Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


The Art of Raw Conversion #006

Capture One DSLR Limited Edition

Preview Note by Uwe Steinmueller (4/13/2003)


Note: Capture One DSLR Limited Edition is planned to be released 4/16/2003

Last November we got the first version of Phase One's raw converter Capture One DSLR (read our full review) and it soon seemed to define how efficient a professional raw workflow can be. Also we like the output quality of the images a lot and use C1 on a daily basis. Although some users miss what they call micro detail. But remember noise and micro detail can be very close and we especially like the clean look of the images.

The only downside of C1 seemed to be the price of $500 (also the Mac version needs some improvement). For a pro photographer buying a Canon 1Ds these $500 can be saved in a week due to a much more efficient workflow using C1.

Up until now C1 supported the Canon 1D and Nikon D1x/D100 (not on the Mac right now). There are many pros that have a Canon D60 or the new Canon 10D as a second body and switching raw converters is a nightmare for a workflow aware photographer. To no surprise these photographers want C1 to support also the Canon 10D and D60 (we told this Phase One back in November).

Guess what? Phase One has listened and is now also supporting the Canon D30/D60 and 10D. But this would leave a new dilemma: Many 10D users would like to use C1 too. But a $500 software for a $1500 camera does not sound that good. We would argue it is still worth it but the market would hardly believe us.

Fortunately Phase One presents a solution: Capture One DSLR Limited Edition at an aggressive price of $99.

What is the catch? The limited version is the same as the full version with some restrictions:

  • C1 Limited is PC only right now (no plans for the Mac announced, sorry Mac users)
  • It only works with Canon D30, D60, 10D and Nikon D100
  • Some features are not present (here are the main ones)
    • Profile Editor
    • YMCK conversion
    • Batch is limited to only 20 files at any time
    • No support for tethered
    • No Moire plug-in
    • Only 15 days free trial period

From all these features the 20 files for batch processing is probably for many the most limiting restriction. But remember that with C1 you do not need batch processing just to preview your images and also you can work around the limitations.

Let's assume you reached the 20 images limit. Continue to modify all the settings of the remaining files using C1 and add the next 20 files to the queue once the previous conversions are done. In the meantime you then work on the converted images in Photoshop to give your photos the final touch.

Otherwise C1 Limited feels and acts like the full version. For a general overview read our full C1 review.

Note: The next version of C1 (full version) will also support the new cameras). There is no need to buy both versions (except getting the support earlier).

New Features

Needless to say that the new features will be also available in the full version of C1.

Histogram showing the color channels

The histogram is an important tool to analyze the correct exposure of an image. To help even more the new version of C1 shows all three RGB color channels (can be disabled in the properties).

Why? This is best shown in a real world example.

C1 screen shot of an Canon 10D photo

This photo is overexposed but not in all channels (only in the blue and red channels).

Histogram of the above photo shows overexposure

To even improve the analysis C1 displays the histogram derived from the current crop.

Crop selected in C1

Now the histogram only shows the exposure data inside the cropped selection:

Histogram of the crop

Unfortunately this kind of overexposure is not shown on many digital camera histograms (the Fuji S2 does a good job here).

WB correction using Color Temperature Control

The model for color temperature corrections provided by Adobe's Camera Raw plug-in is clearly excellent and of course the users of C1 wanted an equivalent solution. Phase One in the new version adds color temperature to the existing gray balance correction controls.

New Color temperature control

You can now select a color temperature and then tweak the color cast using the color wheel and the saturation slider. This is a very important improvement for all outdoor photographers and all that want to adjust the photo to a more subjective gray balance.

We users now benefit from a healthy competition in the raw converter market. The times are over where we needed to be happy with the tools that the manufacturers had thrown at us.


The software for the Sigma SD9 features a nice loupe to help finding the correct spots for the eye-dropper to perform one click gray balance. On right-click such a loupe is now available for C1 too. Nicely done.


Loupe with RGB reading


We highly recommend Capture One DSLR Limited to all Canon D30/D60/10D and Nikon D100 users. We regret that we cannot use this version for our many old Nikon D1 files. The users of the Canon D30 are more lucky. All Canon D30/D60/10D and Nikon D100 users will get the same quality as from the high end Canon 1Ds except of course the resolution.

We find this is the best solution for the Canon 10D right now on the market (keep in mind that Adobe's Camera Raw has no official support for the 10D yet). For more discussions about the 10D and the software read our 10D diary.

Highly Recommended

Capture One DSLR Limited Profile Read our Raw Converter Essential Article
Capture One DSLR Limited
Bayer Pattern interpolation
Apply Tone Curve
variable curves
Apply Camera Profile
yes (one generic per camera type)
White Balance (WB)
Exposure Compensation (EV)
Noise removal very good
Artifact Removal (e.g. moiré) No moiré removal (rarely needed with supported cameras)
Contrast and Brightness (Levels, Curves)
Saturation good
Sharpening good
Color Corrections with curves
Mac and PC PC only
User Interface experience excellent (very fast image preview)
Color Management full support
Histogram yes (all 3 channels covered)
Reasonable large preview very good
Realtime WB, EV and other correction preview yes
Batch capabilities yes (limited to 20 at any time)
Good workflow integration excellent
Integration with RAW image browser excellent
Saving and recalling settings or setting groups (like WB, Sharpening, ...) yes
Saving in 16bit yes
Tag saved files with profiles yes
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