Making the Switch
After years working in Apple’s Aperture 3, which is no longer being developed, I am transitioning to Capture One. Through many tutorials, reading forums, and working in the application, the transition I once abhorred is now one I relish. There are so many resources out there, especially Capture One’s YouTube page, but my take focuses on filling the gaps. David Grover is the man and has invested a ton of time into creating live and recorded webinars. I highly recommend watching as many of those as possible. Capture One is developed by the amazing camera company Phase One so they know how us photographers think. They have a vested interest in developing software for the industry they know so well. It’s what they do, so who better to look after the needs of (professional) photographers? The following is a list of how my workflow is established and the concepts that have been the most helpful to me in switching to Capture One full time. If you want to start learning without taking any risk, create a test library & follow along!
Transitioning Libraries from Aperture to Capture One
For starters, Capture One can read Aperture libraries or import them into a Capture One catalog. They are definitely different applications but extremely similar in core thinking which is great. Most image adjustments transfer from Aperture to Capture One with the notable exceptions being cloning adjustments and Smart Albums. Before making the jump, consider creating new Albums in Aperture and drag images from Smart Albums into those if you want your organization to remain the same. Aperture organized my photographs in Managed Libraries, one for each calendar year, and I can use Catalogs in Capture one to do the same.
One feature that drove me crazy and I could not figure out from Capture One’s plethora of helpful tutorials is that Projects do not directly contain photographs in Capture One as they would in Aperture. Images are stored in Collections. Under User Collections, there you will find the most control and create your own organizational structure. Projects or folders must contain an Album for photographs to live. In some instances, this makes a lot more sense because images can be stored/linked in multiple groupings. I import by memory cards into Albums within the Project for rating, then move them out after they are rated. Images can be rated with stars (1-5) or color labels, but there is not a flag feature. Keywords can be used in Capture One 9.2.
Backing Up in Camera
Whether it’s my D4, D3, or D7100, each camera is set up to copy photographs to both memory cards (of the same storage capacity) simultaneously for an in camera backup. When packing up, I separate one of each pair of cards using a Think Tank Pocket Rocket tethered to my belt loop for safe keeping. When I get to my MacBook Pro, the Think Tank has everything I need ready to import.
Importing & Image Organization in Capture One
I store photographs in annual Capture One Catalogs stored on a RAID 5 Thunderbolt Enclosure. Within the Capture One library structure, job types are virtually organized in folders (Commercial, Magazine, Product, Event, Personal, etc). Each job is named by date as a Project, with the relevant photographs being linked to an Album within that project. Smart Albums filter for criteria for final photographs, social media edits, etc. Capture One does not avoid importing previous adjustments.
Backing up with Capture One
While Capture One offers the ability to back up adjustments, it does not back up image files! A separate solution, Carbon Copy Cloner, will fill that void. Coming from Aperture, this was initially a deal breaker until I started doing more research. Aperture allows you to create multiple “Vaults” which backup your library, which you must manually initiate to backup. What’s potentially problematic down the road, Aperture Vaults are not workable libraries but read only backups that need to be rebuilt into a working library using Aperture. Whenever Aperture is no longer functional on macOS, restoring from a Vault is going to be a problem. I plan to create new 1:1 backups of libraries using Carbon Copy Cloner to replace Aperture Vaults
In Carbon Copy Cloner, you create tasks that automatically run backups of designated volumes or files to other volumes at automated intervals of your choosing. Capture One Catalogs are identically copied and are instantly writable/usable on the backup drive, something Aperture could not do. That’s well worth $39.99. I created tasks to automatically back up my Capture One libraries onto an external drive that is always connected, AND a second task to backup to another external drive on connection that is brought in for off site backup after each job.
A RAID 5 enclosure with multiple hard drives formatted as a single volume is still just one enclosure, stored in one location. While RAID 5 offers redundancy and performance across multiple hard drives, it is not a true backup.
Tethering with Capture One
One of Capture One’s strongest features is tethering, whereby a camera is connected to a computer, usually by a long (15’) USB cable for consistency. Exposure adjustments can be controlled from the camera so the camera can be entirely still for product or architectural photography. There is a live view feature which is massively helpful for composing, especially if a creative director or client are on hand. Images appear on the computer display automatically after capture, and there is an option to apply previous image adjustments to each sequential photograph which is a huge time saver. This is great for applying vertical or horizontal perspective adjustments on images made from a stationary camera, a significant feature Aperture lacked.
