Nikon D80 NEF - Adobe Lightroom 1.3 vs. Nikon Capture NX 1.2

by George Mann

Since we now have two brand new versions of the RAW image processor from Nikon and Adobe, I thought that today would be a good day to do a quick comparison test of a Nikon NEF file from a Nikon D80, arguably the most popular consumer level Nikon Digital SLR on the market at this time.

Basically I took one image and quickly ran it through Nikon Capture NX 1.2 without making any changes and did the same with Adobe Lightroom 1.3.

These images were not edited at all in either program, only resized and saved to jpeg at a value of 80. From what I can see on my computer screen they are fairly similar but the Nikon Capture NX 1.2 image is a little blown out in the highlights and the Adobe Lightroom 1.3 image is a bit dark in some of the shadows and some of the colors are a little dull. I will make some corrections and enhancements in both applications and try to post those images tomorrow. Comments would be appreciated, especially if you have made similar tests.


Image processed with Adobe Lightroom 1.3


Image processed with Nikon Capture 1.2


2007-11-16 10:56:33
Capture NX 1.2 image looks much better (as posted) IMO. I look forward to the edited images tomorrow.


2007-11-16 12:39:53
Rick, if you're going to say that at least explain why you think so. I'd probably agree the Capture NX version looks better but the differences between the two are nothing that you could correct for in either program...
2007-11-16 23:17:04
The Lightroom image is likely to be a little more dull as it works in the ProPhoto colour space. You must specify conversion to sRGB in the export dialogue box, it is likely to dull down colour to make it fit into sRGB. Depending on your settings in Capture NX it is likely to be working in Adobe or sRGB. If the latter is true then a more colourful jpeg is to be expected from NX.
2007-11-17 04:08:08
what does it look like in aperture?
2007-11-17 07:47:08
Well, first of all, Nikon MODE I colors are a result of user (or shell I say human) preference study. This is not something that should be taken as granted. I don't know what study Adobe have done to produce their starting point color, but I'd put my money on "no study".

Secondly, I think you may find that the HSB tool of Capture is very powerful because you can edit color in a very small resolution, where the tools you have in Lightroom are working on a larger scale of colors. you can't edit two different hues of blues differently for instance.

Unfortunately, colors are something Lightroom is the least powerful in. The starting point which camera makes have invested so much research and time on are lost once you import your image to lightroom. That would have been fine if you had some really powerful tools to edit color, like the camera make has.

2007-11-17 08:52:36
I've noticed the Capture images are brighter too. I've wondered if there is a lightroom adjustment that can adjust to NX brightness - could there be a Lightroom preset for this to use on import? Looking forward to your next post.
Brian Foraker
2007-11-18 08:54:17
I consistently get much better results in NX and only wish that LR would open images in NX in the RAW format and not TIFF/PSD.

Looking forward to more results from all.
Brian F