7 Replies Latest reply on Jun 4, 2009 11:15 AM by Bill_Janes

    Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?

    Fiercehairdo

      Hi,

       

      I regularly shoot on a P45 back and Hassleblad camera. I shoot using Capture One software. It is much more convenient for me to process the files in Photoshop's Raw convertor than Capture One but I'm always a little worried that maybe it lacks the quality? I've not noticed any quality dip but most high end digital camera outlets process on Capture One.

       

      Are their any significant differences if I process in Photoshop rather than Capture One? Is the quality the same?

       

      One further detail: my images are heavily worked in Photoshop so very small colour variations are probably going to be negligible for my way of working.

       

      Many thanks,

      Mr Hairdo.

        • 1. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
          Jeff Schewe Level 5

          Wow, are you seriously expecting an answer?

           

          :~)

           

          The biggest factor with regards to raw processing is the skill of the operator in using that articular raw processor. In skilled hands, any raw processor is capable of excellent results...

           

          The only aspect of Capture One where C1 has an advantage is when using the Phase One (or Mamiya) 6x4.5 cameras with the newer digital wide angle lenses. C1 is capable of doing auto lens corrections that can be done in Camera Raw (yet).

           

          Otherwise, quite worrying about the raw processing software and worry about the guy at the controls...

          • 2. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
            johnsbeebe

            While I certainly agree that skill of the operator is the largest factor, I think it is a fair question because the results very dramatically.

             

            Attached are screen shots from a very weak shot (go ahead and blast it) that was over exposed.  I dropped the exposure by one stop in Aperture, ACR 5.3 and Capture One Pro 4.8 and did some high light recovery in each.  You can see how varied the responses are with the image and histiogram.  These are all at 100% and shot with a Nikon D3.  If anyone can offer a clearer understanding of why the results are so varied that would be very helpful.

             

            ACR 5_3Test.jpg

             

            CaptureOneTest.jpg

             

            ApertureTest.jpg

             

            ACRHistiogram.jpg

             

            ApertureHistiogram.jpg

             

            CaptureOneHistiogram.jpg

             

            Thanks,

             

            John

            www.johnbeebe.ca

            • 3. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
              rasworth

              The real surprise would be if there were any close matches.  Each raw converter uses a profile, sometimes one of many selectable by the user, to translate from camera sensor values all the way into "real color", usually either XYZ or Lab values.  And a second profile, normally a standard workspace, is used to translate from real color to rgb values, and to create the histogram.  And of course there is yet another profile involved in the monitor representation.  And for the completely color managed installation another profile(s) for printing.

               

              So back to Jeff's statement, it's all in the hands of the user.  One can pixel peep, look for subtle differences in the de-mosaicing, noise, etc. characteristics of each raw converter, and perhaps create some sort of quality comparison.  But don't expect supposedly equal adjustments on each converter to create image matches.

               

              Richard Southworth

              • 4. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
                johnsbeebe Level 1

                Hi Richard,

                 

                Thanks for your response.  I am absolutely with you.  I am not looking for equal adjustments or really pixel peeking, but instead I am hoping for a better understanding of what is going on under the hood of each to make my choice about which converter to use.

                 

                I use the histogram as a guide for all my conversion/processing.  The three histograms are very different, with he smoothness of the Capture One being the most obvious difference.

                 

                Any guidance you can offer is appreciated.

                 

                Cheers,

                 

                John

                • 5. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
                  rasworth Level 1

                  I wouldn't read anything into the histogram "smoothness", it may be that they take out peaks and valleys to make it more visually pleasing, or something.  I believe you should look at your total workflow when choosing a raw converter; I prefer the Bridge/ACR/Photoshop path, find it fits my type of image processing.  And I have a client with a portrait studio that does the same, and is very pleased with the results.  Others find Lightroom to be the complete answer to their needs.  So whatever "fits" your requirements and keeps the images flowing is probably best.  And workflow certainly includes the user interface of the raw converter itself.

                   

                  In short, if a raw converter is set to "honestly" render most scenes (assuming that is possible, Adobe offers some tools to try and achieve such), the results will generally be disappointing, tending toward too low a contrast and under saturated colors.  Our eyes generally add contrast and saturation to whatever they are focused upon, and therefore some sort of post processing is required to bring an image, either viewed on a monitor or printed, back to the memory's perception of the scene.  Therefore raw converters generally include profiles, and usually their default choice, that do add "punch" to a scene, and they vary in their rendering depending upon the goals (and taste) of the programmer.

                   

                  Richard Southworth

                  • 6. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
                    Jeff Schewe Level 5

                    johnsbeebe wrote:

                     

                    The three histograms are very different, with he smoothness of the Capture One being the most obvious difference.

                     

                    That's easy...the C1 histogram display sucks...it's way too wide on the scale and way too short to see a proper display. Take you screen shot of the C1 histo and do a non-proportional resample and make it the same width as the other histos, start to look more like the others?

                     

                    Seriously, most people would do well to become competent-expert in a single processing application rather than bouncing all over various apps. Pick the one you like and stay with it. If it has a serious failing for a certain type of image, look for a backup app.

                     

                    But running the same image through multiple processors will only show the relative differences of the processors with THOSE images. Given they will _NEVER_ look exactly the same, what possible use is such a test?

                    • 7. Re: Capture One vs Adobe Camera Raw processing - what is better?
                      Bill_Janes Level 2

                      johnsbeebe wrote:

                       

                      I use the histogram as a guide for all my conversion/processing.  The three histograms are very different, with he smoothness of the Capture One being the most obvious difference.

                       

                       

                      The two ends of the histogram are the most important, since they show the position of the highlights and shadows respectively. The shape of the mid-portion of the histogram depends mainly on the distribution of tones in the individual image, but gaps can indicate loss of information from processing of the image. Also, histograms usually bin the levels--for example, with 16 bit data, the histogram may use 256 bins, essentially producing a bar graph where 16 levels are represented by one bar. Furthermore, the histogram may be constructed from a cache rather than from the full data. For a more precise histogram, I would recommend rendering into a 16 bit space and examining the histogram with a specialized tool such as Histogrammar. The Histogrammer web site gives some good information. For example, when you open a 16 bit TIFF in Photoshop, you lose half the levels; however, this produces no visible deterioration in the image.

                       

                      http://www.guillermoluijk.com/tutorial/histogrammar/index_en.htm

                       

                      Also, I think the use of screen previews for judging the converted image is dubious and would suggest rendering the image into a file (sRGB for demonstration on the web). Even though you may be working in a 16 bit space, the display is currently limited to 8 bits and some of these may be taken up by calibration adjustments in the lookup table, giving even fewer useful levels.