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Raw

Supplied software

The D3000's software suite is fairly limited, although at its core is View NX - a vastly better raw conversion platform than the previous generation Picture Project, which shipped with the D60. View NX is not as sophisticated as Nikon's Capture NX2 (available separately for £160/$180), but it offers most of the key functionality that a beginner will require when starting out on the DSLR road, including the ability to edit white balance and exposure in NEF files, and highlight/shadow recovery sliders. 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. Inexplicably absent, however, are noise reduction and cropping options

As well as being free, View NX has another advantage over Capture NX2 in that it is a small program that does not require a huge amount of computing power to run. It's far from being as slick as Adobe's Camera Raw plug in for Photoshop, but much more forgiving of older, slower computers than NX2. As well as raw conversion, View NX also allows you to manually Geotag photographs using Google Maps, and to rate and label images with stars or colors for ease of organization. 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.

Although it doesn't give anything like the flexibility or functionality offered by Nikon's Capture NX2, the bundled View NX software is a huge improvement over the earlier generation Picture Project, and it easy to make basic adjustments to both raw and JPEG files from the D3000. A thumbnail view does exactly what it sounds like it should - it arranges all of the images in a particular folder as thumbnails, for easy navigation.
When adjusting raw files, 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 allows you to manually GeoTag your images by using Google Maps to find and record where you took your your photos. Manual tagging is the only option, since the D3000 is not compatible with Nikon's GP-1 GPS unit.

RAW conversion

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. In the case of the D5000 we used the supplied View NX as well as Adobe Camera RAW 5.4 (release candidate).

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • VNX - View NX 1.5.0
  • ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 5.5 (at default 'Adobe Standard' setting)

Color reproduction

Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using each RAW converter. There are subtle differences between the color response of the camera's JPEG engine and View NX, even though they're theoretically using the same Picture Control Styles. Adobe Camera RAW's default settings take a slightly more conservative approach to color response and has a less contrasty tone curve.

Nikon D3000 Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardLandscapeNeutralPortrait
VividMonochromeAdobe RGB

Sharpness and Detail

As expected more detail can be brought out of raw files from the Nikon D3000 compared to its JPEG output, but difference isn't as great as we might expect from Nikon's higher-level CMOS-equipped DSLRs. Of the three raw conversion engines that we've used, Nikon's View NX does a better job of resolving very fine detail, but images also look rather 'overcooked'. In contrast, ACR delivers a slightly softer, less contrasty image that stands up very well to further sharpening in Photoshop. Capture One Pro 5 applies quite aggressive sharpening (at default settings - it can be fine-tuned if desired) and has delivered the crispest image here, but it is bordering on being over sharpened.

View NX RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
Adobe ACR 5.5 RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
Capture One Pro 5 -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

The higher contrast result from View NX gives the best detail resolution image of our test chart, but only by a whisker. View NX also manages to achieve this result without displaying the odd demosaicing artifacts that Adobe Camera Raw and Capture One Pro 5 have produced around 2600LPH. All three raw conversion engines have produced slightly better resolution than is possible from in-camera JPEGs (and in all cases the results are impressive for a 10 megapixel camera).

JPEG (Large/Fine) from camera View NX
Adobe Camera RAW 5.5 Capture One Pro 5

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.

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