Now that the D810 is showing up as “in stock” everywhere, Nikon might be wondering why the camera isn’t selling out (well, other than Europe, where everyone just thinks it is priced too high). Can I suggest one possibility? The software to support it isn’t there. How many people need a 36mp JPEG camera?
Update: it seems that a lot of folk seem to believe I wrote “the D810 is having poor sales” in the previous paragraph. That’s not at all what I wrote. What I’m suggesting is that because raw software support wasn’t there from day one, some eventual purchasers of the camera just waited. I would think Nikon would rather have more sales quicker than have cameras sit on shelves, even for a short time. If the D810 were to be “out of stock” from Day One, that would have mimicked the frenzied demand for the original and been a big PR coup for the company.
Oh, wait, Capture NX-D is available. But that’s just a tiny bit of a complete workflow. Nikon does know what workflow is, right? You know, where you ingest and rename, catalog rate and keyword, then convert the raw file, and eventually output or print? Capture NX-D isn’t a lot of help with those other things. In fact, as I’ve pointed out before, Capture NX-D doesn’t actually register itself on my Mac as the owner of NEF files, so that means you can’t pass files from something (e.g. Photo Mechanic) to Capture NX-D and have it handled right.
Total fail. And not the first time we’ve seen this total failure (more on that in a bit).
So one of my readers decided to ask Nikon Europe why you can’t pass a NEF from Photo Mechanic to Capture NX-D. The response was “Das haben wir nicht getestet und unterstutzen es nicht. Capture NX-D ist nur dafür gedacht, Bilder direkt aus Nikon-Kameras zu öffnen.” Translated: “We have not tested and do not support it. Capture NX-D is only meant to open photos directly from Nikon cameras.”
Total fail. TOTAL fail.
If the Nikon response is absolutely true and verified via Japan, then Capture NX-D not only gets my “not recommended” rating, but it is the first product for which I’d publicly give a “completely avoid because it’s a waste of time” rating. You know, “free software” can actually have real “costs" if it takes you more time or is non-optimal to what you need to do. Perhaps if Nikon paid me money to use it, I might have to reconsider my current position.
You just don’t sell cameras to photographers if the photographers can’t use them to their fullest. All that extra dynamic range at ISO 64 is pretty much wasted in an 8-bit compressed JPEG, after all. Not having the lenses the photographer wants also tends to slow down camera sales. Cameras are the heart of an ecosystem, and unless you nourish the entire system you get sub-optimal sales as a result. I’m pretty sure Nikon’s financial report coming up in a week or so will show sub-optimal sales. Some of that is their fault.
Right now you can use Capture NX-D isolated from your workflow to create JPEGs or TIFFs that you might then pull into your workflow (and which would then get separated from the original NEF because they have no linkage). Or you can use the beta copy of ACR (but not Lightroom) to convert your NEFs (and still not be well linked to your workflow if you’re using Lightroom). Or you can use DNG converter to convert the NEFs to DNGs and have a workflow that is fully linked, but takes more time, CPU power, and because you’d want to preserve the original NEFs for the future workflow that surely will come, takes more space.
Now I fully expect the situation to right itself eventually. Adobe, Apple, DxO, Phase One, and others will eventually get around to directly and fully supporting the D810, just as soon as they’ve figured out everything that changed via reverse engineering and testing. This will likely not involve any cooperation from Nikon, though I’d love it if someone can show me evidence that there was (will be). It might restore my faith that Nikon actually understands that photographers have workflow needs. If Nikon doesn’t understand that, maybe we don’t need Nikon cameras.
Frankly, Nikon should be embarrassed. If they asked any pro photographer, any serious enthusiast, or even any consumer photographer what their workflow is, it almost certainly wouldn’t be “Capture NX-D in isolation.”
I wrote that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Those of us with long memories remember the D2x. Nikon decided to “encrypt” white balance back then (still does for no apparent reason), and thus require any third-party to license Nikon’s pathetic SDK to get any idea of what the camera thought the white balance might have been. Adobe refused Nikon’s license agreement terms and the use of the non-threaded, poorly created SDK, which meant that D2x workflow was completely and totally broken. Not going to sell many cameras when Canon workflows are like spreading butter on bread.
Guess who backed down that time? You guessed it: Nikon. Guess who’s going to have to back down this time? You guessed it: Nikon.
Total fail. Again. If you hit an iceberg while cruising the ocean, you probably shouldn’t ram it again.