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three Of My Favourite Features In Capture One Post Production Tips

Three Of My Favorite Features In Capture One Pro

By Max Bridge on October 20th 2016

There are quite a few RAW editors these days; Lightroom, Capture one, On1, Phocus, to name a few. The majority perform the same or very similar tasks, and, at least with the ones I have mentioned, do it pretty well. Aside from the large overriding features; RAW conversion, UI etc. I usually find it’s the little things that make the difference. Those little features which you’ll use every day that truly separate them. This article will cover three such features within Capture One Pro.

Capture One Has a Luma Curve

I like a lot of control when I edit. That’s why when I add curves in Photoshop I often change the blend mode to Luminosity. The reason I do this is to stop the addition of contrast via curves, interfering with other things, saturation for example. You may think there can’t be that much of a difference but take a look at the photo below.


Both images had the same settings applied in Capture One, I then applied a curve. On the left, you can see the Luma Curve. In a similar way to Photoshop, the tones have been adjusted but the color has remained intact. Compare that to the image on the right which uses the exact same curve, but as RGB, there’s a gigantic difference. I love the ability to precisely control the tones separately to color. Not only that but you can add layer upon layer of curves in the Local Adjustments tab and control them with masks, just like Photoshop.

example of a luma curve in capture one pro

The Color Editor In Capture One

That moves me neatly on to my second favorite feature of Capture One. The Color Editor. Now, I admit that as a product photographer I don’t tend to make wild adjustments to color. For the most part, all I want is accurate color which shows the product in its true light. That said, I still love the Color Editor in Capture One.

the basic color tab in capture one pro

The Color Editor is made up of three tabs; Basic, Advanced and Skin Tone. The basic tab (above) provides a very simple method for adjusting color, similar to what you’ll be used to in other programs. You can use the color picker to select the color you want to edit or select the channel from the colors at the bottom. The main difference here is the Smoothness slider which controls how much your adjustments will bleed into neighboring colors on the wheel.

the advanced tab in capture one pro

The real power of the color editor can be found in the following two tabs. The advanced tab looks very similar at first glance but a more precise selection is made when you click using the color picker. You can then manually refine that selection. Moving the control points out in either direction will select further Hue’s, and moving it up or down controls the saturation selected. In addition, you can visually see your selection by ticking View Selected Color Range at the bottom.

Two other very cool features of the advanced tab are the ability to make multiple adjustments. Whenever you click with the Color Picker a new Adjustment layer is created, you can see them all listed in the photo above. That means that you can adjust the same color in the most precise way possible. You could make separate adjustments based on the saturation of a color for instance. The other feature, which seriously is the dogs B*******s, is the ability to export your color selection as a mask. Once you’ve done that, you can apply all the usual edits you have in the Local Adjustments tab; Curves, Clarity, High Dynamic Range, Sharpening and so on. That’s pretty amazing!


the skin tone tab in capture one pro

As a product photographer, I don’t have much use for this tab, however, that in no way reflects it’s power; from what I hear. Essentially it works in a similar way to the Advanced tab BUT it adds another slider called uniformity. What that will allow you to do is select a skin tone and then bring other Hue’s, within a range you select, to being closer in color to what you selected. Basically, you’re evening out the skin color, an adjustment that complex I almost always do in Photoshop.

different clarity methods in capture one pro

Clarity And Structure, Oooooh

You’ll probably be familiar with clarity but for those who are not, it’s a way of adjusting the midtone contrast of your image. Capture One has four different methods for Clarity; Natural, Punch, Neutral, and Classic. Each one makes the adjustment in a slightly different way, prioritizing different tones to produce the effect. How it does it is not really the important part, the important part is that it does it better than I’ve seen elsewhere. Clarity, in my experience, is a way that many amateurs ruin their photos. Adding too much looks bad. In Capture One, I’ve found that Clarity (depending on the method) is far more subtle and natural in appearance.


clarity and structure tab in capture one pro

Unless you’ve used Capture One before, I imagine Structure will be a new setting for you. It works in a similar fashion to clarity (hence being in the same tab) but in a different way. I read an excellent analogy on Phase One’s blog which explains it perfectly. Imagine you have a photo of a tree, Clarity will adjust the trunk and large branches, Structure will adjust the Leaves, and Sharpening will enhance the structure of the leaf. If that still leaves you a little perplexed I suggest giving it a go yourself, Capture One does have a free trial,after all, click here.


Capture One has loads of great features but if you think this is an article designed to get you to jump ship then you’re wrong. I use both Capture One and Lightroom. Perhaps that’s down to laziness; perhaps it’s because I prefer the way I can navigate through my images in Lightroom (it’s definitely the second one). Either way, both programs are fantastic. If you have the budget, I highly recommend you purchase Capture One. You can then do as I do and use the programs alongside one another (some of my work goes through C1, and some through LR) or be brave and jump ship altogether.

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Max began his career within the film industry. He’s worked on everything from a banned horror film to multi-million-pound commercials crewed by top industry professionals. After suffering a back injury, Max left the film industry and is now using his knowledge to pursue a career within photography.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Alex Petrenko

    The thing I lack the most in C1 is Radial Filter/Adjustment. Spot removal tool is also behind the LR but in LR it is unusable anyway due to performance issues.

    Also it is not clear for me how can I do negative Highlights and Shadows adjustments (make highlights even brighter and shadows darker).

    The rest seems good, just requires a bit of time and training.

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  2. Thomas Starlit

    I made the switch from LR about 4 months ago, and I don’t see myself going back. I found most of the necessary training on Youtube, CreativeLive, SLR Lounge and the online help should not be underestimated. Overall, I did not find the transition difficult.

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    • Max Bridge

      I definitely prefer the editing in C1 but I prefer the Digital Asset Management functionality which Lightroom has. I find it much quicker to go through a job and select images for instance. As such, jobs with large numbers of images (portrait sessions) I tend to run through LR, whereas everything else goes through C1. I also don’t even want to think about migrating Catalogs from LR to C1, even the thought gives me a headache.

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    • Thomas Starlit

      Agreed. At the end of the day it is because C1 did not have a catalogue from the outset, but have added it on later. Sessions are the way to go (some say) but I use it in catalog mode anyway. I haven’t migrated my LR catalogue over. I simply cancelled the subscription, and Adobe will switch LR to “view only” mode in which you can view and export, but nothing else. For legacy pictures, that’s all I need.

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  3. Gareth Roughley

    I have been considering Capture One for a long time for editing newborns. The colour controls look amazing. I’m just not sure where to find some good education so that I can get the most out of it?

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    • Max Bridge

      As Thomas has said above, there is loads available online. Phase One have a lot of free webinars which cover most things and then there are paid courses you can find in other places; Creative Live etc.

      If I were you, I’d grab the free trial and then run through some of the video’s on Youtube.

      Good luck!

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