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Nikon Capture NX2 V2.2.5 Release

Image of NX2 Logo

This release by Nikon for their digital Image workflow software known as Nikon capture has been anticipated for a while. There is a lot of expectations on my part and perhaps the larger user community for some features… What are we looking for? basically a product that is not so buggy that goes into crash mode, especially when using Snow Leopard 10.6. I can’t tell you the amount of crashes that I’ve seen going up to Snow Leopard. Even with a full fresh install, it was never robust. The perplexing thing was that it did work on Leopard 10.5.8, so I kept a partition on my HDD with Leopard and used NX2 there, not a convient work flow.

The system requirements (pulled from Nikon site) are:

Picture of NX2 specs

I know that a lot of pro-users seem to be bailing on NX2, Hogan and Chambers both have expressed and published information not recommending the product ( I think Lloyd has resorted to calling the product CraptureNX2 because of all the crashes) and Thom had a blog recommending not using it as a primary convertor in your workflow.

I am breaking with those thoughts and here are my reasons.

  1. Nikon Raw File conversion is propieritary and everyone elses RAW conversions are best attempts at reverse engineering.  I want Nikon’s Raw file converted by Nikon not Adobe,CaptureOne,BibblePro,Lightroom,Aperture
  2. It’s an easy process to reset your in-camera DLSR sharpen settings back to 0.  I choose to use DLSR in camera sharpening, so I can see a sharpened Image in my D3sLCD, then later deselect the sharpening that was brought into into NX2, and later apply sharpening when and where I want it.  I had forgotten about this workflow and Lloyd and Dr. Jason P. Odellbook helped me get it right. (FYI Jason is having special workshops in the Connecticut in September)

    Picture of resetting sharpening

    NX2 Set Sharpen to Zero

  3. I happen to really like NIK plugins for NX2, you can quickly set one up, then another, then another, then another, and they immediately become part of your action layer type list. You just can’t be as productive in PS5 using NIK Color Effect Pro, each selection requires the plugin to open, create a layer, then close, then you start again, this opening and closing and creating seperate layers takes to much time, almost 5 times longer  and it is not as interactive, and it’s a drag to the  creative process.   I may use NIK color effect pro maybe one or two final adjustments in PS5, but that’s it.  I always start out in NX2 and I’m flying….
  4. Capture NX2 was designed by the folks at NIK who created the  global and selective features  control called U-points.  You can work much faster in NX2 than in PS5. Again Nik has a plugin called Viverza for PS5 but it has the same time limitations as Color Effect Pro, create layer, open plugin, make selection, close plugin, work on PS layer.
  5. No other software will allow you to set Black point/white point/grey point easier. And if you’re the creative type, Moose teaches a great tip on using the white point to paint with. I think he has posted it up on his site, I know for a fact what this trick is and how he has used it on some super Images he created while in Camdem, Maine during a Maine Media workshop. I’ve incorporated the ‘tip’ in a lot of my work..it is simple, and extremely effective.
  6. The alignment feature in Nikon capture NX2 is quicker as is the spot removal tool.  For those quick hits, I’ll defer to NX2, anything strange or larger than a dust spot then I relay on the PS5 tools.
  7. I like having two separate files for my digital darkroom Images.  I know that I’ve worked my RAW NEF in NX2, by saving it with a designation cc before the .NEF extentions.  I’ll always have my original RAW adjustments squirreled away.
  8. When I go out to PS with my NX2 raw file, the format goes to tiff, and although the same color space is used in both apps (pro-photo) and I always open in ACR, there tends to be some very slight nuance using the Adobe Raw converter vs NIkon. I can look at the two separately to see how to tweak Adobe back into shape.

So given the above, I am hopeful that this new release address the robustness issues and after giving it a whirl, I’ll update this posting with results and conclusions.

The link for downloading the Sw is currently UK Nikon, and I’d like to thank the folks over at Nikon Rumor for getting this new release information out !

