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CaptureOne Pro 7 - the 60 day experiment

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Poki, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Like most of you probably know by now, Apple stopped development of aperture a few days ago. Now it's time to move on - but where should I go?

    DxO Optics Pro is out of question as it doesn't support asset management of any kind. As for Lightroom - it has some awesome features and a nice user interface, but I don't like the colors it produces out of the box. Sure you can tweak them, but if there's a better solution out there, I'll gladly take it. So that pretty much only leaves CaptureOne Pro as alternative. So I will use CaptureOne exclusively for the next 60 days, which is the free trial period offered by PhaseOne.

    screen-capture-2.
    This is how CaptureOne Pro 7 looks when editing an image.

    As some of you have to make a similar decision sooner or later, I'll document my journey. At the end of the 60 days, I'll decide whether to shell out the €114 for the license or if I have to look somewhere else.


    So let's start with day 1

    Import

    I'm not yet ready to migrate my 300GB+ library to a new software, so that'll follow at a later point. I just took a quick portrait and a quick product shot to see how it handles basic importing and editing tasks.

    Importing files is quick enough and it offers all options you might need, including backing up your files while importing them. But there's one thing missing. Well, it's not actually missing, but it's greyed out for seemingly no reason, and that's to delete the files automatically from the card after importing them. I'll ask Phase One why this doesn't work for me.

    import dialoge.
    The import dialogue offers pretty much anything you need

    Choosing images

    The second step of editing is, of course, to look through the images and choose the ones you want to edit. And you know what? There's no way to quickly flag images (at least I don't know about one). This means I can't simply mark the ones I like with 'ü', then review them and delete the flag from the ones I don't like quite that much until I have decided which images to edit. In Capture One, you'll have to do it the "Lightroom way". This means giving images you like a bit one star, then creating a smart album with all the one star images from this set, then give the photos you like more two stars and so on. That's clearly a step back. Also, cycling through the image previews, it's takes noticeably longer until an image is sharp than in Aperture, although it's not terrible.

    So that's already two steps back. But what about actually editing the photos?

    Editing

    Starting with the portrait, a few things became obvious. The user interface is clumsy, not very polished and can be adjusted by the user to a pretty insane degree. You can add or delete pallets, and you can add and delete functions within every panel. You can resort the palettes, and you can even pop out individual functions like a histogram and let them float anywhere on your screen so that it's always available. It's not always clear what a button does, but you learn that pretty quickly.

    screen-capture-3.
    You can let any function float anywhere on your screen.

    One of the biggest downsides is how local adjustments are handled. You can add brushes in the "brushes" panel, draw with them and then adjust what it does. But what it can do is extremely limited. You can add, like in every panel, add any function, but apart from a few, the functions will work globally and not locally. Why is that? That doesn't make any sense and limits the local editing capabilities extremely. So what can be adjusted locally? Only color, exposure, clarity, sharpening and moíre. This compares pretty poor to Aperture where you could just draw every single tool with a brush to fit your needs. On the upside, it allows you to stack an endless amount of brush layers and offers gradients - which was the biggest thing Aperture lacked imho.

    screen-capture-6.
    This is all you can do locally.

    As for the overall feel - it's not as "magical" as Aperture. There's no single keystroke shortcut to switch from 100% to 'fit the screen' magnifications - compared to Aperture, where you can do this with a simple press of the 'z'-button. Also, there's no simple way to hide the image browser to view your image as big as possible, which can be done with a simple hit of the 'v'-button in Aperture. Even more frustrating, you can't compare it to the original file, which could be done in Aperture with a simple hit of the 'm'-button. Yes, you can make make a new "version" like it's called in Capture One and then compare both, but it takes more time than in Aperture, which is bad for a function I need all the time.

    Once you work around all those issues though, the editing works pretty well. The functions are sorted well within the palettes, and for advanced photographers, most functions should be easily understandable. It's not even close to being as user friendly as the simple editing interface in Aperture, though.

    screen-capture-5.
    The available panels.

    screen-capture-4.
    The tool palette.

