I am using Elements 5 and looking to upgrade to either Elements 8 or Capture NX2. I just purchaced a D90 and would like to know if Capture NX2 would be a better fit. Would it be worth the effort to learn new photo editing software? What are the main differences between the two programs? What are the advantages / dis-advantages of NX2?
Why not download a trial of NX2 and see if you like it. Find a couple of tutorials online and work through them for a few hours. If you shoot RAW, I would think you'd be thrilled with NX2. I never use PS anymore except when I have to do pixel level editing.
When you set up NX2 you can pick any other editor you may like to open a TIF conversion of your processed NEF file for further processing. The only requirementis that SW has to be able to process a 16 bit TIF. Once you set this up in NX2 then all you have to do is open your NEF and then in file drop down click on "Open with" NX2 will then automatically create a 16 bit TIF and export into your chosen program like PSE8. I am an advanced user of Photoshop, but it is rare that I do any processing in CS4 extended anymore, as I can usually do all I need in NX2.
I started with a D50 and upgraded to a D90 within the last year. If you plan to shoot RAW, I think there is no better software for you than NX2. This software was designed to work seamlessly with your D90. Picture Controls, D-Lighting, Distortion and so many other controls speak the same language as your camera. And if you decide to add Color Efex 3.0 down the line, you will be amazed at the artistic possibilities available to you.
Elements was designed for a much more generic application, from pocket cameras to DSLRs. But relatively few advanced photographers utilize this long term.
The only significant complaints I hear about NX is speed, which is primarily noted as a problem with batch processing.
If you find you need a good cataloging program to keep track of your growing number of NEFs and JPEGs, then I recommend IDImager. The new version 5 works seamlessly with NX and is an excellent performer.
I have both PSE8 and NX2.I use both but after using NX2 for 2 weeks. I find I prefer using NX2.I love the flow of NX transfer/Nx View/NX Capture2.Having All the internal camera settings to work with in Raw is also really nice in Capture nx2. Doug M
I shoot RAW with my D90 and use both NX2 and PSE 8. NX2 is the program that I always use to open the image and in about 80% of the time that's all I use. NX2 is the perfect tool for Nikon RAW images. Sometimes, though, I need the features of Elements such as layers, magic extractor, recompose photo tool, photomerge, etc. Then I click "open with" in NX2 and it opens the image in Elements. The one downside is that, while Elements can open 12 bit (and 16 bit) images, to actually do anything, they must be converted to 8 bit. I have not found the 8 bit image to be an issue.
As a user of Elements, you will probably find NX2 a bit confusing. I certainly did. At the end of my 30 day trial, I still wasn't sure I wanted to buy it. I did buy it though and I've been very happy I did. It jut takes a while. Stick with it and you will be rewarded. Also, buy Jason Odell's book.
I have a D80, shoot RAW and started out with Elements v7. I hated that I had to convert to 8-bit to make changes, but I liked the cataloging of PSE. After looking at options of Lightroom, full Photoshop, I didn't like the options. I tried Capture NX2 and loved the non-distructive edit list concept, and really really loved the Nik color-point/adjustment-point tools, not to mention I think the RAW conversion looks better in NX2. To get the same color-point tools in PSP or Lightroom would require the Nik Viveza plug-in for $200, but still not be non-destructive like it is in NX2.
The downside of switching from Elements to NX2, was losing all the cataloging database functions. After much more research, I found IDimager fit the bill, and more. So, that's now my suite. I do all the image ingestion, tagging, and work-flow in IDimager Pro, and do editing in NX2. They work very seamlessly together.
You definitely need a robust PC. And it still has a few little bugs like it will not allow you to save a particular file once in a while. If you go and do something else or edit another file and then go back to it usually you can then save it.
Elements allows you to do more with the final image - photobooks, special treatments, matte's etc.
I have not found a way to do the matte's or digital frames for the images with CNX2. I wish there was the ability to use a plug-in from someone else to do that kind of stuff.
The lessons on the CNX2 site are pretty good. Quick and they get you going pretty fast.
One disadvantage is Elements does not incorporate curves - which for many medium and most advanced user makes it useless as an "only" editing package. I do not think there is a single package that does everything - which is why most use more than 1 package. What NX2 does well (which is a lot) it tends to to better, quicker and more intuitively than anything else - what it does not do it does not do.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.