Update: 08/24/10-pm

  1. Download from UK site no problems okay
  2. Loaded on Mac Pro 2.66 Quad-Core Intel Xeon on Solid State drive running Snow Leopard 10.6.4 w/all current software updates.
  3. Nikon NX2 V2.2.5 starts up ok.
  4. PlugIn for NIK Capture Efex Pro 3.0 do not display correctly.**(see below)
  5. Google for community help, nothing
  6. Head over to Nikon Rumors Blog others who have done install report same problem. Thanks Alvix and Ralph D
  7. Fix is to download and reinstall Nik Capture Efex Pro 3.0
  8. Everything okay to start testing V225
Picture of reinstalling NIK plugins

Reinstall NIK Plugins

  • Marko

    Hi. Interesting comments. As for the books you’ve mentioned above there are few things that I don’t agree with the authors. For example turning off capture sharpening and the using USM globally or selectively. Capture sharpening uses a different algorithm and gives better results that a simple USM. Less artifacts and noise. So after one year I tunrned capture sharpening on again and then use USM just selectively to pronounce something.

  • http://fritzimages.com Fritz

    thanks for your comments Marko, it’s a good comment

    You have a point and I’ve just recently gone away from your method, because I wanted to control Raw pre(sharpening). This is the first sharpening your Image should get to remove anti-alliasing caused by the DLSR CCD filters I agree that a global Raw sharpening needs to be done, but where, NX2, Photoshop, Nik Sharpen Pro (Raw). and how ie USM,

    The guru on this (for me) is Lloyd Chambers, and he pre-released to his members a paid lengthy in-depth guide called: MSI: “Making Sharp Images” .. I hope to settle into a new workflow after reading some of his advise on this subject…and who know I may come back to your method again….I like things simple….

    One of my points (maybe I could have been clearer) in this Posting was to let users know, that NX2 is the only SW that lets you easily turn off/on Raw sharpening as if in camera…..and that applies to a few other Nikon specific DLSR Camera Settings, ie WhiteBalance,color noise reduction and PictureControl, (yes I know ACR/Lightroom are also emulating, but it’s not Nikon OEM)

    thanks for your comments Marko, it’s a good question

  • http://www.photothema.com Anton Harfst

    Thank you for your comments. And Marko, I agree with your comments too. I used to follow the Odell-advise too, but found in my line of work (mainly landscape) that leaving it on and go for some specific sharpening worked best for me.

    As for your comments: they are spot on for why you want to use Capture NX2 for your NEF-conversions. There IS a shift (sometimes small, sometimes big) when you pull a NEF into ACR and even if you pull a TIFF into ACR.
    When I used a D80 I almost stopped shooting NEFs because the rendering in ACR was so bad!!! My JPEGs were fine. But, boy, you should have seen the rendering results. I just could not use them.
    When a friend pointed me to Capture NX a whole new world opened up for me. I shot with a D300 then and suddely found that all those old D80-NEF files could be rescued. I have now sold a lot of those pictures I thought I could never really use.

    So much about NEF-conversions. I also totally agree with your comments about the workings of the programm.

    Maybe it can be of use of some people to know that I work on a Windows Vista 64bit machine. Capture NX2.2.4 was running ok… It sometimes would lock if you did to much at the same time though. And if you would have huge panorama-files. I just openend a few of my more ‘complicated’ files and I get the distinct impression that this version 2.2.5 is working much faster. The ‘nice’ spinning wheel in the edit panel stops spinning almost instantly when I click edits on and off.

    Let’s hope this update means Capture NX is not dead and will see eventually a NX3-version.

  • Marko Panger

    Hi. My finding about USM and capture sharpening were derived from my landscape shots. I’ve simply found that leaving capture sharpening on and then just selectively apply USM gives me more crisp, less noisy results. I’ve also developed my own method for the sky of a landscape shot. It comprises using LCH, Curves and then some high pass filtering for clouds edges.

