"Help! Difference between Capture NX2 and Capture One?"
Hi--I posted this same question in the Nikon software forum. Can someone please tell me what the difference is between these two products? After a VERY brief online search, it appears to me that these programs are meant to do the same thing: Convert and edit RAW images using the Nikon Camera Controls. Am I wrong? Are they more different than that?
I currently use NX2 and am wondering what the deal is the Capture One and why I would choose it over NX2.
Or maybe I am just WAY off and am not understanding the differences.
#1. "RE: Help! Difference between Capture NX2 and Capture One?" In response to Reply # 0
You are basically correct, in that both NX2 and Capture One are raw converters, just as Lightroom and Bibble and DXO (to name a few) are also raw converters.
There are a lot of differences between all of these products, however. For example, NX2 is the only one of the group that can access all of the Nikon specific camera settings. Another example is that NX2 does not have any asset management capabilities whereas others such as Lightroom and Bibble do.
I've been working with a trial copy of Capture One for a little bit, and am quite impressed with it. I find the workflow to match mine very well and I am quite impressed with the quality of the raw conversion and the rest of the feature set of the product.
To really get a feel for how you like the product and what the differences are, I would highly recommend downloading a trial copy and giving it a spin.
#2. "RE: Help! Difference between Capture NX2 and Capture One?" In response to Reply # 0
Well, not quite... It is possible to install Nikon conversion methods into C1, I don't know that many people do that. While I worked in NX2 for years, C1 has become my raw conversion tool of choice; and I invariably use the built-in conversion options for my D700.
This is not to say that NX2 is not great s/w and as a raw converter for Nikon cameras, I'd consider it superior to ACR/LR and Aperture. Among the strengths of NX2, which I considered essential for many years, was its complete set of automatic tools for handling Nikon lenses for distortion and chromatic aberration. To date, Adobe has yet to provide lens correction support for many of the lenses that I use; and any time I had to manage CA, it was always back to NX2 to handle that.
OTOH, LR is far superior to NX2 as a digital asset management tool (DAM). It is also much much faster in handling large batches of raw images for common corrections, such as white balance. It is a breeze in LR3 to copy adjustments such as WB from the image of a grey card and paste those into hundreds of related images from a photo shoot. This is because LR3 stores this kind of information in a side car file while NX2 stores it right in the NEF. This means that LR3 only has to write or update a text file while NX2 (even if you use it in batch mode) has to open the hundreds of NEFs, update and save them. This can be painfully slow.
As well, though I'm sure to touch a sensitive issue here, I was never particularly happy with Nikon's own camera controls as far as color truth was concerned. I got the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport system and compared shots of the color checker card using calibrated camera profiles within LR3 and NX2, and discovered that LR3 was much closer than NX2. Of course, color accuracy isn't always what one desires as an end goal, but it sure helps to know that you're starting with it.
While I'm not going to chase the rabbit of color accuracy too far into its warren, I found that getting great color accuracy with X-Rite and LR3 involved creating new camera profiles for just about every change in lighting conditions within a shoot. This became truly tedious. In one (for me) classic shoot for a client, I did in-studio and outdoor shots. The outdoor shots were taken in both open shade and direct sunlight. The client wanted images from each of the three lighting conditions and the prints were to hang together. The gentlemen were wearing similar white cotton shirts that clearly had optical brighteners from being laundered. One of the ladies had a slightly off-white blouse. These garments each responded very differently to the studio lights and the sun light conditions. I found it almost impossible to achieve similar color tones for the prints even using the X-Rite calibrated camera profiles and LR3.
Now, I'm finally to C1. I was just beginning to trial C1 at about the time I was struggling with this client's work; so I thought I'd try it out. For each of the lighting conditions in the shoot, I grabbed a white balance from the X-Rite card and, just as in LR3, applied it to the dozens of images for that part of the shoot. That was it. It just worked. The Kelvin and tint values for each lighting condition were consistent in C1 and different from the values that LR3 was giving. More than that, the L*a*b* values for the shirts and blouse were precisely right and in common after correcting for just white balance from the X-Rite ColorChecker. This meant not having to create, save, and manage an increasingly large collection of session-specific camera profiles.
