Trickle-down at work: new Capture One Express release draws on features from flagship imaging app


posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:17 AM EDT

Late last year, Denmark's Phase One A/S released a major update to its flagship imaging utility, Capture One Pro. Among other things, the new version brought a ground-up rethink of asset management, and an overhauled raw processing engine. Now, much of that flagship goodness trickles down to the company's consumer offering, the much more affordably-priced Capture One Express 7.

Perhaps the most significant change is a switch to a robust catalog-based asset management system, similar to that used in apps like Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom. The catalog system was introduced with Capture One Pro 7, and its Express equivalent operates in much the same way. Images can either be stored inside the catalog, or referenced in another location, and that includes removable drives. If the drive on which the image is stored is taken offline, previews that were already rendered remain available, letting you browse your online and offline images together. Images can be automatically backed up on import to the catalog, or renamed with a powerful tool that lets you assemble your own consistent naming schema. If you're already using a previous version of Capture One Express, the new release allows you to import your image libraries along with their adjustments. There are also useful tools for image search, filter, rating, and more.

A rundown of the new features introduced in Phase One's Capture One Express 7.

Another key change in the new Capture One Express 7 is its raw processing engine. Inherited from that in Capture One Pro 7, the new engine is said to offer much better noise processing performance. Image export speed is also significantly improved, thanks to OpenCL support.

Capture One Express 7 also adds the ability to automatically adjust many settings either at import time, or while editing images if you want a baseline from which to start your adjustment of a specific image. Additionally, the HDR tool now offers better control and separation of shadow and hightlight detail, and the Clarity tool offers two new adjustment methods. The neutral adjustment gives, as you'd expect, a more neutral look. The punch adjustment, meanwhile, not only boosts midtone contrast, but also saturation. The original adjustment method from Capture One Express 6 is still available. Regardless of method, there's a new structure slider that lets you adjust the effect.

The new release also adds support for black-and-white conversion without plugins, just as in Capture One Pro 7, as well as automatic correction of common lens defects. Capture One Express 7 can fix distortion, aberration, fringing, corner softness, and vignetting, and it will do so automatically if it recognizes the lens type in use. (You can also specify a lens type manually.)

Capture One Express 7's user interface.

Interestingly, Capture One Express 7 also provides support for remote viewing and rating of images across a network. You can perform these tasks either from an iOS device running the Capture Pilot app, or from other devices including desktop and laptop computers or Android smartphones and tablets using a web browser. Note, though, that while remote viewing and rating is possible, tethering and live view aren't. These and a number of other features are reserved for the enthusiast and pro-oriented Capture One Pro 7. Other features absent from Express 7 include sessions support, focus masking and the focus tool, local adjustments, keystone correction, lens cast correction, skin tone enhancer, spot removal, composition overlay, image output, support for EIP and CMYK files, soft proofing, custom ICC profile creation, interface customization, and multi-monitor support.

Still, Capture One Express 7 includes a surprising amount of what's in its flagship sibling, given the cost difference. Retail pricing is just one-third that of Pro 7, with a list price of around US$100 (€70), and if you already own any version since Capture One Express 3 then you qualify for a discounted price of $70 (€50). (And if you've purchased Capture One 6 in the 30 days before its replacement was launched, you're entitled to an update free of charge.)

Capture One Express 7 is available for Microsoft Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista SP2 computers (including 64-bit versions), as well as for those running Apple's Mac OS X 10.8.2, 10.7.5, or 10.6.8. Interested in learning more? Watch the introductory videos from Phase One below, or download the 60-day evaluation version, and give it a try yourself...

An introduction to Capture One Express 7


Importing images in Capture One Express 7


Organizing the catalog in Capture One Express 7


Noise reduction in Capture One Express 7


Black and white conversion in Capture One Express 7