Capture One Pro 9 Released

Update: Capture One 9.0.1 has been released with minor bug fixes. While in general we still advise caution on new major releases, and bugs may remain with specific combinations of hardware/cameras/operating-systems that only time will reveal, on our recent Mac computers running El Capitan and various Phase One digital backs we’ve found 9.0.1 very stable and ready for prime time

The newly announced Capture One Pro 9 makes major improvements in the areas of Keywording, Masking, and Contrast controls. Before we dive into these headline features we’ll provide some helpful context. But before that, a standard software upgrade advisory…


Upgrade Advisory: Always Be Conservative

Anytime a major new version of software is released, whether by Apple, Adobe, or Phase One, it is always advisable to take a conservative view of its immediate adoption. Brand new versions often have quirks or bugs that can be annoying or worse. We advise following the Software Upgrade Golden Rules:

  • Make a backup (e.g. using SuperDuper) of your system before the update.
  • Don’t upgrade right before or during a shoot or production.
  • Always test after updating.

As usual, Digital Transitions will be testing this new version of Capture One and will be keeping close tabs with our clients that do the upgrade. Our clients are always welcome to call us to ask what we are seeing regarding stability of new versions of Capture One.


Capture One’s New Development Mantra

When Capture One 8 was released it marked a major milestone in the development of Capture One and a change in overall release strategies. Instead of arbitrarily holding back major features to make a big splash with every major version, new features would be released on a rolling basis whenever they were ready. The release of 8.1, for instance, included Find-and-Replace naming, Multiple Guides, Tokenization of Output folders, and Edit in Photoshop; all were significant additions for digital techs and professional photographers, and all were rolled out free to owners of Capture One 8.

Now the Danish Elves have brought us a holiday present in the form of Capture One Pro 9. As expected, since they haven’t been hoarding otherwise-ready features, the new feature list is more modest than with previous major releases (e.g. Capture One 7.0 or Capture One 8.0). But there is a surprising amount of thought and power tucked away in the new feature list. The headline features (Keywording, Masking, Contrast/Curves) are supplemented by a variety of smaller improvements; it’s often these smaller tweaks that end up making all the difference, and our friends at Breed are writing an excellent blog article later this week discussing just that. (update: that Breed article Hidden Gems in Capture One v9 is now live)

Now, on with details of the headline features…

Masking Improvements


Masking in Capture One has come a long way since being introduced in Capture One Pro v6. The release of version 9 brings the addition of airbrushing, straight-line drawing (by holding shift), optional linked brush sizes, and the ability to create a mask from a Color Editor selection.

Airbrushing, or the ability to “build up” a brush’s effect as you go back and forth over the same area multiple times, is a welcome addition to the arsenal of masking tools in Capture One. For instance, setting a local adjustment layer to +1 exposure and a brush at a 10% flow means you can brush in up to a full stop worth of dodge by continuously moving the cursor around. Each time the brush hits an area you’ve already been over it will gain another tenth of a stop of push.

Straight Line Drawing

Anyone working in Adobe Photoshop is used to drawing straight lines by holding shift. This can now be done in Capture One’s masking system. Select the brush cursor (b), click somewhere in a photo, and then hold shift as you click somewhere else. A straight line will be drawn in between. Simple, and, thanks to Adobe, very intuitive.

Linked Brushes

Capture One has two “brushes” – one to draw and one to erase. There are times when it’s nice that these are separate tools. For example, when drawing with a very large soft brush it’s nice to have a smaller and harder brush to clean up areas that the drawing brush leaks into. But often brushing and erasing are more closely tied. In version 9 you can lock the size of the two brushes together; when increasing or decreasing the size of one, you’ll automatically adjust the size of the other.

Color Editor Based Masks

Finally, the ability to create a mask from a Color Editor selection is a huge aid to raw workflow masking. This is hidden away in a context menu of the Color Editor so it may not be found by a casual user, which is a shame because of how much power it contains. Using this tool you can quickly select skin and apply a slight Luminance curve, or grab foliage and increase its contrast. Moreover, you can refine the mask it creates using the brush and eraser, including using the Auto Mask.


The Origins

Some years ago Phase One purchased Media Pro (formerly known as iView Media Pro). Users of Media Pro fawn over its sophisticated metadata handling system, especially its powerful keywording system. But Media Pro was built on a very old code base and its age has been clearly visible for some time now. Fortunately for those users, Phase One has now ported the best parts of Media Pro’s Keyword handling (bulk handling, controlled vocabulary, hierarchy) to Capture One Pro 9.


