ACR vs. Nikon Capture, others

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by triangular, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. I'm sure this has been well discussed, though I couldn't find a recent discussion on it.

    I've been using ACR with my NEFs, and after rebuilding my laptop I currently don't even have Nikon Capture loaded, and haven't seen the newest version. What I do know is that my NEF's in ACR often look very dark, while the corresponding JPG's often seem just fine. I'm not sure why this happens, except that I've heard most of the data in the NEF is stored in the highlights. Also, I don't have any experience with other RAW converters such as Bibble, Capture One, etc.

    There does seem to be a preference by some for the quality of the NEF through Nikon Capture than through ACR. I've never really investigated this. And while using ACR might be a more integrated workflow, I don't think it provides all the adjustments found in Capture. Of course most of those adjustments could be done through Pshop, but doing them on the RAW image itself shouldn't degrade the image in any way. And there is also the problem that ACR doesn't import any of the default settings from the camera when it opens the NEF, so all those menu settings in the field are pretty much useless if they are going to be ignored.

    Please set me straight if I have it wrong somewhere. Otherwise, what are your thoughts about using Nikon Capture vs. ACR, or any others for that matter. What do you use and how do you work it into your workflow?

    Thanks.
     
  2. saturnine

    saturnine Guest

    I was originally an avid ACR user, but then I actually installed Nikon Capture, and I had both PS CS (ACR) and Nikon Capture open and compared the pictures right from the CF card. The image from Nikon Capture were SO much more vibrant and contrasty than the picture in ACR. So...from then on, I started opening my images in Nikon Capture to do NEF adjustments.

    However...I still like the Save For Web function on PS for my jpg's...but I wouldn't be able to do that in Photoshop unless I opened the original RAW file in Photoshop.. So, for now I'm saving my jpg's in Nikon Capture...is there any difference?
     
  3. Chris101

    Chris101

    Feb 2, 2005
    Arizona
    Grace, you can transfer the picture from Nikon Capture to Photoshop with the "Transfer to Photoshop" function. I don't recommend saving a jpeg with the "Save to Web ..." command though. "Save As..." works better and allows you to add in the EXIF data as well.
     
  4. Chris101

    Chris101

    Feb 2, 2005
    Arizona
    Christian, I disagree that Nikon Capture delivers better quality than does ACR. I use the latest version of ACR, and it has many of the controls that Capture has, but to me, ACR's user interface makes more sense.

    I believe that software is very personal. One person may resonate with Capture's way of doing things, while others will prefer ACR and Photoshop (or Elements) and a third will want to use Bibble and Paint Shop Pro.

    ACR's claim to fame is it's speed, batchability and the ability to expose further to the right without blowing out, to eliminate high iso noise in shadows more effectively. I prefer the image quality I get from ACR to what I do with NC. However, I've seen some very fine work done with the other programs I've mentioned as well. One thing, ACR's defaults are all wrong. If you don't change them, it will come out like Grace said, dull.
     
  5. saturnine

    saturnine Guest

    How do you change the defaults? :oops:
     
  6. Hi Grace,

    I agree completely with Chris about the differences between Capture and ACR. I greatly prefer ACR.

    To change the defaults, use the fly-out menu to the right of "Settings". Then turn off "Use Auto Adjustments". Then set the various sliders to whatever settings you prefer to have as defaults, go back to the fly-out menu and save the settings as YOUR new default settings.

    Make sense?

    Best wishes,

    David
     
  7. I guess you could eyeball it like that, but does that method arrive at something comparable to the way the image looks in Capture?

    My understanding of whats different is that Capture will open the NEF with all your default settings you made in-camera, whereas ACR ignores them. I guess my biggest complaint about using ACR is that all those settings you tweak through your cameras menu settings are useless if they are thrown out. I can tweak the settings in ACR to look ok, but if I want to change my settings in camera for a particular shoot, it won't do anything for me. In the D2H I have I think four memory banks for settings that I can switch between. All that is useless to me with ACR.

