2017-2018 Digital Photography Software News

The Return of Capture NX2

DxO just pulled off the coup of the year by picking up the Nik Tools and U-point technology from Google. Google mostly wanted Nik for Snapseed and the things that they could apply to their smartphone images. Why they didn't think U-point was part of that, I don't know; Google does Google-dumb things sometimes.

But DxO figured it out. Basically by taking the Nik software—particularly U-point—and integrating it into OpticsPro to form a new product called PhotoLab, DxO has (mostly) recreated Capture NX2. I say mostly because, of course you don't get the Nikon camera settings nor the level of control over those that Capture NX2 gave you. Instead you get DxO's raw conversion and corrections instead of Nikon's demosiac engine. But you also get U-point correction, which is one of the things that Nikon users valued so much about Capture NX2.

bythom photolab

Here's a quick example, with the base image on the left, and the image using a couple of small corrections including one big U-point on the sky, which shows up in the right side. I'm sure if I spent more than a minute on this, I could make it far better, but what I was mostly interested in was how the U-point integration went. And that was basically much like the original Capture integration was: a little in need of some performance tweaking, and with a somewhat different UI, but basically similar to what we had with the Nikon software and liked. Yes, the U-point system includes the brush, so you can do more than just have circles and graduated renderings with the U-point settings.

It strikes me that those that liked Capture NX2 are probably going to find a lot to like in PhotoLab Elite (you'll want the US$149 Elite version for the noise reduction, presets, and a few others bits and pieces). Oh, and yes, PhotoLab can be used with Lightroom.

I've seen others write that Nik Tools are in PhotoLab. They aren't. U-point is. The Nik Tools still live as a separate set of plug-ins at the moment, now managed by DxO (see this page for the current Nik Tools). It's unclear what will happen to the original plug-ins other than DxO has plans to update them in some one in mid-2018. Nik Define uses a different approach to noise reduction than does DxO Prime, for example, and I can't see DxO really promoting multiple tools that do the same things. For the time being you can still get the original Nik plug-ins from DxO for free. But now you can get the U-point technology back by getting PhotoLab. Very promising.

Affinity Photo Version 1.6

Version 1.6 of Affinity Photo has a number of new improvements beyond just some performance boosts (some which only come from using Metal 2 in macOS High Sierra):

  • New UI options, including font chooser and a glyph browser
  • Stroke stabilizer for pencil and brush tools
  • Better integration with Apple Photos
  • New alignment options
  • Improved plug-in support

In addition, numerous bugs have been addressed.

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