I know this subject has been discussed many times in different threads, so I apologize if I'm being redundant.
When I first got my Nikon DSLR, I didn't have a lot of money left over, so I was using open source software: ufraw for raw developing and GIMP for most everything else. Later, I migrated to NX2, which does most of what I need, and does it a lot better. I am particularly happy with NX2's raw developer, which blows away ufraw. I also adopted a "NEF-centric" workflow: keeping multiple versions in the NEF and exporting a single jpeg from each version.
Unfortunately, there are features missing from NX2, which I had in GIMP, like perspective correction, so occasionally I will output a tiff from NX2, correct it in GIMP, and let GIMP make the jpeg. The same goes for HDR: I send tiffs from NX2 to Photomatix and let Photomatix create a tiff, which I usually send back into NX2, wrapping it as a new NEF.
I have read many posts in this forum about the Nik software suite and wondering how I would integrate it into my workflow. I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop (actually, Elements 9) and a trial version of the full Nik Software suite.
When I opened my first NEF in PS (the NEF had been developed and tweaked in NX2), up popped something called Camera Raw, and I could see that it was using the original version of the RAW file. I realized that Camera Raw is Photoshop's alternative to the Develop section of NX2's Edit list. But where are the Camera Controls? Am I taking a step backward with a dumbed down raw processor that doesn't understand my camera? Is the solution to send a tiff from NX2 to PSE, bypassing Camera Raw and going directly into Edit? Ugh.
Next, I played with the Nik tools and filters. I noticed a high degree of redundancy with what I can already do in NX2. Yes, there are some nice additions, but are there enough to justify the high cost, and the abandonment of NEF-centric workflow (replacing it with a PSD-centric workflow)?
Here is my questions: Should PS + Nik Software suite (or maybe Lightroom + Nik Software suite) be regarded as an ALTERNATIVE to NX2? Is that how Nik is positioning the product?
Good post but as indicated elsewhere on this forum today, Capture NX3 may be on the way. NX3 may solve a few outstanding issues: - 64 bit support for large amounts of RAM - quad-core (multi-core) optimization for speed improvements - compatibility with other Nik plug ins (HDR, Silver-FX, noise, sharpening packages etc.)
The only things I miss by not having Photoshop is: - extend canvas function - sophisticated signature/copyright mask - fancy frames around images - new 'smart' features of CS5 but prob more of a nice-to-have - plug in compatibility (I would LOVE to have Topaz Simplify and Imaginomics Portraiture). - I need to look into combining several photos into high res. landscapes. Not sure what my options are currently with my NX2-centred workflow.
So I am personally hoping NX3 is coming this winter. Aside from cost it is the HUGE investment in time learning Capture NX/NX2 that I do not want to casually toss
As long as you already own NX2, and you are interested in things that Photoshop does that you can't do in NX2, what about doing everything you can in NX2 (camera controls and such - with the better raw conversion) and then send the TIFF to Photoshop for any processing that you need it for?
Sun 24-Oct-10 01:15 AM | edited Sun 24-Oct-10 01:17 AM by pwarbeck
Right. You can certainly do that, and I probably will, as a replacement for GIMP (GIMP can only output 8-bit tiffs, which are not readable by NX2, as far as I can tell).
Now if you really want to use the Nik software (supposing you're convinced that they offer a substantial advantage over what you can already do in NX2), Jason Odell suggests the following hack: purchase the Lightroom implementation of the Nik suite, which costs much less than the Photoshop plugins, and run them as stand-alone programs. See http://www.luminescentphoto.com/blog/2010/10/10/using-nik-plug-ins-with-capture-nx-2/. Then you can develop raw in NX2, send a tiff from NX2 to (say) Viveza, then send another tiff from Viveza to Color Efex, and so-on, and finally send a tiff to Photoshop for additional post-processing. I would probably send a a final tiff back to NX2 for versioning.
But after doing this for a while and becoming completely befuddled by the complexity of the workflow, I can imagine giving up on NX2 and NEF-centric workflow, and converting to Photoshop, ACR, the Nik Photoshop plugins, and adopting a PSD-centric workflow. Unless Nik comes out with NX3, that's probably where we are headed.
