How to use colour points

I’ve never met Jason Odell (but I hope to run into him someday) but I’ve read just about everything he’s published. Jason’s excellent online “how-to” books on Capture NX2 and Silver Efex Pro. Now Jason doesn’t blog as often as I wish he would but today I came across this online article by him on using the U-point technology that’s at the heart of the NX2 and NIK Software packages.

So what’s so great about Capture NX2? Well if you shoot with a Nikon DSLR, NX2 is probably the best RAW file convertor you can buy. It’s also cheap at around $200 when compared to $1,000 for Photoshop. But this is serious software folks. It dead-drop easy to use, especially if you purchase Jason’s PDF books (at $20 online) which I liked so much I printed them and put them in a couple of three-ring binders so I could use them as reference guides.

If you don’t shoot with a Nikon you have to convert your files into TIFFS before working on them in NX2 and honestly you might be better off using another program. If you’re using a MAC (and I’ve got both MAC and PC running here) consider Aperture 3 which just came out to pretty good reviews. If you’re shooting professionally (or shooting a lot of images) consider Lightroom 2 (Lightroom 3 should be out this summer). I’ve got them all and LR2 is pretty nifty when it comes to batch processing large numbers of images.

If you’re not shooting professionally, any software will do so long as you take a little time to learn it. IPhoto for the MAC is more than enough for most people as is Adobe Photoshop Elements which does most of the stuff photographers want for around $100. Cool. Corel’s Paint Shop Pro is really nice and sometimes comes bundled with Lexar memory cards.

So let’s get back to Capture NX2: Why would you want this instead of anything else? Price is one consideration. Using the U-point technology is another consideration (and go visit the NX2 site and watch the demo movie. You can do a lot of photo editing much faster and smoother than in any other program including Photoshop (which can be clunky in the way it handles some jobs). And, it’s pretty easy to understand and get really top quality results when you’re editing your images and making changes to them.

One little caveat and that’s some people with less than really robust computers find NX2 can be a little slow. Okay it can painfully slow but that’s one of the reasons I bought a new MacBook Pro and I don’t much of problem at anymore. On my older “midnight madness” big box store discounted PCs oh yeah it’s slower than most but on those clunkers everything is slow.

The NIK software that I refer to works with a lot of different photo editors (Aperture, LR2, Photoshop, Elements) using the U-point technology to fix colours, sharpen images, reduce noise and add effects. On NX2, NIK’s rather wonderful Color Efex Pro 3 works inside the program as a separate editor. In other words, you can be working on an image in NX2 and can call up Color Efex Pro 3 from a menu. The image then opens up in a separate window inside NX2 which allows you to apply whatever effects you want and then saves the changes and returns you back to NX2. Again, really cool. If you shoot weddings, special events or portraits, you’d love Color Efex Pro 3 regardless of which program you use as your primary editor.

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