Nikon produces several software products for digital camera users:
- Nikon Transfer (free). Performs ingest of images (plus audio and video files from cameras that support these) from either a Nikon camera or a card reader. Includes the ability to rename files, enter some basic metadata, and direct where the files will be written on the computer. Usually comes on CD with the camera, but can be found on Nikon's Web sites (NikonUSA site here). No longer recommended for current Nikon DSLRs: use the transfer function in View NX2.
- Nikon View NX2 (free). Performs ingest of images (via an embedded version of Transfer), basic browsing, metadata entry/editing, rating, and minimal raw conversion of images (raw conversion of Nikon images only). Also includes the ability to modify Picture Controls. Usually comes on CD with the camera, but can be found on Nikon's Web sites (NikonUSA site here). Commercial alternatives Thom recommends: Photo Mechanic.
- Nikon Capture NX2 (US$179). Performs raw conversion of Nikon images, plus includes some basic browsing, metadata entry/editing, rating, and Picture Control capabilities. Addition of U-point technology in the NX2 versions provides some minimal editing capability, but not at pixel level. Trial version usually comes on CD with the camera, but can be found on Nikon's Web sites (Nikon site here). Commercial alternatives Thom recommends: Apple Aperture, CaptureOne, Adobe Lightroom 5 (and ACR in Photoshop CS6/CC), and RPP (Macintosh only).
- Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 (US$179). Performs tethered shooting capabilities and allows camera settings to be done when connected to a computer (much faster than using the camera menus for the pro bodies). Trial version sometimes comes on CD with the camera, but can be found on Nikon's Web sites (Nikon site here). Commercial alternatives Thom recommends: see Tethering Software article.
- Nikon Image Space (free). Nikon has a cloud service for images and iOS and Android apps to support them (also accessible through Web browsers). Nikon camera owners can get up to 20GB of storage for free.
There was a time when I strongly recommended all of Nikon's software, particularly Capture/Capture NX2, because it clearly did the best job of converting Nikon NEF files. This is no longer the case. Other conversion products have caught up to Capture NX2 in terms of quality and surpassed it in terms of performance, flexibility, features, and OS compatibility. Nikon’s history of not being able to provide timely OS updates (Macintosh or Windows) coupled with their tendency to just drop or completely change products without warning makes it so that I can no longer recommend Nikon software products over others.
Earlier Nikon software products you may have heard of (but are not compatible with current cameras):
- Nikon PictureProject (free). A basic ingest and browsing product that was provided free with many Nikon cameras for several years. Suggested update path: View NX2 or commercial alternatives.
- Nikon View (free). The predecessor to ViewNX and View NX2, also provided free with many Nikon cameras dating back to the pre-D1 era. Suggested update path: View NX2 or commercial alternatives.
- Nikon Capture (orig. US$99). The predecessor to Capture NX2. Did not have U-point technology in it, but did have the ability to do some things the current version cannot (like create a UniWB and copy it to the camera). Suggested update path: Capture NX2 or other commercial alternatives.
- Nikon Scan (bundled with scanners). No longer updated or supported with current OS versions, essentially abandoned by Nikon (even before they stopped selling the scanners that required it). Suggested update path: Silverscan or Vue, both commercial alternatives that are kept updated with new OS versions.
- Nikon Photo Secretary (bundled with camera/computer connections). The film SLR version of Nikon Camera Control Pro. Worked primarily with the N90s, F100, and F5. No longer updated or supported with any modern OS, essentially abandoned by Nikon (even before they stopped selling the accessories that included it at retail).