Nikon Capture 4 Camera Control

Nikon Capture 4 Camera Control allows you to control the camera in a tethered fashion from a PC via the supplied USB cable. Once connected the software displays five camera control pages accessed by clicking on the appropriate tab. At the bottom of the window is a representation of the viewfinder LCD status bar which provides a summary of exposure settings as well as the current exposure. Note that the small icon of the D2H also indicates the camera's orientation.

Below you will find a summary of each of the control pages. Note that when camera body controls are disabled you can change settings such as metering mode and shooting mode which are otherwise tied to the position of a physical dial.

Exposure 1: Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture, Compensation, Flash compensation, Flexible program Exposure 2: Focus area, Metering mode, Flash sync mode, Sensitivity, White balance (& Fine Tune), Image Comment
Storage: Data Format (Image format), Compression, Color, Image Size, Raw compression Mechanical: Shooting mode, No. of continuous shots, AF Area Mode, Focus Mode (from camera), Lens (information), Battery level (information)
Image Processing: Sharpening, Tone (& Edit curve), Color Mode, Hue Adjustment, Noise Reduction  

As you can see you can control every aspect of the camera. In addition to these settings you can also modify custom function settings.

Other camera settings which can be modified include the internal clock, image comment (this could be a copyright note), white balance preset, white balance fine tuning and custom tone curves.

User triggered exposures

To actually take a shot you simply click on the 'AF and Shoot' or 'Shoot' buttons on the main window. At this point the camera will take the exposure and the image will be transferred back to the controlling computer (note that images are not stored on the CF card). A quick preview of the image taken is shown in the Status window, you can also display a histogram for the image as well as blinking highlights of overexposed areas of the image. The USB 2 interface means that image transfer (to a USB 2 compatible host) are virtually instant.

Live Batch exposures

Camera Control also has a mode called 'Live Batch', in this mode you can shoot with the camera tethered to the computer and have it process each RAW (NEF) file taken automatically as it is taken. The idea behind this mode is to allow you to shoot RAW and produce a 'final' image in real time, the NEF file can also be stored as a 'digital negative'.

Time lapse exposures

Lastly is the time lapse feature, here you can configure Camera Control to trigger an exposure at a set interval. Each frame taken will be stored in the preselected image format and the camera will assume the settings selected. You can choose to shoot continuously (until canceled) or for a set number of frames.

Nikon Capture 4 Performance

RAW Conversion Performance

The test machine used was a desktop PC with a 3.06 GHz Pentium 4 CPU (HT enabled), 1 GB of RAM running Windows XP Professional. Software used was Nikon Capture 4.0.0. Five RAW images in a sub-folder were processed in batch to convert images directly to the destination format. The conversion process was timed and divided by the number of images converted. Overall a good performance, better than we are used to seeing from camera manufacturer's RAW converters.

Conversion Image adjustments Time taken per image Time for 5 images
RAW -> JPEG (Excellent) Default 5.4 sec 27 sec
RAW -> JPEG (Good) Default 4.8 sec 24 sec
RAW -> TIFF 8-bit Default 5.0 sec 25 sec
RAW -> JPEG (Good) EV compen, Saturation, Unsharp 5.6 sec 28 sec
RAW -> JPEG (Good) Noise Reduction (6) 7.0 sec 35 sec
RAW -> JPEG (Good) Digital DEE (12) 12.0 sec 60 sec