Nikon ViewNX 2: raw processing made easy
In this Nikon ViewNX 2 tutorial we’ll show you how to use ViewNX 2 to non-destructively improve the colour, tone, and exposure of a raw file.
By shooting in the uncompressed raw format you’re doing yourself a big favour, because each RAW file is crammed full of extra information about a scene’s colours and tones when compared with a compressed and pre-processed JPEG.
Some of the scene’s colour and tonal information is missing in a JPEG, so you run the risk of adding ugly compression artefacts when editing the file.
Our original shot
The raw format enables you to produce better-looking shots thanks to ViewNX 2’s image-editing tools. Indeed, if you’re editing in the JPEG format then you’ll lack access to the extra image-processing tools and sliders that are only available to raw users, such as White Balance, Exposure Compensation and Picture Control.
The ViewNX 2 program that you get free with your Nikon DSLR is quite a basic package, so it makes sense to use all of its colour and tone-tweaking controls by shooting in raw format.
In this tutorial we’ll show you how to how to reveal detail in high-contrast RAW shots by selectively targeting and adjusting shadows and highlights. We’ll also show you how to claw back missing highlight detail in overexposed photos.
The Nikon ViewNX 2 interface: key points to know
To view the larger version of this cheat sheet, click on the infographic or drag and drop it to your desktop.
Step by step how to process raw files using Nikon ViewNX 2
Open the RAW file
Open ViewNX 2. Click the Browser icon and browse to tone_before.NRW. Click the thumbnail, then click Edit. You’ll notice that the camera has under-exposed the backlit boat while losing a little colour in the brighter buildings.
Experiment with Picture Control
The camera’s Picture Control settings can make a big difference to a scene’s colours and tones. Because this is a RAW file we can experiment with the settings. Choose [NL] Neutral from the Picture Control drop-down menu.
Tweak the shadows
By taking Shadow Protection up to 25 you can reveal more midtone detail without blowing out detail in the highlights. Drag the D-Lighting HS slider to 35 to lighten the boat without over-exposing the brightest areas.
Boost the colour
When you brighten shadows they tend to look desaturated. Go to Color Booster and drag the slider to 36. Tick the Nature button. This enables you to increase the colour saturation of the paintwork on the buildings.
Protect the highlights
Move Highlight Protection up to 30 to restore the highlights. The vertical lines are titled, so drag Straighten to -0.6 to counteract the tilt. Browse to our highlights_before.NEF image. Click Yes to save the changes to tone_before.NRW.
Click the Histogram icon. The graph shows that the shot is over-exposed. Drag Exposure Compensation to -1.0. Drag D-Lighting HS to 41 to improve the contrast. Reveal more sky colour by dragging Highlight Protection to 29.
on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 at 6:00 am under Tutorials.
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Tags: Nikon ViewNX 2, photo editing