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I love Adobe Lightroom, the workflow, the interface, the whole package. However, as a Nikon owner never did I manage to get the colors to look as good as after processing with Capture NX. No doubt about the fact that Capture NX understands Nikon's white balance data much better. Of course Lightroom has camera profiles, but as far as my experience goes they don't solve the problem completely.

So the question is: did I give up on Lightroom to soon? Have you been able to get the colors look the way you like them? Have you created or discovered some third party camera profiles that you are happy with and would recommend to others?

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@mattdm; he is asking for reproducing Capture NX processing, not the in-camera processing. – TFuto May 1 at 13:37
    
@mattdm That is absolutely not the premise. Capture NX does a lot more than the in-camera processing. – Piotr Zurek May 3 at 5:25
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The Adobe Camera RAW/Lightroom white balance presets have too much magenta in them (for Nikon cameras, anyway). This can skew the overall color balance, but it can easily be gotten around by creating your own presets that leave the magenta/green balance at zero.

The latest versions of the RAW engine and DNG spec support DNG profiles, which go a long way towards allowing you to get the color rendering you want. Many folks like the DNG Profiles that emulate Nikon's color modes, so you may give those a try. I was never a big fan of the Nikon color rendering though (too much cyan in skies, not to mention red/orange and blue/purple crossover problems). My preferred approach is to use a Macbeth Color Checker chart to create a custom DNG profile (which can be further tweaked to taste, you don't have to take the wizard-generated profile as-is).

Also often overlooked are the Hue/Saturation/Luminance adjustments, which can give you further control and may be more intuitive to some. And if you find yourself repeating certain adjustments on many images, you can make a preset of them.

I think once you get the hang of the options available in the ACR/LR raw engine, you should be able to get pretty much whatever color rendering you want.

share|improve this answer
    
How you fine tune .dng after creating them? – drAlberT Aug 18 '10 at 17:52
    
You talk about DNG, but is there a way to correct the colors of a RAW file without having to convert it to a DNG? Ins't there already a LR profile made my someone that corrects the colors as Nikon's NX does? – dialex Sep 10 '11 at 10:32

Nothing could beat DXO Optics Image Quality. It has the best NR algorithm in the industry. If the Lens / Body combo you use is supported by them, the Optical Correction Engine is spectacular.

Their main disadvantage is it takes time to properly use their software. But if you bear with it, you won't regret it.

P.S. DXO has color profiles which imitates Nikon colors in a much better way than Lightroom (In my opinion). Though it doesn't have all Picture Control options.

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2  
The OP asked about color, not noise reduction. Can you edit your answer to address that? – Reid Jul 19 '10 at 21:20
    
Thank for pointing me. I addressed the colors. – Drazick Jul 22 '10 at 19:17

I use Bibble and have been very happy with it, though I never even installed Capture NX and so can't make that comparison.

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Raw Therapee is also rather nice, but still heavily in development. It is also (now) open source. I've never used the software that ships with the camera body.

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This is a very old question but it remains relevant so I'll add my 3 cents.

Lightroom's white balance presets seem to be just ballpark figures not tuned to any camera-specific properties. The best way to get Nikon/Canon/whatever-like rendition in Lightroom is described here and here. Basically:

  1. Take some photos with your camera using built-in white balance presets (daylight, cloudy, etc., depending on what you need).
  2. Import them into Lightroom.
  3. Take down the temperature and tint values for each preset.
  4. Use these values in conjunction with camera-specific profiles (Profile in the Camera Calibration tab).

If you want to create Lightroom presets from these, be sure to re-set the values manually so that white balance is "Custom" instead of "As Shot". This is important; otherwise the presets will use "As Shot" which isn't what you want.

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Which version of Lightroom did you use? I find LR 3 to work really well for me, and haven't had a ton of WB problems with it. Perhaps you might want to give 3.0 a shot and see if it works any better?

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I've tried LR3 when it was still in beta. It's probably time to try it again. – Piotr Zurek Jul 16 '10 at 2:32
    
Yeah, they did improve things in the final release, including per-lens distortion correction. I haven't noticed all that much changing with WB or color since the last beta, but maybe you used an earlier one? – Josh Goldshlag Jul 19 '10 at 20:45

As no-one else has mentioned it already...

Lightroom is fine. It can convert raw images. Does a reasonable job of them. Got a copy, use it periodically.

But I've never been able to get images out of it that match what I can produce from Capture One from my Nikon or Olympus cameras. Back to back conversions on the same file, experimenting with all sorts of tools - the C1 files win for me every single time.

Worth giving it a try IMHO.

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