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Capture NX2, should I take the plunge

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by sbrian28, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    I am a happy user of Lightroom 2. I always shoot RAW with my D300. I have just decided to switch to shooting with Vivid enabled in camera and like the results. I think Scott Kelby recommends this as well. However, I clearly lose the Vivid setting when I convert the RAW using Lightroom, I can see it change as it moves from the preview jpeg to the actual RAW file. I tried NX2 and thought it was not nearly as nice a workflow but want to be able to get the best quality out of my photos. It won't let me do another trial, even thought I've had to reformat my PC about 2 times since trying NX2 last year. Any thoughts on how I can try NX2 again? Also, is NX2 worth the extra hassle beyond using just Lightroom? Finally, if I process through NX2 can the image come out of the program as a NEF or does it export out (and have to be imported into Lightroom) as a TIFF?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2009
  2. I recently went in the exact opposite direction from what you're considering. I went from an NX2-centric workflow to an LR2-centric workflow, and my digital life has changed for the better.

    That's not a knock on NX2. I enjoyed processing my images in NX2 (and I occassionally still do). Although images processed thru LR2's Develop module might not be as "accurate" as the ones processed thru NX2, I feel that the differences are slight and that the positives of using LR2 over NX2 outweighed the negatives for me.

    First off - Like you, I also shoot mainly in RAW/Vivid (or Landscape preset) on my D300. Although NX2 provides more fine control over settings than LR2, I find that LR2's availalble adjustments are just fine for me. If you don't already know, Adobe has free camera-specific downloadable camera presets (such as Vivid, Landscape, etc) that IMO approximate NX2's corresponding Picture Controls quite well.

    Second - The main reason that I switched to LR2 is for its image management capabilities, and smooth integration with the Develop, Web and Print modules. I rarely have to leave LR2 for anything now, except for special processing such as for HDR's in Photomatix (an LR2plug-in is available), or jumping out to PS Elements to apply a Topaz filter. Both of these return the processed image directly to LR2 (but not as a NEF).

    Third - Here's the negative that you should be aware of -- LR2 and NX2 don't play well together. Any image processing in NX2 is not recognized in LR2, amd vice-versa. That's due to how each saves it's "Edit Steps". NX2 saves the info inside the actual NEF file, while LR2 saves that info in a separate "sidecar" file, so each can't read the other's edits.
    So, in order to jump out of LR2 to edit a NEF in NX2, LR2 sends it as a TIFF, not a NEF, so you lose much of NX2's functionality. It then gets returned to LR2 as a TIFF. Of course, you could open the NEF in NX2 from outside of LR2 and make your RAW edits. But then, it has to be saved as a TIFF or JPG and then imported in LR2 to retain those edits. A clunky process, at best.

    I hope this wasn't too wordy, but there's a lot to consider with regard to your questions. Since I just went thru it, I thought that relating my experience would help.

    Don't get me wrong -- NX2 is an excellent program. Good luck with your decision. It's just that it most definitely does not work smoothly together with Lightroom.
     
  3. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    Thank you. I have never been a fan of the NX2 workflow and so I didn't buy it. I actually forgot all about the Adobe presets. I had them some time ago but had to reformat my PC and forgot to reinstall them.

    I use Lightroom the same way. I do nearly all of my editing in there. I only leave it to do special editing in Photoshop. I prefer this as it is the cleanest and easiest.

    Thanks for the tip about how they can't share edits. I figured it wouldn't work from LR2 to NX2 but that is very disappointing that LR2 can't read NX2's edits. That was the whole point of what I was going to do.

    Do you feel you've lost any quality (detail, noise reduction, color) by using LR2 (Adobe Camera Raw) for your Raw conversions instead of NX2?
     
  4. FYI, Ken Rockstar also says vivid's the way to go. But he say's no fair shooting .nef. That's like cheating according to him.
     
  5. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    Bert,

    BTW, how do you like your Sigma 10-20mm. In my Canon setup I have the 10-22 which is superb (I wish I could use Canon lenses on my D300, Canon lenses are cheaper). The Nikon 10-24 doesn't have enough reviews yet and it's about $1000. I am considering either the Sigma 10-20mm or the Tokina 12-26 or 11-16mm. Is the Sigma 10-20 that you have sharp. How's the distortion?
     
