Nikon PictureProject 1.7 - image transfer, browsing, organization and basic editing. Provides a fairly good range of image management features, can convert RAW to JPEG but lacks RAW specific adjustments such as white balance or digital exposure compensation.
Nikon FotoShare - Nikon's own online sharing facility for producing web albums and sharing by e-mail.
Nikon Capture NX (trial) - Nikon's new fully-fledged image management, workflow, editing and RAW conversion application.
RAW conversion - preliminary
Normally in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software with in-camera JPEG and any third party converters. As we discovered in our D40 review Nikon Capture NX and PictureProject both now share the same RAW conversion engine, hence deliver identical results with default settings. Therefore our comparison here is between JPEG from the camera and RAW converted with Nikon Capture NX and a beta version of Adobe Camera RAW 4.1.
JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
NX - Nikon Capture NX 1.1.0
ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 4.1 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 see there is absolutely no visible difference between JPEG from the camera and a RAW converted by Capture NX, both clearly using the same basic RAW processing engine. Obviously Nikon has worked hard to ensure that the color and tone reproduction of a converted RAW is the same as you would natively get from the camera.
Custom Mode Ia
Custom Mode IIa
Custom Mode IIIa
Sharpness and Detail
There is a very subtle improvement in sharpness between the from-the-camera JPEG and the Capture NX converted RAW, texture detail is also slightly more visible although nothing significant. Adobe Camera RAW delivers a very similar result to Capture NX except without any sharpening halo artifacts and a different color map (as above).
It's fair to say that Nikon do deliver a very good JPEG image straight from the camera, there's no 'big leap' in resolution from JPEG to converted RAW that we're used to seeing from other brands which tells us that the D40X's image processing engine is very well developed. If you want to start looking into the very fine details and those beyond absolute resolution then both Capture NX and Adobe Camera RAW can deliver slightly more 'texture'. (You should also note the complete lack of sharpening halos on the ACR image).
JPEG from camera
Nikon Capture NX (RAW)
Adobe Camera RAW (RAW)
Noise (Reduction) at higher sensitivities
At higher sensitivities differences in noise reduction strategy between the in-camera image processing and Nikon Capture NX become apparent. Capture NX maintaining more luminance detail at the expense of more visible (but frankly not objectionable) noise grain. At ISO 800 and 1600 Adobe Camera RAW demonstrates the best detail possible but noise, especially in darker shadow areas, is becoming noticeable.