Phase One's Capture One Pro 6 software
Phase One’s raw converter software, Capture One Pro, has seen its user base expand thanks to its wide-ranging support for other makes. Indeed, adding support for Canon digital SLRs at an early stage was a shrewd move, but it’s fair to say Phase One was not as quick as rivals to offer support for other makes and keep up to date with new models.
Now, with more regular updates for new cameras, some ahead of Adobe, it’s clear that has become a priority. The most recent update, 6.1.1, adds support for the Olympus E-PL2 and XZ-1, and several Leaf Aptus-II 12 variants. But it also supports the Canon Powershot G12, Nikon D3100 and P7000, a raft of Lumix models, the Pentax K-5 and K-r and the Phase IQ backs from version 6.1. But this latest upgrade isn’t solely focused on bug fixes and camera updates. Unlike Apple or Adobe, Phase One adds new features in between major releases.
The update to version 6.0 brought a non-destructive Local Adjustment layers function, but the update to 6.1 added local brightness and contrast adjustments, as well as pen pressure and eraser support. It’s long overdue – rivals such as Bibble, Lightroom and Aperture have similar functionality. Local control options are sensibly grouped together under its own Tool tab. Phase One has also added a Colour Editor and, uniquely, Moiré removal. This interface is more intuitive than Lightroom’s equivalent, and the localised Moiré removal is the best I’ve seen, working without any detrimental effect to the rest of the image.
C1 Pro has had Lens Distortion correction for a while, but another headline feature of version 6 is Keystone Correction. Although there is the usual Lightroom-like grid and sliders to make corrections by eye, a clever semi-automated feature allows the option to overlay two adjustable parallel tracks. Each line (there are vertical and horizontal tracks) has two positioning points and you drag those to the corners of the subject, and watch C1 make the corrections. This is intuitive, time saving and the results are very effective.
Deliberately tucked away is the new Black & White conversion tool. It’s not shown in the default workspace, for reasons I’ll explain shortly, but the built-in styles can also be found under the Styles and Presets tab tool. With B&W tab enabled certain tool sets, such as Levels and Curves, as well as Colour Sensitivity/Split Tones, are in turn duplicated so as to work alongside the built-in B&W styles. This would be confusing at first glance, but offering the option to add the tool to its own tab is really rather neat. The B&W Styles aren’t as extensive as Silver Efex Pro, naturally, but nor are they as wide-ranging as Lightroom or Aperture, although there’s no less flexibility when it comes to making your own adjustments and there is the provision to save them as a preset.
As you might expect, there are numerous other tweaks and enhancements, such as a addictively useful but tricky to find animated loupe, support for movie importing and viewing (though there’s no editing option), self-populating Smart Albums, and Search and Filter options seen on rivals are all essential additions. A new full-screen mode, located under the View menu rather than the Window menu is very Lightroom-esque with animated Menu, Browser filmstrip and Tool tabs, but only C1 displays the image to the very edges of the monitor for the most expansive view – an extremely handy option if working from a single display.
The Metadata tool adds support for Getty Images metadata and importing, and adds XMP sync and GPS linking to Google maps. It also allows you to read and revise information at any point in the workflow.
Although C1 allows soft-proofing, including the excellent feature to set a printer profile as a Process Recipe for file output, version 6 includes a much-enhanced print module, including full colour management options, customisable print layouts and even the option to add annotations (albeit limited to the description or filename) and watermarks using either text or images. Like the B&W tool, it’s not configured as a tool tab, again to keep the interface less cluttered, but it’s fully featured and one less reason to output a file to Photoshop to print.
Not to be outdone by Leaf’s Capture Remote app for the iPad or iPhone, Phase One has introduced Capture Pilot, which offers the same features but enables you to view images from any supported tethered camera as they are taken.
What’s missing perhaps is some of the asset management tools of rivals, though with creating/adding Catalogs from Capture One there
is already some evidence of integration after Phase One’s purchase of Expression Media from Microsoft last year. A price of €299 +VAT (around £254) may be out of kilter with rivals, especially after Aperture’s price crash via the App store, but at just €69 to upgrade from Pro 3, 4, or 5, version 6 seems reasonable. However, along with wide-ranging raw compatibility the new features have made Capture One Pro 6 a substantial improvement over the previous iteration.
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