Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

 

The Art of RAW Conversion #003

"Nikon Capture 3.5 update"

Review Note by Uwe Steinmueller

 

 
 

We are users of Nikon Capture since version 1 (April 2000 using the D1) and reviewed nearly all versions:

 

 

Nikon Capture 3.5 is mainly like Capture 3.0 with the following new features:

  • Vignette Control
  • 10MP mode for Nikon D1x
  • Monitoring watch points
  • Color Noise Reduction Slider
  • Larger embedded preview images
 
10MP upsizing
 
For us the new 10MP feature seems to be most important. The only thing to remember is that Bibble and Qimage did that nearly 1 1/2 years ago (probably Eric and Mike do not have that many meetings :-)).
 

Why does the 10MP upsizing for the D1x make special sense? The D1x has a very strange photo site layout (4016x1308) as the sensor was created by splitting the D1's photo sites into two rectangular sites - from 2008x1308.

Up until now Nikon Capture did an resizing to 3008x1960 which means an upsizing vertically and a downsizing horizontally. Very odd operation but the results are much better than one would think is possible.

The new 10MP interpolation now only upsizes in the vertical dimension. Important to know is that this step is directly done during the RAW interpolation step.

 

We used both the old and new mode and compared:

  • 10MP interpolation
  • 6MP interpolation and SI (stair interpolation by Fred Miranda) to the same size as the 10MP process

Both were sharpened low in Nikon Capture 3.5.

 


6MP SI upsized and not sharpened in Photoshop

10MP SI not sharpened in Photoshop

 
We tried then to sharpen these photos with Smarter Sharpen X.
 


6MP SI upsized and sharpened in Photoshop

10MP sharpened in Photoshop

 
We think the 10MP interpolation does a slightly better job and is worth to have (better later than never).
 
The other new Features
 
  • The vignette control might be nice to have although we never really had a photo where we needed it (only few wide angle shots and mostly not at open aperture)
  • The Noise Control allows better control although I do not think it comes even close to tools like Neat Image and is far to aggressive for small details.
  • Monitoring watch points are a nice feature if we would use as a "Full Service RAW converter". But instead we always try to do color corrections in Photoshop if we use Nikon Capture as a RAW converter.
  • Nikon Capture 3.5 can create larger preview images and can save them into the NEF files. We would like to have these larger preview images created in camera and we are also not to happy to ever touch original RAW files (NEFs). As this involves an extra batch run anyway we will continue to create extra preview JPGs. On the the other side this seems to indicate that Nikon will have larger preview images in future versions of their digital SLRs.
 
Conclusion
 
The new 10MP feature makes Capture 3.5 a useful and even free upgrade.
 
 
 

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