....and that's been the problem ever since Capture was first released (for NEF files). It's always been able to extract the best from NEF's but unfortunately for some shooters, at too high a cost with it's infrigment on time required for processing files and it's interface. It's interface has always been cludgy (hey did I spell that right?) although it's gotten better with each successive generation, and processing file(s) used to take eons...but that's been improved too, yet for some these issues still exist. It's fine when one has a limited # of files to process, but if the job has hundreds of files or more, out comes the ACR . The best analogy I could come up with is this: you know that awful tasting medicine you had to take as a kid? You knew it would it was good for you and would make you feel better, but yet you still hated taking it! For me that's "Capture"...LOL!
Guy, the files you re-posted with Capture do appear to be better and this even comes through at screen resolution although I've found with Capture it's easy to slightly over-sharpen.
As for the 180mm, you might have gotten one of the better samples. Out of all the lenses you mentioned you obtained, the 180 was in my opinion the biggest concern as many samples I tested just fell short when used on high MP cameras like the D3x. Even on 12MP D3s, I though some others lenses in similar focal length range eclipsed it's performance by a considerable margin.
Thanks for posting your images and thoughts. Your preliminary observations are very informative and helpful, as were Steen's and others who have done the same.