    One more thing. This 2.2.5 release of CNX is very strange for me in terms of future upgrades. The CNX3 dreams were finally vanished for at least this year. At the same time D90 replacement is to be announced within few weeks. I doubt Nikon would release two version few weeks apart. I think next D90 support is already in 2.2.5.

  • http://fritzimages.com Fritz

    Thank you for your comments Anton,

    In the spirit of Continuos Improvement, I’ve decided to attend Dr. Jason Odell master class workshop being held in Connecticut early next month to ‘Become an NXpert’. I emailed, Jason about the flux in user opinions on his Raw conversions workflow advice and he responded, “I’ve been working very hard on refining my sharpening techniques in NX2 of late, and I can tell you that it’s a very good application for it.”

    When I have the opportunity after the workshop, I’ll Post some of his tips. If you’re interested in attending the workshop, I have a link on the home page side bar under Upcoming Workshops…

    Anton, early on, I also had those types of big shifts from NEF to Tiff, came to find out that they were self induced, as I had different color spaces set in each application. That might not have been your issue. But everyone s/b using ProPhoto RGB for NX2, PS5,Photo Mechanic, ect…right thru your entire workflow….

    I’m also seeing a speed increase with NX2 V225, opening up, saving and rendering…. even on my Leopard laptop ……

  • http://www.photothema.com Anton Harfst

    Very interesting reply from Mr. Odell, master indeed.
    Alas, I am living and working in Lakonia GREECE and not in the position to attend any Odell workshop in Connecticut at the moment, thank you :-) So I would be very greatful if you would find the time and opportunity to post, or even mail me, those tips.
    I mention his book all the time to students who attent my workshops here. So I bet he won’t mind sharing some ‘secrets’ with me here in Greece.

    About the D80-rendering. I understand your point and in the beginning it was indeed what caused part of the ‘troubles’. Later on though I used the D80 as a backup to my D300 and it was set up as much as possible the same. Ofcourse, stuff like Picture Control was not. But View NX took care of that. And still, at about 40% percent of my pics I had huge shifts when I took it into ACR. Most of the time in the sky area or other extreme parts. I now think I may know what might causing it. It must be somewhere in the software of the D80. You can get this ugly blue skies. I saw this in the D40 to and in other D80s. NOT in my old D70 and not in D50 or D700. Have not had the privilage to get a student with a D90 to check that. But I will in two weeks time.

    I now sold the D80 and got me a D300s as second camera. So my problems are over. The D70 I will keep. Using it for Infrared. But I am still gratefull to this D80 for getting me into the pro-business and leading me to Capture NX.

    Keep up the good work, I have you now in my favourits-list. ;-)

  • http://fritzimages.com Fritz

    Marko, thank you for your follow on comments .

    Interesting thinking about the timing of V225, I hadn’t put those thoughts together for CNX3 and maybe D90 future is in this release, time will tell.

    Sounds like you have an interesting workflow for sky/clouds and USM and using LCH,curves and high pass on cloud edges, does this resemble tonal contrast control ?

    If you can point to a URL, I like to see what you’ve been creating….

  • http://fritzimages.com Fritz

    Anton, thank you also for your follow on comments,

    I like to share, so I’ll post any info that I think will be useful from the workshop, yea Greece is not very close to Conn. , I’ll let Jason know that he’s needed for a workshop in your country….

    I also had a D80, I can’t recall ugly skies, but the camera had a bad reputation for being released by Nikon with overexposure imbedded into AF algorithms, (I call it hot pixels). I liked the camera otherwise, but wanted full frame so I held off until the D3 was released.

    The D90 is a very sweet camera, my daughter shoots with it, and loves it and has done very well in school with it. Her link is on my lower menu bar MaddyFritz… I’m very proud of her skills and creativity.

