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Phase One Media Pro SE Review | The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

By Marlon Richardson on August 15th 2016

Phase One’s Capture One image editing software and Media Pro SE photo management software are billed as a combined photography software toolset that can be highly useful for event, stock, fine art, videography, or any pro who deals with large collections of high resolution photo and image files.

Media Pro SE supports photo and video files from more than 100 different cameras engineered to work on the latest Mac and Windows operating systems, and supports adjustments from the latest build of Capture One 9. For good measure, Media Pro SE installations can be run in parity with Capture One 9’s 3 activations.

This software is a natural competitor to similar programs like Photo Mechanic, Adobe Bridge, and Perfect Browse, and I spent 6 weeks putting Media Pro SE through the paces.  The most immediate benefit to adding Media Pro SE to your workflow is that it can be used as a front-end for more powerful editing software that could choke whilst managing large asset collections. When you just want to browse files, make selects – but aren’t ready to get down to business yet, Media Pro SE is all you need.


The Good

Media Pro SE is a marvelous standalone image browser that will hasten your workflow in terms of photo and video asset management. Importing is extremely fast whether it’s 10 or 100 megapixel files. No matter how many photos and videos you throw at it, Media Pro SE will churn through them all and make high quality previews quickly. Unlike Capture One 9, the learning curve for Media Pro SE is nonexistent. In 2-3 hours you’ll know this program inside and out.

An added bonus is that Media Pro SE-created catalogs can be searched, browsed, or annotated all while the original files are offline, once you get back online any changes you made will sync automatically.



My favorite aspect of Media Pro SE is its near seamless integration with Capture One Pro 9 Sessions. After ingesting, organizing, and editing, files can be dragged and dropped into Capture One 9 Pro as fast-loading smart previews. Dust off that 5 year old Macbook Air or maybe give another look at that Surface Pro you that want a legit reason to own so badly – a combination of Capture One 9 and Media Pro SE can give new life to systems that you previously might have thought insufficient for editing work.

The Bad

For those of you who’ve used the previous edition of Media Pro SE you’ll find that the second edition, for the most part, has simply been updated to work on the latest operating systems from Apple and Microsoft.

First, I would’ve liked to see a tighter integration with Capture One Pro 9. Users should be able to name their color coded labels and create albums of content. Otherwise, it can get hard remember what groups of photos have in common.

Next, although Media Pro SE source files are called Catalogs, you can’t actually use Media Pro SE with Capture One Pro 9 Catalogs simultaneously. You can only drag and drop media from Media Pro SE into a Capture One Pro 9 Session. This is a huge bummer as you can’t convert Sessions into Catalogs or vice versa. This omission just further confirms to me that the second edition of Media Pro SE is in reality only a minor update to it’s now 8 year old first edition.


Since this program is passively targeted at photographers who may not use Capture One, Phase One should include Adobe Camera Raw as a media rendering option instead of only Apple/Microsoft (depends on your system) and Phase One.

I’d also very much like a method to calculate GPS coordinates of selected files; importing GPX or NMEA log files from a a GPS enabled device seems like a logical work around. Including GPS functionality seems like a no-brainer with so many digital camera’s recording this information these days.

Lastly, modifying the capture date doesn’t work properly. The exif for that field remains the same as recorded on your memory card. Phase One needs to fix this in their next update, ASAP.

The Ugly

There is no easy way to put this. It is extremely easy to corrupt a Media Pro SE source file. If a catalog is closed improperly due to a power outage or a system freeze, your Media Pro SE catalog will, at best, remove all of the editing you may have slaved over, or at worst it might wipe the catalog clean. Could you imagine losing 128,000 file edited catalog this way? Nope. Me neither.

Never-mind that Media Pro SE doesn’t have an autosave feature and no automatic method to backup catalogs. These are missing features that would’ve been bearable in 2006, but not so much in 2016.


