When Apple discontinued Aperture in favor of Photos for OS X--sacrificing most of the features that appealed to Aperture users--the presumed replacement was Adobe's Lightroom CC. But not all photographers are drawn to Lightroom.
Phase One's Capture One Pro offers many of the features that Aperture users expect. It's an organizer that stores, tracks, and remembers information about all of your photos; and it's also a sophisticated image editor that allows you to make adjustments such as cropping, exposure, and color changes.
The question is, how well does it perform in these areas? The core features are there for photographers looking to replace Aperture or expand beyond Photos for OS X, yet I was also often stymied by missing features or unnecessary speed bumps. Let's step through a typical workflow and see where it excels and where it needs more work.
Importing and organizing
Capture One Pro gets its name from one of its original features, the ability to immediately import photos as they're shot using a tethered camera. The software now supports tethering with dozens of cameras from Nikon, Canon, MamiyaLeaf (owned by Phase One), and Phase One's own models.
As a result, Capture One Pro offers two ways to store photos: discrete sessions, such as collecting photos from a particular event or job; and catalogs, which house your photo library the way Lightroom and Aperture do. You can have multiple sessions and catalogs open simultaneously, but you can search only one catalog or session at a time.
Importing photos from a memory card or camera works as you'd expect, although Capture One Pro's interface, with its black background and small white text, is tough on the eyes and makes it difficult to discern the boundaries of the Import window when it opens.
What I found puzzling, though, is that even though Capture One Pro supports more than 300 cameras (and the large array of proprietary raw image formats), it doesn't recognize a connected iPhone or other iOS device as a photo source. Phase One's audience no doubt reaches for DSLRs before iPhones, but professionals and amateurs alike shoot with their iPhones. In testing with two iPhones and two iPads on three different Macs, Capture One Pro didn't see the iOS devices as cameras. Getting those photos into your library therefore involves importing them to another application (like Image Capture) and then importing them from the hard disk into Capture One Pro.
Once the catalog or session is populated, you can rate photos from one to five stars (by simply tapping the corresponding number key), assign color tags, apply keywords, and group images into albums or smart albums. For the most part, reviewing and applying metadata is smooth--for example, it's easy to set up presets that contain frequently-used keywords and add them to photos.
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