I like to consider myself to be a photographer. Some people disagree, I know, but let’s for the sake of argument accept this statement for now. This implies that I understand how my camera works and I use this knowledge to achieve certain (photographic) effects. I select my apertures consciously to play with depth of field and to put elements of the picture in or out of focus. Or I select a certain shutterspeed to create a sense of movement. I could go on and on. But I do this because understand how cameras work. I say this because I see a whole generation (like my own kids) who recognize an effect, but think it can only be done by Photoshop or a similar tool. It will probably have something to do with age, but as I have stated several times on this blog before, a real photographer works with his camera and keeps post-processing to a minimum. Does this then mean we shouldn’t do any post-processing with Photoshop-like tools? Of course not! To begin with, there’s one very simple reason for this. When shooting RAW the conversion to a JPG or TIFF is inevitable. So there you go, you must do some post-processing for each and every RAW image. The point is however, where do you draw the line. What is acceptable and what isn’t? In my opinion, there are no 100% clear rules for this. It’s personal. As a sort of guideline for myself I only allow what we used to do in the old (analog) days of the darkroom. So for me enhancing contrast, cropping, dodging and burning are all allowed techniques. Even experimenting with some filters is allowed in my opinion (didn’t we cross process films a long time ago?).
A lengthy intro just to say post-processing images is not only needed, it is mandatory (especially when shooting RAW). But it starts with understanding your camera and create effect when taking the picture. Not afterwards by using a tool on the PC or Mac. This is what Frank Doorhof likes to call why fake it if you can create it. Actually he’s planning doing a whole tour on this subject. Look here to find out more. Now as a hardcore Nikon addict, I don’t use Photoshop very much, but prefer Capture NX2 instead. For one very simple reason: it’s the only product that’s able to interpret Nikon’s NEF file for 100%. All Adobe attempts with camera profiles are nice, but they’re not able to read all the nitty gritty details of NEF like Capture NX2 can. But if you happen to like Photoshop or Lightroom and feel comfortable with it, please continue to do so. It’s not my intention to convert you. I just happen to work with Capture NX2 and like it. Besides the technical reason mentioned above, once you’re used to the unique U-Point technology with Control Points, believe me, every other tool is a pain. On top of that, it is a non-destructive way of editing without the need for sidecar files like in the Adobe products.
So, is Capture NX2 perfect? Again: of course not! Plenty of discussions on several forums illustrate that there’s room for improvement (to say the least). I’m not going to repeat all the arguments here. Bottom line is that it’s about time Nikon released an up-to-date version of the product. If it was only to catch up with the competition. A couple of days ago I came across an entry on the Nikon Rumors website about an upcoming new release. The post states a Capture NX3 version to be expected this summer. Have a look here for the post. I must confess, I can’t wait for the day that it will be released. No matter how much I like NX2, a new version (with 64-bit support and a better user-interface as in View NX2) would be highly appreciated. And let’s be honest: it’s about time. And if indeed a number of Nik Software plug-ins would included (or at least be made possible to include) that would be a serious and major, major step forward. Currently only Color Efex Pro can be plugged in to NX2. Silver Efex Pro? Sorry, nocando! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Remember the information is coming from the Nikon Rumors website…. Let’s hope and pray they’re right this time.