Update Old Photos with New Nikon Picture Controls :: Part 2
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.
As shot in my Nikon D2X, RAW NEF, Mode-II
Processed using the Nikon Picture Control Standard 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.