I then went and added C1 conversion for the X-Rite card to my comparisons between NX2 and LR3 with camera profiles. For any variety of lighting scenarios, I found that C1 consistently was closer to the known L*a*b* values for the ColorChecker than either of the other two.
Then came my concern about CA. I hate CA. Unfortunately, C1 had no built-in lens profiles for any of my lenses, Nikon or not. However, it has a built-in lens correction tool. I found that any instance of CA could be handled simply by letting C1 analyze the image and correct for the problem. Together with another option for purple fringing, I am yet to find an image that C1 cannot handle. As a totally unexpected bonus, this LCC tool also can perform a light fall-off correction that was originally designed to handle vignetting; but can also be used to deliver an exceptional form of single-image HDR.
C1 employs the concept of "sessions". A session will typically consist of all of the images from a photo shoot. C1 has a browser that let's you see all of the images from the session. Like other DAMs, C1 lets you rank, add keywords, sort, filter, and view images within a session. These parameters are exceptionally easy to copy from one image to any number of others because, like LR3, C1 uses side car files. Unlike LR3 or Aperture though, C1 can only do this within the scope of a session. To expand this capability to tens of thousands of images in a true DAM model, you need to use another tool; and in the context of Phase One, this is Media Pro. You didn't ask about that, but I can say that I use C1 and Media Pro together and they are a delight.
A typical work flow starts with importing images from a photo shoot into a new session in C1. I'll make quick corrections in C1, rank images, discard several, make selections, export those I want to do other work on into an output folder, and print those or upload them to the tubes of the Internet. An entire session folder can be moved from one computer (say a laptop) to another (say a desktop) very easily. Then I can push the session folder with any and all smart albums over to Media Pro. I can add further keywords or identifiers in Media Pro to make finding the results later. Since Media Pro keeps both thumbnails and large size versions of each image, the entire session folder can be archived off the computer. If, some time down the road, I need to locate an image of a particular person from a given photo shoot with a given ranking, I can do this with a few clicks in Media Pro, browse the results, and re-open the image in C1 or any other tool on the computer; e.g., Photoshop. If the session folder is stored elsewhere, then I can pull it back from the archive to do the work. This means not have to keep the large body of session files that accumulate over the years on my main computer.
As well, C1 has other tools for handling keystoning, selective color, skin tone smoothing, and black and white conversion. With the current version, there is also support for selective adjustment layers, so one can brush in adjustments to, say, add exposure compensation and contrast to a backlit subject. LIke Aperture and unlike LR3, C1 does its edits in the internal CIELAB color space (on an Apple anyway) and only converts to a destination color space when the final result is exported. This means that any available destination color space can be used. I am personally a stickler for color spaces, and I've rolled my own RGB spaces that use a gamma curve consistent with LAB. Using C1 and Media Pro together means that I have a conversion tool and DAM that allows me to carry a consistent tone curve for my images all the way through to print. It also means not being stuck with just sRGB, AdobeRGB, or ProPhotoRGB as in the case of ACR/LR3. For almost all my B&W work lately, I don't even get images into Photoshop at all.
The bad news is that together, C1 and Media Pro are not cheap; and many of the features I've described in C1 are only in the Pro version. For a puzzler, Phase One will give you a trial of the standard version, but to my knowledge, not for the Pro version. So, if you get the 30-day trial, you won't see several of the benefits that I've described. These would include the lens corrections, keystone correction, skin tone corrections, sessions, and so on. I personally think that the Pro version is the one to go for, and that Phase One is doing themselves an injustice with their trial version; but whatever.
C1 and Media Pro do not have great print modules. Since I already have LR3 and Photoshop, I use one or the other of those to go to my own Epson printer. If you were using an outside print service, I'm not sure that you'd really need either of them if you had C1. It's not that I don't love PS; and the print module in LR3 is worth the price for the package, IMHO.
Now, I've rambled on and on and on, as per usual. I hope some of this has been of value.