Nikon Capture and Nikon Digital Cameras
One thing that I think really helps my images is converting them in Nikon Capture (NC). I have noticed that the images are visibly better looking immediately, when they are converted in NC. With the new version 4.4, even the speed seems much better, once the image is open.
Little Pigeon River - Smoky Mountains National Park
I have so much control over the image in Nikon Capture that I doubt I can trust any other programs as much. I get COMPLETE sharpening, color saturation, white balance, chromatic aberration, D-lighting (shadow detail retrieval), and vignette control. To me the white balance controls in NC are better than anything else I've tried, and since they are more accurate (no white balance encryption problems); I find that my images simply look better immediately.
I honestly believe that the detailed control I have over my images in Nikon Capture make it well worth the USD $100 that it costs. Now that I have new chromatic aberration (CA) controls in Nikon Capture, it is doubtful that I will go elsewhere. I find myself using Photoshop AFTER I have created the initial 16-bit TIFF in NC. I know that the JPEGs out of NC are simply better than from other programs. Photoshop CS, for instance, tends to desaturate the color too much on JPEG compression. In version 7.0 of Photoshop it didn’t do that. Only when I got CS did I find such weak color after a JPEG compression. I bought CS2 recently, and find that it has solved the weak color in JPEGS, so I’m happier with it.
Adobe Photoshop CS2 now has some pretty powerful conversion features in ACR 3.3, and for the first time, I will convert some images in Photoshop. But, I still use Nikon Capture for my best images. Also, for a person who wants the best look they can get, but doesn't have a lot of money, Nikon Capture is only USD $100 while Photoshop CS2 is about 6 to 8 times more expensive. Nikon Capture is very low cost for the level of power one gets!
Nikon Capture is not the easiest program in the world to figure out, at first, but it gives me the most control over my images, and the best results. I had similar results from "Nikon Scan 4.0" that came with my Coolscan 9000, which looks and feels just like NC. I was hooked on the feature set even before I started using NC.