Normally, I’d call these absolute deal breakers, however ingesting, culling, and dragging select previews into a Capture One Pro 9 session is a killer feature for photographers who shoot in the 36-100 megapixel range. Even if your Media Pro SE catalog doesn’t survive, once those preview files go into Capture One Pro 9, they are corruption proof. For some, this feature alone provides enough value to spring for Media Pro SE.

[REWIND: Is It Time To Switch From Lightroom to Capture One Pro? Here’s Why It Might Be]


I’ve been a thorough supporter for Capture One through the years and it continues to be the top tier platform (see my review here), but, to end my review, I cannot in good conscience wholly recommend -the $189 a pop- Media Pro SE until Phase One updates the inexcusable saving issue with this software. If that ever happens, we will definitely revisit this, but otherwise it’s a very promising software.

You can take check out Media Pro SE here.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Marlon is a South Florida-based wedding and portrait photographer, writer, and interactive designer. Involved in photography since the 90’s, his background began with repairing film cameras from a master Vietnam veteran, followed by years of assisting professional photographers then before starting his own business in 2006. Marlon at his heart is a tinkerer that has love for and adept in every medium of photography.

When not working Marlon is all about spending time with his wife, Naomi and two boys, Taze and Brassaï.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Paul Dymond

    Hi there, I’m a long time user of MediaPro and, before it, iView. As a mostly stock and travel photographer it works perfectly for my library and workflow. I also use it to build image databases for large corporations and government departments who don’t need to manipulate their images, just to find them and use them. There is an auto-save function in the preferences that will save your catalogue every 5 minutes. You can definitely crash the software if you try and close it down when you have the spinning wheel of death but I find that this doesn’t happen on a standard PC very often. It happens if I try and run it over a slow server but otherwise I have very rarely had a problem.

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  2. Wong Loong

    Was wondering if they’ve fixed the catalog corrupt issue mentioned above now that it’s a year later? 

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  3. Patrick fallon

    May I ask what version of Media SE Pro you tested?  (Current versioin at time of this comment is  FWIW I’ve been looking for a good non cloud based DAM option and after weeks and weeks of searching and demoing various apps I keep coming back to Media Pro SE.  In non cloud based apps there seems to be nothing else out there comparable, except perhaps Extensis Portfolio (which I’m not willing to try given that it’s $2.7K!!).

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  4. Trey Yancy

    I’ve had Media Pro for two years. Every time I run it, a subsequent background scan by Drive Genius reports that the carbonstuff plst file has been corrupted. Every time for two years, and ONLY after running Media Pro. PhaseOne has ignored by tech supprot inquiries for two years. Other users have reported this issue as well. 

    Note that there is no upgrade path to this “second edition”. It rejects the serial number from Media Pro. If I were to roll the dice and buy a copy of MPSE outright, it would be a $189 gamble. 

    Considering their total disregard for the paying customer and their refusal to reply to queries about this bug, I am not willing to risk a penny on these scoundrels.

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  5. Robert Edwards

    Media Pro SE is a very minor upgrade for new operating systems and should’ve been free to all v1.x license owners. In beta it was labelled Media Pro 1.6 then released as “SE” (Second Edition) without any new features.

    After a decade it’s still the best, lightweight DAM for creating visual catalogs.

    FWIW you can set MediaPro to auto-save at user set intervals in preferences.

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  6. Ralph Hightower

    About “The Ugly”, may I suggest buying an Uninterruptible Power Supply, aka UPS? Put your computer, monitor, and RAID on the UPS battery backup.

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    • Marlon Richardson

      I have a setup just like you mentioned above.

      Please understand that a Media SE catalog will crash from any improper shutdown. This includes system crashes that could’ve originated from another program, your browser, or Media Pro SE itself.

      It’s really too risky to trust it without making a duplicate catalog file periodically.

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  7. Kelvin Strepen

    That’s a good review for media pro SE, Marlon Richardson. Thank you for discussing both negative and positive sides of this photo editing software.

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    • Marlon Richardson

      I do think that most photographers should add a real DAM program into their workflow. Importing massive libraries of thousands of images in C1 or LR will inevitably lead to slow performance.

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