7 Best Nikon RAW Editors in 2021

7 Best Nikon RAW Editors in 2021

People start looking for the best Nikon RAW editor when they need to increase the dynamic range, improve the brightness, and increase the detail clarity of their RAW shots. Using the software featured in this article, you’ll be able to edit RAW files, while preserving the quality and color accuracy of the images.

Top 7 Nikon RAW Editors

  1. Adobe Lightroom - Cloud-based choice
  2. Capture NX-D - Free Nikon software
  3. PaintShop Pro - One step photo fix tool
  4. DxO PhotoLab - Great denoising technology
  5. RawTherapee - In-depth corrections to RAW
  6. Darktable - Perfect for newbies
  7. Photivo - GIMP workflow integration

The first thing you have to look for when choosing the best Nikon RAW editor is how well does the software show RAW data. Additionally, I’ve taken into account whether the software supports batch editing, layers, and masks and whether it has local editing tools. Besides, I examined their system requirements, editing speed, and how convenient the user interface is.

1. Adobe Lightroom – Our Choice

 
Cloud-based choice
  • Convenient editing features
  • Allows importing presets
  • Tools for organizing photos
  • 20GB of cloud storage
  • None

Verdict: Adobe Lightroom is a cloud tool, with the help of which you can quickly sort and systemize thousands of photos taken with your Nikon. As for RAW image editing, this Nikon RAW software has tools for improving tones, filters, effects, etc. Once you’re done editing the photos, you can share them with anyone you want.

This software will be to the liking of both photographers that mostly take landscape photos and portrait and product photographers. You can also work with HDR images, perform shadow correction, adjust the exposure, and much more. Another huge advantage of this option is the ability to import your own presets.

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  • adobe lightroom nikon raw editor interface

    2. Capture NX-D

     
    Free Nikon software
    • Non-destructive photo editing
    • 7 editing styles
    • Batch editing
    • Can be integrated with Adobe Photoshop
    • Occasional freezes

    Verdict: This Nikon RAW processing software was designed to provide non-destructive editing of RAW files. Photographers can save settings for further editing images in .NEF or .NRW format and you can export the photos into a different software in TIFF format once you've finished editing.

    A major strength of this software is the ability to return to the source file at any time during editing without losing the changes you've made. The user has access to 7 editing styles and a plethora of tools: level and curve adjustments, Nikon Picture control settings, the latest Picture Control styles, as well as white balance correction, noise reduction, camera, and lens correction. Thanks to the provided batch editing functionality, you can enhance several images simultaneously.

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    • capture nx d nikon raw editor interface

      3. PaintShop Pro

       
      One step photo fix tool
      • Automatic image correction
      • Convenient metadata controls
      • Allows working with HDR and 360-degree photos
      • Has tools for restoring color and details
      • Full layout feels cluttered

      Verdict: PaintShop Pro is supplied with smart editing tools, which allow you to receive edited photos from your Nikon in a matter of seconds. That alone makes it possibly the best Nikon RAW editor out there, but it also has features like cropping, focus and size adjustments, tools for removing scratches, and color fade correction. In just a couple of clicks, you can adjust the brightness and contrast, white balance, saturation, remove noise, perform color correction, and much more.

      Another useful function when working with RAW files is the ability to control and save metadata. Additionally, you can combine several photos of the same scene with different exposure settings to create an HDR image. If you want to work with photos taken with a 360-degree camera, you can use the provided alignment and rotation tools.

      paintshop pro nikon raw editor interface

      4. DxO PhotoLab

       
      Great denoising technology
      • Noise reduction technology
      • Automatic editing tools
      • Simple lighting adjustments
      • Offers about 40 presets
      • Noise reduction can sometimes take a long time

      Verdict: DxO PhotoLab can be considered the best Nikon photo editing software due to its unique noise reduction technology that preserves all the details and tones of a photo. During RAW file processing, you can emphasize the atmosphere even in photos that were taken at high ISO values. Additionally, this RAW file converter has automated tools for editing RAW files. You can adjust the lighting and set different brightness ranges.

      The program has up to 40 presets, which allow you to enhance your photos in a single click. You can also use the HSL tool to perform color correction. With its help, you can adjust the colors, transitions, and tones with maximum precision. You can also make a photo black & white without using complex masks.

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      • dxo photolab nikon raw editor interface

        5. RawTherapee

         
        In-depth corrections to RAW
        • Open-source
        • Batch editing
        • Demosaicing algorithm
        • Non-destructive editing
        • Rather unintuitive UI
        • Customer support can take a long time to respond

        Verdict: If you need free Nikon photo editing software for processing RAW files, you can use RawTherapee, which is famous for its open-source code. Its list of available tools includes batch-editing, copy/pasting editing parameters, parallel editing, and much more.

        RawTherapee offers the best demosaicing algorithm in its class, including two demosaicing algorithms for the same image. Among the editing functions, you’ll find expanded color processing, non-destructive editing, enhanced exposure and tone tools, several noise reduction methods, and various tools for improving details, among many others.

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        • rawtherapee nikon raw editor interface

          6. Darktable

           
          Perfect for newbies
          • Tools for converting RAW files
          • Batch editing
          • Non-destructive editing
          • Professional editing tools
          • Basic photo organizing features

          Verdict: Darktable is free software with open-source code and it represents a virtual darkroom that you can use to view your Nikon negatives through a scalable light table. Other than being a terrific Nikon RAW converter, you can use this software for enhancing images, batch editing, and tether shooting.

          The editor also has tools for optimizing the RAW processor, managing large files, and non-destructive editing. You’ll be able to work with demosaicing algorithms, curves, lens corrections, noise removal, and color adjustments on a professional level. It also offers several filters for image editing. The only real downside is the small number of image organizing functions.

          darktable nikon raw editor interface

          7. Photivo

           
          GIMP workflow integration
          • Open-source
          • GIMP integration
          • Batch editing mode
          • Cross processing
          • Not suitable for beginners
          • Requires a powerful PC

          Verdict: By using the free Photivo editor, you’ll be able to edit Nikon RAW files in non-destructive mode. You can also integrate this software with GIMP or use the batch-editing mode to speed up file processing. The list of provided functions contains noise reduction, sharpening, local contrast boost, and color management with the help of LCMS2.

          Another factor that makes this possibly the best Nikon photo editing software is the ability to perform perspective, tone, and saturation correction, and use filters to boost contrast and increase sharpness. Photivo’s biggest drawback is that it can be hard to learn for beginners. Additionally, you need to have a rather powerful computer to run this software efficiently.

          photivo nikon raw editor interface
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