Some programs are shallow in powerful features, but wide in their different uses. Others are have power features that offer deep functionality, but are mostly concentrated on those speciality features. Capture One Pro, by Phase One, is an application that offers class-leading raw conversion and color adjustment algorithms, but trails the pack in DAM (Digital Asset Management) and printing tools.
That’s sad, and somewhat surprising, because Phase One also owns a long-established digital media library tool, Media Pro (it was Microsoft Expression Media and iView Media Pro before that). The power of the RAW adjustment abilities leads to pain when attempting to manage, or print, the results.
Using Apple products over the years, including Aperture, has taught me that great software is both deep and wide. Guy Kawasaki, an early Macintosh Software Evangelist, defined great software as being “deep, intelligent, complete, empowering and elegant.” Unfortunately for me, by that definition, Capture One Pro is not great software.
I’m not entirely sure that Lightroom is great software, but it covers more bases than Capture One Pro and it does so with uncommon competence. Adobe does, after all, know a tremendous amount about image processing in general and RAW conversion in particular. I need, and want, more than just an outstanding RAW image converter; I want a program, as was Aperture in its day, that can convert, adjust, store and output images all with superior results.
Capture One Pro’s DAM tools are basic; functional, but basic. So basic that it won’t stack images other than variants of the same image. And it doesn’t even always show the expand/collapse icon in the thumbnail corner for the stacks it can make. There are no flags, you can’t rename the color tags to provide meaning, and forget about keyword synonyms (which are handy for folks who change their names when they marry).
Printing features are equally basic. Print templates only save the cell size for the image; you can’t include printer, paper size, paper/ink profile, nor rendering intent in a template of any sort. There’s no print output sharpening. For general output, its processing features are nice, but there’s no linkup with commonly used photo services such as Flickr, 500px, or even FaceBook.
The lack of important features is bad enough. But there is also a disturbing lack of attention to detail. User interface bugs exist that simply shouldn’t and they haven’t been fixed in any of the updates since version 9.0 was released. Including the most recent update to version 9.1.
Filters can show that zero images have a property, which makes no sense. Print template names are hard to edit because they are black against the black of the dialog box until the name is selected. Floating tools don’t remember the size they were last when collapsed and then expanded.
I’ve been hoping, since version 8.0, for Capture One Pro to step up to the level that it could replace Aperture for me. It just hasn’t yet, and I’m disappointed because I just can’t love Lightroom.