  6. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    That's interesting. How does he figure nef is cheating?
     
  7. Absolutely not! I'm very pleased with the quality of LR2's Develop engine, and even more please at it's ease of use!
     
  8. Funny that you should ask that, Brian. I've had the Sigma 10-20 for well over a year now, and for awhile I almost forgot that I had it. I was using my Nikon 17-55 for almost everything, including landscapes. Just recently, I pulled out the Sigma again and was very pleasantly surprised at it's overall IQ. The sharpness and especially the color rendering and contrast are just great IMO.

    Since it's a wide-angle, of course there's some distortion depending on what you're shooting and how close you are to the subject. But for landscapes it's great.

    Search around on the Cafe for "Sigma 10-20". There's a thread where folks are posting their images using the lens.
     
  9. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana

    Will do. Thanks.
     
  10. According to his "logic", .nef gives you too much PP freedom to alter the original image. He believes that you should know your camera well enough so that you can set it up to correctly capture jpegs straight away. I'm not kidding. When I get some motivation, I'll see if I can find the discussion on his website.
     
  11. I use LR2 (since it was introduced), CS3 (at an advanced level) and CNX2. I had not been happy with LR2's conversion of my NEFs and got up to speed with CNX2 via Jason Odell's ebook. Now that I am comfortable using CNX2 I feel the improvement is noticeable. So much so, that I have been re-editing shots formerly edited in Adobe.

    The advantage of starting out with the in camera settings cuts my edit time substantially and helps in the evaluation of the sooc images.

    I leave my camera in landscape and change it to vivid, portrait or standard as needed. The ACR camera calibrations are good but not as good as the Nikon version.

    The U Point tools in CNX2 are also very effective.

    I am now working my way through Hagen's book and finding even more value in CNX2.

    You do need to convert to a tiff to use the CNX2 edits in LR2 or Photoshop but CNX2 makes it a simple matter to do so. Re-import into LR2 is necessary for it to be added to the catolog. However, depending on your workflow CNX2 can stand alone from import to output in many cases.
     
  12. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    Thanks for the feedback. I am very interested in the U Point tools as they make it seem very easy to make localized adjustments. I still struggle with LR2's local brush, and Photoshop CS2 is a lot of work to use so I only use it when I need to make major changes to the image. I think I will try it out to see what kind of difference in image quality I get. My initial tests show that NX2 does much better in the noise department and I think your comment about having less PP since I am starting from the image my camera took with it's own profiles makes a lot of sense.

    I would not give up on LR2 though as I really do love the program's interface. I'll likely export to tiff from NX2 and then import into LR2 as you suggest.
     
  13. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    Very interesting. Sounds like a purest in terms of photography. I welcome the easier edits. While it was fun to dodge and burn in an actual darkroom, the chemicals and time it took make digital so much easier. RAW all the way :) 
     
  14. ovidius

    ovidius

    83
    Oct 25, 2008
    Cork, Ireland
    I have been bouncing between LR and CNX for a long time and it seems that I have finally found peace...using both. I now use LR to manage and catalogue the shots. The files processed in CNX will be key worded NX and also colour labelled yellow ( yellow for Nikon..eh??). Once I finished to process a file in NX, I will use Open With to save and open a the file as a Tiff. The Tiff will be automatically added to the catalogue in LR.
    Personally, the more I use NX the more I realise the huge difference between LR and NX with NX being a clear winner in term of image quality.
     
  15. Adkid

    Adkid

    818
    Jan 3, 2009
    Portland
    If you are happy with LR, why not use View NX as your RAW converter to TIFF, then bring it back to LR? With the picture controls in View NX, you can may adjustments after you shoot.
     
  16. Interesting that you've found something that works for you to allow you to use both LR2 and NX2. I have some questions about your stated workflow....

