#1003. Time for a change at last? (Lockdown – day forty something).

By Paul Perton | Opinion

May 15

The tethering cable for my X-H1 arrived a couple of days ago. It’s a beast; bright orange, 5m long and weighs about as much as a photocopier. I’ll need to anchor it properly to the tripod, or it’ll rip the USB port out of my camera.

First job – test with Lightroom to see if it does/doesn’t require a plug-in.

Silly, naive me. This is Adobe we’re talking about. Of course it requires a plug in. Ka-ching – that’ll be £29, thank you.

Or I could finally expend some effort and try Capture 1 (C1), which didn’t appear to need yet more money being spent on it.

Recent 25% discount offers have made C1’s purchase price quite attractive. Trouble is, V20 has recently shipped and the outright buy option only offers point upgrades, so when V21 comes along, there’ll be another big buy to finance.

The monthly rental looked more attractive, especially if C1 works and I can kick Lightroom etc. to the kerb – I’d save the cost of a year of C1 within weeks.

Hey! What about the discount?

Oh yes, that works too. Nett result, I got a bare bones C1 for not much more than £100 for the coming year, when the otherwise additional £29 plug-in cost is factored in.

Let’s park that for a moment.

My recent Epic Failures post had seen me sorting through libraries I’d exported from Aperture into Apple’s Photos app, to keep the images available. Now, I’m using it to find some truly awful photographs to accompany my tale. Wading through several thousand decade old NEFs, CR2s and IMGs I easily found what I wanted. It all worked so well from a browsing and export point of view – if only Photos wasn’t so handicapped in other areas…

Working through these libraries, I also found quite a lot of photographs shot in China, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand which hadn’t quite made the grade at the time (2007/8). I added them to my boo-boo list, intending to sort it all out when I finished my trawl.

Nett result; I exported 130-odd master images from Photos and imported them all into a brand new C1 library. Next, I immediately exported the dross (for Epic Failures), then set about editing and re-editing what was left.

C1 doesn’t work much like Lightroom. It’s a bit arcane, but having said that, a little time and patience is rewarded with not only great results on screen (my printer is several thousand kilometres away in Cape Town), but an appreciation of just how good DSLRs were, even then.

I hadn’t intended to buy a D2x on our first day in Singapore, but as I’m sure many of you will know, some things are just meant to be. The 18-70 kit zoom that had come with my then DSLR of choice (an early D70) was the only lens available to me at the time and I hadn’t expected much when I locked it onto the D2’s mount.

In 2007 I was right, but (re)processing those images more than a decade later, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not quite Zeiss or Leica quality, but really good 12mp RAW files shot with a plastic lens that have nonetheless rendered wonderful images and awakened many memories.

Back to Capture 1. It’s early days still. In addition to my trawl of the past, I’ve explored a couple of recent Fuji RAW files and liked what I’ve seen there just as much.

C1 is fast, predictable and doesn’t seem to stop working on a whim. The editing facilities are high level and very competent. I especially like that the sliders work when you click on them and can be released without jumping to some other unwanted value. Try that in Lightroom.

C1 is also one of the few serious photo apps that support two monitors – not having a large screen to see my work on is a complete deal breaker for me. To date, the temptation to offer AI-based editing hasn’t arrived and there’s no Replace the sky with elephants button.

Win.

Finally, Capture 1’s big selling point is that for all its power and functionality, it’s non-destructive. The original RAW source file is never touched, only read. I’ve railed about XMP sidecars before, but I can live with them for a great non-destructive editing experience.

Yup I’m liking it and who knows, this might just be the incentive I need to bid Adobe adios for good.

 

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  • Kim Howe says:

    I hope your time with C1 is more pleasant than mine was. I ended up hating the thing – particularly after multiple instances of it corrupting everything so that I had to restore the lot from a backup. I went to On1 from there and have been much happier. I also bought Luminar this year and enjoy editing with it, but it isn’t the complete Aperture replacement that On1 is, since it lacks exif editing, keyword searching and the like.

  • philberphoto says:

    Paul, glad to see light at the end of your PP tunnel! I have been a satisfied C1 user for a number of years, and can share some tips with you if you feel so inclined. But overall, yes, your pictures speak for themselves, and that is the most important, isn’t it?

  • Tom Brayne says:

    I am a huge fan of C1, especially for Fuji RAF files. Moving from an Adobe mindset to a C1 mindset requires a bit of a mental reboot as they just don’t work in the same ways – from the ground up. Their Learning Hub contains a wealth of information, but will take a fair amount of time to work through all the videos. Now would be perfectly suited for that endeavor.

    https://learn.captureone.com/?_fs=81a23763-ff92-4b65-a958-28e617f20f32

    Cheers!

    Tom Brayne

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Oh dear – this is really “cat amongst the pigeons” stuff.

    Well, it’s a topic that’s very dear to my heart. Not as dear perhaps as my wife or my dog, but still. Dear – anyway.

    I blame Pascal Jappy (not the other Pascal) for this. I’m quite sure it was Pascal who suggested that we should have a look at the post processing software out there, try a few, and compare notes. So I did. Thank Go I shopped carefully – you can spend a fortune on this stuff, and for what? – just a new way to fry your brain?

