Raw Converter Showdown: Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4
6 Raw Converter Showdown: Capture One Pro 7, DxO Opt
DxO Optics Pro offers little in the way of features beyond the image adjustment process, with even basic print functionality having only been introduced in version 8. Both Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 by contrast offer a much broader range of options.
Capture One is perhaps best known for its robust tethered shooting capability, which allows you to auto-apply exposure adjustments and editing presets to each image as soon as it is captured. With a compatible camera attached you can even control shooting parameters and fire the shutter. New to version 7 is live view capability directly in the application for select DSLRs.
Photographers whose work goes off to a four-color press will appreciate the ability of Capture One Pro 7 to output raw files in a CMYK color space, while those involved with self-publishing efforts may benefit from the ability to overlay an existing graphics file (headline text, for example) to aid with image composition and cropping.
Lightroom 4 has expanded its offerings significantly from its original release in 2006. Version 4 offers a Map module which allows for both automatic and manual geo-tagging of images. A new Book module lets users design custom photo books and even place orders directly through the app with the online book publisher Blurb.
|Also new to Lightroom 4 is the ability to soft-proof your images, previewing changes in contrast, color and saturation that will occur when printing your image so that you can proactively make a separate set of adjustments to compensate for them.|
All three applications offer color-managed printing with user-selectable output sharpening and print resolution, along with the ability to print multiple images on a page. Lightroom 4 and Capture One Pro 7 both offer a choice of rendering intents when an ICC output profile is selected and watermark options. Lightroom 4 is the only app that allows freeform (non-grid) image placement, which is helpful when printing images of dissimilar aspect ratios and resolution.
TWO-WAY TIE: Lightroom 4 clearly has the larger feature set. And recent additions like mapping and book-creation modules as well as soft-proofing reflect its appeal among a wide range of users. Yet Capture One Pro 7 has two features, namely robust support for tethered shooting and a focus check tool that may well be indispensable for product and studio photographers.
After taking an in-depth look at the performance of Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4, it's clear that these applications all have areas of strength and weakness relative to each other. And that's undoubtedly good, as there's no truly bad choice among them. But this does make it more difficult as a consumer to decide among them. Indeed, selecting the 'best' raw converter really means identifying the one that best fits your photographic needs and priorities. With that in mind, let's recap the results from our showdown.
If you regularly come back with hundreds of images from a shoot, your first objective is evaluating what you have, separating the keepers from the rejects. While Capture One Pro 7 can import and render image previews twice as fast as Lightroom 4, Adobe's raw converter pays big workflow dividends as you can cycle quickly through your newly imported images without waiting for the screen to refresh with high resolution previews. To be fair, the lag in Capture One Pro 7 is only a second or two between images, and only occurs with the first instance of a newly imported file. And both apps outperform DxO Optics Pro 8, whose image preview cache appears to be rebuilt every time you relaunch the app.
And while Lightroom 4 does not allow you to export files to multiple formats all in one go, as both its rivals do, it does export images in about half the time.
While image quality is what most of us think of as the defining trait of a raw converter, the truth is that the differences among Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4 are relatively small. And those that do exist, revolve around default image rendering. Where global color, contrast and saturation are involved, it's rare that you achieve a result in one converter that cannot be reasonably matched in the others.
Having said that, there is obvious benefit to having the most pleasing image to work with at the very start of the image editing process. And while each app handles colors from some camera models better than others, it's hard to find much fault with DxO Optics Pro 8's default settings. Its highlight recovery and moiré removal capabilities are not as robust as the competition, and luminance noise reduction at very high ISO values can be overly aggressive, but if I were on a tight deadline and had to export a JPEG to a client with no time for even basic manual corrections, I'd probably have more confidence in DxO Optics Pro 8 to produce the most pleasing file.
When it comes to putting in the work of making your image look the best via manual adjustments, I found Lightroom 4 to have significant advantages in efficiency. From multiple methods of tool slider manipulation, to brush and gradient localized editing tools that don't require user-generated masks, and highly flexible before-and-after comparisons, precision image editing is a very quick process. And batch-applying changes from a single image to multiple ones is very straightforward.
Lightroom 4 offers by far the greatest number of options for sharing your work. Its API allows for publishing and syncing to social media and it also supports old-school book creation. An extensive collection of both HTML and Flash web templates lets you upload highly customizable gallery pages to your site via FTP, and custom onscreen slideshows can also be saved as video files.
Capture One Pro has made significant strides as an asset management tool in version 7. Catalog support means you can search, sort and edit metadata for files that are currently offline. Images can be tagged with both keywords and IPTC metadata. You can easily separate keepers from rejects with a star rating system and highlight image status with color-coded labels. If all this sounds like a description of Lightroom 4, that's really the point. Both apps are well-suited to keeping track of your image collection and Capture One Pro 7 even has one trick that Lightroom does not: its catalogs can be shared on a network among multiple users.
Wait, which one should I use?
