Contrasting perspectives come together to create the ideal image processing software.
How difficult was it to develop “Capture NX”?
We developed “Capture NX” with the involvement of experts from Japan, and the west and east coasts of the United States and Germany, so there were some challenges. Communication among the team was essential and all team members worked very hard to develop what has become a strong team that focuses on particular areas of expertise.
How else did the Nik Software Inc. collaboration differ from the usual way of working?
To be honest, there were clear challenges. Each of us had a distinct approach to technical matters. Most of this came from our different perspectives on developing solutions. Nikon saw issues from a camera and image processing perspective, whereas Nik Software saw issues from a photographic software perspective, and these perspectives were not always the same. However, both are important and our teams always worked very hard to find common ground to integrate our ideas. Integrating both teams' ideas in one distinctive product required a lot of discussion, inquiry and consideration, which led to what we see as a valuable solution for digital photography.
Did these diverging notions arise from a conflict in priorities between focusing on camera hardware and focusing on software?
Well, most software makers tend to think of development processing as the simple operation of converting data from the image sensor into RGB format. On the other hand, Nikon made development processing a top priority. And each camera maker even has a particular approach to this processing. For example, even for JPEG images, Nikon development processing reflects Nikon's distinctive personality. To realize this character precisely on the software, Nikon thought it would be ideal for the software to reflect what is traced in the image development sequence within a digital camera. This type of application is advantageous in that a user doesn't have to care about type and order of enhancements to be made. A user just selects a preference for an item to be shown within a fixed order. This makes operation easy to execute even for people who know little about image processing. But, at the same time, we knew that such a rigidly ordered application isn't suitable for the partial editing that we wanted “Capture NX” to be capable of. We asserted that the software should be flexible enough to accept enhancements added one by one in random order, not in a fixed sequence.
Is that thinking closely compatible with Nik Software Inc.'s concept of image processing software?
Yes, it is exactly. But still, Nikon wanted to stick with a software concept based on development processing. We thought that if we de-emphasized development processing, it would be difficult to differentiate Nikon and its software from more conventional software makers and their software, and that our software would be less user-friendly for digital camera users than we wanted it to be. In the end, we concluded that a flow of development processing procedures would be integrated into the software function as “base adjustments.” It was quite difficult to reconcile the two conflicting perspectives, but looking back now, it was this difference in viewpoints that made “Capture NX” the innovation that it is.
A strong challenge to a partner can have a mutually stimulating, beneficial outcome.
That's certainly true. I think that this cooperation between a hardware maker and a software maker was the driving force behind this image processing software that is ideal for photographers. I'm very proud to have been involved in producing it.
Image editing enters the realm of popular culture.
The challenge continues to make digital image creation fun for everyone.
My impression is that most “Nikon Capture” users are professional photographers. Is “Capture NX” also targeted at professional photographers?
Apparently, “Nikon Capture” users will include many, but will not be limited to, professional photographers. Both “Nikon Capture” and “Capture NX” are designed for people to enjoy working and experimenting with digital images, including development processing of RAW data. Many amateur photographers enjoyed darkroom development in the era of film cameras, so we believe that many digital camera users will want to enjoy the development processing stages of digital image creation in a similar way. With U Point™ technology, “Capture NX” makes image editing especially simple, so I hope more people try it and that it makes image editing easier and more available to digital camera users.
Those who have hesitated to try development processing might be persuaded to now, because U Point™ technology is so superior in its ease of use.
Yes, they should. For a start, the capability to change colors and brightness lets you discover the joy of playing with images as you like. Once you see how satisfying it can be to use the enhancements to make an image even just a bit more beautiful, there's much more pleasure in store. “Capture NX” is ideal for beginners of image editing. It makes it remarkably simple to produce remarkable effects. Of course, it's great that professional photographers can take advantage of this software, but I will really be happy if growing numbers of people open up to use the software for the pure fun of it.
Does any particular aspect of “Capture NX” reflect a perspective particular to a camera maker, compared to the various other image editing software on the market?
Nikon wants to develop the culture of image editing and make its mark on the transition from film to digital cameras. An initial step of this movement is to spread awareness far and wide about how much fun it is to edit images. In this respect, it is very worthwhile for us to launch a product like “Capture NX” in the software market. Never before could everyone enjoy truly intuitive image editing with such ease, until now. Nikon users are camera-focused, not computer-focused. We should keep making great software even for those without a high level of computer skills, for everyone to experience as much of the joy of advanced image editing as they can.