Link to image gallery on DP Review. (Thanks, Jeff Koga)
Update: Dan Wineman reminds us of recent reports that Nikon's D2X uses a proprietary form of data encryption that locks out third party software (DRM where it is not needed = really stupid):
The camera actually encrypts part of the image file (specifically, the white balance data) for every photo you shoot with it. The encryption isn't particularly good, so there are various ways to get around it, but Nikon won't license the decryption algorithm to Adobe. This means that Photoshop can't import Nikon's raw image format unless Adobe reverse engineers it, and Adobe is unwilling to do so because of the DMCA. Slashdot story and original article. Why should you care? Because it amounts to a camera manufacturer using technology to assert ownership rights over the pictures you take. I'll explain: there's absolutely no technical reason why that data should be encrypted, and the encryption scheme is so bad that Nikon must have implemented it only to gain DMCA protection. That protection isn't available to them unless they own the data being protected, so if they DON'T intend to claim a copyright interest in your photos, then they've just gone to a whole lot of trouble to make a digital camera that's incompatible with Photoshop. I'm sure that's what customers are clamoring for, right?
BB reader Stephen B. Goodman argues:
Nikon's D2X ships with a Photoshop plug-in that can export RAW format data from the camera into Photoshop. So it is not only possible, but encouraged to use Photoshop in your workflow. What Adobe is worried about is incorporating the D2X's excrypted RAW format into their OWN proprietary RAW importer which they sell for a profit. Adobe simply wants to be able to support more cameras, so they can sell the plug-in to more photographers. Secondly, only Nikon really knows why their data is encrypted, but it probably has far more to do with protecting their trade secrets concerning firmware and hardware design, than it does about wanting copyright control over a photographer's image. No digital cameras that shoot a RAW format are natively compatible with Photoshop (which is why you see a list of supported cameras in the Adobe link above), because RAW (which is really a name convention, not a standard format) is a straight data dump from a camera's chip. Different chips + different firmware = different data formats.Reader Jerry Kindall in Seattle says:
The Nikon white balance thing really is a tempest in a teapot.--
One of the major advantages of shooting raw is that you can change the white balance after you shoot. The white balance information is just a tag that the raw converter can use, or not. Many photographers who shoot raw don't even bother setting white balance in the camera (my Canon 20D is always set to auto WB) since you can set it much more precisely after the shoot anyway. If a photo was taken outdoors, you can choose the Sunny, Cloudy, or Shade preset. If indoors, Fluorescent or Tungsten. If you used a flash, you can choose Flash. After choosing one of those, you can tweak the color temperature as desired by as little as 1 degree Kelvin (which is imperceptible).
What's more, Adobe Camera Raw has an Auto white balance mode that ignores the embedded white balance tag and attempts to calculate the correct value itself, and it usually does a better job than the camera did at the time of shooting. Which is what you'd expect, considering your computer is a few orders of magnitude more powerful than the processor in the camera. If Adobe Camera Raw can't read the embedded white balance data, it should just switch to Auto mode. Most users would find that this (or one of the presets) usually yields better results anyway. The kind of photographers who shoot raw are already well aware that the default settings need to be tweaked and are perfectly willing to do so.
Contrary to what Stephen Goodman says, Adobe Camera Raw is bundled with Photoshop CS (and now CS2) and is not available for purchase separately. Of course there are other programs that can use Photoshop plug-ins, but they'll have to use the Nikon plug-in or some other third-party raw converter, since Adobe Camera Raw does not (and has never) worked with anything but Photoshop.
So the point is not that Nikon are evil bastards for encrypting their white balance data and blocking Adobe. Adobe's not really blocked since reading the camera's white balance data is such a minimal part of their product.
The point is that Nikon are idiots, as they have expended engineering resources on protecting a bit of data that has little real value to begin with. They should have spent it on improving their cameras, given that they are having their ass handed to them by Canon in nearly every segment of the consumer digital camera market.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.