The Basics

The new keywording tool solves some very fundamental limitations in Capture One 8’s keywording system. In v8 it was not possible to easily batch-remove a particular keyword from multiple images, and it was not necessarily intuitive how to add a keyword to multiple images. In version 9 both of these basic uses are fast and easy.

“The most important goal of the new keywording tools has been to allow the user to easily and intuitively add or remove multiple keywords to a whole selection of images/variants at once.” – Lars Baunegaard, Phase One Software Engineer, Capture One

To add keywords to multiple images simply select those images and click on a keyword. To remove a particular keyword from multiple images simply select those images and click the minus symbol that appears on the left side of the keyword. Bulk adding/removing keywords is easy even when only some of the selected images have only some of the keywords.

Dictionary Control of Keyword Vocabulary

Like Media Pro before it, Capture One Pro 9 can now work from a controlled vocabulary dictionary. This is called a “Keyword Library” in Capture One. Using it minimizes the chance of misspelling a keyword or having multiple slight variations of the same keyword. For instance, instead of “sunrise,” “sun rise,” and “sun rise” sprinkled throughout a collection of images, the dictionary ensures that only “sunrise” is used.

You can either click on the keyword in the Keyword Library listing or start typing and the autocomplete will draw from the Keyword Library. The Keyword Library tool can be detached and floated/expanded to any size, for example, to make best use of a two-monitor setup.

Going Beyond LightRoom

One of Phase One’s guiding principals in software development is not to simply match the feature of a competitor. LightRoom has had an edge regarding key wording, and rather than just match their feature set, Phase One has gone beyond it in two important areas.

First, Capture One 9 now provides the option to have multiple dictionaries which can be imported from a plain text list, another Capture One session/catalog, or from a Media Pro Vocabulary file. For instance, you can maintain one Keyword Library for weddings and another for stock images submitted to Getty Images (using their specific keyword guide), and yet a third that you use for your own internal archive/portfolio.

Second, Capture One 9 allows you to reorder the keywords for any given image. So if you’d like to give a particular keyword or keywords more prominence (e.g. when uploading to a stock photo site) you can place them first, without compromising your ability to include other secondary keywords.

Luminance Contrast/Curves

Have you ever noticed that when you turn up contrast in most raw editors that the relative saturation, or punchiness, of the colors also goes up? This is because most curves and contrast tools are based off of RGB controls, rather than luminance. Use of a luminance-based curve can provide fine control over the amount and the type of tonal contrast of an image, without changing its color aesthetics. This has been long recognized and used to competitive advantage among high-end retouchers, but until now it required processing the file out of raw and then applying a luminance curve in Photoshop.

Now in Capture One Pro 9 the standard “Contrast” slider (in the exposure tool) has also been improved to work on Luminance rather than RGB data. This provides a great one-slider solution for users looking for a fast and easy way to add contrast without the colors in the image becoming borderline psychedelic.

For users looking for more fine grained control of luminance, the Curves tool now features a Luminance tab. This tool can be undocked and expanded to allow very fine grain control over the curve being applied. Even better, Curves, including the luminance curve option, can be applied using the Local Adjustments tool.


How to Buy; How to Learn

Now With Three Seats

A standard license of Capture One Pro has historically been provided with two seats. In version 9 this has been increased to three. That means you can activate, for instance your laptop and desktop at the studio and have a third activation ready for when renting a laptop. You can use the seats for PC or Mac activations, and reset your seats at anytime.

Upgrade Free with COMP Class

Our Capture One Masters Program (COMP) encompasses two advanced Capture One classes, each lasting four hours. They are limited to 16 attendees to ensure a highly interactive experience. Each class is $199.

To celebrate our new LA office we’re offering the first signups for our next COMP class a FREE upgrade to Capture One Pro 9. You can also sign up for both classes and save $100 with Promo Code: COMP100.


If you purchased Capture One Pro 8 after October 30, 2015 your upgrade is free. Contact the dealer from whom you purchased Capture One for assistance accessing your free upgrade. Click here to contact DT if you purchased from us. Otherwise the cost to upgrade from Capture One Pro 7 or Capture One Pro 8 is $99. Upgrades must be purchased through the Phase One Online Store.

Student and Multi-Seat Licenses

Student and multi-license discounts are available; contact for more information.

Normal Purchase

The cost to purchase Capture One Pro 9 is $299. Buy Capture One Pro 9.
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