This is now part three in a series of Lightroom 1.3 vs. Capture NX 1.3 comparisons, some of you are probably getting tired of these posts, but if you either have or are thinking about buying one of the new Nikon D300 digital SLRs, you might find this interesting.
If you remember with the Nikon D80 NEF file comparisons, the default images out of the two applications was actually fairly similar but the default Nikon Capture output was a bit brighter and some of the colors were more realistic and vibrant.
The main advantage that Nikon Capture NX 1.3 has when it comes to editing the image, is the U-Point technology, which allows you to edit individual areas of the image (like for instance the sky) and punch it up (or even de-saturate it entirely to gray scale) without disturbing the rest of the image.
The main advantage that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.3 has is a much better user interface and workflow, especially when dealing with larger numbers of images, but also when trying to squeeze the most out of a single image.
Both applications allow you to export to Photoshop CS 3, so more advanced editing is not an issue, but for basic color and vibrance control a lot of Nikon photographers feel that (especially when they are confronted with a particularly difficult image), they can squeeze more image quality out of Nikon Capture than any other application.
Warning: I have not tested the Nikon D300, or the NEF files it produces, in depth yet, so this is a very early analysis and my findings and results may change dramatically as I start getting used to the camera and the image files that it produces.
Nikon D300 - Capture NX 1.3 - default image, resized, and saved to JPEG
My initial impression from processing the Nikon D300 NEF files in Capture NX 1.3 was that the files were somewhat soft and pastel like. Not really unpleasant but also not what I was expecting.
Nikon D300 - Lightroom 1.3 - default image, resized, and exported to JPEG
Imagine my surprise, to see more sharpness, vibrance and contrast in the Lightroom 1.3 default image file. It is actually kind of hard to see in these small images but in the application widows and at larger size, there is a noticeable difference. For the Mac users with the latest version of Safari, the difference will be pretty dramatic, even in these small images.
Conclusion: Well I don’t really have a conclusion yet, but am reminded why I continue to use a number of different editing applications to get the results that I am after.