I will probably use Carbon Copy Cloner when photographing tethered since Capture One only saves image files locally on the computer. A USB drive for flash drive setup to backup a Session or Catalog with Carbon Copy Cloner would remedy that.
Capture One Pilot
A part of tethering, this feature is insane. If you are connected on Wifi, you can share a server link that will allow the viewer to follow along remotely as you photograph in their web browser. This is included in Capture One under the Capture Tab. There is an iOS App that can access the library, too, and a paid version to enable tether controls. This is an incredible feature that I can’t believe is a) possible b) included c) so simple to use.
Helpful hints – Capture One tips to make your life easier
Closing a Capture One catalog is not quitting the application.
Under Preferences – General, opening a new Catalog or Session can be opened in a new window to have multiple libraries open at the same time which Aperture could not do.
Many keyboard shortcuts can be edited in Capture One to match up with those from Aperture, if desired. This makes the greatest difference in feeling at home in Capture One.
The layout of Capture One is extremely modular and customizable. Multiple workspaces can be saved to show the tools and organizational components you desire, where you want them. Editing workspaces is as simple as resaving the workspace after making desired changes.
Command B toggles the browser. Using multiple monitors, it is great having a custom work space on one display and the browser open to a full image on another.
Export presets are called Recipes. Multiple Recipes can be ran simultaneously for different purposes.
Capture One is optimized for working on multiple displays.
Option to enable Focus Masks – show what’s in focus, similar to a highlight alert
Capture One offers film packs, with free samples, to apply analog film filters to photographs
Capture One Wish List
1) “Do not import duplicates” on ingestion. This would be hugely helpful for shooting with a constant mix of tethered & untethered capture.
2) Ability to display uneditable preview instead of full raw file for faster editing.
3) Shortcut to toggle between two workspaces quickly. There is, however a drop down that can be added to the toolbar. On multiple monitors this isn’t a big deal. On a 13” MacBook Pro it is.
4) Before/After shortcut key or button to show the original image and the adjusted variant, as well as an option to preview a before/after per adjustment.
5) Previously applied cloning adjustments carrying over from Aperture. The tool itself in Aperture was also much, much easier to use. Retouching skin, sensor dirt, to me now feels too complicated/time consuming.
6) Create an album at Import Images screen.
7) When moving photographs from one album to another in the viewer, dragging into the Tools menu automatically switches to the Library temporarily.
8) Arrows on each end of an adjustment slider to incrementally change an adjustment by clicking.
9) Designate Output Naming Counter start number to any number.
It is important to understand that Capture One and Aperture work differently but these features would be very beneficial to have.
Capture One Difficulties
Maybe it’s me but if anyone has suggestions on how to address these challenges or to make any of those items on the wish list a reality, please let me know. I spend countless hours in post production mode and every improvement would save a great deal of time. As a disclaimer, I’m running macOS 10.12 Beta/Golden Master, which is a risk I don’t recommend. Some of these challenges may be the result of the OS.
1) From my main catalog, I exported a project as a new library to edit (choose) and manually sort images in a specific order on my MacBook Pro away from my desk. When reimporting the catalog into my main catalog, the images were sorted by Name, and choosing manual did not revert to the order I created. I had to resort the images in Capture One all over again.
2) Crashes. The last few adjustments made are lost after each crash.
3) When exporting, I want to be able to give images a job name with a counter, but I can’t find a way to set (not reset, but designate) the starting number for the counter. Normally I export in chunks to upload in the background and not having the ability to set that counter to a designated number slows that workflow down tremendously.
Capture One 9.2 is an extremely deep application. It can do many things found in Aperture, as well as many features you’ll wish you had years ago. While it is different at it’s core, from a host of professional features to a RAW interpreter that is second to none, making the switch to Capture One is very worth the effort. I’ve heard Capture One is like getting a free camera upgrade in terms of quality and that’s absolutely been my experience. It is exciting to utilize software that is alive & well, improving with time, and offering feedback that will be heard. There is much I have yet to discover in Capture One 9.2 so stay tuned for a follow up post and share your favorite features and tips in the comments below!
Save 10% when buying or upgrading to Capture One Pro 10 for Mac & PC via the Phase One Online Store using the promo code AMBUSH at checkout.