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Capture One DSLR Limited Edition Review

By dpreview staff on Apr 14, 2003 at 17:23 GMT

This coming Wednesday Phase One will release 'Capture One DSLR Limited Edition', this cut down version of their excellent Capture One DSLR software offers a cheaper option ($99) for RAW conversion to owners of Canon EOS-10D/D30/D60 and Nikon D100 digital SLR's. We have a review version 1.2 Beta 7 of Capture One DSLR Limited Edition. At the same time Phase One will be updating the full Capture One DSLR software with the new features introduced with LE as well as support for the Canon EOS-10D/D30/D60 and Nikon D100. UPDATED: Review updated with improved EOS-10D profile and better sharpening settings.

Capture One Limited Edition details

Price: US$99 (PC only at this time) on line purchase only
Release date: 16th of April 2003

The Limited edition includes a number of new features add since the release of C1 1.1:

  • WB Kelvin slider
  • Histogram follows the crop (optional... can be disabled in the Preferences dialog)
  • Histogram also include separate readings for RGB (optional. can be disabled in the Preferences)
  • Right click in the preview to bring up a loupe (good for tricky WB picking)
  • Endpoint of gradation curve can be changed
  • When inside the curve tool a small dot on the curve reflects the picker level
  • A menu item to open the folder browser has been added to the File Menu
  • The Misc. settings tab in preferences include a button to calculate the size of the preview cache
  • A panel in the Capture Tab shows the detailed Capture Information
  • When building previews from DSLR RAWs a status bar is shown (numbers of preview to-do is also shown ...)
  • Extended EXIF output (still in the works)
  • The full range of WB presets is available for all the EOS Cameras (WB reset menu)
  • A few other minor refinements to the UI
  • A few Bug fixes

Limited features:

  • Supports only the Canon EOS-10D, D60, D30 and Nikon D100
  • No Color Editor
  • No support for CMYK conversion
  • Only one canned profile included
  • No Tethered Support
  • No Multiple image output in one develop cycle
  • No support for image scaling / resizing
  • No support for Batch renaming of image files
  • Limited upgrade path
  • Limited tech support
  • No Anti moiré plug-in
  • Only 20 images allowed to be batch at one time
  • No Dual CPU support for Image development

All new features as well as 10D,D60,D30 support will be made available for free in the full Capture One DSLR version shortly after the release of Capture One DSLR Limited Edition on Wednesday 16th of April.

Capture One DSLR Limited Edition Version 1.2 (Beta 7)

Note that because Capture One DSLR Limited Edition is almost identical in operation to Capture One DSLR the text below is based on my evaluation of Capture One DSLR from my EOS-1Ds review. The RAW files used in the screen captures below were from our review EOS-10D.

Capture One uses the concept of 'Collections' to group images together, in the example shown below this happens to be images in a particular folder, although in reality images from various sources can be grouped into a collection.

Portrait orientation

The default layout has the collection pane (thumbnails) on the left (best for portrait orientated shots), preview / work pane in the center and function tabs on the right. All panes can be resized or collapsed, you can also work in full screen mode without a title bar.

Landscape orientation

You can alternatively switch to a landscape orientation (press F8) which shifts the collection pane to the bottom of the window. This is clearly a more useful layout for dealing with images shot in the landscape orientation.

Real time adjustments

One big strength Capture One DSLR has over the Canon software is that all adjustments happen in real time (assuming your PC has enough horsepower). That means you can make a grey balance, levels, curves, sharpening etc. adjustment and see the change immediately, this is far better than the too-slow-to-change Canon File Image Viewer.

Exposure warning

If enabled Capture One will highlight over exposed areas (above a user defined brightness) of the image in red and under exposed areas (below a user defined level) in blue. You can choose to have either or both of these warning on at any time. These also work in real time.

Some new features

Both Capture One DSLR Limited Edition and the full version of Capture One DSLR (due for update on Wednesday) carry these new features.

Capture Information: The Capture tab now includes detailed exposure information including the lens used
Right-click Loupe: a pop-up magnification loupe which can be activated by right clicking over the image (useful for white balance and checking exposure level)
Histogram follows Crop: the exposure histogram follows the cropped area.
Kelvin WB slider: You can now select white balance on a Kelvin scale, 2000 - 12000 K in 100 K steps
Selectable WB presets: For Canon EOS digital SLR's you can now reset the image back to any standard camera preset white balance

Color Management and Preferences

Globally you can set various preferences including full color management support. Capture One DSLR comes provided with profiles for supported digital SLR's. You can also select destination color profiles for output, web and proof destinations as well as your monitor profile. There are also a wide range of preferences to choose from, click on the reduced image below to see them in more detail.

Operation and Workflow

As you change settings such as color balance, sharpening etc. these are stored by Capture One in its own database (stored on a per image basis). These settings can be saved and loaded as well as applied to selected images, a batch 'development' or an entire collection. Settings are arranged into three of the five function tabs on the function pane, each function pane is described below.

Capture - provides instant feedback and access to capture settings, shows detailed exposure information. Gray Balance - allows you to customize the white balance of the image. As you hover the color picker over a gray area of the image it will indicate if it is a good or poor area to use for gray balance. You can also pick presets. Exposure - You can select an alternative tone curve (in this case one which matches film), make exposure compensation adjustments (+/- 1 EV) as well as contrast compensation. Adjust levels or curves.
 
Focus - Provides access to sharpening adjustment, you can choose from soft or standard look as well as two sliders which control the sharpening algorithm (appears similar to an unsharp mask). Develop - Used to actually produce the final image. Here you can select scaling, output format and color management output options. To output an image simply click on the develop button. *  

* Development of images is handled as a background process which means you can get on with working on the next images. It's also worth noting that Capture One DSLR LE produces EOS-10D images slightly larger than Canon File Viewer Utility (4 pixels bigger horizontally and vertically).

Output samples

Below you will find two versions of the same EOS-10D RAW image output as JPEG from both Capture One DSLR and Canon's own File Viewer Utility. Click on the thumbnail for a VGA version of the image or below the thumbnail for the original. Timings were carried out on a Windows XP Workstation with a 3.06 Ghz Pentium 4 CPU (HT enabled), 1 GB RAM.

Capture One DSLR Limited Edition 1.2 β7 Canon File Viewer Utility 1.2.1
4,715 KB JPEG (3076 x 2052 pixels)

5,017 KB JPEG (3072 x 2048 pixels)

Settings
Exposure correction: -0.2 EV
Contrast correction: -4
Gray Balance: Auto
Focus (sharpening): Standard look, 16/3
Output destination: sRGB
Format: JPEG, highest quality
Settings
Exposure compensation: -0.2 EV
Contrast: Mid-Low
White balance: Auto
Tone: 0
Sharpness: Standard
Color space: sRGB
Format: JPEG, highest quality
Time to produce: 14.2 seconds Time to produce: 9.8 seconds

Conclusion

It's fair to say that Capture One DSLR Limited Edition delivers the best combination of workflow management and high quality RAW conversion. The real time adjustment of settings makes a huge difference to the speed at which you can work through a set of RAW images, as does the ability to then produce them in the background while you work on the next image. Final image output is a result of the variety of settings used, I have had plenty of feedback from people who didn't like the settings I used above. My advice would be to try the software yourself before making any decisions. Lets hope that some time in the future Phase One choose to also support Mac users.

For a second opinion you may wish to check out Uwe Steinmueller's take on Capture One DSLR Limited Edition.

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