You can add color effects Pro directly to NX2 and it is fully integrated, which means it can be applied slectively to the NEF. It is a great tool, but if CNX3 is coming out I would wait. I use the NIK Color Effects Pro and do 99% of all my processing in CNX2. Occasionaly, if needed, I move a TIFF to CS5 Extended, but that is rarely needed, especially since I added CNX2.
Bob, That is good information. I forgot to mention that I also downloaded the Color Efex Pro "Complete" plugin for NX2(the trial lasts 30 days!). I tried all 52 filters. It seemed to have a high degree of redundancy with what NX2 can already do. Many of the "stylizing" filters seemed gimmicky to me. But I trust your opinion, and I will spend more time with it. It could be a fallback if NX3 doesn't materialize.
Yes some of the filters are a bit gimmicky, but most of the filters are more powerful than what is already in NX2. Because they are integrated and not floating panels like you would get of you used them in photoshop, I think they are more powerful. I also nopted that you mentioned Venazia, which really just adds to photoshop what you can already do in NX2 out of the box and it doesn't work on the RAW file like NX2's tools do. Also as for the gimmicky filters, you might be surprised haw used selectively, some of them may be more useful than you think. Just play with them on the proper iamges and you may be pleasently surprised.
FYI I use Capture NX2 for 90% of my image processing. It is weak on creative pixel edits such as cloning, text additions, frames, watermarking, etc. For these, I use Paint Shop Pro Ultimate X3 which I was able to buy for about $25. I either send it TIFFs or JPGs.
My view is that CNX2 + PSP for about $200 (if you shop around) represents better value than the Adobe Photoshop route. So far I like the NEF-centric workflow of Capture NX2 (I can go back to the raw data at any time).
Hi Peter, I'll add Paint Shop Pro to my list of software to try out. Thanks!
I am comfortable working with layers, layer masks, layer modes, etc., having used GIMP extensively for two years. GIMP is free open source software, and it is rock solid with tons of third-party plugins. Unfortunately, GIMP currently has only 8-bit color depth, so it can't create 16-bit tiffs that needed to go back into NX2. GIMP 3.0 will be 16 bit, but no release date has been announced.
>Unfortunately, GIMP currently has >only 8-bit color depth, so it can't create 16-bit tiffs that >needed to go back into NX2.
Edit: The above statement contains several errors. NX2 happily accepts 24 bit tiffs (8-bits per R, G, and B channel). I had been sending it 32 bit tiffs from GIMP, which included 8 bits for each RGB channel plus an 8-bit alpha channel. In this discussion, a fellow nikonian explained that I needed to remove the alpha channel before creating the tiff. So now I am using Gimp in my workflow.
I don't know how I missed that one. It is impressive, and would be a nice addition to NX2. If I could buy just one filter, this would be the one.
You can control the contrast in highlights and shadows by tonemapping a single image in Photomatix, using the Details Enhancer method. It's not as convenient as a Color Efex filter, but it's cheaper because I already own Photomatix
It is difficult to gauge or suggest to another individual as to what software is best. Even if they were all identical, and they are not, then it could simply be a matter of what tools one uses in each software package and the ease of setting up a workspace.
There are elements of Adobe Photoshop CSx, Nikon Capture NXx and Corel Paint Shop Photo Pro Xx that would probably appeal to each of us. I used PSP for years and even with that software, there were users that would not upgrade to the newer version because it added, or more likely removed, elements an individual might be comfortable using . Face it, Adobe PS CS5 has a very steep learning curve and is quite expensive. Another Adobe product that I really love using is Lightroom 3. It is less expensive and has great control over most of the image . Lightroom is akin to Camera Raw but is more extensive. It is non-destructive meaning it does not manipulate at the pixel level. PS CSx manipulates pixels . Photoshop Elements is a slimmed down version of Photoshop and may have all the tools you need with a much smaller price tag.
