Price: £162.50 plus VAT
Pros: Very clean raw conversion, Tethered shooting, easy output of multiple versions.
Cons: Basic masking, no plug-in architecture, relatively high price
Capture One Pro was originally developed by Phase One for use with its medium format digital camera backs, but it now supports tethered shooting including Live View with most of the Nikon and Canon digital SLR ranges. This shows the live image on your monitor, letting you control focus and exposure and fire the shutter from your Mac or PC.
For this latest version Phase One has added features from its asset management tool, Media Pro. Images can now be grouped into catalogs but you can opt to leave the original raw files in any folder or external drive with just the thumbnails in the catalog so you can edit images in the catalog and synchronise with the raw files later. The edits are non-destructive and there’s a master reset to go back to the original state.
You can also organise images into multiple smart folders with the files physically staying in their original folders so there’s no duplication. It also synchronises metadata in XMP files.
The main feature of Capture One Pro is the extremely clean way that it interprets raw files. The results are sharp and crisp and the colour rendition is extremely accurate. Also, it seems more forgiving of high ISO images than other alternatives.
There is a lot of fine control over the colour, tone and brightness. The highlight and shadow recovery tools give a lot of leeway and its particularly good at controlling noise in boosted shadow areas. There’s a new clarity setting, with different options including Punch, which boosts the midtones nicely.
It has profiles for a wide range of cameras so that functions such as noise reduction are tailored down to the individual camera model. It has correction profiles for a selection of lenses from most manufacturers and there is an option to create your own profiles.
There is a gradient mask for graduated filter effects and you can edit specific areas of an image by creating a mask on another layer. However, the Auto Mask is not particularly effective, and certainly nowhere near as good as Adobe’s Edge Refine technology. Nor are there any cloning or healing tools.
It does have keystone correction to eliminate perspective distortion, which works well and is good at straightening out verticals on buildings without stretching the image unnaturally.
For export, you can create a recipe for each type of output, with such things as the file format, resolution, colour space and watermark and save these for reuse. You simply tick the box next to each recipe that you need for output and can create multiple versions with a single click.
Capture One Pro does feel a little rough around the edges, with Adobe’s Lightroom being both cheaper and more polished if you need an all-round package. But as a raw converter, it’s hard to beat, with excellent colour and tone editing tools combined with reasonably efficient tools for organising and managing large image collections.