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Review Supplement: Nikon Capture NX

In the November issue of Professional Photographer magazine, Herb Paynter reviewed Nikon Capture NX.  Here we present information in a sidebar on U Point technology and control points, and additional images.

U Point Technology and Control Points

This fresh new approach to image editing (which is licensed from Nik Software) allows the user to modify specific areas of an image without having to make selections (lasso, magic wand, etc.) or build and set masks. Each modification area is controlled by a Swiss Army Knife-type tool array called a Control Point. Control Points are stamp-size moveable tool hubs that contain multiple interactive mini-sliders (Area of influence, Hue, Saturation, Brightness, Contrast, Red, Green, Blue, and Warmth).

Each point can be placed and dragged to any area of the image for editing. If one portion of the image could use lightening and another part needs more saturation, just click on the dispenser (itself a tear-off pallet) to place any number of moveable Control Points, and adjust the appropriate slider. Clicking any other part of the image reduces the Control Point tool to a BB-size marker. A simple click on each marker again reveals the tool's sliders and a fully-editable settings file. Each Control Point is sensitized to recognize the area attributes including its position, color, saturation, and texture.

By identifying these attributes, the Color Control Point determines the boundaries of a tonal area in order to affect only those areas with similar attributes (determined by the percentage of the AOI coverage). Through a unique mixing function, the effects of each Control Point are applied throughout the image creating a natural-looking, seamless result. This is really cool stuff. While U Point Technology is radically new way to address image manipulation, the learning curve is minimized by its common-sense approach.

Herb Paynter is a digital imaging professional who writes and speaks about product development and releases.

BONUS IMAGES (click images for larger view); all images ©Herb Paynter

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The Neutral Control Point is designed to find a gray area for toning and also to remove color casts. Two neutral points can be applied. This allows for correction in mixed lighting such as incandescent and fluorescent lighting even if there is no actual neutral gray in the image. The Red, Green and Blue sliders can be adjusted to remove color casts (center illustration). However, this reviewer finds the placement of one or even many Color Control Points with a wide dispersion of AOI and the Saturation slider set to 0 has an even more neutralizing effect on a monochromatic background (right).

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This was a fun salvage project for a throwaway image. I wanted to see if this software had the power to resurrect the dead. The only color left untouched was the red in the stripes. I left the magenta blur in to build some drama.

Control Points: I set a total of 14 control points to wrangle this unusable image into submission.

Pole: Multiple points were distributed all along the pole to neutralize the colors (all Saturation was set to 0). Many points were placed to control all shades of gray. 

Blue Field: Multiple points again were placed at various shades of blue to darken and build contrast.

Stars: Contrast and Brightness sliders were maxed out, while the Saturation slider was set to 0 to clean up muddiness.

Sky: Nearly all controls were used. The Hue slider put more red into the baby-blue sky; significant Red was pulled; Contrast, Brightness, and Saturation came down; and Warmth was diminished slightly to control the sky color

High-Pass and USM: Serious sharpening effects built the rugged harshness into the flag and enhanced the aura around the flag.

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Notice the detail and clarity of these backlit arbor leaves. Individual Control Points were used to separate tonal areas of this image. Using Control Points, Nikon Capture NX allows the user to influence individual colors across the entire image without the need of a single mask or layer. I placed a total of four points to separate the foreground from the background. The High-Pass filter facilitated the distinction of leaf veins. Very slight Unsharp Mask influence was needed to accomplish this effect.