Author Topic: NEF's and NX-D  (Read 12705 times)

Offline HvTFoto

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NEF's and NX-D
« on: April 22, 2014, 03:33:45 PM »
One of the features I really like with PM is its ability to show edits done in NX-2. Just downloaded and made a quick test editing in NX-D and I found out that the edits are not visible in PM. Guess this is due to the sidecar files and its odd placement in a subdirectory. Is it likely that PM (and its upcoming catalog) will show nef edits by NX-D? One reason that I haven't jumped ship to any competitor is that I haven't found a cataloging software that show edits by NX-2.

Regards

Hans

Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2014, 03:38:02 PM »
Hans,

One of the features I really like with PM is its ability to show edits done in NX-2. Just downloaded and made a quick test editing in NX-D and I found out that the edits are not visible in PM. Guess this is due to the sidecar files and its odd placement in a subdirectory. Is it likely that PM (and its upcoming catalog) will show nef edits by NX-D? One reason that I haven't jumped ship to any competitor is that I haven't found a cataloging software that show edits by NX-2.

Capture NX-D does not update the embedded previews of the NEFs that are adjusted by you.  Unless Capture NX-D adds that capability, PM will never be able to show you an image that resembles what it looks like in Capture NX-D.

I suggest that you ask Nikon to have their developers add that capability.

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Offline Soizic

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 11:05:10 PM »
very bad this NX-D !
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Offline Hayo Baan

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 12:20:22 PM »
very bad this NX-D !

Yes, definitely. And I don't think we can count on this to change given that NX-D is actually based on an existing raw converter that also exhibits this behaviour. Very bad indeed. Enough for me to completely change my workflow over to Adobe Camera Raw (sometimes combined with Lightroom for bulk edits). Switching to the DNG format as well, basically allowed me the same workflow as before with NEF and NX2 (also see my blog on this, actually inspired by an earlier answer of mine in this forum).

While there are a couple of things I miss in ACR when compared to NX2, I'm actually much faster in my new workflow than before (I had the advantage that I was actually also pretty fluent with ACR, even when I was doing almost everything in NX2…). I can only say that I am happy I made the switch. In fact, I wonder why I didn't make the switch before :o

Of the things I do miss in ACR, I miss the retouch brush the most. The spot removal in ACR/LR just is no comparison and even the various retouch tools in Photoshop aren't always capable of achieving the same results as easily as NX2's retouch brush. To a lesser degree, I miss the layer-like capabilities of NX2, though these can be reproduced quite easily in Photoshop, of course. Strangely enough, I don't really miss the control points much. First of all, I didn't use them that much, but I also found that with a bit of practice and knowing when to turn on the auto mask feature, the adjustment brush is actually quite capable!

Apart from not showing the edits in the embedded jpg, the new NX-D will not even process your NX2 edits (at least not in the foreseeable future). Meaning that if you go with NX-D, you already have to break your old workflow. So my reasoning is: why not break it and move to something better? Anyway, that for me was the last little push I needed to move to ACR (and, as I mentioned, sometimes LR).

Just my two cents ;)
Hayo
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Offline Odd Skjaeveland

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2014, 07:11:36 AM »
...Switching to the DNG format as well, basically allowed me the same workflow as before with NEF and NX2

...NX-D will not even process your NX2 edits (at least not in the foreseeable future).

Like other NX2-users, I have tried to figure out which way to go. I have not yet concluded that Adobe is the signpost pointing to my track.

Non-destructive edits seem to be proprietary and essentially non-transferable between applications. The updated list of Nikon's answers at http://beta.nikonimglib.com/voice/index.html.en  indicates that NX-D may eventually honor NX-2 edits, even control points. If and how control points can be turned into non-destructive edits in ND-X is unclear to me as control points will not be part of NX-D.

There are quite a few capable NEF editors out there, but they do not fit my current workflow with Photo Mechanic as my back end application. I believe PM can be the front end to any image editor. My problem is to continue with PM as my back end application in a new NEF workflow (the back end is for all the things I do with image files after edit).

One solution is to save edited files as jpeg companion files and do back end work with the companion jpeg files in the PM contact sheet. Knowing me, using manual "save as jpeg" means jpegs will be out of sync (sigh).  I need automated save as jpeg after edit. The jpeg route will probably work with any NEF editor, including NX-D.

The DNG track is tempting, but as far as I can tell, DNG support means very different things to different applications (or programmers). Many image editors can work with DNG input. Output to DNG and updating embedded metadata and previews seem to vary between applications. I hoped that Phase One's product Capture One Pro would be one alternative, but so far I find it less than promising with PM at the back end. Corel's Aftershot Pro, DdiSoftware's Qimage Ultimate and other NEF compatible editors, demonstrate limited or missing DNG support. To me it looks like the DNG route simply spells Adobe image editing products if I want to use PM at the back end.


« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 07:20:45 AM by Odd Skjaeveland »
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Offline Hayo Baan

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 07:09:26 AM »
...Switching to the DNG format as well, basically allowed me the same workflow as before with NEF and NX2

...NX-D will not even process your NX2 edits (at least not in the foreseeable future).

Like other NX2-users, I have tried to figure out which way to go. I have not yet concluded that Adobe is the signpost pointing to my track.

Non-destructive edits seem to be proprietary and essentially non-transferable between applications. The updated list of Nikon's answers at http://beta.nikonimglib.com/voice/index.html.en  indicates that NX-D may eventually honor NX-2 edits, even control points. If and how control points can be turned into non-destructive edits in ND-X is unclear to me as control points will not be part of NX-D.
The non-destructive edits, or even (adjustment) layers, are indeed (always?) proprietary. So best choose software that has some future. We have been bitten by the end-of-support issue once now…

Even if NX-D is to “honour” your NX-2 edits “in the future”, don't count on being able to change them; that would mean rebuilding NX2 in NX-D and I don't think that is what they will (ever) do. No, what I think is what happens is that when you open an image in NX-D with NX2 edits, they will show you just the results of those edits (I think just by using the embedded JPG, but that is speculation on my part).

There are quite a few capable NEF editors out there, but they do not fit my current workflow with Photo Mechanic as my back end application. I believe PM can be the front end to any image editor. My problem is to continue with PM as my back end application in a new NEF workflow (the back end is for all the things I do with image files after edit).
This is indeed exactly my need too!

One solution is to save edited files as jpeg companion files and do back end work with the companion jpeg files in the PM contact sheet. Knowing me, using manual "save as jpeg" means jpegs will be out of sync (sigh).  I need automated save as jpeg after edit. The jpeg route will probably work with any NEF editor, including NX-D.
Yes, this route will work with any editor (they are all capable of saving a jpg version of the file), but would be VERY cumbersome. Definitely NOT the way I want to go.

The DNG track is tempting, but as far as I can tell, DNG support means very different things to different applications (or programmers). Many image editors can work with DNG input. Output to DNG and updating embedded metadata and previews seem to vary between applications. I hoped that Phase One's product Capture One Pro would be one alternative, but so far I find it less than promising with PM at the back end. Corel's Aftershot Pro, DdiSoftware's Qimage Ultimate and other NEF compatible editors, demonstrate limited or missing DNG support. To me it looks like the DNG route simply spells Adobe image editing products if I want to use PM at the back end.
Many raw editors these days do support DNG. But, as you said, perhaps not all will update the embedded preview (heck, even Lightroom you have to explicitly tell to do so).

For me the move to Adobe wasn't a big one, and in fact quite logical; I already used Photoshop for my non raw edits (and the raw edits of non-nikon files). While I really don't like the new subscription scheme, their software is still very good (the best?). The good thing is that CS6 is still available for sale at Adobe. And as Adobe has stated they will continue to update its ACR version for the latest cameras, you don't have to buy into the subscription model!

Anyway, hope you can find a good solution for your workflow!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2014, 07:11:34 AM by Hayo Baan »
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Offline Hayo Baan

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2014, 11:33:28 AM »
Update to my previous post: I just read that Adobe presumably stops selling CS6 as of 1 June this year. So if you want a version that will work indefinitely (that is, as long as your OS and system are compatible), you may want to hurry… Otherwise your only option to use Photoshop will be the subscription model. Luckily the the photography program (PS CC + LR) is still available for $9.99/€9.99 ex VAT per month though. You can also still buy Lightroom without subscription, so that may be a viable solution to many too (in combination with any other pixel editor).
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Offline Woodie

