Like many people who have been using Capture One software in the studio, I'm used to using it for one set of capabilities and that has definitely been the case with the new release. I've also noticed in the course of a few shoots now, that there are things happening that might enable me to keep more of my workflow in Capture One. So here's a summary of what's new in Capture One 21.
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In no particular order, I'm going to discuss the new features and point to where these new features might be taking us.
Custom Lens Profiles
In the studio, I habitually set my fist level edits in the software because I know my lighting isn't going to change it makes sense to get as much right in the beginning as that will reduce the work I do later on and keep the images looking like a set. I noticed two things in the new release, firstly the colour rendering is improved. I use Datacolor tools to check my colour in studio shoots and the changes this makes are noticeably less dramatic than in previous years. This is a good thing, it means the software is getting it right. One reason for this is the introduction of new lens specific profiles.
How does this work? Well, Capture One have analysed the characteristics of a range of lenses and introduced correction sliders into the interface. So here I have the Chromatic Aberration and Hide Distorted Areas boxes ticked and those will be applied automatically to the picture. Chromatic Aberration is the green and purple fringing that appears on the edges of for example branches of a tree photographed against the sky. Hide Distorted Areas is ticked but need not be here, it's use is to crop distorted edges away after using keystone correction to correct diverging verticals in architecture. Diffraction Compensation compensates for the loss of sharpness and micro contrast that occurs in images shot using small apertures.
Noise Reduction algorithms balance your ISO settings with the camera profile in order to reduce the amount of visible noise in a photograph. Typically this would be an issue with location shoots, particularly in low light. The new noise reduction capabilities enable you to shoot at higher ISO settings without getting into trouble.
So this deals with the input, profiling for the camera and lens and applying corrections based on these characteristics. What about the output?
Editing in Capture One
The basics are all present and correct. Histogram, Exposure, Contrast, Brightness and Saturation.
Add to that Dehaze, Clarity and High Dynamic Range and you're looking at a tool that can excel in any field of photography. The HDR settings are noteworthy. These sliders allow you to recover detail from the blacks and the whites and also the highlights and shadows. You're not getting anything that isn't in the RAW file to begin with, so this is not HDR in the sense of bracketing exposures, but it gives access to a much more calibrated range of adjustment than contrast does.
The Clarity settings are also improved, there are four profiles Natural, Punch, Neutral and Classic to give you a starting point. The Clarity slider determines how much "Punch" you want and the Structure slider accentuates fine details.
At the top of the panel, underneath the Histogram, you'll see Layers.
Layers and Masks are the thing that takes this software out of the studio and into the great wide open. They have their use in the studio, but layers are what made Photoshop the big beast it is and they open the door to really advanced image editing capability.
Everything we've discussed up to this point has taken place on one layer. So if we want to for example extend the shadow underneath the shoe in the photograph, we can't do that by adding more contrast or reducing the exposure. The reason is that whatever is done in these controls affects the whole image.
In this particular image, I need the white background to stay white. I don't want it overexposed and I don't want it ti turn grey, but I might want to adjust those shadows.
The answer is Masks and Layers.
I can draw a Mask to the area I want to change and that will manifest as a new layer. Think of Masks as Inverted Stencils, Once I have defined my Mask I can apply the sliders to the area I have selected. Better still, I can control the opacity of the mask and blend it in with he background layer for a really subtle effect.
For even more subtlety, I can refine my mask using the Luma Range tool. This is essentially luminosity masking in a slightly different (and more usable) guise. I can display the mask and using the Luma Range tool adjust the area that I want the mask to apply to. Using the slider I can exclude. the whites for example.
This is a very powerful tool indeed and takes Capture One out of the Studio in a single bound. Suddenly I'm thinking of Capture One as having potential to do all of my work, rather than being tied to a workflow that roundtrips to Photoshop.
Next month there will be two videos, One on the studio workflow, another on Luminosity Masking and for a change of scenery, I'll use a Landscape image to demonstrate on!
If you've found this post useful, check out Capture One 21 in the Studio