D300 noise and Capture NX

Started Nov 29, 2007 | Discussions
mink70 New Member • Posts: 12
D300 noise and Capture NX

Hi folks--

I just got the D300 after nearly four years with an Olympus E-1, (which was and is a wonderful camera in its way) and I'm thrilled with the quality of the images. I have one question specifically about noise: the JPEGs straight from the camera shot at ISO3200, with high ISO NR set to "low," look very detailed and sharp with extremely mild and unobtrusive noise. But when I open the NEF file of the same image (I am shooting RAW+JPEG) in Photoshop CS3 with ACR, the noise is overwhelming. All the noise reduction available in ACR could not get the image to look as good and smooth as the JPEG. I tried the same experiment in RAW Developer, which produced better tonality and color but still couldn't touch the out-of-the-camera JPEG. Finally, I fired it up in Capture NX, but found that I hate the interface and, on my dual G4 Mac with a gig of RAM, the software ran unbearably slow, slower, in fact, than any program I have tried. Sadly, the image looked great in NX, just as it did out of the camera. Does anyone know of any other RAW developer except for Nikon's that retains the D300's in-camera settings and allows for the same kind of low-noise yet sharp images? I suppose there's a connected questions about color accuracy that's being asked, too.

Thanks in advance,
mink70

LSR Regular Member • Posts: 204
Re: D300 noise and Capture NX

But when I open the NEF file of the same
image (I am shooting RAW+JPEG) in Photoshop CS3 with ACR, the noise
is overwhelming. All the noise reduction available in ACR could not
get the image to look as good and smooth as the JPEG. I tried the
same experiment in RAW Developer, which produced better tonality and
color but still couldn't touch the out-of-the-camera JPEG. Finally, I
fired it up in Capture NX, but found that I hate the interface and,
on my dual G4 Mac with a gig of RAM, the software ran unbearably
slow, slower, in fact, than any program I have tried. Sadly, the
image looked great in NX, just as it did out of the camera. Does
anyone know of any other RAW developer except for Nikon's that
retains the D300's in-camera settings and allows for the same kind of
low-noise yet sharp images?

D3 and D300 JPEGS involve a lot of in-camera processing. To get this same level of quality or better with raw files you have to use (as you've found out) Nikon software, at least for now.

A lot of the improvement in image quality with the new cameras is due to Nikon's noise and CA processing (hardware based in-camera for JPEGs, software based for NEFs).

This technology is proprietary to Nikon and as it gives them a significant competitive advantage they may be reluctant to share it with other third-party raw converter developers. Which means it may be a very long wait until ACR and others can even come close to matching NX quality.

SoCalMan Regular Member • Posts: 297
Re: D300 noise and Capture NX

The previous post contains a lot of nonsense. In most images, you will get MUCH better results convering Nikon RAW files to JPGs using the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw. You don't have to believe me or the previous poster. The proof is simple, just try it yourself.

A RAW image is just a file of numbers, and Nikon has NO intrinsic advantage in interpreting numbers over Adobe, DxO or anyone else. A Canon RAW file looks just like a Nikon or Sony RAW file, with minor formatting differences. A number is just a number. How can Nikon NX "know" that a series of numbers came from a D300? What if I edit the EXIF header of a Canon RAW file to say it is a Nikon file? How would Capture NX know?

Adobe, however, has been taking taking collections of numbers and turning them into pleasing images for many more years than Nikon or Canon. Adobe has a professional programming staff that is many times larger and more experienced than those of Nikon and Canon combined.

I have made extensive tests of Adobe CS3 Camera Raw, Nikon's latest Capture NX, and numerous 3rd party software packages. Camera Raw is by the far the best 95% of the time. Capture NX is sometimes better for deeply under-exposed images, due to lower mid-tone gamma defaults, but this can be adjusted easily. Overall, Adobe wins hands down, but it is quite expensive.

You don't have to believe me - try it yourself. Ground truth always trumps bulls* t.

Jim Meketa

digislr Veteran Member • Posts: 6,088
Disagree 100%

I hate ACR. When I convert a RAW from any camera I have owned using ACR it just plain stinks. WHen I used Nikon capture with my Nikon D2hs and D200 files they looked MUCH better than they did when I used ACR, by a mile. Same goes with Fuji S5 files. They look much better using Fuji's HUV3 than ACR. I've processed several D300 files not in ACR and NX and NX wins by a mile for output quality.
--
My Fuji S5 Shots
http://stevem7.zenfolio.com/p1073533022/

My M8 shots
http://stevem7.zenfolio.com/p802740336/

My Homeless Project
http://www.pbase.com/stevehuff/the_homeless

My Leica film shots
http://stevem7.zenfolio.com/p159175107/

OP mink70 New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Disagree 100%

I have tried CS3 ACR, and while I find the interface amazing the the performance brisk, the look of the NIkon images is decidedly second-rate. I have much better luck with my Olympus RAW images in ACR, but I still prefer the output of Capture One, though I hate the interface. Galling, isn't it.

