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Blog @ Reviews

Mind-blowing: Editing RAW with "CaptureOne 12.1"

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

This is the first article in a series dedicated to editing software. In this article I will compare CaptureOne to other two software I used and checked lately, and give my first impressions.

Article fits levels: Beginners, advanced and professionals

As a professional photographer and artist who gets a lot of international exposure to my work as part of my role as a global brand ambassador for Tokina-Kenko, I happen to be asked a lot of questions about my artwork, my style that I developed and some other interesting inquiries. Many people write to me and ask about the editing software I use. I say it outright – I do not like using Lightroom! In general, I want to work with a material, a company or a software that respects me and the like people, the professionals, and gives me the ability to express myself to the world in the best possible way. Asking me to pay a monthly subscription for a software that does not stay my proprietary.

I am what I am. I am proud in my art, my professional skills and abilities, my knowledge in Art, and my achievements so far. I do not relate any of those to Adobe's Lightroom. Ones they decided that people need to subscribe to a service, they lost me. Forever!

Thus, this article is for all of those many people who asked me lately about my recommendations for a great editing software. Nothing in this world is perfect, but when it is close to be – this should be mentioned! Let’s go!

So, you bought a DSLR or mirror-less piece, mounted your favorite lens on, and off you went. Taking photos. Ready to stop the time and document it either for yourself or the whole world. After sitting back at the desk, you are ready to find those special shots that stand out of the rest. And you do actually find some. What next?

You need some good editing software that could help you bringing out the idea of the shot, emphasize the goods, and obscure the less favorite parts. ‘Jumping Jack’ shows up in your minds and shouts “Adobe!”. But is that so? Is Adobe really your one and only place to dive in order to do the job efficiently, and primarily – quickly?

This article is aimed to reach everyone who holds a DSLR or mirror-less. For those who already know me, my work, and my own perspective, I do not tend to write to photographers of a certain proficiency level. So, this one goes to everyone – beginners, advanced and professionals alike. Always talking/looking at the eye level, especially those who are not savvy in all of the technical language.

What Do I need:

What do I (personally) look for when I start a new editing project? Actually, if to analyze the real necessities, I am going to rephrase the question: what actions do I require the editing software to do for me in an absolute great quality and ease?

There can be so many actions in my workflow and there are always additional things that deemed critical. Hence, to answer the above question, I put all types of photography in which I deal with in the equation. And solving this equation now will be very challenging indeed. Obviously, there are crucial differences between product photography and landscape photography, between portraiture and architecture or Macro, and so on. So putting all those types in separate equations will require me to write a few variations of this article, rather than giving you any general information (but important, though) so you can actually decide whether this product is for you, or you choose one of lower quality. Thus, here we go; I am illuminating below some of MY general, most, frequently used, and absolutely necessary actions that are important for the entire scramble of the photography types above. Some other people may have different preferences.

1) Loading Times:

Now listen up, I live in New Zealand. The pace here is different to other countries in the world. We are not chasing after our tails. We take life slowly. People here do work 8am to 4pm, the stores close at 5:30pm, and the families have a great time together. However, when it comes to working on photos, many photos, I want a software that loads the files relatively quickly. I find this very unpleasant to wait on the “On1 PhotoRaw” and on the “Luminar 3” to my many files to show on the software interface. Moreover, the problems do not end here, as the latter two sometimes get stuck altogether and I am required to shut the software off and re-launch it for another round. This is an unacceptable thing, in my opinion and practice. I do hope that this issue will be fixed in those two pieces of software, the sooner the better. I did not find such a problem with “CaptureOne 12.1” (and Adobe Lightroom, way back in time). But I do not use Lightroom and I won’t go there anytime soon!

Level of proficiency: all levels

2 ) Catalog, catalog, catalog:

Honestly, I cannot express this better: I cannot use a software that does not let me catalog my files. Opening every file separately without viewing previous work or other files of the same project makes me tired! "Aurora 2019" (the “sister” software of “Luminar 3”), is an example of where people do not have catalogs makes their lives heavier. So yes, it is an HDR editing software that has some very good use, but the lack of the catalog option just puts me off. Sometimes, all you need to do is fixing small issues, nothing serious. The latter makes one do some jobs twice: first on Aurora, then on a different software to finalize the edit job. “On1 Photo Raw” and “Luminar 3” both have cataloging systems, but much inferior to the one that CaptureOne presents here.

CaptureOne 12.1 has a wonderful cataloging system to one’s content. Not only it produces that easy workflow with catalogs that I am after, but it also allows you to create what PhaseOne calls “sessions” (PhaseOne is the company that created CaptureOne, by the way). A “Session” is PhaseOne’s CaptureOne way to define separate projects from one another. This is great, since I can create a separate location to any project, directly from the software, rather than cataloging it in general. Sessions are easing the job, especially in product and studio portraiture works!

Level of proficiency: Professionals

3) Lens correction:

The curvature distortion is probably the first thing I would like to do when getting into work. I prefer a robust software that immediately recognizes any of my many lenses made by different manufacturers and different manufacturing years and models. I do not want to spend too much time to correct each photo. Once the software has recognized the lens and applied the correction in one simple press of a button, I expect to avoid any further manual correction. What I mean is that I do not wish to deal with a further correction after the automatic lens correction. What for?! Double job for me? Nope, I really do not like it! Especially when I have many photos on the flow.

