Learning to use RAW files

Started 6 months ago | Questions thread
JeremyB2 Contributing Member • Posts: 697
Re: Learning to use RAW files
1

Good to hear that you've managed to download Capture One Express. It may seem a bit mind-boggling at first, as probably will PhotoLab 5 Elite, but a few hours spent getting familiar with the basics will pay off. Initially, it's only too easy to feel that you need to be playing with a lot of the available options, but start off simply and progress from there.

Some suggestions:-

First of all have Levels and High Dynamic Range set to 'Auto Adjust' (top left – Adjustments > Configure Auto Adjustments) which are triggered by Ctrl L on the keyboard. This gives you a good starting point and from there you can tweak HDR to suit the image. I usually find that the Auto Adjust setting for Levels is pretty good.

Then try applying a little Clarity (it may not be available in the Express version). I often boost Saturation from 0 to 4 (that's a personal preference). The standard Sharpening is set to 160 and I don't often mess with that. Finally, play with the Exposure setting, bearing in mind that this will have some affect on other settings. By this stage I am often happy with the image but will sometimes tweak White Balance very slightly if I feel it's necessary. Other settings such as Contrast & Brightness are used occasionally.

Doing the above is pretty fast; probably no slower than doing similar things with a JPEG in Elements or something similar. If I have a series of images which are similar I will click on the Copy/Apply upward facing arrow at top right, and then when I move to the next image I click on the downwards facing Copy/Apply arrow.

That's about it to start off with. The C1 Noise Reduction is not as good as DeepPrime in PhotoLab, but it can yield improvements. From then on, if you are so inclined and the image warrants it, playing with Colour Balance and / or the Colour Editor can be fun. The Keystone tool is often useful with buildings and the Magic Brush (another one that may not be in Express), Healing mask & Cloning mask can be handy once you have got used to them.

Other users of C1, probably much more competent than I am, will use it differently. Over time you will develop a sequence that suits you.

There is so much more in C1, much of which I will rarely if ever use. It's important to set up your Export recipes correctly (these appear when you click on Export).

In the Express version some of the things mentioned above may not apply. The tools I talk about will probably appear in different Tool Tabs but it's very easy to configure a personalised tool tab containing just those you will use routinely.

I can highly recommend the 'Photographers Guide to Capture One' by Nils Wille Christoffersen which is available as a download. I know it's more expenditure but I have found it invaluable in helping me to get to grips with the basics of C1.

PS. As you probably already know, working on images in C1 or PhotoLab is a nondestructive process. This means that at any point you can go back to your original RAW file and try different settings.

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