I'm a new Nikon D90 user, and i was shooting jpeg till now. I'm planning to start shooting raw from now.

What i've heard is that Nikon's camera profile is dynamically generated according to selected camera settings and encoded into the generated NEF file. This format is proprietary and only Nikon's capture NX2 can reliably read it.

So my questions:

  1. Is this true that dynamic camera profile will not be available to any software other than capture NX2?
  2. If it is, then what difference does it make?
  3. (Optional) it will be really helpful if you can tell me what software you use for reading and editinh NEF files.


  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The only thing of interest that you can do with Capture NX that you can't do (slightly differently) with other programs is create custom picture settings to import to your camera (as U1, U2, etc., if your camera has those modes on the dial), and that's only important (really) if you find yourself shooting RAW when you'd rather be shooting JPEG (for instance, if you need the images to write to the card quickly for long bursts in continuous mode). \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Apr 3, 2011 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's now 2013 and there is STILL nothing that renders an nef file as good as Capture NX. If you want the highest quality from your raw files no other program compares to Capture NX. \$\endgroup\$
    – user19676
    Apr 30, 2013 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


I'm not a Nikon shooter, but I would seriously doubt that a company like Adobe is left guessing at information in the NEF format as that would mean Nikon wasn't interested in professional work which we all know isn't the case! In general, the following commercial packages are going to handle the NEF format just fine:

There are more options as well, but these are amongst the most common. I've tried not to link specific versions, you should generally go with the most recent one. I couldn't do that with Capture One.

Now, some open source software also will handle the Nikon NEF format, but it is the case were there's some reverse engineering going on. Having said that, it's not so hard and it's generally been done. Bear in mind that they'll get access to a lot of images over time and Nikon is going to be pretty common. Anyways, one of the best options here is Raw Therapee which offers a host of features (and I would suggest the beta over the old, but stable version).

As for myself, I use Photoshop CS5 in general, but I've also used Raw Therapee on machines for which I don't have Photoshop installed. If you're willing to spend some money, however, I would recommend Adobe Lightroom 3 as your best choice as it's very powerful while being very friendly to the newcomer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I use Raw Therapee and ViewNX2, and although I like RT I mostly still use ViewNX2 because it renders NEF files much nicer (with default settings on both). \$\endgroup\$
    – akid
    May 1, 2013 at 10:49

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