    Months have rolled past – very few comments from other members of the DS group – privet exchanges with Pascal have left me with the feeling he knows VASTLY more about about post processing programs than I ever will.

    But now you’ve brought it to a head, Paul.

    FWIW I do have a few observations to share.

    Number one – Adobe is living off its past glories – the world has moved on – some users cling to Adobe, but heaps of people are finding there’s more to life than making rich American companies even richer. Meaning what? Well there are HEAPS of post processing programs out there now. Some rely on AI. Some rely on libraries of styles – so that instead of retouching your image, you just select a different style and it does the entire job for you. Others are more traditional, and offer you a range of different features that enable you to touch up your images in various different ways. And many of them are vastly more useful than anything I found I LR or PS.

    That’s not entirely fair. Most ‘opinions’ never are. So let me give it a bit of balance.

    First – I have not – and WILL not – pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for Adobe’s subscription based software. And unless you are prepared to do that, you cannot access their more elite and sophisticated versions of LR or PS. Tough – I might lose out, but they lost heaps of business, because it’s a lousy marketing model – even if the software’s good.

    So my opinions on what tweaks you can make with LR or PS probably aren’t worth passing on.

    There is, however, one area where I must give Adobe full credit. When you are doing your post processing, it’s always a comfort to know that the image on your screen bears some resemblance to the one that will come out of your printer. Adobe’s screen background is a light grey – and the actual image is much nearer to the printed images I get out of my EPSON printer – practically all the other post processing software I’m using (and I have heaps of it on my computer) throws up a much darker image, with more Kodacolor slide film images than anything my printer will produce.

    Less of a deal breaker, but still important – up till now, I have been finding it much easier to do things like crop & image sizing in Photoshop than other programs.

    Beyond that. MOST of my post processing is NOT done in Adobe any longer. I used a mix of two DxO programs, Capture one and Affinity Photo, for most of it.

    And for printing, I dispatch my photos to the printer with a program called Mirage Print.

    Once my images have been fed through that, there’s precious little left, that I CAN do in Photoshop. And hardly ever anything I can do in Lightroom.

    One fail of Adobe is their panorama program. As noted – I’ve no idea how things work in their Cloud-based, subscription versions of LR or PS. But in LR6 and PS2020 (which I think are the latest of the non-subscription based, “simpler” versions), loading your photos into the panorama program is mind numbingly boring and counter intuitive. And if your panorama requires the stitching of much more than half a dozen frames, try playing golf, instead – banging balls around a golf course will be far less frustrating.

    Programs like Capture One and Affinity Photo may not be able to do [all of/the same as] the things LR and PS do. Have their critics ever stopped to think of this one? – the same is true in reverse – neither LR nor PS do the things that Capture One and Affinity Photo do!

    Cataloguing is a whole different issue. I won’t engage in that. I have my own catalogue system and don’t require Adobe’s – in fact I will go further – I would resent theirs. But librarian skills don’t blossom on every tree, so I will accept that Adobe does a good job for some – cataloguing their photos for them.

    One final thought – use these programs when you HAVE to – not just because you can. “Photoshopping” is regarded almost universally as the bottom end of the scale – not the behaviour of “good” photographers. We all do some touching up on our photos. But that said, we don’t – or shouldn’t! – need the best possible post processing software in the world, to produce our finished images. The money you could squander on that – and the time you could waste, learning how to use it all – could be far better spent on some gear that you need, or on a course to rectify the deficiencies in your knowledge of photography. There IS no such thing as the “perfect” post processing software program anyway – besides, the ones we can buy, right now, are as near to “perfect” as any of us need, to do the job, and we’d find it a lot easier to improve our photographs if we looked for the way forward in some other area. Practice. Projects. Night school. Photography clubs. Whatever. 🙂

  • Jean-Claude Louis says:

    Paul, C1 will work well for you; it shows in your delightful pictures – beautiful colors and texture.

    For my work, C1 goes a long way (more and more with their frequent updates) and Photoshop does the rest. PS is still the way to go if one is into serious printing, mostly because of its integration with RIP softwares.

