Capture One Pro 9 Review

capture one pro Mar 17, 2016

Once upon a time, there was a Danish company that decided to make medium format digital cameras. This company was made up of hard working engineers who wanted to make the best medium format digital camera in the world. To this end, the engineers strived for perfection in all of their endeavors. But the software available for developing the images captured by their very fine cameras did not satisfy them. So they got their software engineering friends to write a program to do the job the way they wanted. They did so and the software they created made their photographs look even more amazing.
Photographers from around the world loved the Danish camera company and their software. But the Danish cameras were very expensive, and some of the poor photographers wept that they could not take such beautiful images with their Japanese cameras. The Danish camera company felt bad for the poor photographers and decided to make their magic software compatible with their Japanese cameras. This made the poor photographers very happy as they could now make images almost as beautiful as the Danish cameras.

-excerpt from Mother Goose’s History of Phase One



All kidding aside, Phase One has released the 9th version of their excellent RAW editing and conversion software, Capture One Pro.

This latest edition adds several new features and I discovered one that I had not noticed before, despite the release notes indicating that it was included several versions ago.

Capture One Pro is designed for the professional photographer. It does not have a plug-in API for third party filters or methods for uploading images to your favorite online galleries. Those tasks are left for lesser apps.

With its medium format origins, C1 Pro is designed to handle large images. Built for the working studio, it has extensive tethered capture capabilities. It can handle anything from portraits to landscapes. So what sets it apart from its main competitor, Adobe Lightroom?

Phase One has spent a lot of time working with professional photographers and incorporating their special needs in the design of Capture One Pro. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Configurable Workspaces C1 Pro’s interface can be customized to suit any photographers’ need. Got a panel you never use? Remove it! Got one you can’t live without? Make it part of the default layout! Like the screen to look a certain way on a dual monitor system? Save it as a workspace!
  2. Color Balance Controls for Skin Tones C1 Pro is the only software that I am aware of that offers this function. Most raw converters allow you to adjust the overall white balance of a scene, but C1 pro goes a step further by allowing you to get the skin tones just right.
  3. Layers Corel AfterShot Pro is the only other raw converter I know of that offers this feature. Not even Adobe Lightroom offers this. Built-in masking functions allow you to selectively apply adjustments to parts of the image without having to make a round-trip to Photoshop. One thing you can do easily with this is to selectively apply white balance. To wit: I was shooting a wedding at the Gesu Catholic Church in downtown Miami. I took a flash photograph of the bride and groom standing before the altar. I made the rookie mistake of forgetting to gel my flash to incandescent white balance to match the lighting in the church. The result was either a normal colored bride and groom in front of the Church of El Dorado or having the church look normal and bride and groom looking like they were fished out of the Arctic Ocean. The Layers function of C1 Pro allowed me to selectively apply white balance corrections to them and the background separately.
  4. Luma Curves Most curve tools map a set of input values to an output set. This affects not only brightness, but saturation as well. Luma Curves allows you to fiddle with just the brightness levels and protects the colors.
  5. Send to External Editors I was not aware of this feature, but apparently it has been in C1 Pro since at least V8. My prior experience with sending an image to Photoshop or some other external program involved creating a custom process recipe and having it call the external application from there. You then had to manually import the externally edited image back into C1 Pro. This function does it for you automatically and is customizable.
  6. Tethered Shooting Skip the entire import step by have C1 Pro import images as they are shot. If you have one of the supported cameras, you can even control the shooting experience from the computer. This required connecting your camera to the computer via a USB or network cable. WiFi tethering is not supported directly as file sizes can get pretty large, especially if you are using a Phase One camera.
  7. Catalog or Session-based Shooting C1 Pro offers the choice of importing images into a master catalog or maintaining them in separate sessions. This allows to more easily manage your photo shoots. Either can be chosen at the time of import.
  8. Migration Tools C1Pro includes migration tool to allow you to import your Lightroom catalogs to ease the switch from one platform to another.
  9. Over 400 cameras supported I wasn’t kidding in the opening about Phase One adding support for a massive list of cameras. Subsequent updates add new camera profiles.

However, all is not beer and skittles over here in the Land of the Danes. All of these powerful features come at a price: $299 USD. EDITOR’S NOTE: As of the newly released version 9.1, you can pay a monthly subscription fee of $12 USD to purchase Capture One Pro v9.1. Also, there are not many books published on Capture One Pro (only one for V9) but Phase One, to its credit, has a YouTube channel you can subscribe to that has all sorts of tutorials on the care and feeding of Capture One Pro. Lens support is also a bit of a sticky wicket. Phase One has complete support for all of their lenses, but limited support outside of that. Modern lenses encode corrections in the photos metadata which C1Pro reads and applies to the image, but this of little help for adapted legacy glass on mirrorless cameras.


Capture One Pro v9.1 has just been released and includes six new camera profiles, improved tethered shooting for Phase One and Canon cameras and even more powerful skin tone adjustments.