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Capture One Pro 8.3 review: Aperture replacement light on library features, strong on editing tools

Jeff Carlson | Aug. 3, 2015
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.

But at the same time, you can't flag an unwanted photo as a reject; your options are to either keep the rating at zero stars or delete the photo. If you delete it, however, a dialog pops up asking if you also want to delete the file on disk, which gets in the way when you're reviewing your shots. This behavior suggests Capture One Pro encourages photographers to elevate the good shots instead of banishing the poor ones, but both approaches are useful.

Videos in Capture One Pro are just along for the ride. You can import and play them, but rating or applying any metadata other than changing the filename is inactive; smart albums don't even include criteria to identify videos.

If your camera is set to shoot Raw+JPEG pairs, the two files are treated as separate images in Capture One Pro. That's good in terms of being transparent about which files are in your catalog, but not great when you're seeing double of everything. One workaround is to hide the JPEG files (choose View > Global Filters > Always Hide JPEG Files), but that also hides photos you captured using a mobile device or other shots captured and stored only as JPEGs.

Capture One Pro also only barely supports geotagging. If the GPS data was saved to each file during shooting, it shows up in the EXIF-GPS field, but you can't copy the navigation information to other photos, such as those taken with a different camera at the same spot. There's no built-in map feature; instead, clicking a small button to the right of the field loads the location in a web browser using Google Maps.

Editing photos

Making adjustments to photos is a much better experience. Phase One touts Capture One Pro's superior raw image conversion, and I found that to be generally true, although not always dramatically so.

Part of that is because Capture One Pro automatically applies a profile to raw images, but I saw improvement even when comparing the same images after manually assigning a profile in Lightroom. Some cameras, like the Fujifilm X-T1, incorporate raw profiles within the raw files themselves, so the software can use that as a guide for rendering the images; even in those cases, Capture One Pro's versions appeared with more saturation and contrast compared to Lightroom's versions, which came through a little washed out.

The raw file is just a starting point, of course. Capture One Pro includes a host of adjustment tools, such as a three-way color balance control for tweaking color casts of shadows, midtones, and highlights.

I also like the software's approach to local adjustments, or edits made to selected areas of a photo. You can apply gradient masks or paint specific areas, and also create them on up to 16 local adjustment layers, with the ability to toggle each one on or off as you experiment. I did find it annoying when painting masks to switch between the paint and erase tools to refine my selections. It would be easier to hold Option to toggle between the two, although Capture One Pro does offer keyboard shortcuts to switch between them.


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