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I Actually Like Nikon ViewNX

In the past, I've been fairly harsh on Nikon's ability to write decent software. Over its lifespan, the old Nikon Capture grew into a hodgepodge of tools that were slow and cumbersome to use and while the new CaptureNX has indeed been an improvement, I'm still not that much of a fan. So it may come as a surprise to regular readers here that I actually like Nikon ViewNX.

I wasn't that impressed when Nikon first released ViewNX last fall mind you. In its 1.0.0 release it still had a few bugs to be worked out and the code hadn't been optimized fully yet. Since then, Nikon has put out several minor upgrades to where it now stands at version 1.0.3. Each new release has also included new features such that ViewNX has matured into a very capable and fast image browser for Nikon shooters.

Here are some of the things I like about it:

  • For starters, did I mention it's reasonably fast? I use ViewNX for first pass editing of images so this is a must.
  • Since it's from Nikon, it will always be able to read the latest variants of Nikon's NEF raw file format. This also means it does a more thorough job of showing camera setting metadata than most other browsers.
  • Toggling between the thumbnail, image view and full screen modes is relatively easy so I can go from a broad overview to a detail view quickly.
  • Arrangement of most windows is well thought out and easy to control. All but the histogram that is which is stuck in the lower right hand corner and does occasionally get in the way. The histogram can be turned off of course, but only by means of several clicks in the menu system.
  • Reject images can be moved to the Windows Recycle Bin by pressing the Delete key, even in full screen mode.
  • Nikon Transfer, the application that Nikon wants you to use to copy images to your computer is a separate download and not part of the basic ViewNX install. I appreciate this since I use Downloader Pro from Breeze Systems which is much more configurable to copy and rename images as I want.
  • Focus area selector display can be shown in all image modes. Of course, images manually focused will not show the focus indicator.
  • While ViewNX is fully integrated with CaptureNX, it is also easy to register other applications to open images for editing.
  • Images are correctly color managed in all views.
  • Star ratings are compatible with Adobe Bridge. ViewNX embeds ratings as XMP data rather than writing them in XMP sidecar files, but if there's anyone who can do this safely to NEF files it's Nikon.
  • Clipped highlights and shadows can be displayed in the image view and full screen modes.
  • For those who shoot RAW + JPEG, ViewNX can treat each file individually or together as a single image. It's also easy to filter images to show just raw files, or just jpeg, or just tiff if you want.
  • It's missing a side by side image compare function but rumors are that this will be added at some point in the future. For now, the image view mode lets me toggle between images fairly quickly.

Oh, and it's a free download from Nikon.

Nikon ViewNX

Update 03/24/2008 - Reader RA wrote to let me know about a feature of ViewNX I missed. Apparently you can turn toggle the histogram on and off easily. Pressing the space bar repeatedly will cycle the histogram from full RGB mode to red, green, then blue. Pressing it again turns the histogram display off completely. One more press of the space bar and its back to RGB mode. Very nice. Thanks.

Reader JS asks about the integration between ViewNX and Capture NX. By that I mean you can easily launch CaptureNX while browsing images in ViewNX. Two areas that oddly are not integrated are that the labels and ratings assigned in one are not visible in the other. Indeed, the two programs currently do this in different ways. I would expect Nikon to release an update to CaptureNX soon to address this. Not being a CaptureNX user (at least not often), this doesn't affect me much but obviously your situation may be different.

Date posted: March 23, 2008 (updated March 24, 2008)


Copyright © 2008 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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Related articles:
Nikon Capture NX: First Thoughts
Nikon Capture NX: Hands On and Second Thoughts
Color Management in Nikon Capture NX

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