Review: Phase One Capture One 4 PRO


By Stan Sholik

Digital SLR photographers have never had as many choices for RAW conversion software as they have today. Oddly enough, the best and most popular offerings come not from the camera manufacturers but from third party vendors. For some reason, these vendors seem to have a far better understanding of a professional photographer’s workflow, as important a consideration in choosing RAW conversion software as the overall quality of the file conversion.

An excellent example of this is Phase One’s new Capture One 4 PRO (C1-4 PRO) software. When Phase One released Capture One 4 last year, the interface was entirely different than in previous versions. C1-4 PRO keeps the look of Capture One 4, but adds considerable functionality that many commercial, portrait and wedding photographers will welcome.

The features added to Capture One 4 PRO that are not found in Capture One 4 cover a lot of ground. Most Canon digital SLR and all Phase One digital back photographers can shoot directly into C1-4 PRO. The program supports multiple monitors and the interface can be customized to an even greater extent than the non-PRO version, especially on a Mac.

Commercial photographers will particularly appreciate the ability to import a client’s layout and use it as a capture overlay. This should assure clients and art directors at the shoot that the capture fits the layout. They will also appreciate that C1-4 PRO supports the CMYK color space for color proofing and output.

C1-4 PRO Mac

C1-4 PRO Windows

The user interface of Capture One 4 Pro retains the look of Capture One 4. The default layout of the user-customizable interface is virtually identical on both Mac and Windows computers. The program opens with the Library tool active and the folder you were using when you closed the program active. Images ©Stan Sholik

Two new C1-4 PRO features in the Color tab will aid every photographer in achieving pleasing and repeatable color during an assignment. When shooting portraits or fashion out of doors, the color temperature of the light often changes slightly with changing lighting conditions. With the eyedropper of the Skin Tone tool, you can select the skin tone you prefer and apply it to all of the other images to make them consistent. All of the colors in the scene will change slightly, however, like adding a color compensating (CC) filter over the lens. There are even nine preset skin tones and you can save new ones to the list. The Skin Tone tool works equally well for fabrics or products to ensure color consistency from shot to shot.

If you need to target a specific hue for color adjustment, and don’t want to change any other color in the image, then you use the Color Editor in the Color tab, found below the Skin Tone and Color Balance tools. By choosing the Basic or Advanced tabs of the Color Editor, you can very accurately select a specific color and adjust its hue, saturation and lightness. You won’t change a red rose to blue—there’s not that range of adjustment—but you can tweak color to more accurately match the client’s product. If you’re shooting a number of shots that need the same adjustment, you can save the adjustment and apply it as you shoot, possibly saving considerable time in postproduction.

The Color Editor in the Color tools allows you to make extremely targeted color adjustment while you are shooting or to the file when you have completed the shoot. The original RAW capture is on the left. I first targeted and adjusted the red yarn at the lower left to produce the center image. I then targeted and adjusted the blue yarn and made it purple (right). You can see that the other colors and the gray background are unaffected. All very quick and easy without masking. Images ©Stan Sholik

Styles is a new addition to the Quick tab in C1-4 PRO. Styles is a collection of 23 presets that change the look of the RAW file when you process it out. Styles range from simple monochrome conversion to cross processing. You can apply a style, change it or create your own, then save the changes or new creation to the list.

The Styles menu in the Quick tool contains 23 presets ranging from monochrome to cross processing. I used the Sepia option and some minor tone adjustments to create this image, then processed the RAW file directly to a TIFF without leaving the Quick tool. Image ©Stan Sholik

C1-4 PRO adds a Lens Correction tab to the tool palette. The Purple Fringing and a basic Chromatic Aberration tool are present in the Color tab of Capture One 4, but the Lens Correction tools are much more extensive in C1-4 PRO. Many of the tools will only work if the lens you use is known to the software, such as a Mamiya or Phase One lens on a Mamiya AFD or Phase One camera body. C1-4 PRO recognized that I had used a Sekor 28mm lens on a Phase One camera with a P45+ back and automatically removed a large amount of barrel distortion along with some noticeable chromatic aberration and purple fringing. Very slick.

The Lens Correction tool is only found in the PRO version. Here it recognized that I had captured these images with a 28mm Sekor lens and applied the correct amount of correction for chromatic aberration, barrel distortion, purple fringing and light falloff. If the software does not recognize your lens, you can still analyze the image to correct for chromatic aberration and purple fringing. You can also add light or dark vignetting, but with no control over the shape of the vignette. Image ©Stan Sholik

One feature from Capture One 3.x that I missed in Capture One 4 is back in C1-4 PRO. I can again automatically process the same RAW file in different ways without my watching over the process. I often need to process the same RAW file to a full-resolution TIFF and a screen-resolution JPEG. In C1-4 PRO I can create and save different “recipes” for this, including different locations for saving the files. I can then select  multiple recipes in the Process tab, and simply let them run while I do other work.

You use the Output tool when you are ready to process your RAW files. Process recipes you set up are accessible at the top of the column, but you don’t need to use them. I like process recipes because I can select multiple recipes to run on the same file, then walk away and let Capture One 4 PRO do the work while I do something else. Image ©Stan Sholik

If you’re familiar with Capture One 3.x or Capture One 4, you’ll find other new and improved tools and tweaks. One thing that hasn’t changed is the extremely high quality of the RAW conversions. At this time, all of the top RAW conversion software programs I have used will produce results that would be indistinguishable in any important way as final inkjet, photographic or halftone output. How easily you can get the RAW file to that point is what distinguishes the programs. This is where C1-4 PRO excels.