    Are you saying that you load a NEF file into NX2 from outside of LR2 or from inside of LR2? My experience is that loading a NEF from inside LR2 forces it to be converted to a TIFF before arriving in NX2, which negates a good deal of NX2's functionality. If you load the NEF into NX2 from outside of LR2, you said that you then save the edited file as a TIFF. How does that TIFF then automatically get added to LR2's catalog?

    I may have your workflow details not quite right and/or I just may be missing something with how LR2 automatically adds to its catalog. (I'm new to LR2 so I'm sure that I'm missing some of its nuances...)

    If you can clarify these questions, I might give your system a try since I've used NX2 almost exclusively before acquiring LR2 for its cataloging. Anything to merge the use of both apps together in a smooth fashion would be a plus!

    Thanks!
     
  17. sbrian28

    sbrian28

    420
    Sep 22, 2008
    Indiana
    I've considered this but I am really intrigued by the U Point tools at the moment. View NX has the same RAW engine as NX2, correct?
     
  18. ovidius

    ovidius

    83
    Oct 25, 2008
    Cork, Ireland
    Bert

    First let me apologise for my English :)  Not my main language...so...
    I will try to explain my workflow in better details.
    1. I download the files from my CF card using Lightroom.
    2. I would then use LR to select the files I want to keep.
    3. If there is a file I feel might benefit from processing in CNX I highlight the file in LR and by using the right mouse button I select Show in Explorer. A new window ( Windows Explorer) will open with the selected file highlighted. I double click on the file to open it on CNX.
    4. After processing the file in CNX, I will Save the file then by going to File / Open With the file will open as a Tiff in Photoshop where, if needed, I will do the work that cannot be achieved in CNX. I noticed that Tiff files are smaller then PSDs and they save way faster. There is not difference in quality or functionality ( IE smart objects )
    5. When I said "automatically added to the catalogue" I meant added to the folder that contains the NEF file you work on. You might notice that if you Save As ( IE Tiff) from CNX, NX will point you to the last folder opened which might be a completely different folder then the one you are using( at least in Windows). This is very confusing when working with hundreds if not thousands of folders. After using Open With in CNX, I know that the file has been saved as a Tiff in exactly the same folder as the NEF file. I will then go inside LR and right click on the folder and select Synchronise Catalogue. The new Tiff file will be added to the catalogue.
    6. In LR I will make sure that the NEF file I opened in CNX will be key worded "NX" and also colour labelled in Yellow. This will allow me to know immediately which NEF file has been processed in CNX.
    As you probably know, LR will save all the adjustments into a separate file while CNX will save the adjustments straight into the NEF file. This works in our advantage and the same file processed in LR can be also processed in Capture NX without loosing any of the settings done in LR. The changes will be however independent from each other.
    I hope this was clear enough. Feel free to contact me for more questions.
    Apologies again for my English. ( spanglish :) ) )
     
  19. Ovidius,

    Your english is just fine.

    Thanks for presentling your detailed workflow. I will have to try it for myself. What confused me originally was that you said the NEF/TIFF processed by NX2 gets cataloged in Lightroom automatically, which is not really the case. (You actually have to right-click and run "Synchronise Catalog" for LR2 to include it in its database).

    Step #3 is the one that I never would have thought of myself. I'll have to try it to see if dbl-clicking opens the NEF in NX2.

    One more question -- In Step #4, after editing the NEF in NX2, do you save the file as TIFF (or as a NEF)? Does Photoshop (or PS Elements in my case) open a NEF as a TIFF? (I haven't tried that, and can't try it at the moment.)

    Thanks for the info!
     
  20. ovidius

    ovidius

    83
    Oct 25, 2008
    Cork, Ireland
    Bert

    I know.. That automatically sounded indeed confusing. Apologies for that.
    The double click "should" open the file in NX as long NX is set as the default program for NEF file. Check you Windows settings.

    After editing the Nef in NX, I will Save the file (as a NEF) then use the Open With located under File ( top menu). Capture NX will then convert the file into a Tiff, save it in the same folder as the original NEF and send it to Photoshop which should open automatically (this time this is indeed automatically :)  )
    Keep in mind that the colour space used will be the same as the one used in Capture NX.
     
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