    I don't want to say anything about the results as I just started using the software and don't know it well enough to judge. Still, all functions seem to do what you expect without ever producing artifacts, and especially the black and white tool clearly produces more pleasing tones than the one in Aperture. I always used Silver Efex Pro anyways, but it's nice to have an integrated solution.

    Which brings me to my next gripe - plug-in support. Your favorite plug-ins like Nik Software's collection or OnOnes' package are probably not compatible with Capture One. There are workarounds, but they usually take so much time that it's not worth it in many occasions.

    One more feature which is necessary for portraits is, of course, retouching. Removing blemishes is as simple as it gets - just hit 'o' and you get a tool which removes any spot you click on. It doesn't offer any options, you can't even manually clone something. So yes, you need additional software like Photoshop for portrait editing, which is sad since even Aperture offers many options here. On the upside, the automated cloning seems to work great, much better than the automated cloning in Aperture.

    By the way, there are shortcuts for most tools, but they don't work always. And don't ask me why, I don't know it. This inconsistency unfortunately makes the software feel a lot less polished than it could be.

    Fun fact: PhaseOne themselves know that the UI severely lacks polish. Look what they answered to a comment which told them just how bad it may feel:

    screen-capture-1.

    screen-capture.



    Finally, the first before & after. As you can see, even I as a complete CaptureOne newbie was able to make something usable out of this photo. This was just a quick snapshot which I made to try CaptureOne, but I'd say even though the original was far from being usable, CaptureOne did a great job of processing it. And that in less than 10 minutes as a complete newbie. Not too bad.

    DSC08991 1.

    DSC08991.

    I'll update this thread as I continue using CaptureOne Pro 7. If you want to know something or want to see a specific edit, just comment. Also, let me know what you think.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  2. Tabibito

    Tabibito TalkEmount Regular

    177
    Apr 1, 2013
    Yes the UI can be very intimidating. That's what made me chose Lighthroom over Capture One back then.
     
  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I don't know how much reading you did before taking the Capture One plunge, Poki. But when I switched to Lightroom from Aperture (with no regrets), I found that I didn't get much out of it until I bought a good instructional guide (I bought Scott Kelby's book), and spent some time watching tutorials over at AdobeTV.

    Capture One may be easier to learn, but I know that I wouldn't have learned half of what I now know about Lightroom by just by clicking around in the menus.
     
  4. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Everyone should learn and explore like he wants to. For me, watching tutorials is just a pain in the ass. I love exploring software by myself, and I figured pretty much anything out by myself - from Aperture to Photoshop CC. And I doubt that CaptureOne is simpler than Lightroom - after all, the interface is totally weird, as opposed to the clean UI of Lightroom.

    It's just a matter of actually trying out every single function a software offers in any combination which makes sense. Of course this takes its time, but it's time spent being productive instead of just consuming tutorials.
     
  5. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I fail to see how receiving instruction from a tutorial is somehow being "unproductive," but aside from that, there are a number of features in Lightroom that I would never have discovered by trial and error.
     
  6. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Oh, never is quite a long time. ;)

    I have the full list of features CaptureOne offers, I doubt I'll miss something this way.
     
  7. Jazzer

    Jazzer TalkEmount Veteran

    344
    Nov 6, 2012
    New York
    Larry
    I have to say I am in David's camp on this one. At least from my own limited experience switching over to Lightroom very recently, even if I were to have gone looking for and found each of its features (which I am still learning about), there are several ways to do many things and by reading and watching videos I learned various shortcuts that have made my life easier and that I would have been unlikely to find or even thought to look for without having been told about them. Of course, YMMV and you are free to work and explore as you wish. :)

    Anyway, thanks for the pseudo blog on your Capture One experience. From the little I have seen so far, I think I am happy to have chosen Lightroom despite my displeasure with some of Adobe's business practices. Hope it works out for you as an alternative to Aperture.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    :thiagree:
     
  9. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Did you try Photo Ninja ?
     
  10. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    I still hope that those gripes are mostly just things I got too comfortable with in Aperture and that I can adjust my workflow enough to be able to live with CaptureOne. We'll see whether the results are worth it.

