Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RAW (NEF) File Rendering Comparison

A recent post on the Nikon Photographers LinkedIn group asked for opinions about the merits of Adobe Lightroom (LR) versus Nikon Capture NX2 (NX). A number of replies to the post suggested that NX produces the best results.

As a long-time user of NX and a relatively recent and reluctant adopter of LR, I decided that it was time for me to do some tests of my own.

About the Tests
For the test I used a couple of images from our visit to South Africa last year taken with my D7000 and my AF-S Zoom-Nikkor ED 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF DX VR.

First I opened the the same RAW (NEF) image in both applications. Next I created a TIF from each application. Finally I used NX to enlarge and crop the TIFs and then create the JPGs.

Test Results
Here's the NX JPG:

And here's the LR JPG:

When I viewed the NEF in LR at 100% I noticed the green fringing around the text on the sign.

When I enlarged it even more to make the final JPG, I noticed significantly more noise throughout the image than what I saw in NX JPG.

The colours in the NX version also seem much richer to me.

I performed the same test with a similar image:

Here's the NX JPG:

And here's the LR JPG:

While I haven't tried this test with other images, I am yet again re-thinking my workflow.

I would love to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience comparing how these products render RAW files, especially for the D7000.

Happy rendering!