I am a life long Nikon photographer and I believe in using Nikon products whenever possible. I don’t really feel like I’m cheating on Nikon by using Adobe products like Photoshop CS and Photoshop Lightroom though, because Nikon does not have an equivalent product available.
Some photographers may argue that Capture NX is a competing product, but I consider it to be a complimentary product, one that on occasion allows Nikon users to squeeze that important little bit extra, out of their NEF (RAW) image files.
Nikon Capture NX is a very good RAW image file converter (for Nikon NEF (RAW) images only) and has a few image editing capabilities that can not be found in either Photoshop Lightroom or Photoshop CS. The most outstanding feature of Capture NX is what Nikon refers to as their U Point technology which uses Control Points to selectively adjust the size, brightness, contrast, saturation and hue of a particular color or area of an image.
There are basically two ways to use the combined power of Lightroom and Capture NX.
1. Process the NEF image file in Capture NX first, convert the edited file to TIFF and then import into Lightroom.
2. Open the unprocessed NEF image file in Lightroom first and edit in the Lightroom Edit Module, when you come across a situation that is better handled in Capture NX, access the Edit in Capture command in the Photo Menu (you have to select Capture NX as an alternate external Editor first) and edit in Capture NX.
Last week I photographed a large outdoor Buddha statue but unfortunately the sun was so bright and high, that half of the face of the Buddha was in a deep shadow. Never mind I figured it would make a good story for this website.
I opened the unedited NEF file in Lightroom 1.0 but I was not satisfied with the adjustments I could make in the Lightroom Develop Module, so I decided to apply the Edit in Capture command, which made a TIFF copy of the original RAW file and sent the TIFF image to Capture NX (1.1) for editing. After the editing process I Saved (not Save As) the image, which was then automatically picked up by Lightroom and placed in a Stack with the original RAW image file.
TIFF and JPEG files can be adjusted using U Point - Control Points in Nikon Capture NX but the image will in a sense be flattened (to borrow an Adobe Photoshop CS term) when it is saved and can not be re-edited without introducing new Control Points. Nikon NEF (RAW) files can be saved with the previous U Point settings available, the next time you open the file.
The process in Capture NX was fairly straight forward
1. Created a Control Point in the shadow area of the Buddhas face
2. Increased the brightness in that Control Point area
3. Duplicated that Control Point a number of times
4. Placed the Control Points in the areas that you consider to be too dark
5. Adjusted the individual control points for a natural look
By making a number of small Control Point areas I was able to adjust the shadow area without affecting the adjacent highlights.