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Real World Nikon Capture Nx by Ben Long
Real World Nikon Capture Nx

omegabook, April 14, 2007

After enduring several publishing delays, I eagerly dove into Ben Long's book on Nikon Capture NX when it was released. Signals of the disappointment coming appeared with the first words in the book, as Long states, "If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever end up writing a book on Nikon Capture, I would have probably laughed and said, `Uh, I doubt anyone will ever write a book on Nikon Capture.'" In fact Long was wrong because Jason Odell had his eBook on the market before Long's appeared.

Long goes on to say that among the fairly unquestionable photography rules is that "image editing programs made by camera vendors are always far inferior to standalone image editors." Although Long tries to mitigate this statement by explaining that Nikon enlisted the aid of nik Multimedia in improving the latest version of Capture, he doesn't change the reader's impression that he is not an admirer of NX--damnation by faint praise is his forte.

Regardless of his personal opinion, Long should realize that readers of this book believe that NX is of importance to them, or else they would not be willing to buy a supplement to the Nikon User's Manual in order to fully utilize the program's features. His attitude really surprised me as I have purchased several other books in the Real World series, and they have always been superlative.

Despite expressed contempt for NX, Long does handle some topics well, but his lack of enthusiasm is clearly evident in other parts of the book. The chapter coverage comprises:

Basic Theory
Interface and Basic Workflow
Preparing to Edit
Basic Image Editing
Advanced Image Editing
Version Control and Batch Processing

Long offers some meaty, well-done sections, which discuss selection brushes, control points, high pass filter, facial retouching, and contact sheet printing. Unfortunately, the remainder of the book slides downward from there. Long wastes 31 pages on basic theory of digital photography. While mine may be a minority opinion, I think that users of NX will know the basic workings of a digital camera, the difference between JPEG and RAW, and how to read a histogram. If they don't, their camera manual will provide that information. He also wastes a number of pages on workflow descriptions that are so elementary that they are useless, along with the tried and true admonitions to profile your monitor and use color management.

A comparison of Long's book with the Nikon User's Manual is enlightening:

-Page count: 230
-Photos: Color
-Summary/appendix: None

-Page count: 233
-Photos: B&W
-Summary/appendix: Short-cuts, RGB Profiles Supplied, Advisories & Additional Notices

Throughout his book, Long merely steps through each of the menus and dialogs in a manner much like the Nikon manual, except that Long repeats the material. I lost count of the number of times he tells the reader that NX can only process RAW images if they are from a Nikon camera. His coverage is incomplete. He assumes that the reader is knowledgeable of all the File menu items, because he talks about only a few, and the Help menu is skipped entirely. Among the topics not covered are:

Red-eye control point
Linking enhancements
Swapping enhancements
Definitions of blending modes
Shortcut keys (with a few minor exceptions)
Preferences (except for grid)

Long prefers to use detailed adjustments instead of the base adjustments, which may be more a matter of preference than a real advantage. He, however, fails to point out that detail adjustments cannot be modified using selective tools.

Every NX user can plow through the Nikon manual and learn the basic menu and dialog operations without Long's book, which does the same. What Long should have provided was how to put these operations together to accomplish photographic effects, which the Nikon manual reader may not be able to figure out alone. Some possibilities might include how to achieve the look of certain types of film (such as Kodachrome), or even how he made the hand colored/tinted photo he shows in the book (with no instructions on how to copy the effect).

Overall, Long's book offers little new to NX users that is not already covered (often more completely) in the manual.
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