Raw Converter Showdown: Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4
Next to image quality, the ability to work efficiently may be the most important attribute of any raw converter. Whether you need to edit one image or 50, being able to quickly make and evaluate adjustments, isolate specific areas of an image to manipulate and save previous adjustments for future use are paramount in establishing a productive workflow.
|All three apps provide a slider interface for most image adjustment tools. Here you see basic exposure adjustment palettes for (from l to r), Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4.|
Both Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 provide smooth real-time updates to the image preview as you drag a slider. DxO Optics Pro 8, on the other hand, not only incurs a brief delay when dragging a slider, but the image preview immediately switches to a lower resolution version with visible artifacts, making fine-grained adjustments more difficult to evaluate until you let go of the mouse. Neither does DxO Optics Pro 8 allow you to highlight a slider's corresponding value box to adjust the numbers via your keyboard. Instead you must click on very small up/down arrows to move the value in single increments. Both Capture One Pro and Lightroom 4 allow you the option to move in larger value increments by holding the Shift key while pressing the up/down arrows on your keyboard, a very useful way to quickly make gross adjustments.
|Lightroom also offers the handy trick of activating the slider value's number box simply by hovering the mouse anywhere over the slider bar. You can then adjust the value via the up/down arrows on your keyboard.|
TWO-WAY TIE: Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 provide real-time feedback when adjusting sliders.
The ability to restrict edits to specific regions of an image is crucial to many photographers' workflows. Capture One Pro 7 offers this functionality via an adjustment layer interface in which you create and then paint on image masks, a là Photoshop. A full complement of exposure, color correction and sharpening edits can be made in this way. Lightroom 4 bypasses the need for user-created layers, automatically creating a mask each time its localized editing tool is employed. Lightroom 4 also offers the option to apply localized edits, including white balance adjustments, with a graduated filter tool. DxO Optics Pro 8 offers no region-based selective editing tools.
WINNER: Lightroom 4 allows for localized white balance adjustments and automatically creates a layer mask with the Adjustment brush and Graduated filter tools.
Lightroom 4 offers a very efficient and flexible solution to before/after comparisons. With a single keyboard shortcut (Y), you can display a 2-up comparison of the image's current state with its appearance at the time of import. Better still, you can select any editing step in the History panel and set it as the 'before' image state. This means you can compare your current image to any previous editing state, whether it occurred 10 minutes or 10 months ago.
|When editing an image it's often useful to compare its current state alongside a previous one.|
Capture One Pro 7 allows similar, if less robust functionality. But here, in order to view any side-by-side comparison you must first create a 'variant', Phase One's term for a virtual copy, or metadata-based duplicate of the original image. You can easily make a variant that reflects the image in its original default conversion state, but making a comparison against a more recent edit is only possible if you had the foresight to have created a variant at that earlier point.
DxO Optics Pro 8 lets you view the current image alongside the unedited version without creating a virtual copy. Bafflingly though, this 'before' image has all default corrections disabled, meaning you're comparing your current edits not against the image state you began working on, but alongside one that has every auto feature of the software turned off. It's hard to image a scenario, outside a product demo, where this type of comparison would actually be useful.
WINNER: Lightroom 4 offers a user-defined choice of the 'before' image state.
Edits made to one image can be batch-applied to multiple images, though each application differs in the way these can be applied. All three allow you to create a preset consisting of adjustments you've made to all editing tools or just a user-defined subset of them. But Lightroom 4 and Capture One Pro 7 also give you the option of batch applying edits while avoiding the additional step of creating a preset.
|In Lightroom 4's Library and Develop modules, once the source and destination image(s) are selected you can choose to batch-apply some or all of the available edits shown above, all from a single window.|
In Capture One Pro 7, there are two distinct methods for applying edits from one image to another, depending on whether you want to copy editing parameters for all adjustment tools or just a subset of them. To batch-apply all adjustments you must first select the source image and copy its adjustments. Then, with another image(s) selected, you paste the adjustments. To apply edits on a per tool basis requires you to select both the source and destination images and click an 'Adjustments Clipboard' icon that is located atop the appropriate tool panel.
WINNER: Lightroom 4 has a unified interface for batch-applying edits for all tools or a subset of them.
You can take advantage of a dual-monitor workstation in all three raw converters by displaying the thumbnail view and image preview window on two separate screens.
WINNER: Capture One Pro 7 allows you to arrange individual tool palettes so they're accessible from any organization, editing or processing tab.
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.