Update Old Photos with New Nikon Picture Controls :: Part 2

Updated to the Standard Picture Control of the D300

This is an extension (or part 2) of my previous post, Nikon Picture Control Modes, NX2 // Part 1, and shows an example of why RAW NEF files are so good to have. I have been adjusting my post processing methods to include the Nikon ViewNX and Capture NX2 and have found some amazing uses for both.

Update Your Old RAW Files with New Nikon Picture Controls

One good thing about shooting in RAW file formats (NEF for Nikon) is that you can adjust or edit files in the future for advances that haven’t even come out yet. As I was working through all the different Nikon Picture Control modes I realized that I could take an old photo, shot in RAW NEF, and apply the new Picture Controls that are now commonly used in the Nikon D3 and D300.

Many people don’t like shooing in a RAW format. It takes up to much space, to long to process, the images don’t look good right out of the camera, and so on, but they are the only file format type that you can use for post editing effectively. When you take a photo in a jpg format, the edit process is complete when you pull the trigger.

Examples in D2X-RAW, Standard, and Vivid

These three images below were taken in 2005, well before the Nikon D3 or D300 and before the Nikon Picture Controls that are used today were ever released. The first image is the raw file as shot in the camera, at the time using the D2XModeII picture control. The second one is with today’s Standard picture control applied, and the third one is with the Vivid picture control applied.

RAW Image with D2XModeII Used as Shot

As shot in my Nikon D2X, RAW NEF, Mode-II

Updated to the Standard Picture Control of the D300

Processed using the Nikon Picture Control Standard Mode

Processed using the Nikon Vivid Mode

Processed using the Nikon Vivid mode from D3/D300

The Vivid Picture Control here probably needs to be toned down just a little in the saturation but I like heavy saturation. The whole reason I used Adobe software to process my images years ago is because the first RAW image above is what came out of my camera.

The software roles have shifted a little now where Nikon’s Capture NX2 and ViewNX (although still not friendly to use or graphically pleasing, to me) has made it easy to get the results you were looking for when you shot the image. Adobe still will not process the Nikon Picture Controls properly and just strips the data away, making for a bland image without a lot of work.

That is why many people dislike RAW (NEF) files, but in this case it shows me exactly why I shot RAW NEF files in the first place. Now, years later I can still open and adjust exposure, saturation, and of course the new Picture Controls.

Update May 2010

While the information in this post is still accurate and shows the process, I am in the process of creating a new guide to post-processing and my digital workflow, mostly based on John Shaw’s book on post processing that I refer to in How to Convert a PDF to ePub that will including information about the Nikon Picture Controls.

At this present date of May 29 2010, the Nikon Picture Controls are now part of ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), current version is 5.7 for CS4 and ACR 6.0 for CS5 and Lightroom 2.  John Shaw’s book called Digital Processing, My personal Workflow Using Lightroom 2 and Photoshop is an eBook covers how he uses Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 to process his digital files.  While CS5 is now released, this book still has a great explanation of how to do everything that deals with digital post-processing.

7 responses to “Update Old Photos with New Nikon Picture Controls :: Part 2”

  1. Bern Carlisle Avatar
    Bern Carlisle

    Amazing, isn’t it, this ability to update old photos? Almost as if you’re cheating time somehow. BTW, I just downloaded the Portrait/Landscape Pic Controls for Cap NX2. Like you and Ken Rockwell, I like that saturated Velvia look. Not too subtle and maybe not refined, but you like what you like, right?
    Also, I pulled the trigger on the D700 today. It should arrive day after tomorrow (all the way from New York city). I hope Nikon lets my cash flow have a rest before they introduce the D3x.


  2. @bern I agree, I need to get on with using the equipment and not just update/upgrading 🙂


  3. Hi Scott.

    I was having the same problems with vanishing Picture Controls and came across a reference to camera profiles after much searching. Do they fit the bill as far you’re concerned?

    Also, do you know any way to do the initial viewing of NEFS and rate them so that the ratings persist, no matter whether you’re following an Adobe or NX workflow?


    Allan Jacksons last blog post..DSC_9889


  4. @allan, I still have some of the same issues you are referring to as well… when you say rating the NEF’s I generally use Adobe Bridge for that, which does hold their rating over most other adobe programs, but, it doesn’t hold them when you open them in other programs, so nothing I have found works across the board, still.

    Scott Fillmers last blog post..Confessions of a Pastor by Craig Groeschel // Catalyst Photos


  5. Hi Scott. I have been fiddling some more with processing NEFs and it seems that the Camera Calibration feature in the recent versions of Camera Raw are a start for Adobe products on inheriting the camera settings from NEFS. I see that the options I get are very similar to the ones the camera gives me and I have no trouble applying a Vivid (or whatever) setting to my all NEFs at once. It may not be perfect with D-Lighting and sharpening and all that, but its better than the flat image that Adobe products start with.
    I haven’t made up my mind about rating yet but I do like to shoot NEFs plus a small basic JPEG and use View NX (set to display the JPEGS only) to perform the initial inspection and cull.

    Allan Jacksons last blog post..DSC_0130


  6. […] DSLR user, this is for you.  [I also have a post (part 2) that includes some photo examples called Update Old Photos with New Picture Controls if you would like to see the Nikon picture controls in […]


  7. […] DSLR user, this is for you.  [I also have a post (part 2) that includes some photo examples called Update Old Photos with New Picture Controls if you would like to see the Nikon picture controls in […]


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