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TrueToad / Tuesday, July 12, 2011 / Categories: Reviews

Capture NX2 vs. Lightroom 3

The winner is...

Both Lightroom 3 and Capture NX2 image management systems can assist with your digital photography needs to enhance your already great photos. I own both products along with Adobe CS5, and I can attest to the one product as being my go to editor for getting work completed in the fastest manner.  When I need to crank out edited photos I turn to NX2 because it is “geared” to editing, no fuss, no loading photos into a library. It is as simple as off loading the images from your camera and open the folder in NX2 and start editing.  Did you catch that – geared for editing not building collections. Just with the built in editing features, I rarely need anything else. Except watermarking, but most web services can add a watermark during uploading.

I read reviews of NX2 and see some make inaccurate statements like; You can not add tags to multi images at once – not true.  Select all the images and tag one time.  NX2 can modify the raw file with your filters and allow you to turn them on  or even adjust the settings within the file – you don’t need 5 additional images stacked to apply five filters. However, storing filter information in the raw file does make for a larger file size.  I like this approach. So If I don’t like the contrast filter I just added I can either remove it or un-check the box.

NX2 is more efficient than lightroom 3 when it comes to true editing. NX2 has better and more complete set of editing controls with quick easy to use interface for editing photos such as; The “Control Points” that allow for very fine adjustments on any portion of a photo.  You can apply the control point setting to a specific area or the entire photo with just a few clicks.  The control points allow for color correction, exposure, contrast and saturation. This feature alone kicks much digital butt and leaves lightroom3 in the dust.  Secondly, Capture NX2 can easily do sharpening and “noise” reduction with adding a “new step” then choosing the feature to add – fast and simple.  NX2 loads with editing in mind NOT for you to set up a  library or create a collection and import photos. With NX2 you simply open the folder and begin editing – that's it, or drop a photo into NX2 – Something you can not do with lightroom 3.  Another GREAT built in feature of NX2 is the Auto Retouch Brush; which I use to remove dust or other imperfections or even unwanted crap in the photo, this feature hangs right on the main tool bar and is a life saver. 

May I add that Capture NX2 was co developed by Nik Software; Maker of the finest filters. 

The complaint that NX2 is slow is simply incorrect; Capture NX2 has almost any tool you need to edit your photos just a click away. No fuss or muss with building catalogs, just start working.  lightroom 3 is better suited for those who may like creating libraries of images using the Lightroom 3 tools by importing into your collections.  If your goal is setting up “collections”, Importing Photos into collections and dealing with management of photos – then Lightroom 3 may be your best buddy, NX2 is not geared that way. I perfer to edit my photos as I take them, cull out the bad ones and save off the finals in my folder structure.  When I use lightroom 3 I have a tendency to make copies of copies of photos – that is the lightroom 3 method, when editing in Lightroom 3 you create a copy as a tif image.  I guess what I am saying is I don't like dealing with “building” collections and importing photos into lightroom 3 for 40% of the photos the wind up in the trash bin. What I like to do when I return from a photo session is edit my photos, not build a collection. In a one hour outing I can have over 250 photos and trust me less than half will be useable.

To be honest; I like Lightroom 3 for it’s UI and ability to see a lot of photos at once, NX2 is more restrictive – more of an up and down “scroll”, but you can adjust NX2 to show as many photos thumbnails as your screen size will allow.  Lightroom 3 is more intuitive when it come to seeing a bigger picture fast. This is one area Lightroom excels at, the visual arrangement.

I will not knock Lightroom 3 for having a photo “database” I am certain some will find it very useful.  I could myself use help keeping track of all those photos I take, but lets face it, the first thing you need to do is actually tag your photos in order to do good searches.  When I have some more time (right), I will set up my collections in Lightroom3 and will evaluate that feature.  For now, editing photos is my main goal not publishing photo websites, or photo videos for my friends.  I find those features less useful than say control point technology.

Let me mention plug-ins. I use Nik Software filters – the very best, and if you have not tried out NIK Software B&W conversion I highly recommend you do.

My wish; I wish NX2, Lightroom 3 would partner to have one great product, but until then NX2 is my workhorse.

All in All Capture NX2 is simply a better product for editing your photos; If you are looking for that “slick” looking interface and whiz bang stuff that has nothing to do with “editing” like building collections, and web publishing then Lightroom3 would be better suited for you, but for $100.00 less NX2 has a lot more!~

True Toad

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