Nikon View NX-i Available for Download

Here. View NX-i is Nikon’s free software for browsing and converting video and still content generated from Nikon cameras.  It replaces View NX2.

View NX-i

How we got to here is a little convoluted and not without some controversy among Nikon enthusiasts.

Until recently, Nikon sold software called Capture NX2.  This was a fully-fledged, weapons-grade editor for Nikon images, with facilities such as control points, which were not available elsewhere.  Being Nikon software, Capture NX2 could exploit Nikon raw formats better than just about anything else.  When you edited Nikon raw images, Capture NX2 maintained a list of the changes you applied to the image, so you could retun to the image later and add or remove a step, never losing anything from the original image.  Capture NX2 had a very loyal and appreciative fan base among Nikon shooters.

But Capture NX2 was really developed by Nik software and when Nik was acquired by the Google empire, this did not seem to fit with Nikon’s corporate direction – and so, to the horror of many Nikon fans, Capture NX2 was effectively ditched by Nikon.

Nikon Capture NX-D has subsequently been released and is currently free software.  While it is competent software, its capabilities come nowhere close to those of Capture NX2.  Many Nikon shooters are appalled!

Still with me?  Then what of View NX-i?  I have had a quick look at this today – it seems like a reasonable environment in which to browse your Nikon stuff and do quick conversions to JPEG or TIFF formats.  There is a nifty little image information window, mirroring the information you would see on your SLR’s rear display – if you’re using a DSLR and you display such information on the rear screen!  I have done a test raw conversion of a .NEF and the result was excellent.  I compared that result to a similar conversion by Capture NX-D and noted only that View NX-i seems to include lens corrections by default, where they are optional and configurable in Capture NX-D. In fact, I don’t think you can turn off these corrections in View NX-i.

So View NX-i would appear to be perfect for quick ‘n’ dirty raw conversions, while Capture NX-D gives you more flexibility.  Neither is a full-blown image manipulation package and if you do anything even slightly advanced with your images, you’ll need something else, to which you could export 16-bit TIFFs from either View NX-i or Capture NX-D.   Happily, there are many choices!

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Shooting Raw – Why and Why Not

The subject of “shooting raw” seems to be have become somewhat controversial, like “Canon or Nikon” or helmets for cyclists.  Live and let live, I say – no-one’s going to sustain head injuries from shooting raw or, indeed, jpeg.  Ken Rockwell famously advises against shooting raw – and attracts criticism for doing so.  As ever, he makes some good points.

But I like shooting raw.  A simple reason is – it’s fun!  I like the flexibility it gives me and I like experimenting with different raw converters and comparing the results.

You can, of course, shoot raw+jpeg, which might seem to give you the best of all worlds, but I don’t do this.  I don’t do it because you can always create a jpeg from the raw, but you can’t create a raw from the jpeg!  Your camera manufacturer will usually provide free software for decoding their raw format – and this can be used to create a processed image almost identical to that which the camera would have generated if set to jpeg. So giving the camera that much more work to do – and using that much more precious space on your card – doesn’t make sense to me.

Here’s a before and after example – this was a raw image taken by a Sony RX100.  What I was trying to do didn’t really come off and it was only because I was experimenting with raw converters that I managed to turn something quite unpleasant into a picture which is pleasing to my eye. There were blown highlights all over the place and some of this has only been tamed by a highlight recovery feature in my software.  Arguably, therefore, some of the sky in the after image is artificial.

I was amazed at the amount of recoverable detail in the tree itself.

The raw converter used here was the excellent and free RawTherapee. I recommend this software highly, but you do need to put some effort into getting to know it.

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