienced.

D70FAN
01-12-2006, 05:36 AM
Try using Nikon View and Nikon Editor (Both totally free and on the CD that came with your camera) to edit some NEF files. Edit is fairly basic compared to Capture and Photoshop but you can do a surprising amount with it - in fact virtually everything a beginer would want. Images can be saved in jpeg for further manipulation in a host of other programs if you want.

Before the "pros" jump in here this is not a professional solution but is an ideal way for a new D50 owner to start learning what can be done with the RAW format and to decide whether they want or need to progress to a more sophisticated program. In addition the hardware requirements for the host PC are substantially less. I have seen Edit run perfectly acceptably (if a little slow) on a Celeron 1 Ghz PC with 512 MB RAM!

Thanks K1W1. It's amazing how many of us forget about Nikons software package. The last time I used it was 7 years ago with my CP900, and I was using Photoshop 4 which was a lot better, but I'm sure that Nikon View/Editor have been improved over the years, and like you said would be fine for a beginner.

I think I will install it in the lab computer (garage) to see what improvements have been made in the past 5 years.;)

Esoterra
01-12-2006, 07:01 AM
Thank you George for your feedback. Yes I have been using NC4.3 on my old computer 1.8 Ghz while my speed machine is getting fixed, so I am sure it had something to do with my displeasure. Another question I have about NC4.3 is saving single files at a time. With RSE you adjust the picture how you want, then click a button and it automatically converts it to high quality JPEG in about 4 seconds. With NC4 you have to go to file>save>choose location>save> and it takes up to 20 seconds at times to save the darn JPEG, not to mention that if I start editing another file in this time, it pasues the saving process. I have a feeling this has to do with my computer speed, correct me if I am wrong.

As far as the batch edit is concerned, could you explain how you utilize this feature. do you highlight all the RAW images that you have edited and just click the batch edit button?

erichlund
01-12-2006, 09:14 AM
Thank you George for your feedback. Yes I have been using NC4.3 on my old computer 1.8 Ghz while my speed machine is getting fixed, so I am sure it had something to do with my displeasure. Another question I have about NC4.3 is saving single files at a time. With RSE you adjust the picture how you want, then click a button and it automatically converts it to high quality JPEG in about 4 seconds. With NC4 you have to go to file>save>choose location>save> and it takes up to 20 seconds at times to save the darn JPEG, not to mention that if I start editing another file in this time, it pasues the saving process. I have a feeling this has to do with my computer speed, correct me if I am wrong.

As far as the batch edit is concerned, could you explain how you utilize this feature. do you highlight all the RAW images that you have edited and just click the batch edit button?
I haven't played with the batch editing stuff, so I won't address that.

However, despite our need for speed, I sometimes question whether we are giving something up in favor of speed. I mentioned Raw Majick Lite earlier, which takes over 5 minutes to do some particular operation I do not recall (search DPReview) versus 10 seconds for Capture. The end result is that Raw Majick Lite retained greater resolution than Capture, so may be a better choice for super size output that needs gallery quality.

Transfer that same concept to RAW Shooter (any version) and I have to ask the question, "What shortcuts are they taking with the image quality to achieve that speed?" If you are getting great results with it in the size you are working in, then great. I am not trying to tell you that you are doing something wrong, I'm just raising a point for consideration. Don't get me wrong. I really like the workflow tools in RAW Shooter. But, for me, myself and I, I trust the quality of output I get with Capture, and I can see a difference in what I've gotten as output from RAW Shooter Essentials.

Cheers,
Eric