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 03:39:25 PM »
I've been following this thread and Hayo's blog not so much because I have an immediate concern about NX2 / NXD (I shoot with a D300s so still have Capture support) but because I would like to have the same workflow for different camera brand RAW formats.  I'm on Windows 7 and my current workflow is similar to others who have posted: PM for the "front end" work; Capture NX2 for adjustments; Photo Supreme for cataloging (no comment on Camera Bits and the mystery catalog).  All play nicely with NEF (and NRW); that is they read and write to NEF files.  No sidecar files!  If I need more than NX2 I use Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop Elements, or even GIMP. Philosophically I disagree with some of Adobe's business practices, but I've given in and am trying Lightroom and Photoshop.  Because I don't like sidecar files, I'm experimenting with DNG as suggested by Hayo. So, I start with PM as usual.  Select images for adjustments and this is where I'm trying different options.  I don't want to convert entire folders to DNG, only some files.  I see a couple of possibilities.  Once I select the images in PM, I can use the Convert RAW to DNG  from the PM Tools menu to convert to DNG; then sort by type to group the DNG files and open in ACR or Lightroom.  Another option I see in PM is to use Save As and convert to PSD.  I could then open those images directly in Photoshop.  I could open the selected files in ACR and save as DNG from there (I think that would work).  I haven't figured out any option that doesn't involve some extra steps.  Any pros/cons on using the selections in PM to convert to DNG or PSD vs going to an Adobe product and doing it from there?  Could/should Bridge be included along the way? I know what works well for others may not feel comfortable for me but I'm looking for options to try.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Offline Hayo Baan

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2014, 02:36:41 AM »
Hi Woodie,

The problem of not wanting to convert whole directories of images to DNG at a time, applies to me too; I don't want to mass convert my “old” images (for my new images this is fine as I now actually very much prefer the new workflow with ACR). I found below steps to be a pretty good and flexible way of working, not involving too many extra steps:
  • Start with selecting the image (nef file) you want to work with in PM
  • Choose edit with Photoshop (presuming your nefs still open in Capture NX2 by default)
  • This will open the image in ACR
  • Perform your adjustments and click on the button that reads “Save Image…”
  • Select DNG as your format and any of the applicable options
  • Save file
  • Cancel out of the ACR dialogue (as otherwise you will end up with .xmp files containing the edits just made)
You now have both a new dng and your original nef file (which you can now remove if you want, I actually have an image maintenance script that does this automatically). Use the dng for any of your editing from now on.
Though I mention nef files here, above steps would work for any raw file format.

Saving a nef file to psd (or tiff for that matter) from within PM works if you want to retain the edits made by e.g., NX2, be aware though that it uses the (albeit high quality) embedded jpg of the file. If you want the best possible quality, whilst retaining your NX2 edits, there's only one option: convert the file from within NX2 to (16 bit) tiff.

My plan is to just leave my “old” files alone and use the embedded jpg for most work (it's good enough for almost anything, except perhaps for big prints). When I need to revisit such a file (e.g., want to tweak it), I'll edit it from scratch using above steps (yes, this will mean redoing all my NX2 work in ACR…) and from then on keep working with the dng file (just as with my new files).

The advantage of the new workflow, of course, is that any raw file gets exactly the same workflow. Great if you shoot multiple brands :)
The dng workflow is also great as it enables the use of PM at full power (Lightroom just isn't fast enough for browsing/culling/selecting).
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Offline Woodie

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2014, 03:50:27 PM »
Thanks so much Hayo for all the suggestions. I see an advantage to converting in Photoshop (ACR) is that adjustments made in ACR are saved to the DNG.  The downside, if I don't want .xmp files, is that one needs to exit ACR then open the DNG files back into ACR then Photoshop to make additional edits, but often ACR adjustments would be enough.  Maybe I'll just need to learn to live with .xmp files.

I also notice that DNG files are missing metadata that appears in the NEF files; shutter actuations, detailed lens info, for example.  I presume this is in the maker notes and Adobe chooses not to read/convert that data.  Both PM and my cataloging program read and display maker notes, at least some of them. This allows me to find images by the specific lens used (not just focal length), whether flash was used, etc.  I'll admit I seldom search this way but for teaching purposes (just for the local computer/photo group) it's handy to find images shot with flash for example.  As long as I keep and catalog the original NEF files, I'll be able to do this I guess.

You've been so helpful, I hesitate to ask another question but I'll chance it.  Is there any advantage/disadvantage to using Lightroom vs Photoshop?  I don't need the organizing aspect of Lightroom since I use a catalog program so it's only the adjusting functions that interest me. I'm thinking I could convert to DNG in PM then open in Lightroom to adjust.

Like you, I don't plan to "go back" to old images.  I don't see any reason to do a wholesale conversion.  I'll only convert images if I need to work on them again.  Also good to know that nef to psd or tiff uses the embedded jpg.  For my work, this would be ok.  I'm strictly an amateur these days and don't need large prints to sell.  It would also have the advantage of having the camera settings applied to the output since the process uses the embedded jpg.  Something else to consider.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.  There are so many options.  I just need to do more trials.