As I said earlier, the choice of which of these raw converters to use comes down to how you work. Shoot primarily in the studio and need robust tethering capability? Then you'll be very happy with Capture One Pro 7. If you work on a relatively small number of images and/or already have an existing asset management system in place, DxO Optics Pro 8 offers perhaps the best starting point for your edits. And if you're all about workflow efficiency, need tight integration with Adobe Bridge or Photoshop and want the most feature-rich cross-platform app on the market, Lightroom 4 can fit the bill. As raw-shooting photographers we've really got an embarrassment of riches at our disposal right now. You can create some great images no matter which one you choose.
|Street Food 2017 by ziggyzag|
from Your City - Fast Food
|Running free by LassiM|
|1969 Oldsmobile 442 Resto-Mod by J Warren|
from O is for...
Our review of the Sony a7 III is well underway and, as part of this, we're publishing our studio test scene. We'll be building out the review in the coming weeks as we test and shoot the camera in a series of situations.
The new ExaDrive offers a three times higher capacity than the previous largest SSD, a 30TB model by Samsung.
A pair of images show what may be the upcoming DJI Phantom 5 drone featuring an interchangeable lens camera. While nothing is confirmed, it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility given the company's recent experience with camera system development.
We were saddened to hear of the death last week of Chuck Westfall, a 35-year veteran of Canon USA, and a legend in the photography industry.
Nikon looks to be positioning its D850 as a serious video rig with today's announcement of its D850 Filmmaker's Kit. The kit includes the body, 20/35/85mm F1.8G lenses, an Atomos Ninja Flame external recorder, two microphones and an extra battery.
Photographers shopping around for Lightroom alternatives have likely encountered Alien Skin's Exposure X3. Here's an overview of its organization and editing controls, and how they differ from the competition.
Alien Skin has released a significant update for its Exposure X3 image editor, adding greater precision to adjustment tools and more printing capabilities, among other improvements.
The FAA has ordered helicopter pilots and operators to halt certain doors-off flights in the wake of a tragedy that killed five passengers.
Analysts TechInsights have torn down a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to have a closer look at the device's internal components and their cost.
Oppo's new high-end phones bear an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone X, with features like face unlock to a portrait lighting mode.
Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and as usual, we booked interviews with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma.
At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, we sat down with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Canon. Topics of conversation included Canon's ambitions for high-end mirrorless cameras, and the importance of responding to the demands of the smartphone generation.
We were recently able to follow local frame builder Max Kullaway as he created one of his AirLandSea bikes. Here are our picks of the photos we got, as the project progressed from bare tubes all the way to rideable bicycle.
On paper, the Sony a7 III is a tempting option for photographers who've been considering a switch to full-frame mirrorless. But how does its image quality stack up? We compare it to the Mark II and a few of its other peers.
Erez Marom shares the details behind this beautiful aurora photograph, captured on Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.
Google Lens uses artificial intelligence and 'computer vision' to identify and provide information about businesses, landmarks and other objects using your phone's camera. And now it's available for iPhone users, too.
The company posted a record quarterly revenue of $2.08 billion for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. That represents incredibly healthy year-over-year growth of 24 percent.
In the job posting, the Times' describes this role as "one of the most important and high-profile jobs in visual journalism." If you're looking for a high profile job in photojournalism, you could do a lot worse than being Photo Director at The Gray Lady.
According to a recent report out of South Korea, Samsung is increasing production of its ISOCELL image sensors in a bid towards market leadership for image sensors. To reach this goal, Samsung will have to dethrone current market leader Sony... no small task.
In this video, large format photographer Ben Horne shows off the incredible resolving power of 8x10 slide film by pixel peeping a massive 709.6-megapixel drum scan of one of his landscape shots. And you thought 100MP medium format was big...
Photographer Wendy Teal tells the heart-breaking story of a wedding she shot at a hospital on just 24-hours notice. The mother of the bride had been given one week to live, and Wendy responded to the couple's desperate social media plea for someone to capture their special day.
This tiny little plug-and-play VR/AR camera for Android phones uses a pair of greater-than-180° FOV fisheye lenses to offer both 360° video/photo capture and 360° livestreaming at 1440p resolution.
Syrp has announced the Magic Carpet Pro: a slider that offers filmmakers an 'infinitely extendable' range thanks to built-in track levers that let you connect lengths of track without the use of tools.
At CP+ we sat down with executives from several major manufacturers. Among them was Kenji Tanaka, of Sony, who talked to us about the a7 III as well as its plans to attract more pro shooters – without ignoring APS-C and entry-level customers.
How do you shoot macro photography on an 18x24cm large format wet plate camera? You 'connect' two large format cameras together! That's how wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter did it, and you can read about the whole process in this article.
The Fujifilm X-H1 is a top-of-the-range 24MP mirrorless camera with in-body stabilization and the company's most advanced array of video capabilities. We've tested the X-T2's big brother extensively to see how it performs.
Motorsports photojournalist Jamey Price recently flew to Canada with Lamborghini for the car company's Winter Accademia 2018, where clients get to drive the latest Lamborghini supercars on snow and ice. Yes... it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
For the Pixel 2 smartphone's Motion Photos feature, Google built on its existing Motion Stills technology by adding advanced stabilization that combines software and hardware capabilities to optimize trimming and stabilization.
This "high-capacity advanced spider tripod" system can handle a maximum load of 65kg / 143lbs thanks to its reinforced design and 8-layered carbon fiber legs.
Photographer William Briscoe captured the beautiful two-for-one timelapse just outside Fairbanks, Alaska on January 31st, braving -31°F (-35°C) temperatures to get the shot.