I just hate the idea of having to buy a new $2500 computer to process the images from my new $1800 camera using a crappy Japanese-designed piece of software. Why can't some one just make a RAW converter that preserves Nikon camera settings? Is that an unreasonable request? I guess I'll shoot JPEG for now. By the way, what has people's experience been with Nikon and Capture One?

leping Regular Member • Posts: 429
Disagree 100% too

No landscape photographer love ACR I bet. It renders foliages totally artifitial plastic looking.

-- hide signature --

LEPING ZHA
4x5 film / 6x7 film / Canon 5D / Nikon D2x
http://www.lepingzha.com

nimix Forum Member • Posts: 87
Re: Disagree 100%

I have the same experience:
I hate Capture for it's user interface, but love it for it's image quality.
I love Adobe Lightroom for it's UI and hate it for it's IQ.

When I work with Capture NX I run out of the room screaming after 30 minutes.

A saboteur from Canon could not have made a better job to create a really bad UI for capture that drives users crazy. (don't laugh, it's no joke)

What I need is Adobe Lightroom with the RAW engine of Nikon Capture NX.

Especially noise is 2 stops worse in Lightroom and you have to turn wheels for 10 Minutes to get the same results as out of cam jpgs.

I could live with the lower speed of Capture, because it saves settings in the NEF file and not in an external database.

I think the bad IQ and the high noise of ACR ist the reason why Nikon gives away Capture NX for free with D3 and D300. Otherwise nobody would buy Capture and Nikon would keep the bad image for "noisy cameras".
--
nimix

Qwntm Veteran Member • Posts: 6,165
This is the reason...

LSR wrote:

D3 and D300 JPEGS involve a lot of in-camera processing. To get this
same level of quality or better with raw files you have to use (as
you've found out) Nikon software, at least for now.

A lot of the improvement in image quality with the new cameras is due
to Nikon's noise and CA processing (hardware based in-camera for
JPEGs, software based for NEFs).

This technology is proprietary to Nikon and as it gives them a
significant competitive advantage they may be reluctant to share it
with other third-party raw converter developers. Which means it may
be a very long wait until ACR and others can even come close to
matching NX quality.

This is probably the reason why Nikon decided to give Capture NX away for free with these cameras.

Capture NX is really key to RAW performance with Nikon.

 Qwntm's gear list:Qwntm's gear list
Fujifilm X100S Pentax K-5 IIs Olympus E-M5 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) +8 more
OP mink70 New Member • Posts: 12
Re: This is the reason...

Nimix--

Do you mean that Capture One might save the in-camera settings of the D300?

Thanks,
Alex

OP mink70 New Member • Posts: 12
Re: This is the reason...

Nimix... Oh, you mean Capture NX, not Capture One, don't you?

Don Regular Member • Posts: 105
Re: D300 noise and Capture NX

I to have to agree with mink70. I've opened a high iso D300 shot with both Capture and with ps3 latest raw converter. PS was awful, no amount of fiddling would produce a half usable image. Capture NX was great, and fortunatly runs quite fast on my machine although not quite as fast as v 1.2.

As an aside Ive just purchased a Panasonic HD video camera, that saves straight to an sd card. I've done a frame capture and printed out an 8 * 10 or as close as I could and was very impressed with the quality.
--
Don

Vladimir Kouznetsov New Member • Posts: 5
Re: Disagree 100%

I noticed that no one seems to be using Aperture for RAW file conversion. Any reason for that?

I can't claim to have precisely tested Aperture vs. ACR vs. NX, but in my experience Aperture produces better quality NEF conversions, closer to what I saw than ACR. Presumably, Aperture will not work with D300 images until an update is released (and I have not tried because I have not received my D300 yet), but this was certainly my experience with D70 NEF files.

OP mink70 New Member • Posts: 12
Noize in ACR

Thanks everyone.

Has anyone had much experience with NEFs and Capture One? I know it doesn't support the D300 yet, but presumably it will soon.

ralphcramdon Senior Member • Posts: 1,170
Re: D300 noise and Capture NX

SoCalMan wrote:

The previous post contains a lot of nonsense. In most images, you
will get MUCH better results convering Nikon RAW files to JPGs using
the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw. You don't have to believe me
or the previous poster. The proof is simple, just try it yourself.

