How to simulate Nikon color through camera raw? Use Lightroom and PerfeFilm.

How to simulate Nikon color through camera raw? Use Lightroom and PerfeFilm.

Simulate Nikon Color in Lightroom

Nikon's new Z series mirrorless system continues the D series Picture Control colors : Portrait, Neutral, Landscape.. and more. In addition to the traditional Picture Control, a new "Creative Picture Control" color mode has been added to better accommodate the social networks, including Morning, Denim, Toy, Blue... There are more than 20 new colors. However, for Nikon users, Lightroom does not have stable color profiles for simulating Nikon's colors across all models. The Lightroom built-in Camera Matching profiles are often criticized for their inaccurate color restoration, and Camera Matching simulation does not support other brands such as Canon and Sony cameras to simulate the color of Nikon as well. Another annoying thing is that, the color mode of new cameras is often different from the previous ones, which requires extra work to fine-tune the workflow every time you buy a new camera, causing troubles with retouching and inconsistency in the color system.


Simulate Nikon Colors

Is there a way that can simulate Nikon's native colors more accurately in Lightroom? The answer is: Yes, by using PerfeFilm profiles for Nikon, you can accurately restore Nikon colors in Lightroom, and enjoy the freedom and richness of Lightroom's photo processing. Users of other camera brands can also emulate the colors of Nikon cameras with PerfeFilm. Whether you're hesitant to buy a new Nikon camera or want to use Nikon's native colors for retouching, you can do it with PerfeFilm.


Nikon Z7 II v.s. Canon EOS R6 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm Z7 II Portrait profiles  


Test Environment


  • In this article, we will use several Canon cameras for testing which are Nikon D5, Nikon Z7 II, and Nikon D850. Each camera will be compared with three different color conversions for side-by-side comparison, which are
    1. Nikon camera + Capture NX-D software conversion.
    2. Nikon camera + PerfeFilm profile + Lightroom
    3. Different camera brands + PerfeFilm for cross-brand color comparison.



    • In order to make the camera's framing range, focal length and aperture consistent, we all use the 85mm lens for each camera respectively.
      • Nikon D5 + Nikon 85mm/f1.8 G  v.s. Sony A7S3 + Zeiss Batis 85mm/f1.8
      • Nikon Z7 II + Nikon 85mm/f1.8 G  v.s. Canon EOS R6 + Canon EF 85mm/1.8f USM
      • Nikon D850 + Nikon 85mm/f1.8 G v.s. Canon EOS 5D MARK III + Nikon 85mm/f1.8 G (adapted)


      Basic settings

      • White balance is fixed in daylight mode, iso: 100, aperture shutter and exposure are the same. Color space : sRGB, Adobe RGB. **All color modes are set to default.


      Nikon Color Processing and Color Space

      • If you have a Nikon camera, you can see the colors converted through the camera and Capture NX-D are rather consistent with the camera body. In order to keep the color conversion consistent, we use Nikon Capture NX-D + sRGB/aRGB color space as the standard for conversion.


      Nikon D5 aRGB v.s. sRGB Mode

      • Different manufacturers have different color algorithms for color space. The comparison of the Nikon D5's aRGB and sRGB images shows that the Nikon D5 Landscape is warmer in sRGB mode and with blue-green tint in aRGB. If there were significant differences between the sRGB and aRGB colors, PerfeFilm would provide two separate color space profiles to give users the freedom to choose their own color system.


      Lightroom Settings

      • All comparing cameras use the same PerfeFilm color profiles and presets. Each camera has different exposure and saturation even with the same basic settings due to CMOS differences and different color temperature calculations. For calibrating the mismatch of those fundamental differences, we only adjust the exposure, color temperature, and saturation to match colors in Lightroom, and not to adjust any single color settings.


      PerfeFilm Color Simulation for Nikon Review

      The following are the tests of Nikon 5D, Nikon Z7 II, Nikon D850 with three different color processing methods to see if PerfeFilm can achieve cross-brand and cross-camera restoration of Nikon color. The comparison from left to right : Nikon camera + Capture NX-D, Nikon camera + PerfeFilm profile, and other camera models + PerfeFilm profile.


      D5 Color Profile Review

      Nikon D5 is Nikon's flagship camera for professional photojournalists who need to shoot at high speed and high iso, and the color mode is optimized for portraits and landscapes as well. Nikon D5 profiles are available for purchase here.



      Nikon D5 v.s. Sony A7S3 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm D5 Portrait profiles  

      Nikon D5 has a greenish-color tint in Portrait mode. This is very similar to the green tint of traditional color negatives. In the comparison, Sony's A7S3 with the original Zeiss Batis 85mm/f1.8 lens is almost identical to Nikon D5 with its original lens Nikon 85mm/f1.8 G. In particular, the color of the yellow-green tones of the grasses and the blue-tinted walls in the background can be restored very well.



      Nikon D5 v.s. Sony A7S3 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm D5 MonoChrome profiles  

      The Nikon D5's MonoChrome works well for both landscape and portrait photography. In this comparison, both A7S3 and D5 are perfectly restored in terms of skin texture and clothing materials.


      Z7 II Color Profile Review

      Nikon Z7 II is the Nikon Z series mirrorless camera that has received high scores from users. In addition to the convenience and recording capabilities of a mirrorless camera, Z7 II also introduces new Creative Picture Control colors. PerfeFilm Z7 II color profiles are available for purchase here.



