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Nikon Capture NX2 update hell

December 27, 2011

My Nikon Capture NX2 update fiasco

I recently had a very frustrating experience when I made the mistake of upgrading from version 2.2.7 of Nikon’s Capture NX2 to version 2.3. The problem was a perfect storm caused by the collision of my poor record-keeping with Nikon’s byzantine update process.

After reading several online forum announcements of this new version of NX2, I started up my older version and clicked on the ‘check for available updates’ tab. It responded that there were no updates available. So I logged on to Nikon’s site and found the update listed as a separate downloadable package. No problem, I thought. Clever person that I imagine myself to be, I downloaded the package and installed it on my computer.

When I started the program, it asked me for my software license key printed on the original CD I bought from Nikon. I found my software packaging and entered the number. And then the problem popped up: It asked me for old Capture NX license key. This is software that I bought almost 8 years ago, and it was long-deleted from my system. And during the clean-out process prior to my recent move, I had thrown away the package containing the original NX disks. I was stuck now with an inoperable version of a software package I had paid for. I submitted a help request to Nikon, and was told that absent my ancient NX serial number I was out of luck.

The issue is that the NX2 license I had was an upgrade license. And no matter that I had legitimately gone through the whole upgrade process several years ago, as far as Nikon was concerned, I could not prove I had owned NX in the past.

“Well”, I thought, “I can always just get my system backup disk and restore the older version of NX2 to my application folder”. Sounds good in practice, but it is not that simple. When I copied the old version to my application folder, the program would open, but no longer would work properly. I got a very unhelpful “Capture 2 cannot load file” whenever I tried to open a .NEF file. Some internet searching revealed that Nikon leaves all sorts of application helper files scattered over your hard disk that made it think I was still running the new, improved version 2.3 when what was actually running was the older version 2.2.7.

I finally fixed the problem by resorting to a utility program named ‘AppZapper‘, which thoroughly scours your hard disk for flotsam from application installation and then deletes not only the program files, but all the various helper files associated with it. I went through the entire ‘Nikon Software’ folder and used AppZapper to delete everything. I then got into the system /Library/Application Support folder and deleted every folder with Nikon in its name and made a note of what the name was before it was deleted. I then mounted my backup disk again and copied the old versions of these folders back to the /Library/Application Support folder. I then copied my older ‘Nikon Software’ folder back to the /Applications folder on my disk. And now everything works again.

What did I learn from this?

  1. Always record your license keys in a safe place. Preferably several safe places
  2. Programs leave stuff all over your hard disk. When deleting a program, use a utility like AppZapper to get rid of this cruft
  3. Nikon’s software and update process is really, really poor. And their support is not all that helpful

Postscript: Nikon technical support finally came through and acknowledged that I have a legitimate license to both NX and NX2 and issued me a new serial number for NX2. They also gave me detailed instructions for deleting the NX2 application and several .plist and other site specific configuration files. They sent me a link to the new 2.3 version, which I downloaded, installed, applied the new serial number, and ..

It did not work. Fails to open any .NEF or .jpg file.

So I spent the next three hours purging every known reference to Nikon anything on my system, and reinstalling from a Brand New full (non-upgrade) boxed version of NX2. When it comes time to input the new serial number (not the one supplied by Nikon, but the one on the new full version of NX2), the system somehow knows the old serial number I had from the very beginning of this sad saga. I unplugged my network cable and was able to get a working copy of NX2 on my system using the original serial number. Then I plugged my network cable back in and upgraded serially to version 2.7.2, which is basically where I was before this 7 hours of Nikon-induced, completely needless computer-oriented fucking around. To say that I am underwhelmed with Nikon’s software prowess is an understatement.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Peachy January 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm

It’s stories like these that have me leaning towards Lightroom and/or another editing program. As much as I like NX2, it is as slow as maple syrup straight from the freezer. Support from Nik is iffy at this point since the relationship between Nikon and Nik seems to have ended. The lack of plug-ins for NX2 has always been a thorn to me. I’m updating to version 2.3 as I type this……..Fingers crossed! Thanks for your post.

Hank Frentz January 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hello Clay:

I discovered your site from a link on Matthew Magruder’s site. I just read about your frustrations updating Nikon Capture NX2. I, too, have had several bad experiences with software provider’s ridiculous “license keys”.

There is a product that you might want to consider that could alleviate some or all of the problems you had with Capture (or any software install, for that matter) and even system crashes. The software is Rollback and it’s made by Horizon DataSys (www.horizon-datasys.com). It does what the name implies…you can ‘roll your system back’ to a time when everything was operating normally. Please note that I have absolutely, positively no relationship with the company…financially or otherwise. I’ve just found the product to be invaluable when system problems arise. The software costs about $70, but they have some offers that allow you to get it cheaper. Usually, around certain holidays, you can get it for about half the usual price.

Norton used to make a product call “GoBack” that was great. So great, if fact, that they stopped making it…go figure. Anyway, you can try an evaluation copy of RollBack for free for about 15 days. I use it on three computers and, except for slowing boot times a bit, it works great. You can tell it to take ‘snapshots’ on a pre-determined schedule, or anytime that you need to, such as before installing software. You then ‘rollback’ to the snapshot if you need to.

By the way…you’ve got a wonderful portfolio and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Best regards,

peter April 10, 2012 at 12:00 am

I am going though the same problem at the moment. I had a perfectly good working version of NX2 2.6 and have spent 3 days tying to upgrade to NX2 3.1. I have even bought another copy of NX2 with new key thinking that I had to buy the NX2 update and when I try to update I hit a brick wall. Grrrr. I thought it was all supposed to get easier as time went on!

Adrian April 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm

My nx2.2.4 won’t open nef files from my D5100. Reading the above I won’t bother trying to make it work. Am now using Zoner photo studio 14 which works superbly. I thoroughly recommend it
Adrian (ivelleh on flickr)

brian October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I have just purchased d800 and nx2.2, + lens over 3000 pounds and finde the results from Nef appauling. I would not have got the Nikon system had I known these things and would have got the cannon 5d 111, come back my cannon 60d all is forgiven.
B Hodgson

Geno November 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Currently having the same problem. I have NX1 which will not read the NEF files from my D90. So, an upgrade to NX2 is needed. I purchased NX1 years ago and did not keep the box. I have the CD, user manual, etc. I made a photo copy of the CD and the splash sceen that shows I’m a registered user of NX1. FAXed it to Nikon who said that was not enough. I told them that was the end of my relationship with them, I would never recommend their products and like would switch to Canon. All of a sudden, I was a legitimate owner of NX1. However, the rep and I disagreed on the length of the serial number for NX1 (which you must have to upgrade). I’ve read that the number is 25 digits, he claims it’s 20 and is the number on the splash screen that pops up when you open the software. If it was that easy — someone would surely have said so by now. Furthermore, neither the Nikon rep nor I can figure out how to download the upgrade version (not full version) from the Nikon Store. This really is a joke — or should I say the ultimate frustration!

admin November 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

You can follow my travails on the post after this one. I finally got it to work after spending some serious time on the phone with Nikon. I did the most recent update so that I could use it on my D600 and D800 files, and it crashed, of course. Same issue. You have to right click on the NX2 app in your applications folder, select show info, and then ask it to open in 32 bit mode. Why this is so is a complete mystery to me. I have a brand spanking new 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display – pretty much state of the art – and the f***ing program will not run in 64 bit mode! Let’s face it. Nikon writes shitty software.

I am sticking to using Adobe Camera Raw and Raw Developer from now on. Capture NX2 is a complete joke. Nikon should just pull the plug on trying to write raw conversion software and stick to making cameras and lenses.

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