Photo Editing and Organizing with Nikon’s Free Photo Software

By Julie Adair King

To move pictures and movies from your Nikon D3500 to your computer, you need some type of software to download, view, and manage the files. If you don’t have a favorite photo program for handling these tasks, Nikon offers the following free software solutions:

  • Nikon ViewNX-i: Shown below, the Nikon ViewNX-i program offers basic photo organizing and editing tools. In addition, a tool built into the program, Nikon Transfer, simplifies the job of sending pictures from a memory card or your camera to your computer.
    Nikon ViewNX-i
    You can see the selected focus point and other camera settings when you view photos in Nikon ViewNX-i.

    Your program may not initially look like the one you see above because the screen layout was customized. You can do the same via the options on the View and Window menus after opening the program.

    Two ViewNX-I features you’ll want to check out are as follows:

    • Viewing picture settings (metadata): You can display a panel that shows the settings you used when shooting the picture. The settings are stored as metadata (extra data) in each picture’s file. Although other photo programs can display some metadata, they often can’t show all the detailed information that you can see in ViewNX-i.

      Don’t see the panel? Open the Window menu at the top of the program window and choose Adjustments/Metadata. You may then need to click the triangle labeled Click to hide/display shooting data to expand the panel. One other note: You can toggle between the full list of metadata and a small graphic that contains just the basics. (The graphic looks similar to the Information screen displayed on the camera.) Click the button labeled Click to view minimal shooting data to switch between the two views.

    • Displaying focus points: Click the button labeled Display focus point to display one or more red rectangles on the photo. The rectangle(s) indicate which focus point (or points) the camera used to establish focus, which can be helpful for troubleshooting focus problems. If the focus point is over your subject but the subject is blurry, the cause is likely not due to focusing at all, but to subject or camera movement during a too-long exposure (slow shutter speed). You don’t see the focus point if you used manual focusing, and it also may not appear if you used continuous autofocusing.

Nikon ViewNX-i also contains some photo-editing tools; access them by clicking the Edit tab near the top-left corner of the program window. For more sophisticated editing tools, use Nikon Capture NX-D, described next. You can send the current photo directly to that program from ViewNX-i by clicking the Capture NX-D icon that appears with the other icons along the top of the program window. Or open the File menu and choose Open with Capture NX-D.

  • Nikon Capture NX-D: Shown below, this program offers pro-level photo-editing tools, including a good Raw processing tool. You also can view camera metadata in this program. Click the tabs to toggle the panel display between the Information tab, which displays shooting data, and the Editing tabs, which contain editing tools.
    Nikon Capture NX-D
    Capture NX-D offers a more advanced assortment of photo editing tools.

Like ViewNX-i, Capture NX-D can display the focus point or points used to set focus when you took the picture. Toggle the focus point display on and off by opening the program’s Image menu and then selecting Show Focus Point.

You can download both programs from the Nikon website. Head for the Support section of the website, where you’ll find a link to camera software. Be sure to download the latest versions. You’ll need to use ViewNX-i Version 1.3.0 and NX-D is Version 1.5.0. Older versions of the software lack support for D3500 files. Also make sure that your computer meets the software operating-system requirements. (The program is available for both Windows-based and Mac computers.)

Getting help with Nikon software

For years, you could access a built-in user manual via the Help menu found in Nikon’s photo programs. But things work differently now: You can go online and download a copy of the user manual or simply check the online help pages for answers. (You might want to download a copy of the manual so that you don’t need an active Internet connection to get help.)

To take advantage of these options the first time, you do need to be online. When your Internet browser is up and running, launch the Nikon program whose Help system you want to access. In that program, open the Help menu and then choose Help from menu. Your browser then displays a window that offers two options: Click Go to Help Site to jump to the program’s pages at the Nikon website or click Get PDF Manual to download the instruction manual. The manual is provided in the PDF format (Portable Document Format), so you can read it in Adobe Acrobat (available free from the Adobe website) or any program that can display PDF documents.