Nikon Capture NX or Photoshop Elements 5
I currently have Photoshop Elements 2.0 (Sony Vaio version) and am wanting to experiment with shooting RAW with my D50. Upgrading my software to Nikon Capture NX £120 GBP or Photoshop Elements 5.0 £65 appear to be the 2 main options.
From what I can gather the Nikon Capture NX software has better RAW conversion capabilitions, but PS Elements 5.0 will now allow me to do Curves as well.
Any comments or advice on this software choice. (I could get both) but would like to avoid having to go down that route.
I haven't experimented with shooting raw yet, so I can't speak as to which program is better in that regard.
However, I downloaded the trial versions of both programs, and ended up buying PSE 5. NX does have some really cool features, but was kind of slow (even after I upgraded my pc to 1GB RAM). And I found that I acheived better results with PSE 5, and could do some things that NX couldn't (or at least I hadn't figured out). I was willing to spend the $150 on NX, but was quite happy that I preferred the program that was almost half the price!
I don't know the answer to your question as I have no experience with elements but am considering to purchase it along with NX which I already own.I want to piggy back on your question for anyone reading this thread. My question is can Elements do HDR pictures?
If you want to be able to apply your in-camera settings to your RAW file, then NX is the only way to go. Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) will do a good job converting your files, too, but you'll need to "dial it in" to obtain good results-- the default settings are somewhat flat.
I am of the opinion that if you really want to learn what all the various camera settings do on a Nikon DSLR, then Capture NX is the best way to go-- you can see the effects of changing parameters like tone curves and color modes right away, and then set up your camera to streamline your workflow later on.
I am also of the opinion that it is best to have a copy of PS/Elements around for those times where you want to work on the TIFF output from Capture NX. I still prefer creating my JPEGs in Photoshop CS2 because I get better control over the file size and compression. But I really get the "look" I want from my NEFs by using Capture NX for conversion. It takes me much less time to get the look I want in NX than it does in ACR, and with the judicious use of settings presets, I can do most of my post-processing in NX in under a minute.
I use both NX and elements 5. From NX, I work on my exposure and white balance and make the photo look basically how I want it. I also usually apply a slight unsharp mask. Save to Jpg, and open in elements. From there I do the stuff NX doesn't allow me to do, such as cloning junk out of the photo, or fixing blemishes and such. I also do straightening and cropping from elements as well as the final unsharp mask.
For me these programs have different purposes, and comparing them to each other is about like asking which do you prefer? Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel?
Whatever PP you decide on CS2, PS, Elements, Paint Shop Pro I would also suggest NX for you RAW files. Nikon software gets the most out of NEF files, whether it was Nikon Capture or moving forward NX. IMHO it is really a two step process. Use NX to convert and make whatever other adjustments such as EV, WB etc. then save as a 16-bit .tiff and finsih with whatever PP you decide on. It may seem like a lot of $$$ but you have or will have some serious money invested in the body and good glass, don't go cheap with the final part of digital shooting, finsih your files properly and get every last drop your captures have to offer.
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Capture NX. You will find little need for Elements 5 if you have NX.
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I have both products and I completely agree. They are just different. I too use NX for my initial post processing -- basically getting the RAW set the way I want. Then I use PSE5 for everything else. There are many things that you can do in PSE5 that just aren't possible with NX.
If you have to buy one, stick with PSE5. You'll just have to spend a small amount more time playing with the RAW defaults.
Also, PSE5 is a great product that functions very well. NX is a great product, but still VERY buggy. I have 2GB of RAM and it still runs very slow (particularly on batch conversions) and tends to crash occasionally.
One more thought.... I still think NX is a great tool, but very frustrating that a RAW file saved in NX will not look the same if opened later in another program. NX adds extra "secret NIKON" instructions in the file that other programs don't know how to interpret. Not too big a deal, but it does force you to save as a TIFF before importing into another program. I hate that....
As pretty much everyone has said, you'll spend alot more time trying to get your RAWs to look good in PSE than in NX. PSE is still good for alot of things that NX can't do so it's worth keeping around. If the price of NX is a bit much, try looking at Bibble Lite. I've found that it gets just as much out of my raws as NX does and has some helpful adjustment options that I found easier to understand than their counterparts in NX.
