Nikon Capture NX 2 – Control and quality

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NikonNikon Capture NX 2 takes a major step forward over version 1.x, offering a host of improvements.

General improvements include:

  • Workspaces — Capture NX 1.x was awful with more than one monitor; NX 2 not only seems to understand multiple monitors but allows the creation of user workspaces, in addition to four “canned” workspaces that exist by default: Browser, Metadata, Multi-purpose and Edit. The user can swap between these workspaces quickly.
  • Palette layout — the settings are now directly visible in NX2, making it much easier to see overall options for multiple adjustment palettes.
  • Improved file browser. Much improved over version 1.x, the browser is now a usable tool in NX2, though its behavior is not entirely consistent with Nikon View, which can be confusing at times (check which program you’re using!).
  • Improved speed: this is a subjective assessment, speed does seem faster than with Capture NX 1.x on Mac OS X.

The eye has it.

But what really matters is image quality, and in this area Capture NX 2 offers three outstanding new features that all Nikon DSLR users should take a close look at. And even users of other digital cameras (or scanners) might consider it—Capture NX works with any JPEG or TIF file, not just RAW. It really should be called “Nikon Image Editor”, for it’s not just for RAW file conversion.

Let’s look at the three outstanding new features of Capture NX 2.

Auto Retouch brush

The Auto Retouch brush is a great new feature in Capture NX 2—great because the original is not altered (whether it be a RAW file or a JPEG/TIF). If you’ve ever “spotted” an image in Photoshop, you know this often means making another layer so as to preserve the original—a waste of storage, not to mention making mistakes is no fun when it’s noticed 10 steps later. Just grab the Auto Retouch brush and click away—bye-bye cruft.

Capture NX 2 Auto Retouch brush

Let’s take an example—someone dropped a blueberry on the floor. The background has some distracting crud. The sensor has dust spots. And it’s important that our model’s skin has no blemishes. (Click images to see larger).
Before retouch After retouch

Shadow and Highlight Protection

Any feature that takes minimal effort and yields good results gets my vote. The Capture NX2 “Quick Fix” dialog offers that winning combination of ease of use and pleasing results—far easier than learning the equivalent layers/curves/levels approach in Photoshop.

The confusingly-named Shadow “Protection” really seems to mean “lighten dark areas”, whereas “Highlight Protection” prevents highlights from being blown. Used together, along with exposure compensation and contrast, powerfully simple effects can be achieved. I’ve never seen it made so easy to lighten the dark areas of an image in a natural and pleasing way!

As-shot Quick Fix

Selection Control Points

Capture NX 2 now allows the ability to use a wide range of functionality via its new “selection control points”. Capture NX 1.x offered a much more restricted functionality. This extension makes the effort of learning the control point approach a more worthwhile time investment, because control points can now be applied against many different image processing options.

One simple example is making a small area of an image brighter. In this case, the model’s face is a bit dark. With a few clicks, we can seamlessly fix that issue—this is as easy as it gets, and completely non-destructive editing of course.
As-shotWith D-Lighting control point


Nikon Capture NX 2 offers some “killer” new features that deliver great results with minimal effort. Even if you’re adept at an image editor like Photoshop, you might find that Capture NX “delivers the goods” with a lot less effort.

For more details, please see the full article at

Related Content:
Nikon Capture NX 2 User Reviews
Nikon Forum
Nikon Reviews
Photography Software Forum
Nikon Capture NX 2 Press Release
Nikon Web Site

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