UPDATE: (06/03/2018): The NX-D software has been updated to v. 1.4.7 (Windows / Mac), including bug-fixes and some minor improvements.
This is pretty big news. The kind you get once every ten years or so...
When the new Nikon NX-D software got out of beta, I was kinda skeptical, to say the least.
But the release of Capture NX-D could not be more opportune and the program is good – as far as I have been able to review – which is news in itself.
From where I am standing, Nikon has not given us any productive RAW processing software since Nikon View 6 and Capture 4, way back in 2004.
Although it is indisputable that Nikon software does – for obvious reasons – a better job in converting NEF files than Adobe (article), every next version of Nikon View or Capture stripped out more functionality, was an even bigger memory hog than the previous one and, without distinction, slower than a snail on a barrel of tar.
Meanwhile, Adobe keeps milking the Photoshop cow not by significantly upgrading the program, but just by not supporting our new cameras in the next incarnation of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), thus demanding an upgrade of Photoshop or CS.
Many of you, as I, have decided to stop giving our money to the boys from San José, because they have not added anything useful for – like – the last ten years or so.
Question was: where do we go from here?
The jury has been out on this matter (article), until now.
Because now Nikon have done something unheard of.
First, they developed a piece of software that actually works, and second: they made it FREE! (For now, at least).
Nikon Capture has always been, and still is, the very best RAW converter for NEF files on the planet but also, sofar, expensive.
Capture used to set you back about 300 bucks and, more importantly, gobbled up precious time and CPU cycles, which is invaluable.
Not any more.
Meet Nikon Capture NX-D
I don’t know when NX-D got out of Beta, but I’m quite sure nobody paid much attention when it did.
I have been running it on a shabby 4-year old WIN-7 laptop for just a day and it has crashed on me a couple of times, but this is the first time in a decade that I’m actually excited about a piece of Nikon software.
For starters: it’s unusually fast, as long as you don’t do anything overly fancy and especially when you do so from the thumb, because large previews can still be slow.
Yes, I know, this will take some figuring out, but once you do, you can actually save your processing “recipes”, just like in Phase One Capture One.
Second: it will extrapolate (not enlarge) your NEF up to a 20.000 px. wide TIFF, without noticeable image deterioration and, more importantly, additional saving time.
I managed to save both a D40 and a D7100 NEF to a 18.000 px. long-end, 16-bit, wide-gamut ProPhoto RGB TIFF (article) in about the same time it took to save the file to native size, which is 3.008 and 6.000 px. wide, respectively.
This is likely not an exercise you'd want to do on a regular basis, because the resulting 16-bit files weigh in at about 1,8 Gb., each.
Third: the NX-D interface is pretty clean and logical. Although the drop-down menus show some strange gaps, the options that are available in every section make sense and are easy to configure.
Fourth: the output is outstanding. ACR does not even come close. I compared a D7100 shot at 6.400 ISO between ACR 7 (CS6), NX2 and NX-D and there is no doubt in my mind that the Nikon converters are way, but way superior.
Fifth: it’s FREE
I’ll post an in-depth review anytime soon, but this news is just too darn good to keep to myself.
Download here: Nikon Capture NX-D (Mac OS-X 10.7, 10.8, 10.9 / WIN Vista, 7, 8). Let me know what you think...
You may also want to read:
Which is the best RAW converter: Camera RAW, Nikon View, Capture or Phase One Capture One?
JPG vs. RAW, 8-bits vs. 16-bits, sRGB vs. wide-gamut RGB. Which too choose, when and why
Compatibility chart for Nikon DSLR and Adobe Camera RAW & DNG Converter (Updated)
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