If you’ve followed my or my photography over the years, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of Nikon cameras and also Capture NX2 editing software. You’ve probably also noticed that I’ve been experimenting with Lightroom 4 recently, and I started teaching classes on it.
I made the move to digital photography from film in 2005. At that time, there were raging battles between Nikon and Adobe over things like “encrypted White Balance” and such. At that time, converting NEFs (Nikon RAW format) images with software other than Nikon Capture 4 (or later, Capture NX) was potentially risky. Early versions of Adobe Camera RAW and other programs sometimes created artifacts and rendered colors differently than what Nikon’s converter did.
The beauty of processing RAW files is that every setting is plastic and reversible. However, the initial conversion parameters set the baseline for exposure, contrast, and color rendition and differ with each RAW converter application. One thing that Nikon photographers point out is that they like their default (starting point) conversion to match the “as-shot” look (as viewed on the back of their camera) as closely as possible. This makes sense. If you like the look of Nikon’s Picture Control “Standard,” then it’s very convenient to see the initial image rendered this way when you open the RAW file. After that initial conversion, you can do whatever you want to process your image. Continue reading How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Convert NEFs with Lightroom 4→
The Nikon D800 has a 36x24mm (FX format) sensor with 36-megapixel resolution. How do you get the best quality from this amazing sensor? By using good technique and properly sharpening your images, of course. If you shoot JPEG with the D800/e, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you want to make large prints (or crop). In my initial testing, I’m seeing that the sharpening halos produced by the in-camera sharpening algorithms (Nikon Picture Controls) are a little too large to bring out the finest details. So, how should you attack your D800 images? I’ve taken a look at sharpening routines in three different programs: ACR 7.1/ Lightroom 4, Capture NX2, and Aperture. When you sharpen properly, you’ll be amazed at what pops out of the RAW files from the D800!
Before you begin, do keep in mind that no amount of sharpening is going to produce great results unless you’ve got a properly focused image and a well-supported camera. If you had camera shake or subject motion from a slow shutter speed, there isn’t much you can do.
Ok, so I’m not a glamour/fashion photographer. In fact, the only member of my household that even comes close to posing for me is our golden retriever, Otter. So when I play around with effects and gear, he tolerates me quite well.
We had some nice window light coming into the house this morning, and Otter was the only one willing to pose in it. So I played around with my Nikon 1 V1 and 50mm f/1.4 AFS G Nikkor using the FT1 adapter. That’s the equivalent of using a 135mm f/1.4 lens on a 35mm format camera… a nice portrait lens. This image was shot at 1/160s @f/2.5 to get the nice bokeh.
My main mission here at Luminescence of Nature is to educate photographers. To that end, there’s always lots of discussion about camera settings, RAW converters, and software settings. But even though we live in the digital age, there are some old tricks that just work. The difference is knowing how to apply the effect in your software of choice.
The effect I’m talking about is corner shading, or vignetting. This was the old darkroom trick of “burning” or “dodging” the edges of the frame to draw attention to the center of the image. This technique can be applied via a variety of tools in your digital darkroom, but the concept is simple. Your eye is subconsciously drawn to bright, colorful, contrasty areas, and conversely avoids dark, low-contrast, low-color areas in a scene. What’s great about this effect is that it need not be applied so strong as to be obvious, and yet it still delivers a powerful impact. Let’s take a look at three different ways to apply a vignette effect in post-processing.
Nikon has just announced the immediate release of Capture NX2 version 2.3. This is a major update to the software, as not only does it include numerous bug fixes, but it also offers native 64-bit processor support. It also offers native Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) support. I had the opportunity to run a series of performance benchmarks, and I’ll also address the new features and caveats of upgrading. Continue reading Nikon Capture NX 2.3 Performance Review→