Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nikon Capture NX-D: White Balance and Channel Swap

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Nikon Capture NX-D is Nikon’s new freeware replacement for the venerable Nikon Capture NX2 program.  Capture NX2 was a full-featured photo editing program created by NIK software in collaboration with Nikon.  When Google purchased NIK, the collaboration stopped and Nikon had to scramble to produce a replacement product.  The result was NX-D.  Capture NX2 is no longer supported by Nikon.

CNX2 was the workhorse program for many Nikon IR photographers because the most Nikon cameras cannot set a custom white balance for infrared light.  They just don’t have enough adjustment to white-balance these images. You can check out my white balance post for more information.

Now, let’s get to the real purpose of this post -- describing how to set a white balance and perform a channel swap using the new NX-D program. 

Step 1.  Open your RAW image in NX-D.  As you examine the user interface, you will notice that most of the editing functions are arranged on the right side of the screen.

Step 1. Open the image in NX-D.

Step 2.  Click on the WB icon on the right panel.  The WB editing panel will appear.  Click on the down arrow next to “Recorded Value” to open the white balance menu.

Step 2. White Balance.

Step 3.  Click  “Use Gray Point” located at the top of the menu then click on the Gray Point Selection Tool

Step 3 White Balance
Step 4.  The cursor will become an eyedropper and you can click on a point that should be gray in the image.  If you have included a gray card in the image, click on that.  To sample a larger area, click and drag to choose a larger area to sample.  Compared with CNX2 which could sample the entire image, the NX-D marquee is quite small.  You can use the Fine Adjustment and Tint sliders to dial in the appropriate amount of white balancing.

Step 4. White Balance
Step 5 – Channel Swap.  Click on the LCH icon on the right editing panel.  Click on the down arrow next to “Master Lightness” to pull down that menu.  Click on “Hue.”
Step 5 Channel Swap
Step 6.  Click on the down arrow next to “60 degrees” and choose “180 degrees.”  Click on the white arrow on the right side of the display and slide it upward until the sky is the color you want.

Step 6. Channel Swap
Step 7.  This is what the sky looks like when the arrow is moved upward.

Step 7. Channel Swap Complete
I usually export the image as a 16-bit TIFF file at step 5 and do the rest of my post-processing in Photoshop.  On rare occasions, I will perform a channel swap in NX-D and then export to a TIFF.  I really don’t do any photo editing in NX-D.

I hope you find this explanation helpful.


  1. I am totally grateful for this explanation of post processing of ir photos. I have spent weeks and tried so many suggestions of different tutorials, and yours hit the nail on the head. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks so much for this detailed explanation.

  2. I have used Capture nx and then gradually moved on Lightroom. The only advantage of this programm - controlled point. But Nikon has updated the program and the technology in the new version is not supported. So i think of macphun tools or Lightroom as a good alternative.

  3. Excellent practical, easy to use article on white balance using the Nikon Capture NX-D software. Thank you so much; this is an excellent and better alternative as Adobe PS6 will not longer support any RAW files using their own product. Once again, thank you.