Adobe Lightroom 1.3 vs. Nikon Capture NX 1.3 - Part 2

by George Mann

This has been a week full of Nikon anxiety for me and little less. The big question for the last week has been, will I get one of the first batch of the new Nikon D300? And the answer is, yes it has been picked up from the dealer and is on it's way to me.

Strangely enough I have bought one in Orlando, Florida and a friend (who just happens to be traveling in this direction) is bringing it to Thailand for me. Those of you who are Nikon users, are of course wondering why I am having a Nikon brought from the US to Thailand, where it was manufactured in the first place. Why didn't I just buy it in Thailand?

There are two very good reasons that I am carrying the proverbial coals to Newcastle, one being that the camera costs quite a bit less in the USA than it does in Thailand, and two is that I want to have a Nikon USA warranty on the camera, it makes it much easier to get the camera serviced in the USA (if necessary).

I promised to make some corrections to the images I used in lasts weeks blog, but in addition to the new camera release Nikon also threw us all a curve ball by coming out with a new version of Capture NX. Somehow it also seems more fair though, now that we are comparing version 1.3 of Lightroom with version 1.3 of Capture NX.

So on with the show. Basically all I want to do for this exercise is improve the sky a little bit.


The original default Lightroom 1.3 image.


The enhanced Lightroom 1.3 image. I tried to match the saturation enhancement I was able to make with Capture NX in the sky, but was held back because the blues in the rest of the image became over saturated.


The original default Capture NX 1.3 image.


The enhanced Capture NX 1.3 image. I used four color control points to boost the blue saturation of the sky and three control points to boost the contrast of the clouds. I have to say that Capture NX is really great for manipulating the sky, without affecting the rest of the image.


Capture NX allows me to easily and quickly add (color, contrast, exposure) enhancements to specific areas in an image. I know I can do the same thing from Lightroom by round-tripping to Photoshop CS, but Capture NX allows me to do it without exporting or converting the RAW (NEF) image, right in the application. And if I may repeat myself in Capture NX it is very easy to do this.

I know the following may be impossible for both political and practical reasons, but I have to state it anyway, in the hopes that maybe someone can implement at least part of what I would like to see happen.

I would like to see a Capture NX module made available for Lightroom so that Nikon photographers can both get the image quality and enhancement advantages of Capture NX and at the same time have access to the more practical and easier to live with Lightroom workflow. If it is at all possible I would like to hear some comments on the topic. If you think it is not possible or practical I would like to hear your comments on why you think it is impossible too.


2007-11-24 02:09:45
George, have you tried the LCH tool in NX? It actually allows you to define a very specific color and map that color to a different color. This is something LR lacks, and if adobe would implement this kind of high resolution color mapping you'll find that it is less necessary to do local adjustments.

That's one problem. The other problem is that NX offers much better algorithms - better noise reduction, automatic CA correction and so on... On top of that, NX is configured differently for each camera model. Each camera Nikon has made was fine tuned endlessly before entering the market, and you get that fine tuning with NX. Something Adobe can't do, I don't think they spend that much time and money on just one camera. This means that the starting point of NX, the starting point from which you are starting to adjust the image, is already tuned by Nikon. This means less work for you, or sometimes no work at all.

2007-11-24 21:15:00
Adobe just released an SDK (in preview status) allowing software developers to write export modules compatible with Lightroom. Checkout for more details.
Phil Young
2007-11-26 18:08:03
Totally agree. I am a wedding photographer who uses NX to tweak my images and NX does a great job but it takes too long for my liking even using the batch process or copy and paste.
I like to see what is happening visually and I felt the older versions of capture had a better flow because I did not have to open the image when pasting changes into it and
I had a preview that was big enough to see if the changes were good enough.
NX is a great program but when I am going through 600 raw images I have the need for speed. Making it more work flow friendly or as a module for lightroom would be a great improvement.
2007-11-29 23:50:10
I agree with you and I am a big fan of the raw processing power and easy of select color/saturation adjustments using the u-point technology.
My approach... capture in NEF, transfer to computer with Nikon Transfer, view and delete rejects in ViewNX, make raw edits in Capture NX (including the new picture control capability), convert to jpeg using Capture NX, backup Nefs, import jpegs to lightroom, output to web, print, slideshow etc... using lightroom. My naming convention in lightroom takes me back to my Nefs if I every want the source file. Any comments or recommendations on this workflow?
George Mann
2007-12-01 09:27:07
A lot of interesting comments. I can't right now, but I will be back to try and address the comments individually.
Michael Rubin, Nikon Inc.
2007-12-06 07:36:03
Hi George,

Thanks for the kind words.

I'd say the easiest way to work with Lightroom and Capture NX is to round-trip. Do your organizing and selection in LR, then send it out via Export (new to 1.3, back from Beta)work on the image in Capture NX then back to LR as a finished TIF or JPEG.

Of course that is no different than going in and out of CS2/3, except that edit will be usually be much faster in Capture 1.3 than CS2/3.


Michael Rubin
Nikon Inc.

mrubin (at) nikon (dot) net

George Mann
2007-12-06 17:01:12

Thank you for the comment, I did write some articles on round tripping to Capture NX back in the beta days and do use this method at times, but I would still like to see a solution that allows the image to stay in RAW (NEF) format throughout the entire editing process.