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Which software is best?

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by Medic Kayaker, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    Currently I use Nikon View to initially view/edit my photos and view slide shows and then use CS2 to refine/retouch my photos. I have done some research and am confused with the differences/pluses/minuses of using Adobe Lightroom and/or Nikon NX in this process. I find that CS2 works well for raw image retouching and don't understand the advantages of using Lightroom and/or NX, especially since Nikon View works well as a viewer to initially view and edit/discard bad images.

    Any/all comments would be greatly appreciated...
  2. Well, I don't use Nikon View for anything. As its only function is a viewer, its too much overhead and memory useage for such a limited function for me. Its also discontinued. If your processing isn't usually very intensive, you might be able to get by with just using View's replacement, PictureProject. PictureProject works as a viewer and raw editor. Its not as fully featured as Nikon Capture, but its good for all the basic stuff, including metadata and keyword assignments. Also does album and catalog organization.

    The real problem with any of the Nikon S/W is that its all a huge memory hog and once you start making any serious edits, CPU-intensive as well. When I use Nikon Capture, adding just a few edit steps takes an initial 8 meg image up to hundreds of megs worth of cached data.

    What I do: I've come away from using Photoshop so much, as I can now do almost everything with Lightroom. Lightroom isn't only an editor its also a catalog image database, capable of rendering full size image previews even if the original media isn't present (from a CD, etc.). The raw editor is also a lot better and cleaner than earlier versions of Adobe Camera Raw, which means I don't have to process every image further in Photoshop afterwards, which I used to do nearly every time. Now I only use PShop for those extra special things that require layers.

    The one downside of Lightroom is that images need to be imported first before it will act as a viewer or catalog database. Importing doesnt have to actually move the files, but is required to read them, catalog them, view or edit them. So I often end up using Bridge 2.x to initially review and delete my image folders before importing any of it into Lightroom. Bridge 2.x has more functionality than earlier versions, and comes with PS CS3. Lightroom then has the ability to read keywords, ratings, metadata, XMP settings from Camera RAW and etc. that you might have assigned from within Bridge before importing into Lightroom. It then also sends a copy of your edited file into PShop, which then can be saved back into Lightrooms database stacked with the original. Its a pretty sweet system.

    As for Nikon Capture, I use that when I have a really tricky lighting or contrast situation, as the Nikon S/W does seem to render its own raw files much cleaner and sometimes more beautifully than any other raw editor. If it just didn't use so many system resources and had more functionality built-in, it would be least effort of any other package to use. But as of now I turn to it when I know it will do the best job for me, while spending most of my time in Lightroom. I love the combination of Bridge and LR because it's released me from having to load up either Capture or Pshop nearly as often as I used to, my workflow is streamlined, I use less memory and CPUsage in general, and my output quality isn't sacrificed. Its also fairly intuitive and easy to learn.

    Hope this little description has helped. But if you've got massive system resources and don't mind a clunky interface, stick with Picture Project as your viewer and organizer and Capture as your editor and you should be quite happy. Otherwise you should see where you might get away from the more resource and workflow hogs of using either Capture or Pshop for each image you need to process.
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