but most Nikon shooters don't see it that way.
Do you have scientific poll data to back up this claim?
Well judging by the responce on the Nikonions web site and others such as Thom Hogan, I don't think "scientific poll data" is relevent.
See: Thom Hogan's D2X Review
White balance information tags for many cameras live in the standard EXIF data recorded with a digital image. Recent Nikon DSLRs have been putting that information into the Maker's tag section of EXIF instead. That could have been a problem, but almost all serious digital photography software has adjusted and knows where to look for the white balance data in a Nikon NEF file. Remember, NEF is a raw format, so in order to render an image from it, you have to apply some camera setting information--in particular, white balance--before you do your demosaic to generate the final pixels. On the D2x, the white balance data is still in the Maker's tag section, but it has now been encrypted. The public keys are the camera serial number and shot number. But you need the private key to unlock it, and Nikon does not document or provide it to third parties directly (Nikon officially says use their SDK to access NEF files and decode them). In the US, at least, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act may even apply to NEF files: the DMCA doesn't allow decryption of data without the data owner's permission.
The problem with Nikon's approach is that it is already causing major issues for software developers, and thus, photographers. Adobe has indicated that the new version of their conversion module for Photoshop won't be able to access the "as shot" white balance information. A few software manufacturers say they will use Nikon's SDK, some say they won't. Eric Hyman, the author of Bibble, reverse engineered the encryption, so his raw converter software was the first to fully support the D2x raw files. Ditto Dave Coffin with dcraw. In short, we've got near anarchy in the software community vis-a-vis the D2x NEF file format: everyone seems to be approaching the problem created by encrypted white balance differently. For a professional tool--perhaps even the best professional tool made--this is a potentially crippling issue. Before I tell you my personal take, let me outline the three likely positions that you and other photographers might take on this issue:
1. It's a fatal flaw. It may be something as simple as the fact that Photoshop's ability to quickly and conveniently batch raw files in an existing workflow has been broken. If you use Photoshop ACR to convert large numbers of raw files from a shooting session, the encryption and Adobe's inability to support it could be a deal breaker for you. Others who take this position point to issues such as who owns the data when a shot is taken (Nikon's encryption seems to imply that they do, an unconscionable position for a professional tool), the fact that Nikon's SDK doesn't support Linux, and that Nikon's SDK may impose performance limitations on third-party software. Long-term thinkers will point out that Nikon has abandoned software support in the past (Photo Secretary comes to mind, but Nikon View apparently is about to be discarded, as well), so the big issue will be whether a professional photographer will still be able to fully access their "negative" in 10 years.
2. It's annoying. Disruption of workflow is always annoying, but usually there's another way to run images through your process. Perhaps you'll have to change converters (or use Nikon's Photoshop plug-in). Perhaps you'll have to do a bit more control setting when running individual conversions. Maybe you'll just run Nikon Capture on your images first (Nikon Capture will write the white balance info into the proper spot without changing the underlying raw data used by other converters). In short, you're willing to put up with some additional overhead to get the other features of this product. You don't like taking five steps forward and one backward, but that still appears like four steps forward to you.
3. It's not an issue. Advanced amateurs, JPEG-only shooters, pros that already use Nikon Capture for conversions, and photographers that do low volumes of raw conversions might not see any issue at all, as their workflow practices aren't really changed and the encryption simply doesn't represent any challenge for them to get the best results possible out of the camera.
If you fall into camp #3, congratulations, the Nikon D2x will be a fine addition to your gear closet. Unfortunately, the majority of potential D2x uses probably fall into camps #1 and #2. Personally, I lean towards #1 emotionally and intellectually, but fall into #2 as when I look at myself pragmatically as a user of the D2x. From an emotional standpoint, I want to see Nikon make a slam dunk with the D2x (and other products). They've come so close, it's actually exasperating to see something so small bring the product down a peg. From an intellectual standpoint as a professional photographer, I want my negatives (e.g. raw files) to be fully documented and able to run through any tool I choose, today or ten years in the future. My volume of shooting, however, means that I tend to process every important image individually, and thus, from a pragmatic standpoint the white balance encryption isn't currently impinging on my workflow. Moreover, I tend to use Nikon Capture on my images. I have decided, however, to save all my NEF files into DNG (and TIFF) just as soon as there's a way to get all the information over unencoded. That means having to buy yet more data storage ability and tying up my computer for even longer periods of time when dealing with my images, which is a definite monetary penalty (that US$3000 extra for a 1DsMarkII doesn't look quite so large in that context).
I believe Nikon has opened a huge can of worms here. No photographer that I know of currently sees a user-advantage to white balance encryption, and that's problematic on its face. Nikon still doesn't quite understand that if you don't fully design to customer needs and wants, the competing manufacturer that does will grow faster and sell more product. The pro market is even more unforgiving. A Canon 1DsMarkII has no similar flaw, fatal or annoying. Thus, there's a friction present that keeps a pro from picking a D2x over a 1DsMarkII. Other traits have to overcome that friction. At this level of product, the only trait that has that potential is that the D2x is US$2500-3000 less in price than the 1DsMarkII. Both cameras take unbelievable pictures, both have pro-level performance and features, but one has a workflow flaw and costs less than the one that doesn't have that flaw. How much is that flaw worth to you?My opinion: Nikon will sell significantly fewer D2x's than they should because of that flaw.
And from his home page: ByThom Home Page
He says:So, some commentary along with today's news: Nikon is making a classic economic mistake. They appear to be trying to make what will almost certainly eventually be a commodity-like item (DSLRs) into a proprietary one. The proper thing to do in such a situation is the opposite of what Nikon is doing: opening up and fully documenting their product would produce more third-party support, and more third-party support means more sales of the product being supported (I once had the job title of Evangelist in a high tech company--so I have some experience at the notion of building a product through community). More to the point: instead of getting a Highly Recommended from a key reviewer (okay, my lack of humility is showing today ;~), which might increase sales, Nikon is getting a review that might lower sales. Is that really their intention? I categorize this decision on Nikon's part as a Great Big Oops.
So, while you might enjoy painting me as "anti-Nikon" and "Pro-Adobe" and merely a trouble-maker trying to help Canon and Adobe because of some perceived bias or conflict of interest, my opinions regarding Nikon’s WB encryption are not unique. Nor are they an anti-Nikon bias, I just happen to think what Nikon did is very poor for the industry and sends a chilling message about the future. . .