A RAW image is just a file of numbers, and Nikon has NO intrinsic
advantage in interpreting numbers over Adobe, DxO or anyone else. A
Canon RAW file looks just like a Nikon or Sony RAW file, with minor
formatting differences. A number is just a number. How can Nikon NX
"know" that a series of numbers came from a D300? What if I edit the
EXIF header of a Canon RAW file to say it is a Nikon file? How would
Capture NX know?

Adobe, however, has been taking taking collections of numbers and
turning them into pleasing images for many more years than Nikon or
Canon. Adobe has a professional programming staff that is many times
larger and more experienced than those of Nikon and Canon combined.

I have made extensive tests of Adobe CS3 Camera Raw, Nikon's latest
Capture NX, and numerous 3rd party software packages. Camera Raw is
by the far the best 95% of the time. Capture NX is sometimes better
for deeply under-exposed images, due to lower mid-tone gamma
defaults, but this can be adjusted easily. Overall, Adobe wins hands
down, but it is quite expensive.

You don't have to believe me - try it yourself. Ground truth always
trumps bulls* t.

Jim Meketa

so what is your solutioin then for the OP ? did you even read his post ?

Flashlight Veteran Member • Posts: 7,893
Re: D300 noise and Capture NX

I use Capture NX with a core2quad 6600 and that works really good. Before I used a really slow computer (Athlon at 1.8 GHz), so I know how it feels.

A solution is, when you nail the WB and the exposure in-camera, to have NX batch the images overnight to tiffs that you can edit in CS3. There's a 'watched folder' option in the batch tab that will automatically proccess any images you put in a specific folder.

For best noise reduction quality check 'edge sharpening' and 'better quality'.

-- hide signature --

Philip

Karld70 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,553
D300 and RAW

I suspect that the D300 is doing it’s great low noise reduction with the in camera processor, not so much that they have a great low noise sensor. I hope I’m wrong, I really want the D300 to give a nice clean low iso raw photo. There seems to me a lack of low noise tests being done with raw files. A lot of people who upgraded from a D200 or D80 that still have both cameras have posted jpeg samples, and we can all see the D300 will give us a much better noise free image right out of the camera.

We need a test of two RAW pictures taken with a D300 and D200/D80, converted straight to jpg, nothing else done to them to see what we are really getting out for the D300 sensor.

Part of the problem with people that already have the camera is they want to prove that they made the right decision and that the D300 is great. They may find problems along the way but will not be eager to point them out.

When DPreview does their review of the D300, they will do just that, and we can see just how good the D300 is at high iso noise reduction.

photoship Contributing Member • Posts: 517
JPEG may become the new format of choice for iQ - photoship

Since ACR and Lightroom kind of manipulate JPEGs/Tiffs as well as RAW, perhaps the days of preferring RAW as the gold standard may pass. For years RAW was king, but that may become vestigial.

nimix wrote:

I have the same experience:
I hate Capture for it's user interface, but love it for it's image
quality.
I love Adobe Lightroom for it's UI and hate it for it's IQ.

When I work with Capture NX I run out of the room screaming after 30
minutes.
A saboteur from Canon could not have made a better job to create a
really bad UI for capture that drives users crazy. (don't laugh, it's
no joke)

What I need is Adobe Lightroom with the RAW engine of Nikon Capture NX.
Especially noise is 2 stops worse in Lightroom and you have to turn
wheels for 10 Minutes to get the same results as out of cam jpgs.
I could live with the lower speed of Capture, because it saves
settings in the NEF file and not in an external database.

I think the bad IQ and the high noise of ACR ist the reason why Nikon
gives away Capture NX for free with D3 and D300. Otherwise nobody
would buy Capture and Nikon would keep the bad image for "noisy
cameras".
--
nimix

fluxism Contributing Member • Posts: 584
Re: JPEG may become the new format of choice for iQ - photoship

I haven't had a huge amount of time to compare yet (and I'm a graphic designer, not a photographer), but so far the astronomical increase in hassle and time spent with capture nx vs jpeg for a nearly imperceptable difference in quality seems nowhere near worth it

 fluxism's gear list:fluxism's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Fujifilm X-E2 Fujifilm X-Pro2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +3 more
ND97 Regular Member • Posts: 258
Disagree with SoCalMan

From my experience, SoCalMan is plaintly wrong. He was right about one thing: try it by yourself. Nikon NX is better in handling Nikon file.
--
http://edhu.smugmug.com

nikonjohn
nikonjohn Senior Member • Posts: 1,448
Re: D300 noise and Capture NX

I recommend that you open them in Capture NX, convert them to Tiffs, then edit with Adobe (or other) software and you should get good results.

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads