Mar 012013
 

Phase One of Denmark makes arguably some of the most lust-worthy medium format digital camera equipment known to man. Rampaging mob of perfectionists that they are, they couldn’t settle for letting someone else handle processing their RAW image files (which currently go all the way up to 80 megapixels in size), so they created their own RAW file conversion tool – Capture One.

Boxshot

Capture One currently comes in two flavors: Express ($99) and Pro ($299). What does the extra $200 buy you? Here’s a table summarizing the features of the two versions:

Feature

Description

Capture One Pro 7

Capture One Express 7

Extended Camera Support

Support for leading high-end digital backs, DSLR and mirrorless cameras

X

X

Importer

Import your image or video files and apply multiple styles to the images

X

X

Instant Tethered Capture

Instantly import and view images as you shoot

X

 

Capture Pilot app

Use your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to wirelessly view, zoom and pan images

X

 

Web-enabled Capture Pilot

Access Capture Pilot functionality on mobile and other web enabled devices

X

 

Live View

Compose shots from your monitor with Live View for supported digital backs and DSLRs

X

 

Integrated Movie Import

Import, browse and play video, including HD video, from supported DSLR cameras

X

X

Import from Media Pro

Import an existing Media Pro or Expression Media catalog

X

 

Catalogs

A catalog is the primary method of file organization and viewing in Capture One Pro 7

X

 

Sessions

Store raw files, settings files, library files and output files as a complete project

X

 

Search and Filtering

Use the advanced search and filtering options to find your images quickly and easily

X

X

Library

Easy access to the images within Albums, Smart Albums and Favorites

X

X

Smart Albums

Organize images from different folders without moving the actual files

X

X

Offline Browsing

Offline images can still be browsed and some image adjustments made

X

 

Manual Sorting

Drag and drop images into just the order you want, and keep that order for the given collection.

X

 

Advanced File Naming

Create your own customized, token-based naming systems

X

X

Metadata

Powerful support for metadata can streamline workflow and post-production

X

X

Rating and Color Tagging

Rate and color tag images to assist your selection and editing process

X

X

Focus Mask

Use Focus Mask for fast verification of sharpness and focus

X

 

Focus Tool

Get an instant view of image sharpness with the Focus Tool

X

 

Loupe Tool

A powerful magnifier that lets you zoom into an image from 25% to 200%

X

X

Variants

Create virtual copies of your original image to experiment with different settings

X

X

High Speed Caching

Compare two images in full resolution with no load time

X

 

Noise Reduction

Remove luminance and color noise from images with easy-to-use sliders

X

 

High Dynamic Range

Recover shadow or highlight details and perfect your high-contrast captures

X

X

Clarity

Improve hazy images and smooth out local contrast

X

X

Color Editor

Achieve perfect colors through selective color adjustments

X

X

Local Adjustments

Edit selective parts of an image for unlimited creative control

X

 

Keystone Correction

Redude or eliminate perspective distortion in your captures

X

 

Black and White Conversion

Adjust color channels and create beautiful Black & White images

X

 

Lens Cast Correction

Create LCC profiles for several images at once, and apply them to more images at a time

X

 

Lens Correction

Automatically adjust for lens abberations, including distortion, purple fringing, light falloff etc.

X

 

Levels and Curves

Adjustments can be made to luminance, RGB or individual color channels

X

 

Styles and Presets

Apply pre-designed or customized styles and presets to your images

X

 

Skin Tone Enhancer

Achieve perfect, smooth and soft appearing skin tones

X

 

Sharpening

Use default sharpening settings or make your own sharpening adjustments

X

X

Spot Removal

Erase unwanted dust, spots and marks with a single click

X

X

Vignetting

Lighten or darken the edges of an image to achieve creative effects

X

X

White balance

Use the auto white balance feature or the white balance picker

X

X

Auto Adjustments

Automatically correct exposure, saturation, contrast, white balance, High Dynamic Range etc.

X

X

Batch Apply Adjustments

Copy and apply individual image adjustments to a group of images

X

 

Composition Tools

Control the layout of a photo and crop, rotate or flip an image

X

 

Overlay

Composition assistance for shooting images to match a specific layout

X

 

Exporter

Export your originals and variants with the choice of new image formats

X

 

Image output

Output images to multiple formats and resolutions

X

X

Slide Show

Create your own slideshows and showcase your image and video files

X

X

Print Options

Customize print layouts, include watermarks and add metadata

X

X

Web Contact Sheet

Choose from a selection of flexible templates to create a web gallery

X

X

EIP Enhanced Image Package

Pack your master file together with its adjustments in a .EIP file format for trouble-free sharing

X

 

