Capture One 12 is the latest iteration of an image processing software that has been around since the very beginning. In fact the lead designer also worked on the creation of Photoshop.
Images above taken on the Fujifilm GFX 50S interior of the new Bentley Bentayga and processed in Capture One Pro 12.
Capture One 12 is without doubt the most thorough image editing and processing application available. I used the very first Capture One when it first came out and was the dominant software on the market.
Its main strength now is that it offers a linear processing system that takes you through each stage of creating that final perfect image from your camera capture file, Raw or Jpeg, or any other file format you wish to shoot in. And you can tweak every aspect of the image at each stage with incredibly detailed precision.
The greatest new addition is without doubt the Luma controls, you can easily select the highlights, low lights or mid tones you want and then apply any filter at all. This is normally a painful process in any other editing software. Plus you can then use that same Luma mask on other images, without having to change it each time. Awesome for landscape, portrait and my area, fashion. This alone make it a necessity for producing the very best imagery.
The development process starts in the top left side menu from left to right, going through File, Capture, Lens Correction, Colour, Exposure, Focus, Styles & Presets, Information/Data, Output and Batch. Each of these headings offers you very fine control of every possible parameter and clearly much care has been taken to make the changes as beneficial as possible to the final image.
You can easily batch process your images and also apply a general preset to the whole shoot and then fine tune each image to perfection.
Capture One 12 is aimed at professionals but is easy enough to be used by anyone. Where it really excels is in precision and manner in which you can fine tune the results.
For a start you can remotely control your camera though the software to adjust all settings, exposure, aperture, speed etc and focus too.
Then the lens correction, like every other aspect of this well thought out software, enables minute adjustments to every possible lens aberration: distortion, diffraction, chromatic, sharpness, fringing, colour cast, dust removal, and light fall off. You can create profiles for each of your lens and add these to the very complete library they already have.
The Colour menu provides similar fine grain detailed changes. Black and white, white balance, profile, exposure, the usual. However here you also have the ability to colour correct shadows, mid tones and highlights, as well as a colour wheel in the Colour Editor which lets you adjust Smoothness, Hue, Saturation and Lightness to each colour individually. Something that actually has been sorely left out of other editors. There is also a Skin Tone Setting that allows you to directly manipulate the skin tones, another added bonus that is essential for a smooth workflow in portrait and fashion.
In the Exposure menu the High Dynamic Range setting is particularly good at restoring lost highlights and recovering shadows to a large extent, without the image looking fake. There is a clear Luma indicator, set to on per default too.
The Focus menu has the usual suspects, but also includes Halo suppression and an effective Moire tool. Noise reduction is excellent, way beyond most apps, and the addition of a proper Film Grain where you can adjust type, impact and granularity is very welcome.
The User Styles are good, but I would like to see more easily applied presets and filters to make the work swifter. Styes that imitate film types and processes, that are clearly titled to make quick dirty processing possible in situations that demand quick turnaround. I know this seems like barbarism to the purist, but sometimes clients want results in hours, not days.
If you're using a Fujifilm camera of course they do give you the whole set of Fujifilm film simulations which are brilliant. These are so good that I view them as essential so these need to be offered for all cameras. It gives you the ability to get as close to film as digital is able with over 16 styles available. The richness and vibrance of these simulations is quite stunning.
The access for these presets is somewhat special, you have to go to Colours, then Base Characteristics, then put in the Profile and the full Fujifilm simulations appear in the drop down below. The answer is obvious, buy a Fujifilm camera. See my review of Fujifilm GFX 50S below if you want find the best medium format camera at a reasonable price.
The Tagging and Information settings are deep, you can tag, colour code, and add keywords easily to all images in one go. Plus the output lets you add all these plus a watermark on export.
There is also a third party plugin that allows other companies to add their own features, which could make this an even more exciting prospect for users.
I've been processing images shot on the medium format camera Fuji GFX 50S which are huge 50 megapixel files and Capture One has been processing them pretty quickly to my exterior drive, so the speed and output performance are very good.
Finally the image quality of the output is excellent, this is in the very top of the image processors currently out there and the clarity, detail, colour and dynamic range are all stunningly rendered. For those who want total fine grain control of every aspect (pun intended) Capture One 12 is the very best out there. For professionals and artists who know exactly what they want.
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