Why use Capture One as a RAW Converter?
September 7, 2010 1 Comment
Raw processing is part art, part science. The processing menus allow us to adjust all aspects of the image, but more fundamental than this level of control is what happens underneath the hood. What is the raw processing engine doing to our files during the conversion process?
Booth Island creates an imposing landscape and, using Capture One 5 Pro, the raw file was processed optimally, ready for the final post-production and local tonal adjustments. PhaseOne 645 with P65+ back, 75-150mm lens.
I started using Capture One software well before I owned a Phase One digital back. Finding the DSLR manufacturers’ raw processing software at the time to be very clunky, Capture One was simply marvellous, but more important than that, the file quality it produced was superior to everything else I tried.
Since then Capture One has remained my raw processing software of choice, even though much of my work is taken into Photoshop for further work. Why? Because no other raw conversion software consistently provides the same high file quality.
This is a bold statement, I know, and it deserves one qualifier: Capture One probably doesn’t produce the best quality conversion for every file I process, but it certainly does for more than 95 percent of my work. Within the science there is an element of art and Capture One seems to match my view of the world really well. So there may be times when another raw processing program could produce a result that better suits my tastes, but I don’t have the time to check and compare every file I process.
So what are the differences? How do you compare one raw conversion with another? Comparing the results of a raw processor is really easy: download the demo versions of the software, process a few test files and check the results for yourself. When I do this from time to time, what I see in Capture One is a much clearer, richer image reproduction. Some raw processors leave files with a lack of contrast and noise in the shadows, whereas Capture One somehow cleans these areas up. It’s like getting rid of lens flare with a good lens hood. The differences are subtle, but noticeable and before taking any file further in an editing program like Photoshop, I like to begin with the best quality raw conversion possible.