Soft Proofing and CMYK Support

Output to any RGB and CMYK color space

X

 

Accelerated Editing and Processing

Faster performance with cross-platform 64-bit support

X

X

Interactive Speed

OpenCL support accelerates your editing tasks

X

X

Save ICC Profile as default

Create custom ICC settings to be used as default for specific cameras

X

 

Customization

Customize your workspaces, tools and tool tabs to match personal preferences

X

 

Multi monitor

Support for multiple monitors

X

 

Full-screen

Get a large, unobstructed full-screen view of your work

X

X

Browser Filmstrip

Quickly scroll from image to image in filmstrip view

X

X

Optimized for Mac Retina Displays

Capture One Pro 7 supports the high resolution retina displays found on new MacBooks

X

 

 [Table provided by Phase One]

So what does that all mean? Buy the Pro version. The Skin Tone Enhancer and tethered shooting are worth the price of admission alone.

New features in V 7

A couple of years ago, Phase One bought Expression Media from Microsoft. This move was viewed as strategic because Phase One’s lineup of software lacked any sort of digital asset management (DAM). Rebranded as Phase One Media Pro, the gang from Denmark embarked on ambitious plan. From v5 upwards, Capture One was given more and more integrated access to Media Pro’s capabilities. With v7, Capture One now creates and uses catalogs natively, a vast improvement over the file-based system of the previous versions.

Bits that I like

  • Catalogs - As previously mentioned, the new catalog structure makes storing and organizing your images much more robust. 
  • Camera Support - Another feature I like is Capture One’s support of over 250 cameras (via files). Phase One not only provides world-class professional software for their own customers, but for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Samsung, Olympus, Leica, Panasonic, Mamiya-Leaf, Fujifilm, Ricoh, Konica-Minolta and Epson.
  • Local Adjustment Layers - Capture One can save you some trips to Adobe Photoshop with its built-in Local Adjustment Layers. Comprehensive masking tools allow you to selectively apply adjustments to all or portions of an image. Local adjustments are currently limited to 10 layers (up from 5) and works with the following tools: Exposure, Sharpening, Clarity, Moire, Color Editor
  • OpenCL Support - OpenCL is a framework that allows software developers to tap into the amazing compute power of today’s modern GPU architecture. This means that Capture One can use the power of your GPU to accelerate functions of the application that would otherwise hog a lot of CPU cycles.
  • Extensive Skintone Controls - Most Phase One owners shoot portraits, and this control is for them. Skintones are quite possibly the trickiest thing to get right, especially in a studio setting. Believe me, I know from first hand experience.
  • Designed to handle large images - Phase One thinks big. Their current camera line up starts at 40 megapixels and tops out at 80 megapixels (for now). Capture One handles files this large with ease (assuming your computer has enough chutzpah to power it). I have seen other apps designed for DSLR files choke with these big images and as DSLR image sizes are approaching the lower end of the medium format space, RAW editing software has to be able to deal with that. Capture One: been there, done that.
  • Ekes out the most details from your RAW files - this is for all you landscape photogs out there. Capture One’s sharpening algorithms are some of the best in the industry. Plus, it does a bang-up job recovering details from shadows.
  • Multiple outputs - Capture One Pro can apply multiple process recipes to your files at the finish. This means that you can punt out JPEGs, TIFFs, proofs and a host of other possible choices all in one go.

Bits that I think should be in there

  • Export Plugins - We live in a connected world and Phase One needs to get up to speed with that. For all the amazing things that Capture One can do to your images, uploading them to your online gallery of choice has been covered in an S.E.P field (Somebody Else’s Problem).
  • Better watermarking - Capture One includes rudimentary watermarking. The system is a little bit cumbersome in my opinion. As part of being able to upload, you should be able to watermark your images with flexibility. Or, if you allow Export Plugins (see above), make one like (or port over) LR2/Mogrify. That one Lightroom plugin has a mind-boggling array of capabilities for watermarking and framing images.
  • Local Adjustments: White Balance – I have run into situations where varying lighting conditions force me to choose between white balancing for the subjects or the background and either choice looks weird. If I could apply white balance on a local level, then I could have the best of both worlds.

Conclusion

Phase One is the only camera maker whose RAW editing/conversion software can compete with all of the big boys out there. Other camera makers offer their own software that is heavily skewed towards their own products (Canon, Nikon & Hasselblad) or bundle a lesser known third-party RAW converter that happens to support their camera (Silkypix, for example). Leica, being Leica, bundles Adobe Lightroom with their cameras. If you want to shoot portraits or landscapes or anything in-between, you can’t go wrong choosing Phase One’s Capture One Pro v7.

 

 

Feel free to voice your opinion...

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