Pro Review: Capture One PRO 6

By Stan Sholik

With the release of Capture One 6, Phase One continues to add value to the software for commercial, portrait and wedding photographers, while adding a new feature for architectural photographers.


Like earlier releases, Capture One 6 (C1-6) comes in three versions: Capture One Express 6, DB 6 and PRO 6. Express 6 is the basic version, with only the essential raw processing and image adjustment tools. DB 6 is for digital camera backs from Phase One, Mamiya and Leaf. The PRO 6 version integrates a full-featured raw file converter with image editing, browsing and output features.

Besides the wealth of new features, all of these new versions share several operational upgrades. The software is now a native 64-bit application for both Mac and Windows computers, and 32-bit Windows operating systems as well. The OpenCL/GPU acceleration feature transfers some of the image processing from the CPU to a compatible graphics card, allowing additional features such as a new full-screen mode. These upgrades result in a noticeable boost of speed, plus access to additional RAM to process large image files.

Here, we’ll concentrate on the other major changes in the PRO version that relate to professional photographers. Some of them are unavailable in the other versions; for a comparison of the features in the Pro and Express programs, go to

Architectural photographers are a principal beneficiary of the new keystone correction feature (below). You can make the processing semi-automatic by selecting the keystone correction icon from the Tools menu and adjusting the overlay lines. You can also access the tool for semi-automatic or manual correction in the Crop tab.


In semi-automatic mode, the verticals are taken 80 percent of the way to perfectly vertical; Phase One finds that this slight under-correction is more natural than a full 100-percent correction. The results look good to me. You can correct vertical keystoning, horizontal convergence or both by selecting the appropriate keystone correction tool.

201103we_keystone_screen1.jpg 201103we_keystone_screen2.jpg

Keystone correction is a simple matter of aligning guides with the principal lines of the subject then clicking the Apply button in the center of the screen. The resulting image refreshes with a suggested crop. The correction is available for horizontal as well as vertical keystoning and for a combination of both. ©Stan Sholik

All users will benefit from other new features, including non-destructive local adjustments, black-and-white conversion plus toning, sophisticated token-based image naming, the Capture Pilot iPod/iPad app, and more.

The local adjustments tool is disguised as a paintbrush in the tool menus. After selecting it, you create and name a new layer on which to apply the adjustments. You use a brush on this layer to apply a red overlay on the areas you want to adjust. To make the process quick and easy, use the keyboard shortcuts B for brushing on and E for erasing. When you’re satisfied with the mask, you can adjust exposure, color smoothness, hue, saturation, lightness, sharpening and moiré. Because the adjustments are non-destructive, they won’t be finalized until you output the image. 


Non-destructive local adjustments are a major addition to C1-6. Here I have applied an exposure adjustment to brighten the model’s right eye and am in the process of applying the local adjustment’s red “mask” to do the same to the right eye. ©Stan Sholik

The black-and-white conversion in C1-6 is also non-destructive, but I prefer to work on a variant of the original file—a copy of the preview file of the original image. It takes up very little space on the hard drive, yet you can perform all of the adjustments to it. It becomes “real” only when it’s output.

The black-and-white conversion tool has sliders for each RGB and CMY color. I’d like to have a contrast slider in the same tool set; instead, to adjust exposure and contrast, you need to go to another toolset on another screen. Along with tonal adjustments, you can apply split toning to the highlights and shadows independently. Each has a hue and saturation slider, providing infinite possibilities.


Capture One PRO 6 now has the ability to convert images to black and white and to apply toning to the converted image. The black and white conversion tool has sliders for each RGB and CMY color. The Split Toning tool includes presets as well as manual controls for highlight and shadow toning. ©Stan Sholik

File naming in C1-6 takes a giant step forward. Now you can name images on import and export and rename files individually or in batches by dragging and dropping preset tokens onto the naming bar. The more than 20 tokens represent information ranging from job titles to sequenced numbers to ISO to the current time. When you’ve selected the ones you want to use, you can save them as a user preset—very slick with lots of possible uses.

Phase One offers a free Capture Pilot app at the iTunes store. Your clients can view images on an Apple mobile device as you capture them to a computer connected to the WiFi network. You can also stream the server over a 3G connection to a remote office to communicate with clients in other locations.


Input and output file naming as well as batch renaming in C1-6 are now possible using preset “tokens.” There are more than 20 available presets, or you can mix your own text with tokens. When you make a naming convention you like, you can save it as a preset. ©Stan Sholik


Capture One PRO 6 now displays video as well as still image files in its browser. The videos can be played in the browser also. ©Stan Sholik

There are other new features, including some advances in metadata handling. But changes you make to the IPTC data in C1-6 are still invisible to Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, Bridge, Photoshop, etc., even though changes you make to the metadata in these other programs are visible when you reload the metadata when you next open the image in C1-6. The metadata changes seem more geared for Microsoft Expression Media than Adobe programs.

For users of earlier Capture One PRO, PRO 6 is a $99 upgrade. New users can purchase Capture One PRO 6 for $399.

PRODUCT NEWS: On March 6, Phase One announced the availability of a unique image capture and light control solution that allows photographers to capture images and to control lighting from within Capture One Pro 6, when using Profoto lighting equipment. A separate light control tool will be enabled in Capture One Pro 6 when the Profoto Studio plugin is installed. With this configuration and the Profoto Air USB transceiver, photographers have full remote access for wireless control of Profoto lighting equipment from within the Capture One application. The new light control solution requires installation of Capture One Pro 6, a Profoto Studio plugin, and the Profoto Air USB transceiver to wirelessly control the Profoto lighting equipment. The solution is currently available on the Mac platform only. The light control solution can be used with all supported Profoto light equipment. For a list of supported equipment please refer to


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 8, 2011 11:47 AM.

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