      Nikon Z7 II v.s. Canon EOS R6 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm Z7 II Morning profiles  

      Among Nikon's new Creative Picture Control, Morning is one of the new color modes I recommend. As you can see from the comparison, the greenish tones on the off-white clothes, the gray columns in the background, and the red tones on the portrait skin are almost identical on both Canon R6 and Nikon Z7 II.



      Nikon Z7 II v.s. Canon EOS R6 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm Z7 II Denim profiles  

      Denim color mode will give the photo a dark blue denim tone, which can be very good to highlight the warm tones of the subject. As you can see from the comparison, both Nikon Z7 II and Canon R6 can perfectly restore the colors of the dark green of the leaves, the gradual pink tones of the flowers, and the dark blue shadows in the background.



      Nikon Z7 II v.s. Canon EOS R6 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm Z7 II Portrait profiles  

      Although the Nikon Portrait mode has been criticized for its yellowish tones, it also gives soft and warm colors on fair-skinned portraits. As you can see from the comparison, PerfeFilm's skin saturation is more saturated than the original profile, while the Canon R6's color is basically the same as Nikon Z7 II + PerfeFilm.


      D850 Color Profile Review

      The Nikon D850 is a professional-grade full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) produced by Nikon in 2017. In addition to continuing Nikon's classic camera body, it is also one of the last professional models with a mirror before Nikon entered the Z series. The PerfeFilm D850's Lightroom color profile is available for purchase here.



      Nikon D850 v.s. Canon EOS 5D3 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm D850  Landscape profiles  

      Landscape is one of Nikon's most iconic color modes, allowing for high saturation and shadow details in landscapes and nature shots. From the comparison, Nikon D850 and Canon 5D3 are almost identical in the deep reds of flowers, peach, yellow, green of leaves and shadow details using NX-D and PerfeFilm color profiles.



      Nikon D850 v.s. Canon EOS 5D3 with Capture NX-D / PerfeFilm D850 Vivid profiles  

      The Nikon Vivid color not only brings out the vitality and saturation of colors, but also shows good skin tones in portraits. As you can see from the comparison, the Nikon D850's skin color with PerfeFilm Vivid is slightly more reddish than the NX-D conversion, but the colors are generally the same. The Canon 5D3's Vivid profile using PerfeFilm is almost identical to that of the Nikon D850.



      I won't go into the other color modes, but in our testing of the PerfeFilm color profiles for Nikon did restore the color of the Nikon color very well, and it was also possible to get very close color simulations with other cameras. If you're interested in comparing, you can download the PerfeFilm free demo to play around with it, or support us by purchasing the bundles. If you're interested in testing PerfeFilm for Lightroom, you're welcome to share your test article or video with and we'll share it with you on our blog post if we think it's good.

      Recommended PerfeFilm profiles for Nikon + PerfeFilm Tones presets

      PerfeFilm's official and demo versions come with useful PerfeFilm Tones that allow you to quickly transform your photos into Fashion, Soft, Film, Landscape, Documentary ... etc. Here are some of the presets that can be used with the PerfeFilm for Canon profiles perfectly. More information on PerfeFilm Tones

      Z7 II Morning + Polariod Tone

      The Nikon Z7 II Morning color is my recommended portrait mode. In addition to the cyan-blue tones reminiscent of traditional color negatives, it can also create an airy atmosphere. Morning color mode is a bit dull in the shadow areas, so we recommend using it with HDR or Polaroid to enhance the lightness and give it a high-key look.

      Z7 II Bleached 

      The Nikon Z7 II's Bleached color gives portraits a low-saturation, cool blue-green look that is unexpectedly suitable for fashion portraits with low brightness and high contrast detail. Compared to the bleached color mode of Fujifilm X-T4 and Ricoh GR series, the Nikon Z7 II Bleached color is more suitable for a rapid fashion slide.


      D5 Landscape + Documentary Tone

      Nikon is best known for its saturated color tones and high contrast style in photojournalism and street portraits, and Nikon Landscape color mode can be used in street photography with PerfeFilm Documentary Tone to bring out the skin color and contrasting details of people, making it ideal for photojournalism and street photography.


      D5 MonoChrome + Landscape Tone

      The D5's B&W can be used as the standard for Nikon's B&W tones. With PerfeFilm Landscape Tone, you can better restore the details of highlights and shadows while shooting landscapes, and present the smooth black and white tones of traditional B&W negatives.


      D5 Neutral + Landscape Tone

      The D5 Neutral is a great way to restore and distinguish subtle color variations in colorful scenes, making the colors more vivid and three-dimensional in the picture, and adding PerfeFilm Landscape Tone will help to increase saturation while maintaining color details.


      D850 Landscape + Landscape Tone

      The D850 Landscape mode is also the standard mode for landscape photography. If you use Landscape profile alone, the contrast between light and dark is rather mediocre. When used together with PerfeFilm Landscape style, it can enhance the brightness of shadow areas of a landscape and increase overall saturation and color differentiation.


      D850 Vivid + Landscape Tone

      Vivid mode can sometimes have a surprising effect on landscapes. The tree trunk in this picture is in a backlit situation with very low brightness, so the PerfeFilm Landscape Tone is used to enhance the color saturation of Vivid and to improve the dark details and color to achieve a nice brightness balance.

      Share your raw files and be seen 

      If you have photos to share and like PerfeFilm to promote your website, feel free to upload your raw files by participating in our PerfeFilm Raw File Project.



      About Author


       Arron Hsiao

      Taiwan artist & photographer, founder of Love photography, travel & music. You can support him through his photography & art NFT:   Personal Website:  IG@ArronHsiao

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