Nikon Capture Nx is a Powerful Raw Converter and Image manipulating software (It works also on JPGs and TIFFs from other brand's cameras...obiouvsly the only RAW files that it opens are the Nikon .NEF).
The price to pay is that it's a bit slow and "heavy" on my computer(I do not own a Graphic Workstation...) , but the results may be insanely good!
For Nikon users (I found My Capture Nx in bundle in the Nikon D300's box... ) I suggest to shoot Flat and Neutral Raw files, and to elaborate them in C. Nx using the control Points with the "TSL" mode (that is : "TINT-SATURATION-LIGHTNESS") for every color zone of the photo...
The result is a very bold yet NATURAL color, with very little clipping and/or posterization artifacts at Full Res... The noise, if you shoot a "Neutral" Raw file, remains very low, (with the D300) almost unnoticeable below ISO 400-800 !
Capture Nx seems to use the meta-data of the .NEF files to "remember" or (if you want...) disable camera settings (EV...Active D Lightning...White Balance, and so on...) ... some photos are better (IMHO ) without the Active D lightining or some enancements like the "VIVID" mode (which sometimes tends to oversaturate colors creating clippings )
It's like being able to shoot the photo again!! you can change all settings in the RAW file! The only thing that cannot be recreated if you do not set it in the camera is the "active D-lightning!" I always set mine "ON", and, if the photo is better without, I disable it in C. Nx Raw editing... that's very fine.