Nikon Raw (NEF) Codecs for Vista and Windows 7

Nikon Logo

Two years ago, I mentioned in an article that Nikon’s Raw (NEF) Codec was an important part of my photo-processing pipeline.  After many laptops, photos, and software updates, it still is.

I now work with photos on 32- and 64-bit machines running Windows 7 and Windows Vista.  In the hope it will help other Nikon photographers, here is an update describing some of my more recent experiences working with Raw (NEF) files under Windows.

[Note: I last updated this article May 2012.  tl;dr: download Nikon’s 32- and 64-bit NEF codecs here.]

First – Why would you want a NEF Codec?

The principal reason you’d want a Raw (NEF) Codec is to view Raw Nikon images and metadata from within Windows File Explorer and Windows Photo Gallery, and now Windows Live Photo Gallery as well, which was released as part of Windows Live Essentials.

Viewing a directory of Raw (NEF) Files from 64-bit Windows 7
The goal: a directory of Raw (NEF) Image files and their metadata in Windows Explorer. This is 64-bit Windows 7.

Of course, if you’re shooting Raw images, you’ll probably also want a fully-featured application that can view and edit NEFs (such as Nikon’s Capture NX 2, or Adobe’s Lightroom or Photoshop), in addition to the Codec. But the Codec itself is very useful for viewing, sorting and “triaging” your photos.

The options available to you for NEF Codec solutions will depend on whether you’re running 32- or 64-bit Windows.  Here are the ones I use today.

Nikon LogoRecommended NEF Codec for both 32- and 64-bit Windows:
Nikon’s NEF Codec

(current version: 1.14.0)  (click for download info)

Nikon’s Codec has gone through a number of revisions.  It is currently at version 1.14, and can be downloaded from here.  This codec is free to download. I should note that I couldn’t get it to work on a pre-release version of Windows 8.

Fast Picture Viewer

Alternate option: FastPictureViewer Codec (NOT FREE)

(current version: 3.2) (click for download info)

My impression (not even remotely scientific, since I’ve switched machines and cameras) is that version 1.8 is quite a bit quicker and more robust (stalls less often) than earlier versions.  My improved experience may also have to do with updates to Windows Vista, so I’m not sure.

Nikon Logo

64-bit alternate option: Ardfry’s x64 NEF Codec

(current version: 1.0.0.12) (click for download info)

In addition to the Fast Picture Viewer, another third party, Ardfry Imaging, have released a 64-bit NEF codec for Windows Vista x64.  I have previously worked with it on multiple 64-bit Windows 7 installations, and it worked well for me.  I evaluated the Ardfry Codec beta for its trial period, and decided it was well worth the $19USD they were asking for a registered copy.

But what if I don’t want to pay for (or install) a Codec?

Please note that even if you choose not to install a codec like FPV or Ardfry’s, Nikon’s Capture NX 2.1 works fine under 64-bit Windows (in 32-bit emulation mode), as you can see in the screenshot of 64-bit Windows Task Manager below.

Capture NX 2.1 works fine under 64-bit Windows 7 in 32-bit emulation mode
Capture NX 2.1 works fine under 64-bit Windows 7 in 32-bit emulation mode

That being said, I value being able to see my photos and their metadata within Windows Explorer and Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is not possible without the codec.  So a codec solution like the ones listed above makes sense for me. The Windows 7 installation pictured at the top of this article is sporting the Ardfry codec.

I hope this helps, and am always grateful for tips, advice, and further thoughts on streamlining my photography pipeline.

The Unfolding of Language

deutscher
Deutscher's The Unfolding of Language

When Stephen Fry laments “it is a cause of some upset that more Anglophiles don’t enjoy language,” it’s as if Michael Phelps were to lament that not enough people enjoy water. So when Stephen wholeheartedly recommended Guy Deutscher’s The Unfolding of Language, which he characterized as more playful and engaging than books on similar subject matter, I was hard pressed to say no. It’s taken me ages to find time to get into the meat of this book (strictly my own fault), but now, about two-thirds of the way through, I wanted to offer it my wholehearted recommendation for anyone who is even remotely interested in language and its origins and evolution.

Deutscher’s prose is indeed playful and accessible, his examples thought-provoking, and his subject matter fascinating: what are the forces that shape and transform language?

Deutscher mentions more than once that “These days, there are no systems of communication which are in the process of evolving their first words.”  He’s right, I suppose, but only on a technicality.  Last week I was taught the basics of a computer scripting language I’d never worked with before. Surely the constructs of some arbitrary scripting language represent one of many “artificial” systems of communication which are in the process of evolving their first “words” (and tokens).

I am writing this now as Deutscher transitions in the book from talking about the destructive forces which are applied to language (which favor economy, expressiveness, and analogy), into the constructive ones which enable new linguistic richness to blossom. Metaphor, apparently, provides many of the raw materials for new grammatical elements.

