Nikon Capture NX: Nikon's Answer to Photoshop

Image-editing rethought from the ground up.

Ever wonder what an image-editing program would be like if Adobe Photoshop had never existed?

The new Nikon Capture NX software is probably the closest thing. A co-project of Nikon and the similarly named (but unrelated) Nik Software company, this program uses what they're calling U Point technology to allow you to make quick adjustments to the zones of influence you choose. That means you can saturate certain areas, desaturate others, and color-correct in the places that need it, all without painstakingly selecting them. The other good news: None of these changes are permanent. They all happen as a list of deletable and modifiable steps that leave your original alone.

Nikon shooters who love RAW may be the most pleased with the $150 program ($90 for the upgrade), because their RAW adjustments are built into the process. Everyone else can import TIFFs or JPEGs, but won't be able to work on RAW files. (No, it doesn't work on Adobe DNG.) Other useful features are built in: A file browser pops up on the left; you can soft-proof at will from a menu at the bottom of the image; and the histogram, if you like to use one, sits on the bottom right corner.

Here's a sneak peek at the program, based on a top-secret beta version of the software. And take note: None of the fixes took more than ten minutes to do.

ANATOMY OF A FIX

Before

After

We used control points to set the black and white points for added contrast, then brightened the yellow in the foreground and dimmed the mountains.

(A) White Control Point sets the brightest highlight for the image.

(B) Adding a Black Control Point sets the darkest shadow.

(C, D) Duplicate Color Control Points darken the mountains.

HOW TO USE THE BLUR SENSITIVY FEATURE

Before

After

1. Blur the whole image by creating a "New Step" then, choosing and adjusting Gaussian Blur:

2. Grab the Minus Lasso:

3. Select the area from which you'd like to remove the blur, and watch it disappear:

*Original Image © Maciej Zatonski

HOW TO CLEAR UP COLOR CASTS

Before

After

1. Get the Neutral Control Point tool:

2. Place the Control Point on a gray area that should be neutral - the left side now looks good, but the right's too yellow:

3. Add another Neutral Control Point on the right to get rid of the yellow tone:

*Original Image © Marzanna Syncerz

HOW TO FIX BACKLIGHTING

Before

After

1. Drop a control point on her face, and brighten it up:

2. Use the slider to broaden the effect, and lighten just the backlit girl:

3. Finally, add a little saturation to the blue sky:

HOW TO USE THE HAND COLOR FEATURE

Before

After

1. Use Black and White Conversion to get the color out of your image:

2. Then add it back to the areas where you want it using the Minus Brush to selectively remove the black-and-white effect:

*Original Image © Alexander Van Deursen

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