    I am using the subscription model for C1 and PS for years now. It makes a lot sense in my case, both economically ($12/mo for C1 and $10 for PS) and for automatic access to the upgrades (nice to have for additional features, but very important for fixing bugs that cripple the application).
    “Owning” a software will force you to buy an expensive upgrade or new version in the future. Case in point, I still “own” a pristine version of Photoshop CS6, but it will not run on macOS Catalina (and future iterations of macOS), because, although being 64-bit, it has a lot of 32-bit dependencies, which are not supported by Catalina.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Thanks for the caution, Jean-Louis. I recently upgraded my iMAC but didn’t want to take the “Catalina/64bit risks” till I worked out just exactly how it would impact on me. So I found a brand new 2019 model iMAC through my local electrical goods store (Apple Store would NOT supply me one!), with Mohave on it.
      Catalina? – what’s in it for me? Precious little – I’m perfectly happy with Mohave. Actually I was perfectly happy with the OS BEFORE Mohave! All these op system updates are just like the camera industry and the post processing software industry, throwing something “new” at the customers all the time in the hope we’ll all fill rubbish dumps from one end of the world to the other, by throwing out everything we already have and replacing it all year round, to keep them amused.
      So – I’m sitting on Mohave. I am checking out ALL my software to make sure it all works on 64-bit. And that is why your warning is so timely for me. Now, it seems, that even when I finish making sure all of it WILL work on 64-bit, there’s a lemon twist – a nasty sting in the scorpion’s tail – which will remain hidden from view, even when I complete my survey of the existing programs.
      Bugga the lot of them. Microsoft dudded me with their Windows 10 and it cost me 500Gb of programs and data files. Enuff is enuff! I’ll stay with Mohave, this iMAC will probably see me out anyway.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    I’m going to stay out of the processing software discussion by saying that I’m loyal to LR. Yes, I resent having to rent it after many years of owning the program. Period.
    However, I must say that I’m totally in love with your photo of the rough yellow wall with the green shutters! Painterly, lovely, speaking volumes to me….thanks for sharing.

  • Frank Field says:

    Paul –

    These are truly wonderful images. They speak spades to your eye and abilities and surely provide a nod to C1.

    I spent much of the locked-down month of April (finally) scanning and importing about 3,000 images on film, mostly Kodachrome 25/64 dating back to the late 60s with many carrying sentimental value and not much more. All scans imported to LR easily but then the agony of LR took over as I attempted to keyword or at least caption the images. LR’s continuing, unaddressed memory leak issues quickly rise up and frustrate anyone trying to do selections of multiple images, this time in a catalog of not more than 3,000 elements. First launch LR, selections are fine. Ten minutes of work later and LR is easily running 5 – 10 seconds behind my selection of images from the catalog. Check memory and this monster has grown from about 1.5 GB to over 5 GB of RAM in 10 minutes. Only fix: restart LR. (All this on a high-end desktop with oodles of memory, images and executables reside on an SSD, . . .. )

    Adobe’s business model is simply to do almost nothing to maintain the infrastructure of LR and put whatever development effort they apply into what they perceive as the glitz and glitter of expanding the platforms LR and PS run on, allowing you to catalog and optimize images on your phone while Adobe happily sells you very expensive “Adobe Cloud” storage.

    I swear the one thing that keeps LR selling is the fact it is packaged with PS in their recurring revenue stream model. Put LR on its own and it would quickly wither, I suspect. While I could find alternatives like C1 to handle much of what I do in LR, I still feel a need for PS for those images that demand multiple curve optimization and for printing. And then there is the question of access to images that have been optimized in PS and sadly saved in .PSD files. My practice for the last several years has been to save in TIFs on the hope of someday bidding Adobe bye bye.

    On the positive side, I can report that images shot on K25 and K64 and receiving quality processing in the 1970s and 1980s still look as fresh as the day they arrived from the Kodak lab in those little yellow boxes. Not as true for process E-6 slide films.

    Paul, hope you will continue to share your wonderful images.

    Frank

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Frank, you can use Mirage Print to print your photos. But you would probably have difficulty setting it up, on your own – you really need to be able to have a tutorial on it, and have a good working relationship with the people who sold it to you. That said – it’s brilliant! MILES faster to take a photo and dispatch it to the printer – slower in the actual printing process, because it demands a better quality of printing – better skin tones, if you are into portraits or weddings.

      And fantastic, if you print on rolls of paper rather than individual sheets – it will take all the photos you feed to it, sort them out in the manner that makes most efficient use of the paper roll, and then start the printer.

      As to multiple curve optimisation, I’m afraid I have to agree with you. You can do it, of course, in various other programs. In fact, you can do it very easily in the others. But this is the trap – they invariably project a deeper, darker image with stronger colours. Nothing like what your printer is going to produce. And I have to use PS for the final run, when I deal with the tonal range, shadows, brightness, contrast etc. Also, commonly, tweaking the colours for the actual printing process.

      Do the hard yards, by all means, in programs like Capture One Pro, or Affinity Photo. Yank in some presets, or try AI, if you have Luminar 4. But in the end, you’ll likely want to see the result in PS – and fine tune it there – before you send it off to print. So as I mentioned earlier, I also use it to make final adjustments to image size, pixel strength, crop, etc.

      • Paul Perton says:

        Agreed. I use Mirage Print and got it going relatively painlessly. Why? Because it’s a genuine RIP (Raster Image Processor) and not some lash up a software guy at XYZ company dreamed up then sold to the major app developers.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Curious!
    Paul, is that red-roofed tired old weatherboard cottage somewhere in South Africa? It looks remarkably similar to the ones built here at around the same period. Maybe it was British Standard Issue, in the “colonies”?

    • Paul Perton says:

      Pete,

      It’s closer to you than me – South Island, New Zealand. That said, yes I think the plans were pretty much universal around then, adapted for local conditions. It’s still standing and if it had been better maintained, would doubtless still be habitable.

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