Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


The Art of Raw Conversion #013


Nikon Capture 4.1

review by Uwe Steinmueller (3/28/2004)


4/27/2004 Note on IPTC fields and Nikon Capture

Our reader Stephan POT sent us a note of caution:

"I would like to warn you and your readers that test show that when the IPTC-fields of a NEF-file are changed, for example IMatch, these NEF-files will become unreadable in Nikon Capture 4 and/or Nikon View 6, both latest release. In fact both programs don't seem to cope with modified IPTC-fields. These "corrupt" NEF-files can however be read in other RAW-importers like Capture Pro and Photoshop CS.It seems that Nikon is informed about this problem.

Kind regards,
Stephan POT"

Thanks Stephan!

Nikon Capture 4.1

Because Nikon Capture 4.1 is an update of 4.0 we cover here the main features that are new in NC 4.1 here. Below you find the new features of NC 4.0.

New Camera Support

  • D70
  • Coolpix 8700

Color Booster

Color Booster

This is a tool to boost saturation. We try to improve contrast first before we even think of boosting saturation. But this tool works fine and can do even subtle improvements.

LCH Editor

While the Curves tool works in the RGB color model the LCH editor use the Lightness, Chroma, Hue model.

Lightness in LCH Editor

THe Lightness editor can be very useful if you want to change contrast without any color shift.

Chroma Editor

The Chroma tool can be used to change saturation.

Nikon Capture 4.0

We followed Nikon Capture from it's early version 1.0 for the Nikon D1:

For the record we own Nikon D1, D100, D1x and just now test the Nikon D2H.

Already the version 3 of Nikon Capture (NC) was a solid raw converter and Nikon Capture 4 improves on it. We don't want to repeat many things we said about NC 3 and only talk about more recent observation in NC4. Please read the full review about NC 2 and 3.

Nikon View

Nikon View 6

Nikon Capture 4 uses Nikon View 6 as it's image browser. Nikon View is a nice image browser with large thumbnails. You can launch images into NC 4 from Nikon View. This is all that matters for us in Nikon View as we use Thumbs Plus 6 or Photoshop CS as our main image browsers.

Nikon Capture 4

Nikon Capture 4

Nikon Capture 4 has to be bought extra. NC 4 is a very powerful and feature rich application. Actually we think that NC 4 is one of the best raw converters that are made by a camera manufacturer (Sigma's Photo Pro is not bad either). Nikon takes NC and the RAW (NEF) format very seriously.

Some Highlights


NC 4 Curves

The NC 4 curves show a histogram that we always wanted to see in Photoshop. As mentioned in earlier reviews we only use the histogram as our main tool is Photoshop CS for further enhancements. Although NC 4 can show also the channel histograms we would like to have an option to view the 3 channels here in the overview (ACR, C1 and Photo Pro can do this).

Digital DEE

Digital DEE

We want to see this kind of tool in all raw converters.

From the NC 4 help "correcting for underexposure in back-lit subjects or shaded areas of images and for overexposure in brightly lit areas."

Actually there are equivalent solutions:

  • Photoshop CS Shadow/Highlight
  • Kodak SHO Pro (this is as far as we know the basis for DEE but the Kodak version works only 8 bit)
  • Sigma Photo Pro Fill Flash

The downside of DEE in NC 4 is that it does not work in real-time. Whenever you change a value you have to wait a couple of seconds for processing. But even then this is a very useful and needed tool. Is also shows Nikon's dedication to deliver a first class raw converter.

Advanced RAW

Advanced RAW

Advanced RAW is essential to correct exposure, sharpening, Tone Compensation and Color Mode (we set it to Adobe RGB in the camera).

The setting of the Tone Compensation allows to select a tone curve for best contrast:

Tone Comp

Most of the time "Normal" works for us but there are times where "Less Contrast" can be helpful. Actually you can do the same using DEE.

We set sharpening to "Low" or even "Off" and perform sharpening in later in Photoshop.

White Balance

Set Color Temperature

Set Gray Point (click gray/white)

The WB tool in NC 4 is very powerful and works fine. We would like to need some fewer mouse clicks though.

Noise Reduction

Noise Reduction

We do not find the noise reduction in NC 4 very helpful as it easily also blurs details. But in any case for higher ISO images we recommend tools like Noise Ninja and Neat Image.

Image Dust Off

Image Dust Off

We use the Photoshop Healing Brush with great success and would like to see hardware solutions that prevent dust sports in the first place.

We tested this feature for the D70 and are less than impressed. See our review here.

Fisheye Lens

Fisheye Lens

Nikon has a new AF DX Fisheye 10.5mm f/2.8 G and this delivers images like this one:

Shot with a pre production D2H

The new "Fisheye Lens" filter in NC 4 can correct the perspective of these shots:

Crop from the corrected image

Fun to use lens and the "Fisheye Lens" filter makes it even more useable.



What about workflow? We think that Nikon View 6 and NC 4 are well integrated but do not find the workflow to be as smooth as we are used with Capture One DSLR and also Photoshop CS.

But that said we had no problems working with NC 4 and for the Nikon D2H it the only game in town (except you calibrate in ACR 2.0 for the D2H).

Recommended (for D2H Highly Recommended)
Note: We expect third party solutions in the near future. But there is no need to wait as NC 4 is a solid solution.




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