Nikon this week posted a series of questions and answers about the future of its currently beta Capture NX-D, their replacement for Capture NX2 based on the Silkypix product. You can also leave feedback there (in English only).
In the “yes” category for the final version we have:
- Image Dust Off will be supported. My feeling? Why? Is anyone really using this? The function requires taking near constant reference images, and it has maximums on what it can handle (e.g. D600’s need not apply ;~) Waste of time to work on.
- Noise reduction will get separate luminance and color controls. As it should be.
- White balance will gain color temperature values and will have auto white balance support. This is interesting, but deceptive. Kelvin values are kind of made up by every converter, and don’t match between converters. Thus, they’re only useful for relative position within a converter. Unless, of course, Nikon decides to reveal the real spectral realm of their sensors. Unlikely.
- JPEG output options will be the same as NX2. As it should be.
- Eleven languages will be supported. Good start.
- Picture Control options will be the same as NX2. As it should be.
- Faster rendering. As it should be.
In the “maybe” category for the final version we get:
- Dust removal brush. More useful than Image Dust Off, IMHO. And technically, it should be more of a clone of the Clone tool than a dedicated dust removal tool.
- Full rendering of previously adjusted Capture NX2 files. Being looked into, but I would guess they’d need Google’s permission to do anything that reflected previously set U-points. I’m not holding out high hopes here. The answer hasn’t changed in two months, after all, and they’ve only got four more months before their intended release date passes.
- Zooming via buttons/slider. Being looked into. Really? This seems a pretty basic function necessary to evaluate processing quickly. Nikon’s response here seems to not reflect
In the “no” category are the things that will probably mean that Capture NX2 users migrate on to something else:
- U-point technology is gone. This was one of the two compelling features of Capture NX2 (accuracy of raw conversions to what the camera produces as JPEGs was the other). With it now permanently gone, there’s not much “compelling” left, if any.
- High pass sharpening is gone. This was another thing that a lot of us valued, as it performed better than the other sharpening capabilities. Basically, sharpening is now only vanilla standard, too.
- Color Efex support is gone. Plug-ins never got any love from Nikon. Nikon has a huge NIH problem (Not Invented Here), and plug-ins are one of those things that definitely allow for IE (Invented Elsewhere). Given what I regard as Nikon’s poor ability to produce, manage, and maintain exceptional software, lack of plug-in support just makes the problem worse.
- Red-eye Removal tool is gone. Not a huge loss for me, though I know those who don’t have advanced software tools liked the simplicity of this function.
- Local editing tools are probably all gone. Coupled with losing U-point, High Pass, Nikon also mentioned no blur support. From the looks of it, anything that isn’t a basic conversion or an image-wide adjustment is going to disappear, with the possible exception of a dust removal brush.
Nothing in Nikon’s answers indicates anything that we didn’t already assume. The real issue here is that NX-D is and will be a step backward in many ways from Capture NX2. It also brings to an end a particular workflow support (U-points) that was one of the primary features that attracted users to Capture in the first place.
I note that Nikon has slightly adjusted the wording on the site for NX-D: they’re now very careful to only associate the word “free” with the beta (previously it had been loosely used, and this led many to assume that the final version of NX-D would also be free). If my fears are true—that Nikon will charge for NX-D when it comes out—I think Nikon will have another fiasco on their hands. Consider:
- Those free betas expire.
- NX-D is a clear step backward in capability from NX2.
- The workflow has changed significantly.
But we don’t really gain anything.
Capture NX-D seems to be mostly for Nikon’s benefit, not users'. Despite their investment in Nik, Nikon found themselves in a position where they couldn’t move forward with Capture, so they looked at what solved Nikon’s problem, not what solved Nikon users’ problems.
I’ve written many times that I don’t trust Nikon’s software development: they are very quick to abandon projects, alter them in ways that disrupts users, or fail to maintain them well. Photo Secretary, Scan, and now Capture all come to mind. Since Nikon still sells F6 film cameras, Photo Secretary is still relevant. If Nikon couldn’t maintain it, they should have passed the code into the public domain for extended support. Oh, wait, they can’t do that because it would reveal the proprietary communications codes between external 10-pin devices and the cameras (including current DSLRs ;~).
Sorry, but I’ll repeat what I’ve written in the past: Nikon should get out of the add-on software business. They should publish all the necessary information for third-party developers who know what they’re doing to support Nikon cameras. Not only does Nikon not understand user workflow, but they keep breaking it. And we’re not gaining features, performance, or anything else useful every time they break it.