With that observation under my belt, and aspiring to be a creative force in the universe, I suddenly feel a bit better about my obsession with admiration of Roger’s Profanisaurus (a dictionary of profanity that originates in the pages of the UK’s Viz magazine, which derives cleverness and vulgarity in equal measure from a playful, multi-layered cocktail of metaphor, rhyming slang and other wordplay).

And of course there are my dear LOLcats, who reflect (again in equal parts) the absurd and absurdly rapid evolution of linguistic memes as they’re propelled at the speed of the internets. Since I’m in Ireland, and Deutscher recently reflected on the necessity of the word possessing-implying “have”, here’s a somewhat appropriate LOLCat I just cooked up  – with my cap off to Jim Condron for his help with the Irish word for “flavr.” (context here for the uninitiated)

Orish Kitteh Ubserves: Deres a flavor on meh
oirish kitteh tinks: deres a flavr on meh, so dere iz.

Back to Deutscher’s book.  He spends the fifth chapter illustrating a point by employing a fictional dialogue between a cast of characters at a ‘George Orwell Centennary Conference’.  it’s a technique akin to the one I admired in Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach. Actually, that’s all I have to say.  Check it out.  Go for a swim.  And apologies to Deutscher, Mellie, Fry for this rambling but heartfelt review.

Productivity Tip: Re-map Caps Lock to the Application Key

Application KeyMy Dell Studio 17 does not have an “Application Key” – the key that usually sits beside the Windows key and behaves like right-clicking the mouse on a UI element.  I have no idea why Dell chose to omit one of the most useful keys on the keyboard, especially for laptop users, who pay a larger productivity tax every time they switch between keyboard and mouse.

This great registry trick at US Netizen lets you re-map keys like Caps Lock.  So I used it to re-map the Caps Lock key, which I never use, to the Application Key.  I’ve since found this remapping so handy that I’ve re-mapped Caps Lock to the Application Key on all my other client machines.

Caps Lock is oversized, easily accessible with your left hand’s little finger, and completely useless.  On the other hand, the Application Key, even when not omitted from a keyboard design, can be awkward to reach.  Just so I don’t have to figure it out again, here’s a Registry Edit file (.reg) that performs this re-mapping:

Registry Edit file to re-map Caps Lock to the Application Key (zipped .reg).

Double-click the .reg file to re-map Caps Lock and then reboot for the change to take effect.

This has worked for me on XP, Vista, and Windows 7 [edit 19 Aug 2009: including RTM].  However, the above .reg file comes with no guarantees – I tweaked a .reg I lifted from the US Netizen site – so use at own risk.  I am putting it here because it’s so useful, I’m sure to be back for it again [edit 19 Aug 2009: and I have :) ].

TechDays 2008: Silverlight Samurai Skills

Tech Days CanadaThanks to everyone who came out to my Silverlight Samurai Skills presentations this morning in Toronto, and to Microsoft Canada for inviting me to present at this event. When the Canadian team does events, they do them really big – and really well!

I hope you found the sessions useful and engaging.  They certainly provided a lap around a whole lot of the core features in Silverlight 2. I promised to provide code and links so you can follow-up, get connected with the community, and find out more.

The Code

As promised, click here for all the source code from the presentation, including start, end-of-part-one, and completed versions. Import the .vssettings file into Visual Studio to get the code snippets.

I’ll post the slide decks soon – I’ve been asked to hold off a little bit on those.

The Links

Note – this list is far from exhaustive, it just points to some things I’ve found really helpful.

Silverlight.NET – Get Started section has all the bits you need

Additional Silverlight Controls and Themes

Silverlight Toolkit (Microsoft, MS-PL)
Silverlight Contrib
(Third-party, MS-PL)
see also
Blacklight, which comes from the Patient Journey Demonstrator

Layout

Silverlight Layout Fundamentals (DevDave)

VisualStateManager, Parts and State Model

Parts and States Model with VSM (scorbs, 4-part series)

IsolatedStorage

IsolatedStorage quickstart (wildermuth)

Browser DOM Integration

Forward-Back Browser Integration (webjak)

More Links [update 12 Nov]

Qixing and Laurent have also put together a FAQ based on feedback from the Montreal version of Silverlight Samurai Skills.

The P.S.

My consultancy, Carrington Technologies, specializes in Silverlight and WPF consulting and training, and we’re based out of Toronto. If you’re interested in finding out more, please drop me a line via the contact page, or through rob at robburke dot not.

p.p.s. Silverlight Streaming has now been updated to Silverlight 2 RTW, so the Deep Zoom FractLOL should now work. [Updated November 2nd]

final p.s. [update] I am greatly indebted to Microsoft’s Mark Rideout, whose excellent TechEd 2008 session on Silverlight 2 formed the basis for the core demo I used in these sessions. I’ve updated his demo to highlight some of the features added to Silverlight 2 between Beta 2 and RTW (including additions to the IsolatedStorage API, and an allegedly more compliant browser history implementation).