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The software choices available for Nikon users

If you have had your Nikon DSLR for a while you will have had Picture Project with your camera.  While small numbers may have liked this the majority of us were less than impressed.  We did not find it at all useful, and like many were disappointed when Nikon switched to this from the previous Nikon View, that was with the D100 and D70.   Recently however a new programme Nikon ViewNX has become available, and whatís more it is free and can be downloaded from the Nikon website. This is far better, allowing you to see in various ways the images you have, enlarge them to fill the page or zoom in closer. You can grade images in two ways, see the information on each photo, including lens, exposure and other settings, plus do a small amount of editing to your raw images. You can also use this to open up the photographs in another program like Capture NX or Photoshop. Another free program that you can download from the Nikon website is Nikon Transfer this allows you to transfer images from your camera or a card reader to your computer. It shows all the images on the card as thumbnails and allows you to select which to upload, and where you want to put them. You can choose the name the directories containing them are named and how the individual images are labelled. At the same time you can store a second copy away in a second location. When the photos have been uploaded it then transfers you to ViewNX so you can look at them.

Capture NX is of course the program that no serious Nikon photographer would be without. This is the best by far program for editing Nikon raw files with all options available to you. Its also a fairly simple program to learn to use, and we are able to teach a person in a day to get to grips with and confidently be able to edit in  this. One of its major strengths is the speed you can edit, and few photos will take you more than 10 minutes with most being able to be edited in under 5. There is no other program available that will allow you to achieve so much in anything like the same time. It costs just over £100, or maybe a little under depending on where you get it. It is also being included free at the moment with the D300 and D3.

Photoshop CS3, is the best known program for editing photographs, as well as creating art and more. At £650 itís a lot more expensive, far more complex and in expert hands able to do much more than Capture NX, but you donít have the same control of the raw data, and canít achieve very much quickly. The ideal solution is perhaps to routinely edit in Capture NX and go into Photoshop to undertake the tasks that you want to do that is outside Capture NXís capability, this way you have the ease of operation and speed of Capture NX and for the odd few photographs the ability to do special things in Photoshop. However donít expect to get to fully handle Photoshop anytime soon, it has enormous capabilities for the graphic artist designer and artists as well as photographer, but a step that Capture NX can undertake in a few clicks often requires a range of complex steps to achieve. There is a cut down version available at a lower price called Photoshop Elements, and some find the facilities that this provides is all they need from Photoshop. There are a number of other editing programs that could be used and  we will come back to look at these in a later week.

Capture Control Pro is a Nikon program priced under £30 that allows you to run a camera connected to a computer. You can both control the cameras settings and also see images taken on the computer screen, and images stored on the disk. We use this a lot with a laptop when doing studio work, for example macro photography, as we can then immediately check the results, for example checking it is in focus and exposed properly.  Capture Control Pro 2 is due out any time soon, designed for the D300 and D3, as it has the capability to use Live View as well as a number of cameras on the end of radio links.

We will come back to looking at each of the programs in more detail over the coming weeks.

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