Digital photographers like to say that correcting shooting defects with
software is bad practice, the equivalent of compensating for a flawed
negative in the darkroom. These programs make us beg to differ.
Who knew that the next best software innovation would come from a camera company? Nikon has teamed up with plug-in specialist Nik (the similar names are a coincidence) to create a program that not only gives you good organizational tools but, just as important, also lets you make sophisticated, nondestructive local image adjustments-in way less time than you usually have to spend. Capture NX does this by reducing or eliminating the need for painstaking selections. Instead, you place a "control point" in an area you want to work on; a few simple sliders pop out, and you use them to adjust the range and intensity of the effect. Only pixels like the one on which you placed your point are changed.
We had a mixed-light image with two different color casts, for example, and dropped a "neutral" control point in each area, using the sliders to make the needed adjustments. Capture NX then blended the results together seamlessly. All adjustments are recorded in something like a history palette, so you can go back and modify your steps without regard to their original order. And since the steps are just instructions, you don't get bloated files. Capture NX incorporates RAW conversion for Nikon shooters, of course, but users of other D-SLR brands (or Adobe DNG) will have to convert RAW files to TIFF or JPEG before they can use the software. It could well be worth the trouble. About $150 ($90 upgrade), available late summer.