Mastery over your workflow is one of the key elements in successful post production. Like a soldier disassembling and reassembling their weapon, photographers can spend years perfecting their routine to where they have it down pat. From the lowly beginner to the seasoned pro, every photographer has their unique method of backing up and editing.
Capture One has played an integral role in many photographers’ workflow and can be a much better alternative to Lightroom for processing your images. After hours of investing into the Adobe product, learning the nuances, tricks, and work-arounds to compensate for lack of performance, it can be difficult to switch to something else without knowing a few of the basics first. Below is a list of common issues photographers face and how to fix them in Capture One.
A Word About Workflow
Differing from Lightroom where the majority of the work comes from the develop module, Capture One’s workflow is separated into tabs. The default configuration has the tabs located on the left hand of the window. They are usually in the following order: Library, Capture, Lens, Color, Exposure, Details, Local Adjustments, Adjustments, Metadata, Output, and Batch. The workflow below follows the tabs in order.
No matter who makes it, there are certain flaws in the factor of the optical design of lenses. Some manufactures combat distortion, aberrations, and vignetting better than others. When pairing a first party lens with your camera, these issues are usually fixed before you ever start editing. If you use a third-party lens, like one made by Sigma or Tamron, lens profiles are provided within Capture One and are usually selected automatically. If your lens doesn’t have a profile here is how you fix the problems manually.
- Click the Lens tool tab
- Select the lens from Lens Profile if listed
- If there’s no profile, use the sliders to correct distortion and vignetting manually
- Check the box labeled Chromatic Aberration to analyze and remove aberrations automatically
- Slide Purple Fringing slider as needed to remove any other aberrations
There is nothing that does color like Capture One. Phase’s award winning program has a very powerful color editor that behaves similarly to most professional editing programs with color wheels dedicated to highlights, midtones and shadows. One of our writers, Max, goes into great detail about the using the color editor, much of which is out of the scope of this article. What I am going to show you is how to quickly fix white balance.
Most photographers usually prefer Auto White Balance, as it is one less thing to worry about when in the midst of a busy event. Thought AWB is great on some cameras, like the D750, it is not perfect and can sometimes be tricked. To fix this:
- Click the Color tool tab
- Select the appropriate white balance from the Mode drop down
- If one preset doesn’t suffice, either dial in the appropriate color with the Kelvin slider or select a portion of the image that is supposed to be white with the Eyedropper tool
Whether it is the meter in your camera, forgetting to adjust to a different environment, or the exposure compensation getting knocked, every now and then you will capture that the exposure can be a bit off. The exposure tab has the tools you will need to bring it back. Similar to Lightroom’s Tone module, Exposure, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, can be adjusted in either direction to taste. Where there is a difference comes in the Dynamic Range.
In Capture One Highlights and Shadows only slide in one direction, recovering their respective tones. The vignette compensation is also located in the exposure tool tab, rather than in the lens tab.
There is a certain level of interference that can come between a good image and a great image. Dust on the sensor, noise generated from long exposures or high ISO and hot/stuck pixels can get in the way. This is how you combat them in Capture One.
- Open the Details Tool Tab and click the Spot Removal Tool
- Adjust the brush size to about the same size as the dust or spots
- Click on dust you want to remove
- Repeat until your image is cleaned up
The Dust brush can repair speckles of dust on the sensor plate that obstruct up to two stops of light which remain at a fixed location. It is designed to prevent damage to an image if the speck is not visible.
Whereas the Spot brush can be used to repair more severe problems. This method tries to repair the image assuming the image is completely ruined. An intelligent neighbor pixel calculation incorporates additional elements, including feathering to repair the image.
- Open the Details Tool Tab scroll down to the Noise Reduction panel
- Luminance, Details, and Color are set to 50 by default. This is usually enough to remove color noise
- If more reduction is needed slide the Luminance slider to the right
- Recover fine details and add micro-contrast using the Detail and Color sliders
Side Note: Luminance noise is the variation in brightness of individual pixels is similar to grain on traditional film. Removing luminance softens the image, blurring fine details. Noise reduction is about finding the right balance between details and softness.
Those these tips are for are more geared for beginners and first-time users of Raw converters, professionals looking to jump ship from Adobe can use them as stepping stone into making the transition go more smoothly. The ‘Develop’ module in Lightroom may have all the settings bunched into one bar, forcing user to scroll up and down to find the right tool they need. As a recent convert to Capture One myself, I know there transition can be made within a day or two.