Aperture 2 and NEF RAW Recipies

ApertureNEFrecipie.jpgA quick follow up to the NEF matching post from a few days ago. Even though there were about 700 (exaggeration) downloads of the NEF files that I posted only one person shared their recipe and it was pretty close. As promised here is my recipe for the D2H/s. The recipe that follows will vary a little based on the light temperature that you shoot with, your camera's white balace setting and obviously the specific Nikon that you shoot with as well as your in camera settings/picture control settings. Having said that I have found that a couple of things seem to be generally true for every Nikon NEF I have processed in Aperture 2. I specifically say Aperture 2 because it is way different (better) than Aperture 1 and 1.5.

To match Capture NX or NX2 NEF files generally need:

  • Increased brightness
  • Increased contrast
  • A little bit of definition
  • A small amount of warmer white balance
  • A small shift from green towards magenta in the white balance as well

After playing with it and trying 103 different ways to get there the simplest approach that I have found is to literally use the brightness, contrast, definition, and white balance controls. As Bernard alluded to in his comments sharpening is another story but NX2 and Lightroom2 are generally more aggressive with the default sharpening (regardless of camera setting) than Aperture is.

Without further delay here is my simple but not perfect simulation of NX2 picture control - portrait mode for D2H NEF RAW files.

  • White balance Temp  6222 Tint -3
  • Brightness +0.25 to +0.30
  • Contrast +0.15 to +0.20
  • Definition +0.20

That's it - not perfect but darn close if not a tad "better" If you would like to try it yourself here is the NEF [download#6].

JPG rendered by NX2


JPG rendered by Aperture2 with the settings described above.


JPG rendered by Aperture2 with default settings.


Here is the bottom line - I would never want to pooh-pooh those out there that love the way NX2 processes their NEF RAW file but I feel that you can get similar results and sometimes better results with Aperture. Not quite as convenient and you do need to play around with recipes when you get a new Nikon body but if you keep a project file filled with "prototype" images with the baseline settings that you like the pain can be minimized without resorting to a really convoluted and inefficient work-flow. Heck I want Apple to do a better job. I want the camera profiles that Lightroom2 now has but I am not willing to give up all of the things that I love about Aperture2.

Let me know your thoughts and if you have a simpler or more accurate approach feel free to share it. Based on the number of emails that I get from Nikon shooters about this subject I am confident that any thoughts or opinions will be appreciated by everyone.

Happy Holidays


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