...Nikon makes cameras for photographers, and that Canon "nickel and dimes" their customers.
Exactly. For example, if you want to edit .CR2 RAW files with 'native' Canon software, they "nickel and dime" you by giving you DPP for free, whereas if you want to edit .NEF RAW files with 'native' Nikon software, they give you...oh, wait - you have to *buy* CaptureNX2.
It was worse than that, they encrypted some NEF metadata so third-party RAW processors couldn't decode the RAW files correctly, only by entering an agreement with Nikon, apparently they were trying even to prevent open-source developers from accessing this data since the need for a Nikon approval of the software project would be incompatible with several open-source licenses, such as the GNU GPLv2 for instance.
â€“ In response to recent complaints from photographers and engineers about the encryption of its RAW white balance data, Nikon issued a statement defending their proprietary RAW file design. Nikonâ€™s digital SLR users claim images captured by the camera â€“ and the data used to make them â€“ belongs to the photographer. However, Nikon wishes to keep the data encrypted to protect its trade secrets, among other things.
"Nikonâ€™s preservation of its unique technology in the NEF file is employed as an action that protects the uniqueness of the file," the Nikon advisory stated. "At the same time, Nikon makes available a software developer kit (SDK) that, when implemented appropriately, enables a wide range of NEF performance, including white balance, for Nikon photographers and their productive use of the NEF file."
The SDK is available to "bona fide" developers who must write to Nikon for approval, the release stated. When new cameras are introduced, Nikon must update the kits with new information â€“ such is the case with the Nikon D2X, D2Hs, and new releases. The Nikon digital cameras come with PictureProject software, which has a software license agreement that protects Nikonâ€™s interests.
This didn't deterred developers from breaking the encryption, but that alone must've costed Nikon a lot of customers.
As noted in the comments about Nikon's highly inadvisable decision to encrypt its RAW files, Bibble Labs has cracked the Nikon white balance encryption in the latest version of its imaging software. Now programmer Dave Coffin has also reverse-engineered the encryption and has published the decryption code on his website, intending to make Nikon's RAW a completely open format. Coffin hopes his work will allow Adobe to support Nikon's file format in future versions of their Camera Raw software, but Adobe is still understandably hesitant about drawing a possible lawsuit under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Plus, the question still remains regarding whether much can be done to salvage the betrayed trust Nikon visited on its customers by opting to encrypt its RAW files in the first place.