Capture NX-D vs Lightroom image quality

Hello everyone. I've been using Lightroom as developing software since I started taking photos. It's a great tool, full of capabilities, but one of the main disadvantages I find is that Adobe's own profiles fail to match Nikon's native engineering. When I import a picture that has been taken in low light conditions, Lightroom shows a darker, duller image. I own a d90, and I know that I can't use iso values higher than 800 to keep a reasonable noise amount. That's the reason I moved to Capture Nx-d, which mantains the settings in camera, especially Active d-lighting, and Lightroom doesn't. But then I realised that when converting (exporting) to full quality jpegs from capture nx, the image quality is like a very compressed jpeg, with some artifacts, and I would say, identical to the embedded jpeg that comes attached to raw files. I've made a test, exporting from capture NXD with active d-lighting turned off, sharpness reset to 0 and no noise reduction. I did the same with lightroom, and the result shows a much better quality from lightroom. Then, when I compensate or raise the exposure, that loss of quality is much more perceptible from Capture than from lightroom. So my question would be: Is Nikon (or google, or whatever) propietary software fooling us and what we think is the raw file we are exporting is none but the sidecar jpeg? Here I attach a test file, no changes made whatsoever in both cases. Look at the lady in the background, the noise, the black dots and the artifacts are very noticeable in the left, and the image in the right seems to be neater. I don't care about the slight color and tone differences. See for yourselves and tell me what you think. Thanks in advance!

Nikon d90 // 55mm, f/5.6 // 1/100 sec. // iso 800

both pictures were rendered using camera standard profile.


  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The test you are performing may not be completely valid. Even when you turn noise reduction off in LR or NX-D there is still a small amount applied. Are you turning off both luminance and color noise in LR?

    A more valid test would be how good you can make it. Try optimizing both and see which program can generate the best photo. I think you will be surprised. Then download a free 30 day trial of DXO OpticsPro 11 and apply the PRIME noise reduction. You will be surprised all over again. You may find that ISO 800 is no longer the ceiling for your D90.
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