    You have a good one/two camera now with D300(s)…a lot of my friends use that camera and love it…

    Thanks for linking our site into your browser…photography is a shared art-form, no one person can see all the Images the world can offer in a lifetime, or have the same vision when capturing Images … you keep up the good work also, teaching is a rewarding experience

  • Marko

    Fritz no problem to share :) I’m from Slovenia, EU. For me is also near impossible to attend a workshop in Conecticut at the moment, although I would like. Just for the sake I’m following Alain Briot a lot and I would really like to attend his workshop someday.

    As for my sky processing below is the general approach. Then, each image has it own particular settings.

    1) I first select the sky with a gradient tool. If there are objects from the ground (hills, buildings,…) that overlaps the sky I deselect them with a ‘-’ selection point.

    2) Then I apply a LCH curve. I simply move the (curve) blacks toward right and pull down the mid tones a little bit. This affects luminosity only.

    3) I then apply (on the same selection) a Levels adjustments in order ot restore the contrast which is lost in the previous step.

    4) As step #3 tends to increase the saturation of the sky which could look unnatural I go back to step #2 and intervent only on Chroma. I put a point on the sky and pull it down to desaturate.

    5) Then I apply high pass filtering with a value of 4~6 with a brush only on the cloud edges. This bumps them out and pronounces them.

    6) If there is noise on the sky I apply a noise reduction step on the blue sky. Again selectively with a soft brush.

    Some examples:
    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106182&limit=6&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106579&limit=4&sortby=search

    ttp://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106304&limit=5&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106052&limit=7&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=95940&limit=17&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=94468&limit=22&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=96403&limit=16&sortby=search

    Thanks,
    Marko

  • Marko

    Hi Fritz. I’m a landscape photographer (amateur) from Sloveni, EU. Also for me is hard to attend a workshop in Conecticut. But, in a near future I’m really looking to attend a workshop from Alain Briot. I’m following him a lot and I really like his work.

    So for the sky processing:

    #1 SKY MASK # First I select the sky with the (-) gradient selection tool. If there are buildings, trees, hills,… overlapping the horizon line I deselect the out with a (-) selection point.

    #2 LUMINOSITY # I apply a LCH on the selection. I push the blacks point curve to the right and slightly pull-down the mid-tone point. In this way I darken the sky without (significant) color shifts.

    #3 CONTRAST # In step #2 some contrast is lost. I restore it back with a Levels&Curves step on the same selection. Generally I make an S curve, but with black and white point adjusted to taste.

    #4 DESATURATION # Usually steps #2, #3 over saturate the blue in the sky. I return to step #2 and act only on chroma by selecting the blue from the sky in pull in down a little bit. The result should be natural looking sky.

    #5 SHARPENING # With a soft brush I apply high-pass sharpening with a value ranging from 4~6 only on the edges of the clouds. This bumps them out.

    #6 NOISE # The above steps could introduce some noise depending how hard you push the sliders. I apply a noise reduction step with a soft brush on the sky only, excluding the clouds.

    Here are some examples. Hope you like them:
    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106182&limit=6&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106052&limit=7&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106579&limit=4&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=95940&limit=17&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=96403&limit=16&sortby=search

    http://www.e-fotografija.com/galerija/gallery_bigpic.php?id=106304&limit=5&sortby=search

    Marko

  • Marko

    Hi,

    I’m trying to post a reply the interface doesn’t allow me – it seems the reply is posted, but I don’t see it.

  • http://fritzimages.com Fritz

    Hello Marko,
    Really sorry that you’ve had so many issues trying to reply. My software thought this was spam, and segregated your content, which I’ve since approved to Post.

    I just added a Log-in feature at the top of the main page in the top,top of the page. If you log-in as a user, then you should not have any future problems.

    I’m looking forward to reviewing your Images, as well as trying your workflow (thanks for sharing !!), and you’ve selected a great mentor for fine art Images, Alain Briot. I am reading and using his advice recently from a few books that I purchased. I also will be strongly considering attending one of his workshops in 2011…..