The D300S comes with a reasonable set of software compared to the suite of tools supplied with some of its competitors. Most of it hinges around View NX, which, in its latest guise (1.5.0), offers a fairly good range of photo organization and tagging tools, along with a reasonable selection of raw processing options.
On the organization side of things, View NX allows you to label images with stars or colors (so you could separate hobby photos, friends and family and paid work, for instance) and create sets of copyright metadata that can be added to whichever image you like. You can even modify the names of the color tags so that they show up as 'Work,' 'Holiday,' 'Portraits' or whatever best suits your needs.
When it comes to RAW processing, View NX has a reasonable (if not quite comprehensive) range of tools. There's no way of adjusting noise reduction but other common parameters such as sharpening and exposure adjustments (including highlight and shadow recovery), are here. In a nice touch, many of these parameters can be built into presets using the Picture Control Utility, meaning that presets you find yourself regularly applying can be uploaded to the camera. There's even an option to reduce axial chromatic aberration, which is a feature we can't remember seeing in any other bundled software.
For more advanced processing, the considerably more sophisticated Capture NX software can be bought from Nikon. It is a convincingly professional-grade product in a way that camera makers' software often isn't (it's developed by the independent Nik Software) but can be rather resource intensive. It allows some clever localized adjustments to be made and will correct lens distortion on Nikkor lenses. However, it is also priced at a level (£160/$180) that pushes it towards the cost of third-party software that might be equally effective.
As is common with bundled software, View NX gives some of the best access to the shooting metadata created by the camera, helping you work out exactly how your existing version is processed before you make adjustments.
There are a variety of views. This is the Image Viewer mode showing the Quick Adjust menu on the left. The selected focus point and separate Red, Green, Blue and Brightness histograms are also shown.
You can either apply an existing Picture Control preset (Standard, Vivid, etc.) or create and modify your own, which can be uploaded onto the camera for JPEG shots.
View NX lets you manually GeoTag your images, hunt around Google Maps to find the location and now imports GeoTags already embedded in EXIF.
As is normal in our digital SLR reviews I like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. In the case of the A700 we had the supplied Image Data Converter SR as well as Adobe Camera RAW 4.3 beta.
JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
View NX - Nikon View NX 1.5.0
Capture NX - Nikon Capture NX 2.2.2
ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 184.108.40.206
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 see both View NX and Capture NX match the color response of the cameras internal image processor identically. As usual the third party converters, in this case Adobe Camera RAW has a different color response but Adobe now offers a profile that aims to mimic the manufacturer's result (Called 'Camera Standard' in this instance).
Sharpness and Detail
As expected the RAW converted images look sharper than JPEG (images look crisper and demonstrate better per-pixel sharpness), it does appear as though View NX and Capture NX are using the same engine as their output is identical. Overall there's little difference in sharpness between the three RAW conversion engines compared here.
Adobe Camera RAW
Both ViewNX and CaptureNX both produce sharper, better-defined images that the out-of-camera JPEGs (which, as with many recent Nikons, tend to be a little soft). Their results are also outpacing Abobe Camera Raw, which is showing just as much false color around 2600 line pairs but not resolving the lines so precisely. The output from View and Capture NX (which appear to be identical), is doing a good job of producing crisp results without too much in the way of sharpening artefacts.
JPEG from camera
Nikon View NX 1.5.0 (RAW)
Nikon Capture NX 2.2.2 (RAW)
Adobe Camera RAW 220.127.116.11 (RAW)
RAW files for download
Here we provide RAW files, both from the review and the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.