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Should I move to Photoshop from NX2?

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by gnagel, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. I've been using Capture NX for about two years now. I'm quite familiar with its functionality and I am happy with the images that I'm able to create with it.

    However, I am seriously considering moving to Photoshop (CS3 or waiting for CS4). I'm finding NX2 to be time consuming as the program is slow (even after upgrading my PC). I'm also thinking that Photoshop will allow me to automate more of my processing through actions and will provide more options for plug-ins. Finally, nearly all of the workshops that I think about attending use Photoshop as part of the digital workflow. Photoshop just seems like the industry standard--so maybe I should invest my training time on that product.

    I do have some questions before investing the time and money into Photoshop:

    1) With NX2, I process my edits on the RAW file and then convert to jpeg. With Photoshop, I'm concerned about the file sizes if I must first convert my NEF images to TIFF or some other very large format before ultimately converting to jpeg. The TIFF files (or psd) files appear massive. And, would I still keep the NEF files? If I convert to jpeg immediatly, I'm concerned that I might lose flexibility/quality during my post processing edits.

    2) With NX2, I add IPTC and other data to the file during processing. Is this possible using Photoshop, or would I have to purchase another product such as Lightroom to accomplish that? I'm hoping to save time by using more integrated products during post processing.

    3) With NX2, I find myself always processing one image at a time. I'm hoping that Photoshop will allow me to save time through automation. For example, it would save time for me to use actions to frame and add signatures to my photos.

    4) Photoshop will offer more useful plug-ins (for sharpening, B&W conversions, etc.). Yet, I think it will be costly since I would probably purchase several of the Nik software (Viveza) plug-ins as I find them so useful with NX2.

    5) I am concerned about adding more to my learning curve with Photoshop. I'm reasonably competent with NX2 and introducing more software (especially with various plug-ins) will take more time away from capturing images at the expense of learning how to process them.

    6) I'm thinking that Photoshop will provide a much easier interface for achieving a color managed workflow. I have a calibrated monitor and have trouble achieving color calibrated prints with my Canon inkjet printer using NX2.

    I'm sure I'm missing several other considerations. But, before I make the plunge into Photoshop (and I'll probably wait until the next release) along with costly plug-ins, I would really appreciate the perspective of others on this forum.

    Thanks in advance...
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2008
  2. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and CS3 - and will be upgrading to CS4. ACR comes with CS.

    ACR opens .nef files and is easy to use. It does not render any camera settings or picture control settings. Some folks swear by NX ...there are many threads on the pro's and con's of NX and NX versus CS...

    I use ACR to process .nef siles. I then open the files as a smart object in PS. I can then double click on the smart obejct and adjust the raw settings if desired.

    The beauty of PS is it allows you to make global or selective adjustments using adjustment layers, which minimizes making destructive changes to your file. You can go back to an adjustment layer and "tweak" or radically change the settings. By saving the file as a layered PSD, you retain maximum flexibility to re-process the photo in the future. If instead you just made changes on the background layer, you cannot go back and undo the change or tweak it in the future. You would have to start with the .nef file again.

    If I want to print or create a .jpg for other use, I open a copy of the .psd file, change color space if necessary, change resolution and size and save file as .jpg. I only create and save .jpg files if I am going to use them several times. Otherwise, you can just open the .psd and create a .jpg for your specific needs at the time.

    With ACR and/or CS you can easy batch process, add IPTC data, add frames, copyright info, etc.

    The plug ins I use most often are s/w for frames, Genuine Fractals for up-sizing and I will soon be buying a noise reduction program. UnSharp Mask in CS works very well for sharpening.

    Calibration is straight forward.

    CS is an extrememly powerful program, but there is a tremendous amount of information and training available. One of the best sources for information, free tutorials, great magazine, etc, is NAPP, the National Assoc of Photoshop Professionals.


    Should you change? I can't answer that. I would definitely recommend talking with CS users. Best case, find a CS user who could sit with you and show you the in's and out's of CS.
  3. FWIW...

