Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Processing The RAW
Photographers in the digital age are inundated with software so Digital Photo Pro talked to the experts to get the ins and outs on two of the most popular RAW processing packages on the market
Phase One Capture One Pro
As a third-party alternative to D-SLR manufacturers' software, Phase One has created a powerful workflow tool
Phase One has developed a solid reputation as a company that enables photographers to obtain maximum image quality—with good reason. Its Capture One RAW software provides a professional solution for converting RAW captures to photographic images. The two major advantages of Capture One RAW are image quality and an efficient workflow.
Phase One offers several versions of its Capture One RAW conversion software, which is available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. The full-featured version is Capture One Pro, the subject of this article. Capture One DB is geared toward photographers using the Phase One digital backs, Capture One LE is for photographers with a low volume of images to process, and Capture One SE provides most of the features of Capture One Pro and is an excellent choice for most photographers.
Browsing RAW Captures
Capture One Pro starts without a folder tree visible, making full use of the available space on your monitor to review images. To reveal the folder tree display so you can select a folder with RAW captures for review, click on the right-pointing arrow to the left of the Capture tab near the top of the window (Figure 1). You then can navigate to the folder containing images you'd like to work with for RAW conversion (Figure 2). When you click on the desired folder, a list of thumbnail images are displayed (Figure 3). You can hide the folder tree view by clicking the same button you used to reveal it.
When you click on a thumbnail image on the RAW palette, a large preview image is displayed. This can be used for detailed evaluation of each image, confirming optimal exposure and sharpness. You even can use the Zoom tool on the toolbar to zoom in on a specific area of the image for closer scrutiny.
The Capture tab along the right side of the screen provides a histogram display, helping you make a more informed decision about the exposure. In addition, a clipping preview display is available to show you which areas have lost detail because they're too bright or too dark. To activate the clipping preview display, click the Exposure Warning button on the toolbar; this enables a clipping preview that highlights areas where detail has been lost (Figure 4). The default is for blown highlights to be displayed with a red indicator and to not display lost shadow detail. You can select View > Show Tool Settings from the menu with the Exposure Warning option enabled to adjust the display settings, however.
You can compare two images at the same time in Capture One Pro by clicking the Compare captures side-by-side button on the toolbar. Click on one of the preview frames and select a different thumbnail to change the image being compared (Figure 5). This is an excellent tool for comparing two very similar exposures to determine which is most deserving of your efforts to convert and optimize the image.
Capture One Pro also helps you stay organized by providing a way to tag selected images as you perform your evaluation. To tag files, simply select one or more thumbnails and click the Toggle Tag button (with the checkmark icon) on the toolbar. This places a checkmark icon near the top-left corner of the thumbnail image for easy identification. You even can group all your tagged files together by selecting Group Tagged from the dropdown menu associated with the Toggle Tag button, making it easy to see all of your selected images in a single group so you can check for similar images or make your final selections for processing.
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