Offline Hayo Baan

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2014, 01:11:56 AM »
Thanks so much Hayo for all the suggestions. I see an advantage to converting in Photoshop (ACR) is that adjustments made in ACR are saved to the DNG.  The downside, if I don't want .xmp files, is that one needs to exit ACR then open the DNG files back into ACR then Photoshop to make additional edits, but often ACR adjustments would be enough.  Maybe I'll just need to learn to live with .xmp files.
You're welcome!
In my suggested workflow you would indeed open the image twice, but only if you really need it edited further in e.g. Photoshop. In this case, however, as the nef/dng will not form the end result anyway (meaning the embedded preview is not so important) you may also skip the generation of the dng file and open the file in Photoshop from within ACR. My suggestion would then be to open it as a smart object as then you can still change the raw file (which is then embedded in the psd/tiff file) after the fact – in ACR (heck, then you can even make a (copy) of the raw file if you like!)

Yes, you will end up with a .xmp file, but in this case this isn't too important any longer as your edits will be in the tiff/psd file already. When using PM (or lightroom or bridge) to do your file moving/copying you'll actually not have to worry about the .xmp anyway as they will all take good care of it  ;)

I also notice that DNG files are missing metadata that appears in the NEF files; shutter actuations, detailed lens info, for example.  I presume this is in the maker notes and Adobe chooses not to read/convert that data.  Both PM and my cataloging program read and display maker notes, at least some of them. This allows me to find images by the specific lens used (not just focal length), whether flash was used, etc.  I'll admit I seldom search this way but for teaching purposes (just for the local computer/photo group) it's handy to find images shot with flash for example.  As long as I keep and catalog the original NEF files, I'll be able to do this I guess.
Actually all the makernote data is still in the dng file (before I switched over, I made sure it was still there). PM currently is incapable of deciphering it though. But will hopefully/likely do so in the future (in an answer to a question from me on this, Dennis said he would definitely look into it).

You've been so helpful, I hesitate to ask another question but I'll chance it.  Is there any advantage/disadvantage to using Lightroom vs Photoshop?  I don't need the organizing aspect of Lightroom since I use a catalog program so it's only the adjusting functions that interest me. I'm thinking I could convert to DNG in PM then open in Lightroom to adjust.
I use both, but as I wrote in my blog, I very much like ACR more. The interface is cleaner (but very outdated…), the keyboard shortcuts are more logical (and similar to PS itself), and above all, it automatically updates the embedded preview (in Lightroom you have to manually do that). Lightroom is a great product too though and has some advantages, especially when doing bulk changes (just don't forget to update the embedded preview). Just use what you like best for the given situation.
(Note: doing bulk edits in PS can be done too; I've edited over 50 images in one go in ACR without any issue)

Like you, I don't plan to "go back" to old images.  I don't see any reason to do a wholesale conversion.  I'll only convert images if I need to work on them again.  Also good to know that nef to psd or tiff uses the embedded jpg.  For my work, this would be ok.  I'm strictly an amateur these days and don't need large prints to sell.  It would also have the advantage of having the camera settings applied to the output since the process uses the embedded jpg.  Something else to consider.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.  There are so many options.  I just need to do more trials.

Hope I already answered most of your questions, but don't hesitate to come back with more questions :D
Hayo Baan - Photography
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Offline Odd Skjaeveland

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2014, 04:06:20 AM »
...Any pros/cons on using the selections in PM to convert to DNG or PSD vs going to an Adobe product and doing it from there?

My PM uses the Adobe DNG Converter application installed from the Adobe site. I have always assumed it is the same DNG converter as the the one built into Lightroom and ACR, but I don't know if that is true.

Somewhere I observed Jason Odell make a point about seeing the the end of NX2 as an opportunity to clean up the NEF inventory. I believe that was in the Sensor Plane Photography Podcast episode 7. One advice I believe, was to revisit important images edited in NX2 to remove sharpening and save (unsharpened )TIFFs. Further edits plus sharpening can then be done in LR or other applications. TIFFs with sharpening from NX2 baked in, may possibly be difficult to edit further.

I want to thank you and Hayo for sharing your insight in this matter.

The dust will eventually settle.

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Offline Woodie

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Re: NEF's and NX-D
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2014, 12:30:41 PM »
...Any pros/cons on using the selections in PM to convert to DNG or PSD vs going to an Adobe product and doing it from there?

My PM uses the Adobe DNG Converter application installed from the Adobe site. I have always assumed it is the same DNG converter as the the one built into Lightroom and ACR, but I don't know if that is true.

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Yes, the stand-alone DNG converter must be installed to convert by using the menu selection in PM.  Like you, I presume it's the same, at least at it's core, converter used in Lightroom and ACR. You've probably already done this, but, for Windows anyway, there are codecs for DNG and PSD that will allow viewing these formats in Windows Explorer.