As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking for an easy and affordable solution to the problem of editing and adjusting photos once they are on my hard drive. I mentioned that Adobe Bridge was very good because it’s free, doesn’t use a database, and has tools for quickly labelling and rating photos. The problem was how to make adjustments to pictures if necessary. (And I hope it is rarely necessary, because I do still want to get things correct in the camera instead of messing about with software later).
I sat and looked at my D810 for a while and remember that long, long ago I used a D70. And I didn’t have Lightroom or Photoshop. What did I use, I wondered. I didn’t recall having any headaches about software. Then it came to me that I used Nikon’s photo software. Nikon View for viewing (duh) and Nikon Capture for making adjustments. Problem solved?
Maybe, but there was a new problem. Nikon View’s folders and some icons are often too small to use on a high resolution screen. A web search revealed that this is a common problem for Windows users. Damn. My hopes were dashed. Not only that, but the program was slow. But then I thought, why use Windows at all? No one seems to be complaining about Nikon software for Mac. So I got out my trusty 2011 Macbook Air and installed View NX-i and Capture NX-D. The programs don’t take up much disk space, so that’s a bonus. And . . . . they look great! Everything is the size it should be. Surprisingly, performance is about the same or better than the Windows versions. Zooming a photo to 100% takes a bit of time the first time you do it, but it’s fine after that.
So, the solution to my software woes might be to just not use Windows and use the free software supplied by Nikon on my Apple computer. Although the software is primarily designed for Nikon camera RAW files, it can also do basic edits on jpg files. Levels, curves, sharpening, colour, and so on. Nikon View has both labels and ratings that are useful for selecting keepers, and the software uses my computer’s folder structure instead of creating a database. Nikon View also comes with Nikon Transfer, which allows me to rename files and add information when I import from the camera. This is all I used Lightroom for, really, so the two Nikon programs are a viable replacement.
The only problem I see so far is that I will need to plug in an external hard drive every time I want to do anything with my photographs. The Macbook Air has a small 64BG SSD drive and that’s not enough to store photographs. I suppose this is just an inconvenience and not a problem.
(Later that day)
The above was written in my office, and when I got home I connected an empty external drive and a card reader to my Macbook Air. I transferred some photos from my camera to the external drive using Nikon View with no problems at all. And just as quickly as it would have been using Adobe Lightroom on my nearly new Windows laptop. Maybe that’s because Nikon View is a fairly simple program whereas Lightroom has to add things to a database, etc.? Anyway, I’m very happy with this new setup so far.
Although I now have a good management program and a good editing program, I hope that I won’t need to use the photo editing software very much. My goal still remains to get photographs perfect in camera. This is easier to do when the camera is on a tripod and I’m making a photo of something that’s not moving. This plant next to a clay wall, for example:
This was Nikon’s Vivid Mode with a bit of extra clarity added in the camera settings. It’s sharp, there’s good contrast, I like the colour, and at 100% zoom the detail is astounding. Other photos made with this setting have also come out very well, so I think this is where I will leave the camera for now. Probably not for people pictures, though. Nobody wants to see their skin looking like the above wall . . . .
More updates as I learn to either love or hate my new software setup.