    I easily get away with using the fast Adobe Light Room2 for development and light to medium editing. This is all done within NEF without any TIFF conversion. Maybe 3% of my images require more extensive editing and for this I use the more affordable PSP X2.

    You may want to try a Light Room trial before spending the money on a CS4 type application.
  4. I use NX2 and Photoshop CS2. There are things I can do in photoshop that I just can't do in NX2. Sometimes I can get everything done in NX2, but other times I start with NX2 and finish up the process in Photoshop. I always do my RAW conversion in NX2 rather than ACR. I used ACR for a couple of years, but loved the results I got when I switched to the Nikon software.

    I think it would be a very nice next step for you. It does take time, but just learn one thing at a time.
  5. wbeem


    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    There's no reason why you can't supplement NX2 with Photoshop, rather than replace it. Some plugins will work with NX2, but you'll find more with Photoshop.

    I started with Aperture and still like it. The Nik Complete Collection has Aperture & Photoshop plugins for each product, so I don't necessarily HAVE to launch Photoshop to use them. My FishEye Hemi plugin also works with Aperture, and now OnOne Software will add plugins to work with both Aperture & Lightroom starting this month and completing all of the products in early 2009.

    Photoshop is good when you need it, but you may not need it for every photo. Do you want to change your RAW processing, organization structure, basic editing, tagging, etc? You can, but you don't have to do it just to take advantage of Photoshop.

    As for training, I'm satisfied with KelbyTraining for Photoshop and other topics.
  6. I use Lightroom and CS3

    I import into Lightroom and perform cropping there
    I then Export to Tiff for editing in CS3
    I run 1 action that performs the following in CS3
    1. Frame (Border)
    2. USM
    3. Signature

    The action creates JPEG files

    I then delete all the TIFF files

    So - I have the original NEF files tracked in Lightroom
    And I have a finished folder with JPEG files

    The TIFF are big - but only used once, then deleted
  7. I want to thank everyone for providing input on this thread. I must admit that I still have a lot of thinking to do before making a final decision of the how I would like to proceed with this.

    The option of adding the Nik Color Efex Pro filters in NX2 sounds very interesting. It certainly seems more cost effective for me to apply the filters while in NX2 as the product is $179.95 for NX2 versus $299.95 for Photoshop.

    I may end up retaining much of my current workflow. I currently use NX2 to apply metadata, make most of my raw edits and convert to jpeg. I use PSE5 now to do any additional cloning/healing, signatures and framing. I might try a trial version of Photoshop to replace PSE5 as the use of actions alone will really help my workflow. I also believe that PSE5 does not allow me to make many of my edits without converting the image to lower bits first. The black and white conversion tool in Photoshop alone will offer a big improvement over what is available to me in NX2 and/or Elements.

    I am already familiar with many of the features of NX2, so my learning curve is minimized if I continue to use that software for most of the major, recurring edits (contrast, saturation, cropping, straightening, sharpening, etc.). Then, I can output that product to Photoshop for additional clean-up (if any) as well as recurring actions such as resizing, framing and text.

    Does this make sense?


  8. Glenn, in your initial post you asked six questions. I believe some of them have been answered, but I will try to answer them one by one. My answers will be based on a workflow using Photoshop CS3.

    1 NEF files are first opened in ACR. After adjustments, if any, you open the NEF file in Photoshop using the parameters you set. I use Pro photo RGB, 16 bit, 4288 x 2848 to give myself maximum flexibility. You could just as well choose as sRGB and 8-bit. Nevertheless, when the file opens in Photoshop it is not a JPEG, TIF or PSD file until you save it. If you complete your edit in one session you can change the file after editing to sRGB and 8-bit for saving as a JPEG.

    2 Photoshop permits IPTC and other data to be added. (Go to file/file info.) Templates are part of this function.

    3 Batch processing is available and seems to improve with each version.

    4 As you are aware plug-ins are available in abundance for Photoshop at what I believe are reasonable costs. However, Photoshop has so many built-in features that you may find that purchasing plug-ins is not all that necessary.

