The D5000 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 (1.3.0), 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 allows you to manually GeoTag your images, and lets you hunt around Google Maps to find and record where you took your your photos.
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 1.3.0
ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 5.4 release candidate
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.
Sharpness and Detail
View NX is producing the sharpest image, followed by Adobe Camera Raw, with the default JPEG output trailing behind. The two RAW conversions are producing slightly more contrasty results but, with Adobe Camera Raw's camera color profiles, the tone response is very similar.
View NX RAW -> TIFF (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crops
Adobe ACR 5.4 (Release Candidate) RAW -> TIFF (Default settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera , High quality setting (all settings default) ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop
Again, View NX is producing the best result, with slightly more sharpening bringing out more and better defined detail from our resolution chart. It's also achieving this without producing the interference artefacts that Adobe Camera Raw generates at very high frequencies.
JPEG from camera
View NX (RAW)
Adobe Camera RAW 5.4
Real word advantages
Having said the sharpening on the D5000 can leave the images a touch soft, we had a bit of a play with Adobe Camera Raw to see if we could get slightly better results. Although the results are perhaps a little over-crisp, they do show that there's more detail in the RAW file that can be extracted if you want to. The original RAW file is available below if you wish to try alternative processing.