A Capture One Workflow for Fujifilm

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fcracer Regular Member • Posts: 388
A Capture One Workflow for Fujifilm
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Capture One Workflow

Given the recent announcement from Adobe that so many people are upset about, I thought I'd share a potential alternative that people may want to consider. I’ve invested an enormous amount of time into learning CaptureOne (C1) and am hoping that this post can save you some time in learning this fantastic software.

Summary:

  • CaptureOne (C1) is awesome and fast
  • Detail extraction is right up there with Iridient X-Transformer + Lightroom (LR)
  • Colour profiles are available from individuals and do a great job replicating film simulations
  • I can’t use Lightroom anymore because it feels historic compared to C1 (maybe the new Lightroom CC will lure me back one day)
  • I have a simple workflow that gets me to 90% of the final image with a few clicks (shared below)

Bagan, Myanmar taken with XP2 - Saved at 90% JPEG quality

Background:

With PhaseOne’s recent commitment to Fujifilm in their C1 10.1 software, I wanted to give C1 a shot and see how it stacks up to the venerable Lightroom.

I’ve been a huge Adobe fan for decades (and still am). Pagemaker and Photoshop were game-changers for my work and I often used it in the workplace to convey information in a different way than typical PPT’s. Adobe has been a mainstay for me for the past two decades.

I have no issues with one-time licensing models or monthly subscription models. Businesses and their staff need to get paid for their work and the value of their work does not have to be linked to the cost of producing that output.

Photography is a hobby for me, and the main goal is to capture lifelong memories in images. I regularly print photos in A3+ and A2 sizes. I also regularly print photobooks for my bigger trips.

Kyoto Japan, taken with XP2 - Saved at 90% Quality JPEG

My simple workflow:

  1. Create a “Session” for the trip on an external SSD connected to a 2017 MacBook r12 with 8GB ram
  2. Drag and drop or import the images into the “Capture” folder in the session
  3. Turn on the “Focus Mask” to see if any images should be scrapped
  4. Select the images I really like with a “Green” colour flag (+ key shortcut)
  5. Filter by “Green” images and show JPEG and RAF (Fujifilm JPEGS are often excellent and no RAF editing is required)
  6. If the image requires editing, I use this process in C1:
    1. Colour tab > Select ICC profile (I have mine set to automatically apply Provia on import)
    2. Exposure tab > Exposure Tool > Click A
    3. Exposure tab > High Dynamic Range Tool > Click A
    4. Exposure tab > Levels tool > Click A (I sometimes find the images too high contrast so I back down the black point or move the mid point a tiny amount; this is especially required when the image has moody lighting or a smokey landscape)

That’s it! That gets me to 90% of the final image, and often 100% of the final image. If required, I’ll do some local adjustments (similar to layers in Photoshop)

You can actually automate steps 2-4 using but I prefer to see the effect each step has on the image. For example, in step 3, I find the shadow recovery a bit too much and often back it down a bit to keep more contrast

Hong Kong China, taken with XP2 - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

Thoughts on C1:

Initially, C1 is difficult to use because they’ve taken a different approach to the layout of the controls, however there is a “workspace” available called “Migration” that will make any LR user feel at home.

There are very, very good webinars for C1 on youtube. I’ve watched every single one and they’re engaging and informative. The fellow that leads the webinars is really classy. He never disparages his competitors and is willing to highlight areas where C1 can improve.

Where I feel C1 really shines is in its ability to get great images in a very short period of time.

Sunset over Bagan Myanmar, taken with XP2 - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

Colours:

C1 provides a colour calibrated “Base Characteristic” that you can work from or you can download the Film Simulations that a kind user produced. I personally love the Film Simulations and have tested them against SOOC JPEGS; they are remarkably similar. I think PhaseOne should pay that individual to use his Film Simulation profiles. You can find the Film Simulations by googling, with instructions to install them (they are sometimes updated which is why I didn't put a link).

I love the way C1 does black and white points. It uses a levels diagram that you can quickly move a point over and set the black and white points. You can then also set the mid point in the same way. I think Photoshop was the first to have levels shown this way, and I find it more intuitive than LR’s method.

