The D3X is provided with a software CD which contains:
Nikon View NX (Windows / Mac OS X) - A simple image browser / organization / basic manipulation application based on the Capture NX design (although it has to be said, easier to use). Provides basic RAW to JPEG conversion with adjustment of exposure compensation, white balance and picture control.
Nikon Transfer (Windows / Mac OS X) - Automated transfer of images from camera or card reader.
Nikon Capture NX (Windows / Mac OS X) - Nikon's advanced workflow and RAW development application comes as a 30 days trial version which can be downloaded from the Nikon website.
As is normal in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. For these comparisons (which use the default settings) we've used the View NX RAW converter (which uses the same engine as Capture NX so produces identical results). Obviously using a fully-fledged RAW converter such as Capture NX or ACR will allow you to fine tune the output (something not possible with View NX).
JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
View NX - Nikon View NX 1.2.2
ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 5.3 beta
Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using each RAW converter. As you can Nikon's own View NX is very similar but not identical to the color response of the cameras internal image processor. As usual third party converters, in this case Adobe Camera RAW, have their own 'different' color response.
Sharpness and Detail
As expected the RAW converted images look sharper than JPEG (images look crisper and demonstrate better per-pixel sharpness). There is not an awful lot of difference here between the View/Capture NX engine and Adobe Camera RAW but overall ACR produces the most detail thanks to the fairly strong default sharpening. The RAW conversions also apply a steeper tone curve than the in-camera JPEG which leads to some highlight clipping. Of course you can play with all these parameters in the conversion process and adapt them to your liking.
Again, the sharpness advantage to RAW conversion is fairly clear to see, both converters delivering higher resolution than JPEG straight from the camera. The difference between ACR and Capture NX is marginal, it would be very hard to pick a winner. The images are also fairly clean with only some minor artifacts at the very highest frequencies.