    As for tutorials - yes, I prefer to explore everything myself, but Phase One themselves offer a huge amount of video tutorials right within Capture One, so I might just quickly zap through them to see if I miss something.

    Nope, didn't try that one. Will look into it. Do you have any experience with it?
     
  11. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Yes, LR slows to a crawl on my PC, so I am now almost exclusively using PN. It's from Noise Ninja devs, actually NN is now part of PN. I stumbled upon it when I was going nuts trying to fix skin tones on some of the portraits I took in challenging lighting conditions, LR results were awful but PN worked wonders. At first I was only going to use it for occasional special edit, but now I prefer it over LR for most processing. It's got no brushes and little in a way of lens correction, but very good highlight recovery and details.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. BruPri

    BruPri TalkEmount Regular

    95
    Aug 7, 2011
    The one thing about Capture One I really like, is how it automatically handles noise reduction. In normal use however, it's kludgy to me, and not well thought out from the end user standpoint. One of my gripes is after importing say more than 10 images, there's a dialog box that pops up after import that gives an option to "take you there" to open the files in the viewer. It never "takes me there" I have to back out of what I'm doing and find the catalog or whatever they call it, and open the images manually. Tech support were clueless. Just seems like they threw some money at a developer, created the product but never really invested in improving the product.
     
  13. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    You know, those guys from Phase One are only about the image quality. Unser interfaces aren't important to them, and that's also what they communicate with every single marketing text. As they introduced the whole asset management part only with version 7, which is now 2 years old, there's hope that they'll fix it by version 8 at the end of the year. But it doesn't make me too confident that the same company who makes Media Pro isn't able to build a proper asset management into a RAW converter ...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    I just did a quick comparison at how good the two tools (Aperture and Capture One) are at bringing out detail. And guess what? Aperture doesn't even scratch the surface. Even here in the compressed forum view you can see the difference very clear, and when you open them a little bigger in separate tabs, just compare for yourself. They are worlds apart. I mean they're so far apart that I actually thought the Aperture one needs some time to get sharp, which doesn't even make sense in a browser ...

    I did pretty much the same with both files - a tiny little bit above-default sharpening, and bringing the "definition" slider up about 2/3 to the right. In Capture One, I used the "structure" and "clarity" sliders, because it offers both while Aperture doesn't offer anything besides "definition".

    I won't say which is which here (you can see it by moving your mouse cursor on a file and let it there for a little while), but I'd say it's pretty obvious. Where you able to tell instantly which is which?

    Aperture detail.

    Capture One detail.
     
  15. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    One more for testing sharpening. Both are set at default sharpening with just little bit of clarity. I think, again, the results speak for themselves.

    Note: The below images are crops from the same RAW-file, processed in similar ways in Aperture or Capture One Pro, respectively.

    Aperture Sharpening.

    Capture One Sharpening.

    By the way, I hope it'll stop raining soon. I can't wait to test the huge color tool in Capture One on an actual landscape image!
     
  16. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Even in landscapes, Capture One is amazing at bringing out detail. Just look at this comparison (top left is the untouched original):

    home - comparison crops.
     
  17. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    • Like Like x 1
  18. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
  19. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Yep, both applications are set in a way to deliver the best possible results - at least the best results I could get with them. You can, of course, get a little more out of the flower at Aperture, but I tried to work for about the same amount of time on the photo in both apps to see what I could get. And although I have four years of experience with Aperture, the result with CaptureOne Pro is so much better - which speaks for itself, I'd say.

    As for the Sony IDC - I tried it when I got my first NEX camera, and it consistently gave me worse results than Aperture. Maybe Aperture had a problem with this certain color (the flower), but it's quite consistent with my experience with Aperture - it doesn't handle complex color ranges very well.
     
  20. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
    Thanks. On rare occasions I'll go to IDC if I'm really trying to maximize sharpness (I've noticed Lightroom is slightly softer on Sony raw files), but IDC can be inconsistent with color, usually oversaturating.

    I may have to try out Capture One.