When digital still camera and raw processor maker Phase One added the Color Balance toolset to its Capture One 8.2 software earlier this year, it gave me cause for rejoicing. The Color Balance Tool is uncannily similar to the sort of color balance tools found in non-linear editing suites and color grading software for movies.
Intentionally or not, by this action Phase One has recognized the ongoing convergence between digital stills and moviemaking and the skills transfer that occurs when a photographer starts making movies or vice versa. Phase One has my thanks and praise for doing so.
It almost goes without saying — digital is at a really interesting point right now, not too far removed from when I was at the height of my career as a magazine portrait photographer and then frustrated documentary moviemaker.
I had forged a photographic style out of necessity — the low fees paid to Australian magazine photographers meant largely secondhand cameras and lenses – and the gear and film stock then available. My favorite way of making intense, engaging portraits was to get close to my subject with a slightly long lens on a 4”x5” view camera, light with one or two portable flash lights due to the short times allocated to me, shoot up to four sheets of film then strike the set.
I always worked on location, without an assistant, and my task was to create an image that burned itself into readers’ minds. Mostly I would shoot in portrait (vertical) mode but sometimes I would aim for a double page spread and flip the back of the camera to landscape (horizontal) mode then attach a slightly wide lens.
If the assignment called for a monochrome image I would default to Polaroid Type 55 and if colour then I would select a Fujichrome emulsion in 4”x5” format or choose to shoot 120 format film in my Linhof variable format roll film magazine.
The result was fine grain, rich color and, in the case of monochrome, plenty of bokeh behind fine, sharp details like the pupil of an eye, a reflection on the tip of a nose or the shine on a lip. I always split-toned my monochrome work and printed on top quality baryta papers. When reproduced in glossy magazines in four-color, the results were very satisfying and fully justified hauling that big camera around.
But now, in the digital era, everything has changed. All that gear was stolen long ago never to be replaced. No direct equivalents exist, or at least none that I can afford. The local magazine photography market is not exactly healthy and is still anything but well paid.
But now I am really itching to make intense, characterful portrait photographs once again. And this time, with this wonderful convergence between digital stills and moviemaking, to light and shoot with similar gear – LED lighting, hybrid cameras and software that works in much the same way.
And so to Capture One. Right now I am trying it out for consideration as my raw processor for portraiture. No two raw processors are identical in how they help interpret images and in the range of controls and tools they include. One may be perfect for documentary photography and photojournalism under available light, or available darkness, and another may be superb for portraiture and fashion – as a number of photographers are telling me is the case with Capture One.
When Capture One version 8.2 came out a couple of months ago, with the Color Balance Tool as a key new feature, I was intrigued. Capture One 8.3 has gained several new tools – editing in external applications and automatic saving into the Capture One catalog, Advanced File Naming for consistency, compositional grids (for those who are particularly fond of the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Spiral), Smart Cursor Tools via right-clicking your image and Camera Settings tool.
I particularly like the new ease of editing externally in other image editing software like Adobe Photoshop CC 2015, Adobe Lightroom CC 2015, Affinity Photo or the host of other great specialist image editing tools like those from Macphun, AlienSkin, Topaz, Google Nik, OnOne Software and more.
While your are at the Phase One website reading up on Capture One Pro, I highly recommend talking a closer look at their new XF and other camera systems. While there is no direct digital equivalent of the 4”x5” sheet film cameras upon which I built my portrait style, I believe the XF and A series cameras are well worthy of consideration, especially given they can be rented here and there as needed if purchasing is out of your price range.
I note that Brian Griffin, the great British stills photographer and movie director, uses a Phase One camera for his still groundbreaking portrait photography. I have always found his work to be inspirational, way back to his early days at Management Today magazine working with the legendary art director Roland Schenk. [bctt tweet=” Roll on movie/stills convergence! Capture One Pro comes with movie-style color controls.”]
Related blog posts at the Phase One website:
- Deep dive into Capture One 8.3
- How far can you go with Capture One 8.2?
- Color Balance reload – still more to give?
- Save time on the road – with Sessions
Capture One Pro 8 | Color Grading with the Color Balance Tool
Capture One Pro 8 – Imaging Software
Via Phase One:
Capture One Pro 8.3 continues to evolve as the best partner for your camera system. The new Phase One XF camera inspired us to expand the communication between Capture One and the tethered camera. Therefore the new Camera Settings tool enables you to configure many of the settings of not only the new Phase One XF but other models from Canon, Nikon, Sony and more. So, as opposed to digging through the menus of your camera, simply search for the term in the Camera Settings tool and adjust from there.
New compositional grids have been added too, for example the Fibonacci Spiral and the Golden Ratio. This allows the options available in the IQ systems to be used in Capture One and adds more ways to achieve a desirable composition.
Finally tethered transfer speed gets a boost again with the new Phase One IQ3 Digital Back.
Excel in Quality
For more than a decade Capture One Pro has been the preferred choice for thousands of professional and enthusiast photographers around the world. They depend on Capture One Pro to deliver ultimate image quality and to realize the potential in every shot.
Each of the more than 300 cameras supported in Capture One Pro 8 goes through a rigorous testing and profiling process. This ensures the best out-of-the-box results in terms of color reproduction and noise reduction that matches the camera's characteristics in various shooting conditions.
Capture One Pro 8 raises the bar even further so you can get better image quality than ever before – straight out of the box and through the adjustment possibilities.
Capture Your Vision
Choose Capture One Pro 8 to capture your vision with minimum fuss and maximum effectiveness. Simply import your RAW files from camera, memory cards and storage devices or shoot directly into Capture One with no need for external plugins or modules.
Employ the world’s most advanced tethered capture solution and view your images instantly in close-up detail to ease image selections and adjustment choices. Operate and configure your camera remotely to speed up your workflow. Use Live View for supported Phase One, Sony, Nikon and Canon cameras to instantly perfect composition and focus.
Let your clients follow the shoot remotely and pick their favorite images with Capture Pilot for iOS and Web.
Control Your Assets
Capture One Pro 8 supports you with powerful tools to organize, compare and select your images in a workflow that can be customized to best suit your needs.
Choose an integrated digital asset management set-up with Catalogs to work independently of your files’ location, or use Sessions to organize your work into projects and work directly on your RAW files where they are located on your computer or storage drives
You control your assets – just choose the workflow that works for you and Capture One Pro 8 will fill in the gaps.
Read full Capture One Pro 8 highlights and features Here.
(cover photo credit: snap from Karin Gottschalk)