    5 The learning curve in Photoshop can be very steep. However, CNX2 and Photoshop tools are quite similar in function and that will cut some of your learning time. Additionally, photographers need to learn only those parts of Photoshop useful to photographers. This is much less then the enormous program.

    I recommend that you go to Barnes & Noble and look at Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System book. This book really demystifies the Photoshop workflow. It provides a skeleton which you can easily flesh out as you go.

    6 If you calibrate your monitor, download and use the ICC profiles for the particular paper that you are using Photoshop provides an excellent interface. I particularly like the soft proof feature. If you choose the ICC profile for the paper that you'll be using and use the soft proof you can see a very good approximation of the final output. The difference between the edited screen view and the soft proof of the mat and gloss papers is astounding.

    The initial process of setting up a calibrated workflow in Photoshop is to say the least not well explained by the Photoshop documents. However, there is a wealth of tutorials for this. The help of someone who has been through it is the best source.

    IMHO Photoshop is well worth the effort.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2008
  9. Just like Terri I'm using NX2 to do most of the processing and use CS3 for the final touches not available in NX2. I'm also using the Nik ColorEfex Pro plugin for NX2 and really like the ease of working with these filters. Most of these can be achieved in NX2 without the plugin (and some are fun to do yourself just to learn NX2) but will cost a lot more time.
  10. kiwi


    Jan 1, 2008
    Auckland, NZ

    You should try LR/Mogrify mate, you can then do those three steps in LR.


    Apr 30, 2005
    Yes, spend your time and money learning photoshop. It will be around long after Capture bites the dust.

    JMHO...Ive been using photoshop since 1991 :) 
  12. NPA2008


    Apr 15, 2008
    From the recent announcement of the Nikon-Microsoft alliance it appears that NX is destined to evolve. If you stay with NX, eventually you will have image cataloging and better memory management. How long you have to wait is anyone's guess, but don't expect anything new this year.

    Photoshop is more powerful than NX. One can get lost in its many features, though. At some point in the learning curve you must make the choice between being a designer and a photographer. If you choose the former, you will spend a lot less time behind the camera, and more money on terabyte storage solutions as you contemplate your next thousand layer masterpiece. (Yes, some designers really use as many as one thousand layers.)
  13. Good heavens... they must have a super computer to handle all that, which is one of the issues with all these programs, i.e., that you must consistently upgrade the computer power you have available in order to avoid the dreaded hourglass. I've been using Photoshop since the BarneyScan days but Capture NX, well, captured my attention. Now at NX2, I find it very useful, but on my PC, is now so slow as to be almost unusable. And, of course, a new computer means a new operating system (XP to Vista... yuck!) or moving back to a Mac (love that idea, just not the cost of repurchasing all the programs I use). But I'm about at the point where I think having a computer just set up for photography applications is not such an outrageous plan. It might even be cheaper !!

  14. Vista isn't bad - I've been using it on my work laptop for about 8 months - have figured out the few issues with it and resolved them

    I recently purchased a Photography only desktop for home

    Cost - $499 CDN

    Dual Core
    4 Gb RAM
    500 Gb Hard drive

    LR2 and Photoshop scream on this system

    I too wanted to get a MAC - but the one I spec'd out would have been approx $2700
  15. Mogrify?

    I had CS3 first - and got the action working great for me

    Then I got LR 1.4 and now LR2

    If I could do all this in one place that would be excellent

    I am working my way through an LR 1.4 book - but if you could give me a couple of tips, that would be great!
  16. Paul, what monitor are you using for your photography system?
  17. 17" Viewsonic LCD - don't have the model number in front of me

    Its not the best -but that is a purchase for next year, along with a calibrator
  18. bonnerkopf


    Nov 16, 2007
    If you shoot NEF, NX2 is a tool you need to have in your kit. PS and NX2 are two different tools, but to best render NEF, NX2 is it right now.
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