I guess that is why so many vendors are offering 30-day trials to give the prospective user a chance to see whether or not the program is compatible for him or her. The free programs allow a new user to begin to understand the art and science of photo editing. Still, they are limited because the vendor does not have the resources that the commercial vendors have.
I have four programs but tend to use Lightroom and PS CS5 because those are programs "I" feel more comfortable using though each program does take considerable time to understand. So, if it were me, I would find the program that best suits my needs at the current time and go with it. You may later decide to add or change programs but do whatever you think is best for you. If NX2 is what you like, stay with it. Programs are like cameras in that each person has personal preferences. Find your niche within your budget and go with it.
This discussion started with a discussion concerning workflows, so here’s what I’ve found out. I have used several versions of PSE for 4-5 years, but since I bought a DLSR (D90), I bought Capture NX2. The combination of CNX2 for raw editing and PSE for pixel-level touch-ups, occasional panoramas or the like, was a very cost-effective combination for an amateur. The principal problem was that PSE, which I used for cataloging, could not render the edits made in CNX2. Hence I needed to render a JPG as well, and stack the JPG (as the top photo) with the NX2. It happened all too often that after saving the JPG, I noted some other things to do on the image, which I did when the JPG file was the last-saved one, and of course, any subsequent edits were pixel-rendered to the JPG file and the actual edits were not saved to the NEF file.
Furthermore, for various image collections, which I wanted to show to my friends, I needed to perform keyword (tag) searches and render the selected photos to JPG files, preferably as 2 MP versions (FullHD), so that my Sony TV loads and displays them quickly. For prints, I would need hi-res JPGs. It was this batch selection and conversion of photos that finally convinced me that I need Lightroom and an Adobe-centric workflow, although I very much lament the loss of Nik’s Color Control Points in my new workflow. (Losing the regular crashes of CNX2 is something which I do not lament.)
Now I would like to know how well Viveza integrates with Adobe products. Are Viveza edits honored only in, say, Lightroom’s Develop module, or are they honored in Library, Export and Print also? I have received conflicting information on this.
I am a Capture NX2 user with a NEF-centric workflow. Is it still true (I haven't kept up to date) that if one goes the Adobe route (PS, Lightroom, ACR, etc.), one still needs to "develop" and then abandon the NEF file right at the beginning of the workflow? In other words, the Adobe tool suite does not modify NEF files; it only modifies DNGs, TIFFs, JPGs, or sidecar files?
I would recommend thinking a bit broader. Different products on the market have different paradigms for how they operate. If you try to apply the paradigm for one product to another, you can miss the virtues of the other.
If you make edits using LR or ACR (and you can make the vast majority of your edits this way, including local ones), the NEFs never get touched, but that doesn't mean you're "abandoning" the NEF. It means you're not changing the information in the file. If you want to use a plug-in in Photoshop (like Nik, Alien Skin, Topaz, PTLens, OnOne, etc.) and leave the option open to update your raw parameters later (this is something I like), you can export the file out of LR3 and into Photoshop as a Smart Object. The plug-ins then operate non-destructively and you can easily update your raw settings and those same plug-ins will automatically re-render against the updated file. You'll save images created this way as layered TIFFs or PSDs.
In practice, what I find is that only a limited subset of my images need to go down the Photoshop path. Most just stay as raw files (NEFs or DNGs) in LR3's catalog, even though I've done many types of edits to them. Many are also virtual copies with different editing parameters (black vs. color, or different renditions). In those cases, there is only one NEF (or one DNG if you go that route), but multiple versions that behave like separate files.
Interesting. Just today I started listening to the last Nkonians podcast and got as far as the point where you mention smart objects along with the HDR software from Nik. Makes more sense now. Thanks Rick and happy shooting.
>It happened all too often that >after saving the JPG, I noted some other things to do on the >image, which I did when the JPG file was the last-saved one, >and of course, any subsequent edits were pixel-rendered to the >JPG file and the actual edits were not saved to the NEF file.
If you Save as jpg and continue editing, you are still working in RGB and can make sure your changes are saved to the NEF by doing Save as NEF. It would be less confusing if the file menu used Save for NEF and Export... for other formats, including jpg. See this discussion.