Beautiful image from the start:

C1 uses a “Base Characteristic Curve” which I believe is just a Luminance curve applied to images; the Fujifilm standard “Base characteristic” curve is “Film Standard”, which produces an image that looks like a typical S curve. None of this needs to be understood or known to the user. It just works. The images come out of the gate looking great. If you want to start at the same baseline as LR, you can select a “Linear Curve” “Base Characteristic”.

Kyoto Japan, taken with XP2 - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

Detail extraction:

C1 is on par with Iridient X-Transformer + LR, and because it’s an all-in-one software package, it’s easier to manage and a better user experience. You also save some HDD space because you don’t need the giant DNG files that IXT produces.

The starting point for sharpness in C1 depends on the ISO and likely other factors. I find that at low ISO, the sharpening usually starts at 140. This level of sharpness is already more than enough and sometimes, I even back it down. I haven’t seen any worm artifacts or other sharpening issues. Grass blades and foliage look great on C1.

C1 does not have a “Dehaze” tool, but you can get pretty close using the “Clarity” and “Structure” tools depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Initially I couldn’t match LR “Dehaze”, but as I’ve gotten better with C1, I can now manipulate “Clarity” to get close to LR. For really difficult dehaze situations, I “edit with” to Affinity Photo which has an excellent dehaze tool.

Bagan Myanmar, taken with XP2; the highlight recovery on C1 is impressive - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

File management:

I hate catalogues. Somehow I always make a mess of them and I hate their lack of portability. When I travel, I take the MacBook with me and an external drive. Ideally, I want to work on the images on the external drive, and then come home and plug them into the iMac. C1 has a workflow called “Sessions” that works perfectly for my workflow requirements. Once I edit the images, prune them down to the “Selects”, then I can import them into a catalogue for longer term storage and searching.

Bagan Myanmar, taken with XP2, you can of course blow out highlights if you like - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

Things that are amazing in C1:

  1. Sharpening: The default setting is clever and adapts to ISO and other factors. It’s almost always sharp enough and sometimes even too sharp. It cleverly adds computed “film grain” to high ISO shots to make them appear sharper.
  2. Sessions workflow: I love the way “Sessions” work. I can use an external drive and seamlessly move between a coffee shop with the laptop and back to home on the desktop. Just plug the external SSD in and edit away on any computer.
  3. Focus mask: I use a lot of manual focus lenses on the Fuji and Leica so this is a real time saver. It’s basically focus peaking but on a static image. Turn on the focus mask, and it tells you where it sees high contrast edges. This works amazingly well, especially when you want to see if you nailed focus on the eye in a portrait.

Guangzhou China, taken with XP2 and the mighty 16MM - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

Things I miss from LR:

  1. Sharpening mask. C1 has the ability to not sharpen skies, etc. but it’s a bit clumsy. You have to zoom in, set the mask to 0, crank sharpening to the max, then dial in masking until the sky is clear of artifacts. Then you go back to the sharpening tool and dial in the real sharpening you wanted. Fortunately, I’ve found that masking of “1.0” seems to almost always be where I end up, so maybe it’s got some algorithm that does the analysis for us.
  2. Dehaze in one tool. In C1, you have to manipulate “Clarity”, “Structure” and sometimes the black point to get to the same results as LR can achieve in one slider. I’ll admit that I’ve occasionally had to go back to LR for tough dehaze situations.
  3. Guided upright. C1 has a keystone tool that lets you enter four points to straighten vertical and horizontal, but I can’t consistently get the perfect results that I get with LR. I also miss the auto-align features of LR that seem to get horizons or buildings bang-on every time.

Conclusion:

All in all, now that I’ve moved over to C1, I find LR to be a clunky old thing that needs a revamp. It looks like adobe agrees with their recent announcement relegating the current LR to “classic” status.

Feel free to ask any questions; I’m happy to share any info I have or sources of where I got the info.

Beijing China, required severe clarity and structure bump to "dehaze" the image, taken with XP2 - Saved as 90% Quality JPEG

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