Expensive Snapshots, pt. 1b: Capture One Pro 9 review

So I modified my process for processing images and thought I hit upon some great new secret, but it was just me mis-remembering what I had done. I realized my error and began to rewrite the previous post when I remembered an email announcement I received about the new Capture One Pro 9 update, so I dropped the bucks to upgrade and decided to give it another try.

What’s new in Capture One?

Well, they can describe it all much better than I can, so I’ll just tell you what I’ve found so far:

  • New Contrast/Brightness engine sounds great, and I did notice some slight differences
    • I reprocessed the picture with some easy-to-copy settings, intending to go in and plug the numbers into C1P 8, but the upgrade made the Catalog unreadable…. I so hate when companies do that.
    • So if you’re reading this and you plan to try 9 before you buy, DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR CATALOG or at least back it up before you do.
    • Settings:
      • Exposure: +1/25
      • Contrast: +30
      • Brightness: -30
      • Saturation: -100
      • Highlights: +40
      • Shadows: +100
      • Clarity: +30
      • Structure: +100

On the left, Capture One Pro 8; on the right Capture One Pro 9.

Interestingly, the Image on the left, from C1P8 has a bit more contrast and therefore a bit more detail. Sure, both are too dark, muddy, but with the above settings, C1P8 wins, in my book.

But when I started curling the curves, things got somewhat more interesting. See, C1P9 has a new engine, and a new way of treating Brightness and Contrast, and these work together (I think) in the new Luma curve.

So here’s C1P8’s RGB curve in action.

C1P8 RGB

With a bit of a curves adjustment, a bit of vignette, and some slight adjustments to the original settings, it’s easy enough to get something pretty decent.

Capture One Pro 9, though, has a secret weapon: the Luma curve.

Here’s the C1P9 RGB curve in action. Ho Hum.

C1P9 RGB only

Now add some hot Luma curve action…

C1P9 Luma curve in action

C1P8 maybe could’ve gotten me there with a bit more messing around, but the Luma curve made it much easier to get to this…

Those are the big things, for me, but C1P9 has a few other things up its sleeve:

  • Adjustment layers now have curves
  • The Color Editor has been revised to be a bit easier to use, plus you can now create a mask from a chosen color
  • There’s a new airbrush and a straight line brush, I did some playing around with both, and the airbrush annoyed me some (I’m playing around on a laptop, using a wireless mouse… it’d be far better at a desk with a wacom tablet, if I was really into that sort of thing), but the straight line brush was great, and I can see using it quite often, not that I use the adjustments much at all
  • The keyword engine has been rewritten: hooray! It’s moot, since I’ve had to go back to Lightroom so I can work with pictures from the iPhone and the bad little videos I make from time to time, but for anyone whose gone all in with C1P (like I intended to, but couldn’t), this is great news.
  • Some general performance improvements. I noticed that generating previews is around twice as fast in C1P9 as it was in C1P8. I got around to finishing the two rolls of film I mentioned last time and got them developed and scanned. C1P8 generated previews for 83 pictures in 7 minutes on my mid-2012 MacBook Pro. C1P9 took just over 3 minutes for the same set of pictures.
  • And the interface has been redesigned: it’s cleaner, flatter, easier on the eyes, more or less. Here are a few adjustment panels from C1P8:
Capture One Pro 8 Adjustments panel

And here are the same panels in 9:

Capture One Pro 9 Adjustments panel

The changes are subtle, but welcome.

So those are my first impressions of C1P9. Useful new features, just as stable (so far) as 8 was, and a cleaner look. It’s worth the upgrade fee.

And if you haven’t jumped on the Capture One bandwagon yet, well, if you’re not convinced already you either haven’t been paying attention or haven’t been exposed to C1P yet, and in either case you’re likely happy enough with the images you’re making (I hope you are, anyway), so keep it up.

I’ll leave you with the finished image in Lightroom (from the original C1P8 tiff) compared to finished images from C1P8 and C1P9.

Thanks for reading!

Interesting… they get a bit more contrasty and almost garish with each passing moment… the C1P9 image actually looks a bit overcooked to me now.

Any thoughts?

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