Here's some sample images developed in Nikon's ViewNX and Adobe's Lightroom 2.
They are all from RAW files, developed as is with no adjustments (except a small exposure correction in the first image). The first pair of images and last pair of images have been cropped in Photoshop for esthetic presentation. The white tiger pair of images are the original frames, no crop.
Lightroom 2 develops were set to Camera Vivid as that is my default camera setting. ViewNX reads this automatically as the camera setting and does not need to be set in the software.
All the images have been saved at 800 pixels wide and compressed for web in Photoshop (save for web - high). The images are not intended for pixel-peeping of ultimate quality, but rather to show the differences between the two RAW developing softwares. Please don't email with complaints about pure testing methods and such... that's not why I posted these.
Lastly, I've used Nikon ViewNX and not CaptureNX, simply because it was easier. The results should be the same from a straight ooc conversion.
This first pair of images is not the usual result I see when I do these Lightroom vs ViewNX comparisons. I actually like the color and overall look of the Lightroom jpg better. Detail rendering is similar, but there are visual differences even with these jpgs compressed for web. The Nikon jpg has better detail in the hair and sides of the head.
The white tiger images show what I usually see between Nikon and Lightroom RAW develops. I prefer the color and overall look of the Nikon jpg. Again, they're both very close, but the ViewNX jpg just looks a little bit better. The ViewNX jpg also has more detail visible, especially around the eye and the bridge of the nose.
Like the white tiger, this pair of images show again what I usually see in Nikon versus Lightroom RAW develop comparisons. The Nikon jpg gets the nod. Detail, color and overall look is better in the ViewNX jpg.
Again, the differences are not huge, but they are there. You can see them clearly even in these web-size jpgs. The differences are even more visible in the full-size jpgs. Granted, color and overall look are subjective determinations, but detail is not. Could I tweak the detail in Lightroom using sharpening and clarity? Probably. I could probably get it close, but I doubt I could match it exactly. Remember, these are straight out of ViewNX with no adjustments. I didn't have to spend time tweaking.
Food for thought.