I don't exactly understand--if you edit a NEF in NX, why would you then go to the trouble of trying to convert it in another RAW converter? The same issues you describe hold true for the other converters, too. If you make changes to your file in ACR, Bibble, Capture One, etc, the XML sidecar files are not universally read across other applications. That's why RAW processing is called "conversion"-- you are rendering the raw sensor data into an RGB format (TIFF, JPEG) which is, essentially "universal". If you make changes to a NEF in ACR and then open it in Bibble, you lose your work as well.
Reason for elements 5 even with capture NX.
Not a great photo, I know. Can't wait for an SB 800 or even 600.... but here's my 4 children...... Very rare that I can get them all together for a picture, and all getting along at the same time. So, there were a few imperfections I wanted to fix. Capture NX doesn't allow this, so for me, elements is important. I know, if I spent more time setting up the scene, I probably wouldn't need to clone stuff out.... but these kids range from 10 months to 14 years, and have enough energy to solve the world energy crisis if only it were a more stable energy source. So I take what I can get and fix in post processing.
and the final cropped version I printed.
I am a newbie, so maybe this answer doesn't count. But IMHO PSE 5 is the better choice for personal use, and NX is essential for the serious photographer or professional.
I am on my third version of PS Elements and the main reason my family needed it is to organize, distribute, and backup family photos. It also provides some sophisticated editing tools from PhotoShop like the healing tool to remove blemishes. Now that I am starting to take the photography side more seriously, I also appreciate the detailed EXIF data that PSE5 provides. Of course, I just use Nikon's default settings (JPEG- large,normal compression).
If I was committed to RAW files I would be much more tempted to buy NX for pre-processing. RAW files just seem too large to me. I went from a 3MB camera that outputed default shots at 600kb to a 10MB camera that outputs default images at around 2MB. I figure this is a decent compromise on file size and flexibility for home use.
BTW, one other reason that I standardized on PSE5 is because I also have a camcorder and shoot videos of my daughter. For this reason, I like the integration and reasonable price of the PSE5 and Premiere Elements 3 (video portion) combo package ($99 on Amazon after rebates). I am not new to computers or software, but it is challenging enough to fully learn these two packages.
So...IMHO if I was an amateur and was only going to spend my money on one photo/ organizational product then I vote for PSE5. If I want to step it up, then I would add NX. If I was a professional, I would be looking at full blown Photoshop, Lightroom, NX, etc.....none of which I am qualified to speak about.
Good luck with your decision!
Keep in mind that Photoshsop Elements uses a simplfied version of the RAW processor and Curves program. It does not have the full software for the two programs.
Nikon D50, 18-55 mm DX, 18-70 dx, 50mm f/1.4, PS Ele 4, 6 books on editing photos, and one book on the D50.
I believe Elements 5 offers 16-bit color support, which means you can use it as the "Open With" application in conjunction with NX. With earlier versions of Elements, you'll need to save your NEF as an 8-bit TIFF or JPEG in order to open it.
If I don't need elements for any post processing there, then I crop in NX, but most of the time I use elements to "finish" a photo.... then crop to print size of my choice.... if I cropped to 8x10, then it's not correct ratio for a 4x6 print. after getting the full picture edited, I save it. Then again after the crop for different print sizes depending on my needs.
If I did the crops to different print sizes from NX, then how many times would I end up fixing the blemishes if I wanted prints in different sizes like 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10?
I tried out Nikon Capture NX on my Athlon 3800+ PC with 1.5Gb RAM and it was frustratingly slow - made me think my PC had locked up on occasions. If you go down the Capture root, you'll need a fast PC with lots of RAM.
So, I've decided to stick with Elements 3.0 (may upgrade to 5.0) and use the NEF plugin that comes with PictureProject rather than ACR. It seems to give me better results.
I run on an old HP about 5 years old.... 1.33 gig athlon processor and 1 gig of ram.... NX runs fine on my machine. I don't use it to batch process much though... as I tend to work each picture individually.... if it's worth the post processing, it's worth doing it right no matter what software you use. I do batch process to resize for internet on elements 5 though.
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