Nikon Capture NX is one of only a handful of image editing software designed specifically for a brand of cameras—and the well-developed at that. Offering Nikon users a breadth of tools and features with which to hone, craft, restore and improve photos and images, Nikon Capture NX stands out head-and-shoulders above for its finished results that easily and convincingly lean heavily towards the “professional” side.
Nikon Capture NX 2 is very precise in what it does and who it can or should be used by. That said, Nikon Capture NX 2 is an excellent value—when it comes to Nikon users with little need or interest for image design and layering features. For users of other camera brands and with a greater need or interest in image design and layering tools, Nikon Capture NX 2 has little value for you.
Nikon Capture NX 2 was built for image and photo editing. Virtually all of its tools and features exist solely to improve and enhance photos, which, it manages to do with great aplomb. The Color Control points feature enables users to make adjustments to select areas without using layer masks or having to manually outline a given area, which is typical in virtually all image editing programs.
The auto retouch brush is another powerful tool, though much of its strength is lost in non-RAW files. Nevertheless, when set upon a RAW image, the retouch brush accurately and concisely and, more importantly does so without altering or, in the case of many similar programs, blurring and damaging the surrounding area. The other tools and features are fairly common in other programs, with the exception of a few like D-Lighting and the LCH Editor, which is far more concise and cogent than most available levels controls found in other programs.
Repeat: Nikon Capture NX 2 is not for the design and image creation-minded. For many, this is a non-issue. For others, this could be a deal-breaker.
Nikon Capture NX 2 is one that is painlessly simple to use from start to finish—if your computer beats the minimum hardware requirements, that is. Like other image editing programs or, for that matter, most visual/CPU intensive programs in general, trying to make use of it with an underequipped computer will result in frustration and possible CPU overload.
That aside, Nikon Capture NX 2’s mix of automated and manual tools and features are facile and user-friendly. Also, the program’s tethering capabilities with Nikon cameras make the import stage of the process an instantaneous—and therefore easy—one.
Nikon Capture NX 2 never claims to be heavy on import functionality. Yet, for Nikon camera users, its tethering abilities are nearly unparalleled. Users can still upload compatible photos and images from the hard drive, but, really, this program is intended as the hub for a Nikon brand camera.
Finished images can be exported as TIFF or JPEG files and saved to a hard drive or other device linked to your computer. Finished images cannot be emailed directly from the program, but that remains only increases the process by a single step (saving an image to a hard drive for upload using an attachment browser tool).
Like its import functionality, Nikon Capture NX 2 never makes any misleading claims about its file compatibility. It is built almost solely for its homemade RAW file-type, NEF, with additional-albeit-limited compatibility and support for JPEG and TIFF files.
Nikon Capture NX 2 has a variety of resources to help lessen the program learning curve and increase understanding and proficiency with tools and features. Many of these are built-in to the program or available in product manuals. Additional guides are available online at the official Capture NX website.
As for technical assistance, Nikon has room for some improvements; namely: offering a help section on its Capture NX sub-site. Users must navigate to the parent Nikon site in order to seek technical assistance or troubleshoot a problem. Though the program and accompanying documents are fairly comprehensive, it is important—but not crucial—to have an additional stratum of help and support beyond the program itself.
Nikon Capture NX 2 isn’t for everyone. In fact, it really can’t be used by anyone other than Nikon camera users. But, if you use a Nikon camera, want a program that very easily and convincingly puts professional polishes on photos captured on a Nikon camera and have little need for image design tools, Capture NX 2 is the perfect program.
This program has a user-friendly interface with optional quick fix workflow.
The program has limited compatibility with non-Nikon RAW image formats.
This program has good help features, but nothing else makes it stand out.