Capture One Pro 7 review

PhaseOne has upgraded Capture One Pro to a whole new application with an improved processing engine, an advanced Bayer Interpolation algorithm, and with integrated digital asset management. Further improvements include better noise reduction, a new lens setting for tilt-shift lenses, a new Clarity setting for adding punch to photos, new export formats, and more.

Version 7 of Capture One Pro must be about the most important upgrade of this venerable program ever.

IT Enquirer rating

9/10

URL:

Pros
  • Noise reduction
  • Local adjustments
  • RAW conversion quality
  • Highlight and shadow detail recovery “depth”
Cons
  • DAM module needs working on
Price (approx.): €229.00

I started the review process by importing 4800 photos from a LaCie 4Big RAID 5 connected via a LaCie Thunderbolt/eSATA converter. This setup allows me a throughput of 200MB/sec, so that should be high enough for any digital imaging software. I first imported these images by simultaneously ingesting them in the Capture One catalogue with “Backup Enabled”. The backup was to be kept on the iMac i5/3.2GHz’s 1TB internal disk.

The import process took the better part of half a day and left the application quite unresponsive. I decided to uncheck the backup option, as this only resulted in all images being duplicated in one folder on the internal disk. Performance was better, but still the application seemed slower than version 6.x.

Another catalogue only referencing the images already on disk gave me a much snappier performance. With images ingested in the catalogue (this is what Apple’s Aperture offers by default) the app needs a lot of processing power and continuously writes to the disk. Even 200MB/sec doesn’t seem to satisfy the bandwidth Capture One Pro 7 needs.

The digital asset management module in my opinion isn’t ready for showtime yet. Speed is an element. Not having a method to prevent duplicates from ending up in your catalogue, is another. What I would also have liked is a search capability across catalogues.

Luckily, you don’t have to use the DAM part. You can still use Capture One Pro 7 with a session-based workflow.

Now for the new engine. First of all: I have always found Capture One Pro the best of all the RAW image apps available. However, it’s even better now. It’s so much better that it combines the power of Aperture with several of Nik Software’s filters. If you take Nik’s latest versions of Viveza and Silver Efex Pro added to Aperture; that’s about what you’ll be capable of with Capture One Pro 7.

The new engine is said to give me more detail and better colour rendition. The colour rendition looked pretty much the same to me — perhaps skin tones will be rendered with more accuracy — but burnt highlights and shadow elements can be better recovered with more accuracy.

The noise reduction algorithm has been improved considerably. I tried it with a photo of a black leather area and could get rid of most noise without also wiping out most of the leather grain.

Lens correction seems to be a big thing in Capture One Pro 7. However, it’s mainly targeting users of medium-size cameras such as PhaseOne and Hasselblad lenses. Canon and Nikon lenses are also well represented, but my own Zeiss by Sony lens is nowhere to be found. Of course, PhaseOne isn’t DxO Labs. Besides, to be honest, even without lens correction tools, Capture One Pro 7 offers a better conversion and editing than DxO Optics Pro 7.

Given that Dxo Optics Pro is in my opinion an excellent tool, you can imagine what Capture One Pro is like.

To me, the best new feature (at least among the ones I could test) is the rather dramatically expanded Local Adjustments module. Except for the brush mask, you now get a gradient mask, a brush mask that recognizes area boundaries (auto mask), and a fill mask command. There are also the copy mask and inverse mask commands that make this tool one of the most powerful available in my opinion.

It’s the Local Adjustment tool that makes Capture One Pro 7 as powerful as Aperture and several of Nik’s filters combined. It lets you play with an image and bring out detail that you can’t with another RAW editor like Aperture or DxO Optics Pro unless you fall back on plug-in filters like Nik’s.

Other new features included with Capture One Pro 7 that I couldn’t test are instant tethered capture with Capture Pilot (iOS or web browser view and rate functionality), and live view for dSLRs. Version 7 also exports to more formats than before.