I need the software to recognize both the camera body and lens, and if for some reason it does any wrong assessment, then it should allow me to choose the lens manufacturer and model. Specific lens profile correction is NOT available in “Luminar 3”, and I honestly do not know why! The options are, on the other hand, available in “On1 Photo Raw” and “CaptureOne”. The latter recognized all my lenses correctly with a superb correction that applied to the RAW file. “On1 Photo Raw” did not recognize all lenses, and I needed to play manually with the distortion function in order to set the correction better. Due to the easy solution that CaptureOne gives in this regard, I find it as a great tool to start working on your projects.

Level of Proficiency: everyone

4) Exposure (along with white balance, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, and clarity):

This is probably one of the most important tools one could ever use in their editing job. Underexposed and overexposed photos are not always the best way to convey your ideas to the world. You need that tool to contain all of the above. And you need it to do a great job. I find any software out of the three mentioned in this article to be brilliant in this tool! On1 Photo Raw, however, shows a bit of sluggish reaction, but overall the result that it yields is acceptable.

Level of proficiency: advanced and professionals.

5) Dehaze:

Oh yes, Dehaze. I know that for some photographers this does not say a lot, but for all the landscape and family/trip photographers this means quite a lot. Unfortunately, CaptureOne does not have any dedicated tool for dehaze. I am not entirely sure why! Yes, you can do the work in the long way, and use other tools and play with them all around in order to get such effect of dehazing. Sometimes the effect would not be as good as other dedicated buttons we can find in other software, like “Luminar 3” or even its previous version “Luminar 2018”. Perhaps this is a call for PhaseOne to create such dedicated tool? Come-on! Make our life a bit sweeter!

Levels of Proficiency: everyone!

6) Color Cast:

Color cast, in simple words, is when a certain color “washes” the whole photo. Like when you take a photo and see that the white shirt, the face and the hair of the subject get a sort of a transparent blue-ish wash. Correction of this can be easily done using one dedicated tool at “Luminar 3”. In CaptureOne, despite not having a dedicated tool, this is a matter of 10 seconds on their robust “Color Balance” tool!

Level of Proficiency: (truly) everyone

7) Depolarization:

This is THE tool where you would like to decrease the glare of the water or a glass. If you are in the outdoors, you probably know what I mean. Dedicated tool for this can make the life much easier to everyone. I hereby call to every editing software company to create such tool. Not everyone shoots with filters on the lens, sometimes we even forget to put on. This happens. Correction of glaring can be sometimes a pain in the place you sit on. “Luminar 3” has this tool, however, this one needs some more adjustments, and I hope the software engineers there at Skylum are working on it! PhaseOne’s CaptureOne – this is a call for you, too. Create such tool.

Level of Proficiency: advanced and professionals

8) Split Toning:

I find this tool an interesting one for the artists among us. CaptureOne has this tool only connected to the Black and White conversion. I, as a professional who grew up onto photography from dramatic B&W sketching and painting, make a great use of this tool. I believe that high-resolution artwork will benefit a lot from this split toning tool. I can additionally advise PhaseOne software engineers to add this tool to the color editing.

Level of Proficiency: professionals and artists

9) Dual Mode:

I have two monitors and sometimes even connect a third one to my computer. I see no use to have a professional editing software without the ability to work on a project where the area of the photo is limited in between other sections of the software. Honestly, I do not even need to mention it, but sadly many pieces of software still do not give this option. I want to keep the tools on one screen, and the photo I edit on the second one. I want to see ALL of the photo in a big screen. I am very meticulous in my editing, especially where it comes to representation of my abilities as an artist and when I am coming to represent the quality of a product or company.

CaptureOne 12.1 allows me to use dual monitors. This is absolutely a delightful treat that I would not dismiss!

Level of Proficiency: professionals and artists

A bit of summary:

I can talk hours on the other tools, methods of editing, differences between one software to another. But I chose to touch in the mere general important stuff. I would absolutely check out the CaptureOne magic. The software is a robust one, and you do not pay for a subscription like in Adobe. This is why I am not using Lightroom. This makes no sense, and with all respect to Lightroom, CaptureOne (as I will discuss in next articles) can replace both Lightroom and Photoshop for most of the editing work. If you use Photoshop so much in your work, perhaps that could be better thinking about better composition, better choice of lighting and lenses, and better methods of shooting. My suggestion is to absolutely give CaptureOne a good try!

Yes, CaptureOne, is a bit hard in regard to the learning curve. It is a bit different and beginners will see it a bit confusing in the beginning. However, if you are more advanced or a professional photographer, I warmly suggest giving it a go, especially when you do not subscribe to a service but actually purchase the copy for good!

Here is a link for CaptureOne for you to understand what I am talking about:

I would love to hear from you either here, on the mail, or on my professional Facebook page:

(C) All Rights to Collins Ryàn - l'artiste, 2019


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