As an avid Capture One user and Phase One Certified Professional digital tech, I always approach new Capture One releases with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation, because there's often good things to play with that are going to make my workflow faster; and trepidation, because I started with Capture One back in version 7, where the learning curve was way steeper because you couldn't be sure of whether the tool wasn't working because the tool was broken, or because you didn't know how to use it...and things would go kerblewie all the time. I'm pleased to say that Capture One 10, just released today, is a worthy upgrade that if you're a CO9 (or earlier) user, will serve you extremely well. I'll leave some of the big feature changes like control surface support and 3-phase sharpening to others to document, but: as is often the case, the most useful features for working pros are the ones that take a footnote in Phase One's documentation. So, having been on the CO10 beta, here are a number of goodies and a few cautions.

It's Faster And More Stable

Now and then, Phase One sends out surveys to us working pros asking us what we'd like to see in future versions of C1. I, and it seems quite a few others, told them that the best feature we'd like to see is...speed and stability. They delivered: CO10 is hands down the fastest and most stable CO release I've used thus far. There are a number of places where this really shines:

Masking on local adjustment layers feels a lot faster. On my 4-core iMac 27 late2011, I run with OpenCL off because OpenCL tends to be slower than native CPU, and masking--particularly on Phase files--has always been a bit laggy. It's still a little laggy, but it's hugely better than it was.

Accessing sessions on slow drives. Phase One recommends not accessing sessions on a NAS, but as someone with a project-based workflow, it's sometimes unavoidable. I run a slow NAS (QNAP TS-419P2--which I swear I'll upgrade sometime this coming year when that last terabyte finally fills), and for anything other than very basic open and process actions (which still haven't tended to work right...), it's been far better to move an old session onto a local drive, whack on it, and copy it back. In CO10, I'm pretty confident doing occasional editing on old files without having to wait to copy what can often be a large session across. There's still occasional hangups and slow performance with big layered 16-bit TIFs, so if your workflow runs towards that (as mine does), you're still probably better to copy everything local. But, if a client calls you for a few images from a past shoot with a few minor edits (which happens a lot here), you can probably now reprocess things without having to wait forever to copy.

Faster preview in general. My onsite tether machine is an ancient, mid-2011 MacBook Air. With only 4GB of RAM, this machine is woefully underspec'd for serious work, but if I'm on the road, sometimes I end up having to do basic editing on it. During one of the early CO10 betas, I ended up doing preliminary edits for a whole session on the Air, and while it sure wasn't fast, it was a lot more usable than CO9 ever was. Bravo!

But the biggest change for me, and probably for all of you who shoot technical cameras?

LCC Creation is multithreaded long last! Most Capture One operations take full advantage of multicore CPUs. The notable exception to this has been creating LCCs. Because I shoot on a technical camera, I'll roll into the office after a shoot, needing to create a whole pile of LCCs at once...which has usually meant selecting about 40 images at a time, right-clicking Create LCC, and fixing tea. Or doing LCC creation on my ancient MacBook Air, because a single core on the Air wasn't much slower than a single core on my iMac.

No more! LCC creation will now use as many cores as you have, so it's going to be faster--from somewhere between twice as fast on my ancient Air, to about 6 times as fast on my iMac.

Tethered focus controls

Tethered focus controls actually slipped into the Live View window in CO9, but with a number of improvements to live view over the last few releases, they're actually useful if you're shooting with a supported camera. I recently ended up shooting a focus stack on my Canon 5D Mark II entirely tethered from the next room (happens a lot if you're shooting in wine cellars or in small bathrooms) by shooting from the Live View window and twiddling the focus controls. Very cool.

Recipe proofing

Capture One has long had the ability to proof using your output ICC profile. This was quite handy, but also very easy to muck up: there have been more than a few times when I've been working on something late at night that I was previewing for print output, then started editing again after a good night's sleep and forgotten that I was outputting to print and subsequently...wondered why all my unedited images were showing up as flat and lifeless. Whoops!

In CO10, things behave a bit differently. There's now a Recipe Proof button on the toolbar that lets you proof your entire process recipe, including sizing and compression. If you're in Recipe Proof mode, you'll not only see the output ICC results, but also the final output size and the results of compression, if you're outputting in a lossy format. This is very handy if you're outputting files to the web, or other situations where you're trying to pack as much quality per size into a particular file output (several of our local architectural awards programs require JPGs at '300 DPI at 5 megs or less', so the challenge is to pack as much detail into that per size and not blow past the limit).

Getting the most out of this may require a few little changes. In CO10, go to View > Proof Profile. You'll probably see Recipe Profile, which is the default. If this is selected, it means that your default view will be using the ICC profile in the process recipe. Now that Recipe Proof exists, you might want to change this to a sensible default for your workflow (like Adobe RGB), and use Recipe Proof when you explicitly want to soft proof your output. 

Upgrading existing sessions

Upgrading previous sessions to CO10 has thus far been very straightforward, but there's a caution. CO10 has a new processing engine, and I've yet to find an image whose preview effectively changes when clicking the magic 'Upgrade' button to move to CO10. Because of the new sharpening options, if you've worked heavily with CO9's sharpening tools, you might find some differences. Unlike, say, the changes from 7 to 8, the move to CO10 seems minor enough that it's safe enough to hit Select All > Upgrade on current 9 sessions and let 'er rip.

A caveat, though: because of the (newer, faster) previewing facilities, when you upgrade a session, CO10 has to repaint all the previews, sometimes twice. This takes time, particularly when you're on a large session. While you can work (sort-of...) when that's going on, my method of choice is to open the session, do a Select All > Upgrade to move everything to the CO10 engine, and wait until all the previews are updated. While having the cup of tea that I can no longer have while waiting for LCCs to create...and enjoying much faster editing afterwards.

Workspace cautions

CO10 has a new default workspace that's a lot more friendly on widescreen displays. They've put the browser view on the far right rather than below, which I'm still getting used to (old habits from Lightroom die very, very hard), moved a bunch of the tools around, added tool tabs for camera focus outside of Live View, and added the aforementioned Recipe Proof button. This means that if you're using a workspace you built for CO9, you might well be missing some good functionality. I've taken the time to re-create my workspaces based on the new default workspaces in CO10, and you might want to as well.


This January, I'm teaching a two-day soup-to-nuts weekend workshop on Capture One with Vancouver Photo Workshops. If you're looking to make the leap, or if you've been using Capture One for awhile and want to get more out of it, go sign up.

Time to upgrade!?

I'm quite happy with CO10, and chances are good you will be as well. If you're looking at upgrading to CO10 or migrating from Lightroom or Aperture, it's a good time to make it happen. You can also get 10% off using the promo code AMBMKPHOTO from Phase One's online store.