As good a digital SLR RAW conversion program as C1-4 PRO is, it carries over all of the shortcomings that bugged me in Capture One 4. IPTC implementation, including Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) information is not included in C1-4 PRO. I like to add IPTC information when I import the images into the computer and I can’t do this in C1-4 PRO. What’s even worse, if I add information to the IPTC fields in another program during import and use C1-4 PRO to convert the RAW files, C1-4 PRO strips out the IPTC data.

DNG support has not been improved. You can import DNG files created from many, but not all digital SLRs. DNG file output is available, but the Phase One settings are not embedded, and the thumbnail and preview do not show the C1-4 adjustments. More support for DNG is needed.

Capture One 4 PRO is available for download from Phase One ( Current registered users of Capture One 3.x PRO can download the program for free. Registered users who purchased Capture One 4 can upgrade for $299. For new users, the cost is $399, which allows activation on two computers. You can also download and try the program for 30 days without activation. Video tutorials, the C1-4 PRO user guide and a wealth of other information are available on the Phase One website.

See more screen views and feature explanations in Supplement: Phase One Capture One 4 Pro Interface.

Stan Sholik is a contributing writer for NewsWatch Feature Service. He is also a commercial photographer with over 30 years of large format studio and location experience.


System Requirements
While C1-4 PRO may run on less powerful hardware, Phase One recommends the following:

Microsoft Windows:
• Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent
• 1 GB of RAM (2 GB when working with digital backs)
• 10 GB of free hard disk space
• Calibrated color monitor with 1280 x 800, 24 bit resolution
• Windows XP, service pack 3 or  Windows Vista, service pack 1
• You will need the Microsoft .NET Framework version 3.0 redistributable package to run
Capture One for Windows. If you do not have it already on your machine, Capture One will
initiate installation. You can also download it and install it yourself from Microsoft’s

Apple Macintosh:
• Intel-based Macs
• 1 GB of RAM (2 GB when working with digital backs)
• 10 GB of free hard disk space
• Calibrated color monitor with 1280 x 800, 24 bit resolution
• Mac OS X 10.5.5 or later

RAW File Support

Phase One: P 65+ (preliminary), P 45+, P 30+, P 25+, P 21+, P 20+, P 45, P 30, P 25, P 21, P 20, H 25, H 20, H 10, H 101, H 5, LightPhase
Canon: 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark III, 1D Mark II N, 1Ds Mark II, 1D Mark II, 1Ds, 1D, 5D, 40D, 30D, 20D, 10D, 400D/Rebel XTi, 350D/Rebel XT, 300D/Rebel, D60, D30, Pro 1, G9, G6, G5, G3, G2
Epson: R-D1s, R-D1
Fuji: S5 Pro, S3 Pro, S2 Pro
Konica Minolta: Alpha 5 D / Maxxum 5 D / Dynax 5 D, Alpha 7 D / Maxxum 7 D / Dynax 7 D, A1, A2
Leica: M8, D-LUX-4, Digilux 3, Digital Module R for R8 and R9 cameras
Mamiya: ZD, ZD back
Nikon: D3, D2Xs, D2X, D2Hs, D2H, D1X, D1H, D700, D300, D200, D100, D90, D80, D70s, D70, D60, D50, D40X, D40
Olympus: E-3, E-520, E-510, E-410, E-420, E-500, E-1, E-10, E-20, E-330, E-300, E-400, C-7070,
Pentax: K20D, K10D, K200D, K110D, K100Super, K100D, *istDL2, *istDL, *istD, *istDS2, *istDS
(Only PEF files supported)
Sony: DSLR-A900, DSLR-A700, DSLR-A350, DSLR-A300, DSLR-A200, DSLR-A100, DSC-R1
Adobe: DNG (raw DNG support only). The DNG support is not optimized for specific cameras

Tethered Camera Support

Phase One: P 65+ (preliminary), P 45+, P 30+, P 25+, P 21+, P 20+, P 45, P 30, P 25, P 21, P 20,
H 25, H 20, H 10, H 101, H 5, LightPhase
Canon: 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark III, 1D Mark II N, 1Ds Mark II, 1D Mark II, 1Ds, 1D, 5D, 40D, 30D, 20D, 10D, 450D/Rebel Xsi, 400D/Rebel XTi, 350D/Rebel XT, 300D/Rebel


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Comments (5)

AL Vose:

I am a user of V4 am very happy using it
but I am not going to pay you $199
for this upgrade? way to much money.
about half would be a fair price! for
an upgrade.
thanks Mr A.V


What about G5 powered Macs?!

I have a dual 2.7 chipped one and currently use Aperture.

Although I am not yet convinced that this product is any improvement on the excellent Aperture, I would be interested in trying it.


What about G5 powered Macs?!

I have a dual 2.7 chipped one and currently use Aperture.

Although I am not yet convinced that this product is any improvement on the excellent Aperture, I would be interested in trying it.

Dave 'T':

Well Marco,

I have C1-4.6 running on my MacPro and MacBook Pro and do not see any reason whey it should not run like a dream on your G5. As a Beta Tester for Adobe, i can tell you that this product is quite simply fantastic.
The image clarity on loup view on my second monitor is stunning. Sure I've had to modify my workflow but owning a 'P' requires that anyway, so no big deal. Come on in, the water's fine!


I wrote up a quickstart on what features that I find most useful in Capture One when compared with other tethered or base photo editing applications like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw.

I did not cover Nikon Capture NX2. I hope that you find this helpful.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 1, 2008 11:11 AM.

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