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  1. #1
    Member srblough's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    Rockville, MD

    Software primer for new Nikon owner

    I just purchased a Nikon D90. I know a fair amount about cameras based film, but is anyone willing to give me a very quick primer on software? I have a Mac with iPhoto, that where stuff from my P&S lives. The D90 came with "Transfer" and "View NX." I assume View NX is more or less the same idea as iPhoto. I don't really understand where Transfer fits it (required? optional?). I also understand that PS Elements seems to be the recommended way to get started on editing beyond the very limited capabilities. Finally I saw a demonstration of Capture NX2; I read on another thread that it is "very different" from PS in terms of capabilities.

    Would a reasonable way to get started be to get PS Elements and forget this other stuff? Do I still need Transfer in that case? I have limited time to experiment just now and hate the idea of cluttering up my computer with a bunch of software I won't use...


  2. #2
    n8 is offline
    Senior Member n8's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Rockford, Il

    Re: Software primer for new Nikon owner

    no, you don't necessarily need the nikon software. if you get pse, then it comes with bridge, which replaces transfer anyway. view nx isn't particularly powerful, so don't worry about missing out on that if you get pse. Now, some may tell you that Capture NX2 is the way to go for editing RAW (NEF) files as it's proprietary, but pse will allow you to do that too.
    mostly Nikon gear

    Feel free to edit my images for critique, just let me know what you did.

  3. #3
    Mtn Bike Rider Singletracklovr's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Denver, CO, USA

    Re: Software primer for new Nikon owner

    I use NikonTransfer to download the RAW(NEF) images to my PC.
    I then use Nikons ViewNX to look thru all the shots, deleting the bad ones.
    Staying with ViewNX I make adjustments like WB, shadow/highlight, etc
    and finely convert the RAW (NEF) files to jpeg.

    I then file the RAW NEF files in a master folder and place a backup on a seperate HD.

    Now with the jpeg's I use Adobe Photoshop for additional tweaks and resizing.

    Bob in Denver
    Larger photos always available in my user gallery

  4. #4
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Paris, France

    Re: Software primer for new Nikon owner

    Transfer allows you to download files from the camera onto your computer. ViewNX allows you to modify them in a limited way and convert NEF files (Nikon RAW format) to JPG. NX2 is the full-feature Nikon NEF editor.

    These programs are not important to you as long as you shoot JPG. You can edit JPG files with Photoshop Elements, but not NEF files (The Counsel says you can, but I couldn't last time I used Elements). Some 3rd party software can edit NEF files (Photoshop, Paint Show Pro, etc.) but the format is proprietary and personally I prefer to stick to the maker's own software.

    Here is my workflow:

    1. I shoot NEF because I want to control precisely the result coming out of the camera. The camera does a good job but most of the time I make small corrections on the PC to things like exposure, colour balance, contrast, saturation, sharpness, D-lighting on/off etc. I even do conversion to black-and-white on the PC rather than in the camera. To do these corrections I use NX2.

    I could do these modifications on JPG files, but the result quickly looks false and artificial.

    - The NEF file is the signal as it came off the camera sensor, coded in 12 bits per colour per pixel.
    - A JPG is a simplified version coded in 8 bits per colour per pixel. This is fine for viewing and printing (16 million colours is plenty) but not enough for the modifications I listed. A JPG doesn't have enough data to be comfortable.

    2. Having done the basic technical corrections to the image, I keep the NEF file safe. It's always possible that I change my mind (especially with black-and-white conversion). I go back to the original NEF file and change the modifications I made. NX2 is non-destructive. You can always go back and change things.

    3. Let's say I'm still not happy with the image. One of the images of Chinese New Year that I just posted had a little buy looking at an old man in a mask. In the original the little boy's face was too dark and behind him there was another little boy in a patch of sunlight who was completely distracting. I decided to lighten the face of the first little boy and darken and reduce contrast of the second one. NX2 isn't very good at this sort of thing and I prefer to use a full-featured editor (Paint Shop Pro).

    4. I converted the NEF file to TIFF. This is an 8-bit format like JPG but it's not compressed. You can edit it as many times as you like and it won't lose quality (unlike JPG). I did the modifications in Paint Shop Pro as layers on top of the original image, and saved the result in Paint Shop Pro format

    5. I made a test print. The result was OK. Finally I converted the result to JPG and put it in my offline photo library

    6. Final step - I classified the images by value in ACDSee and made reduced 800x600 versions to keep online permanently

    If I'd been happy with the unmodified image coming from NX2 then I would just have converted the NEF directly to JPG. This is what usually happens. I rarely use editing programs like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.

    Does that help?

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  5. #5
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Mundelein, IL USA

    Re: Software primer for new Nikon owner

    (Beware! - PC user.) I would also recommend the PS Elements route.

    First you have the Organizer to download the images from your card and keep them organized in a database. With a true database you are way less dependent on folders and old DOS type organization methods.

    Next Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) will 'render' the RAW file (Make it an image like a tiff file. This is the same RAW converter used in Photoshop.) and allow the same non-destructive editing as the Develop module of Lightroom. Non-destructive editing means that the image file is never changed. I highly recommend doing all the editing that you can with non-destructive software.

    If more editing is needed, you can then continue into the Photoshop-light portion of Elements though there is nothing light about it.

    Very powerful and I recently saw Elements 8 for about $50 on Amazon.

    I am no better than you. I critique to teach myself to see.
    Feel free to edit my photos or do anything else that will help me learn.
    Sony/Minolta - way more gear than talent.

  6. #6
    Member srblough's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Rockville, MD

    Re: Software primer for new Nikon owner

    This is all very helpful, thanks!

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