Photography News issue 28

Photography News Issue 28 absolutephoto.com

Software test 53

Capture One Pro 9 €279 (£210)

Specs

The makers of Capture One Pro 9 is Phase One, well known provider of medium-format digital cameras and backs, so you may think that the software is dedicated to its cameras. But nothing could be further from the truth and Capture Pro 9 is a fully featuredworkflow software that supports more than 400 camera models. It’s cross platform so Windows and Mac users can enjoy its benefits of an excellent Rawprocessor and assetmanager, too. Version 9 has a new processing engine and extra adjustment tools. It has two ways of working, depending on your needs and you are not confined to one or the other. Catalogue-based file management is for large collections of pictures. In this case, image previews and settings are stored in a catalogue database. So if you want to build a database of all your images taken in the coming year, use a Capture catalogue and upload images into it as the year progresses. It is easy then to look back whenever you want and output images you worked on previously. It is very similar to working with a Lightroom catalogue. Session file management is ideal if you want to keep all the shots from a day’s shoot in separate workflow folders, ie Capture, Selects, Output and Trash. Each folder can be viewed independently and albums can be made from the session folders. In tethered shooting this means you can assess and rate images very soon after exposure. Importing existing images into a catalogue/ session folder and generating previews isn’t especially fast. From an existing collection of files, it took over 45 minutes to import 1100

images but of course, you can set things going and disappear for dinner. Both the catalogue and session interfaces are broadly similar. The difference is the number of folders but the tools are all in the same place and there are plenty of them. The top tool bar, which can be customised in terms of what’s available, has plenty of features including a loupe that can be used on thumbnails. It’s worth noting that the loupe in AfterShot Pro is faster giving a sharp preview. There is another rowof tools running below the top toolbar. Here are 12 icons, taking you from the library view to the modules for adjusting exposure, colour, lens corrections, detail adjustments and finally to output and batch output.

The order of these module tabs can be rearranged (or tabs can removed entirely) to suit how you prefer to work. Plenty of options are available for floating menus (51 are possible) and these tools can also be added to any of the modules too. In fact, you could just have one ‘super’ tab with all your usual adjustments in one place. Raw processing quality is first rate, obviously helped by the vast range of controls on offer, and certainly comparable withAdobe Camera Raw and Lightroom. To complete Capture Pro 9’s workflow credentials, the keyword and library function is very powerful and the print module has lots of versatility. There is a good selection of templates and the option to create your own. WC

Prices €279 (or €12 a month subscription for 12 months, €19 a month for three months) Systemrequirements Windows: Windows 7 64-bit, 8 64-bit; Intel Core 2 Duo or later; 4GB RAM; 10GB of free hard drive space; 1280x800 monitor Mac: OS x 10.9 or later; Intel Core 2 Duo or later; 4GB RAM; 10GB of free hard drive space; 1280x800 monitor Contact phaseone.com

Verdict

Capture Pro 9 is a powerful workflow software and while it is not cheap, it is very, very good with huge potential in terms of what it can do and how it can be done. Whether you buy it or take the subscription option, if you want an excellent workflow package with very good tethered shooting features and a high quality Raw processor, this could be the package for you. Pros So many editing options including layers, Raw processing quality, workspace options, tethered shooting Cons Lots to learn

Macphun Aurora HDR Pro v1.1.1 £79

Specs

Left Once the bracketed images (Raws, TIFFs or JPEGs) have been selected and preprocessed, you are presented with a preview and many preset options – many tasteful, many less so – as well as tools for further adjustment. The final adjustments can be saved as your own preset. Prices Aurora HDR Pro £79 (current offer price), Aurora HDR £29.99 from iTunes Systemrequirements Processor Core 2 Duo late 2009 or later 4GB minimum RAM OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks or later Contact macphun.com / stuckincustoms.com

Brilliant at dealing with very high contrast scenes, HDR processing has great creative potential too. However, it is true that the technique is also seen to be gimmick thanks to the garish, cartoon-like, highly detailed images that some photographers like to produce. Aurora HDR Pro is a Mac only software (a Windows version is on the way), developed in collaborationwith Trey Ratcliff, a leading HDR image-maker, and the aim was to produce the world’s most powerful HDR editing software. A basic version, Aurora HDR, is available through iTunes for £29.99, but it does not offer Raw compatibility, no Photoshop or Lightroom plug-in support and fewer editing features. Has Macphun succeeded in its aim? Yes, it probably has. There is a huge amount of control possiblewithAuroraHDRPro but that creative flexibility does not come with complexity and it’s an easy software to work with. Open the software and an image upload folder appears with the options to align exposures if the camera is handheld, sort ghosting with moving subjects and to cure

chromatic aberration. A five image bracket took about 40 seconds (without any initial setting options used) to appear as a HDR preview with the effects of the many presets appearing in a thumbnail strip. With the Alignment, Ghosts Reduction and Chromatic Aberration Reduction options engaged loading took around 90-100 seconds. There are collections of basic, realistic and subject-based presets plus a set of Trey Ratcliff’s presets with titles like ‘First Time I DidMushrooms’ and ‘Party in my HDR pants’. In total, there are 59 presets with the option of creating and saving your own. Click on any preset and the preview refreshes very quickly. Down the right side are 14 sets of controls with sliders used to alter the effect. Of special note is HDR Denoise, a quick, very effective way of getting rid of the vivid noise that can afflict the shadows in HDR images. Aurora HDR also has the option of layers with similar blending modes as those in Photoshop (Soft light, Overlay, Screen etc) and there is an opacity slider too. Further flexibility

is provided by amaskingmode where localised areas can be edited. There is a very versatile gradient mask and a copymask is available too. There is plenty of potential for more obvious HDR effects should you want them but it’s very good for subtle results. I think where this software has an extra appeal is its ability to produce quite normal-looking pictures from extreme lighting conditions. It works very well with hand-held brackets and the alignment option readily and effectively deals with very slight movement in between bracketed shots. Export time is fast, with a five-shot bracket exported as a finished 16-bit TIFF taking around 12 seconds. The export dialogue box has plenty of options with Facebook, flickr and Twitter among them. Images can also be opened in an external software at this point. Finally, if you want to save projects for future editing, that is easy enough too. The degree of creative control is very impressive so while the software is really easy to use to get a basic result, there is a lot to learn when to comes down to fine-tuning results. WC

Verdict

Aurora HDR Pro is an impressive, highly capable software. The benchmark HDR software for many is Photomatix and the Pro 5 version, available for Mac and Windows, costs £72. Aurora HDR Pro costs £79 (an offer price, correct at the time of going to press) and you get more features with layers being top of the list. Windows users currently don’t have the option, but Mac-based HDR users do and Aurora HDR Pro deserves a serious look.

Pros Offers great control, handling, layers, mask tools, denoising feature Cons Mac only (at the moment)

www.photographynews.co.uk

Powered by