Interesting to see Nikon have sneaked out a beta of a new incarnation of Nikon Capture – called Nikon Capture NX-D – which is free to use until SeptemberĀ  2014.

Capture NX, which I’ve owned ever since I went over to digital in 2003, never lit my fire. For one thing, I’ve just never felt there’s much benefit in a raw converter picking up in camera parameters such as white balance or monochrome which I would never set. In the heat of battle you go for composition, focus, exposure, maybe one or two others, but the very point of shooting raw is to choose most adjustment settings afterwards. Who wants to miss a shot because you’re looking for the camera’s sharpening menu? A second factor was that it’s always been a curious program with a disjointed interface that was only made palatable by the U points. The one potential benefit was that it could update the embedded preview in the raw file, so I could see a picture’s adjusted appearance in other non-Nikon apps such as my cataloguing program. But that wasn’t a big benefit, and was done better by Adobe’s DNG. So while I’m surprised to discover Capture NX2 is still on my computer, I’ve not the foggiest idea when I last openedĀ  it.

It’s never been obvious how many copies Nikon Capture ever shipped, and it never seemed hugely-popular even before Lightroom and Aperture gobbled up the market. It looked very much as though it was on life support with no significant updates for almost a decade.

More recently Google bought Nik, the company Nikon had apparently hired to write Capture NX and who had supplied their U Point technology, so one did wonder what the acquisition might mean for Capture NX’s future. Perhaps now we have the answer, because it looks like Capture NX-D is a ground-up rewrite of the program that doesn’t include anything from Nik. For instance, they seem to have discarded Nik’s great contribution:

  • Q: Do you plan to include U Point functions (for portional editing) later?
  • A: No, we do not plan to include these functions. We are looking into the possibility of being able to open and display images to which effects have been applied using U Point functions for support purposes with future versions.

A minor detail is that they’ve gone down the route of saving adjustments back to sidecars files rather than updating the raw files themselves. Apparently that was good before, because you can trust Nikon software to update Nikon proprietary raw files, but now it’s supposed to be good that it’s not doing so.

I’m curious to see what it’s like, but it’s hard to work up much interest. Perhaps that’s because I also find it hard to understand why anyone would want to invest time in raw conversion software that’s limited to a single brand of raw files. I just don’t need Nikon software to keep me loyal to Nikon.


Update – Thom Hogan thinks they’re now licensing code from Silypix. I really agree with his closing comments about “The correct strategy all along was: (1) make sure every software provider and company supporting digital imaging could get the best possible results out of Nikon data; (2) if you want to create for-sale software make sure it continues to fit into the best existing workflow, not change the workflow;” They could do that if they’d offer the non-proprietary DNG as an option, of course, and paraphrasing my earlier comment – I just don’t need a Nikon proprietary file format to keep me loyal to Nikon.