    Another question: I've heard about CALIBRATING ACR to an individual camera. What is that all about?

    I agree for workflow purposes ACR is great, but Capture still provides more advanced tuning features on the RAW image directly, none of which will degrade the image. The only real problem with Capture is the performance issue; slow with large memory requirements.
     
  8. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I agree with the others that to get the most out of ACR takes a little bit more learning/work upfront, but after that initial investment I find that I'm much more productive than I ever was with NC, and the results I get are better.

    Some might consider the fact that NC uses the in-camera settings an advantage, but to me it's a non-issue. Personally, I don't want to be worrying about sharpness levels, tone curves, and hue settings while in the field shoooting. I'd rather sort out that stuff during raw conversion.

    I'll agree that NC gives you "snappy" pictures with little or no effort, but the colors aren't always very accurate, and that "pop" in contrast often comes at the expense of shadow detail and overall dynamic range.
     
  9. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    In a nutshell it's about fine-tuning the color rendition of the convertor for more accurate results with you camera. The most common way to do it is by taking a shot of a MacBeth ColorChecker chart, and then adjusting the calibration parameters to get the colors to match the "reference" as closely as possible. While this method of calibration is not 100% perfect, in my experience it works far better than trying to create ICC profile for you camera. I can tell you for sure that I'm getting more accurate color rendition from ACR after calibration than I ever got from NC: no blue/purple or orange/red shifts, and as long as I get the WB right I never have to mess with any color casts in post-processing because they're just not there.

    I can't think of any advanced tuning you can do in Capture, that can't be done in ACR. Some things are achieved through a slightly different interface (LCH versus Calibration sliders, for instace), but particularly with CS2 all the tools are there: cropping/straightening, shadow, midtone, and highlight adjustments, contrast, custom tone-curves, lens corrections (vignetting and CA), etc.
     
  10. Ok, but there is something I think we both agree on here. You'd rather save time in the field shooting, not worrying about the in camera settings. I see it all dependant on your current workflow. I'd rather save time post-processesing, doing as little of that as possible. I think neither NC or ACR are ideal because at this point either road adds extra time to workflow. But if NC could perform better in terms of CPUsage and memory, I could probably get by with litttle or no post-processing by getting all my curves right from the beginning. I never used to use Pshop with most of my chrome film, I just spent the time to get everything right when taking my shots. It makes better photography all around, in general. I would like to see ACR include ALL the RAW editing features instead of its current basic subset. I just hate degrading the image itself (at any level) if Im able to perform all those edits directly on the RAW without altering any of the source data. Unfortunately I dont know of any RAW editor that answers everything. However I suspect there may be better solutions than either NC or ACR that some people are using.
     
  11. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    What features are you looking for that are currently missing from RAW converters? If you mean the full editing capabilities of Photoshop, there's no way you can do stuff like cloning/healing, etc non-destructively. The only things that make sense to do in the raw converter are things that affect how the raw conversion is actually done.

    I agree with you on things like exposure, DOF, focus, etc. Obviously you want to get the right exposure and such to minimize the number of things that need "fixed" in post-processing. But to me things like sharpening levels and tone curves are uniquely digital and I don't see any advantage to messing with those in the field. I have better tools for evaluating those decisions at my workstation. Plus I'd hate to miss a rare wildlife shot, for instance, because I was wading through custom menus.

    As for excess post-processing, I really don't see it that way. For most images I do very little actual editing in Photoshop aside from sharpening (which I don't do in the RAW convertor because there are better tools for the job in Photoshop).
     
  12. saturnine

    saturnine Guest

    Thanks David! How do I change the defaults to be the same as NC's? Or is this not possible to pin down exactly?
     
  13. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I use both, depending on the image
    Sometimes Acr will pull it out better.
     
  14. Hi Grace,

    Not really possible to exactly duplicate NC's defaults in ACR. I'd suggest playing around with the ACR controls until you find a "look" that works well for the majority of your images, realizing that this "default" is only an arbitrary starting point. There is no one correct look.

    Best wishes,

    David
     
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