Nino Batista's Capture One Pro Retouch Challenge

Nino Batista's Capture One Pro Retouch Challenge

I'm back with yet another editing contest, but this one has a twist you'll either love or hate. As I was recently in San Francisco teaching alongside Dave Gallagher, CEO of Capture Integration, for our course on CreativeLive, it occurred to me that almost no one (at least) that I knew personally edited solely in Capture One. That is, taking an image to completion using nothing but Capture One, which would mean not using the sacred Adobe Photoshop in any way. Challenge accepted?

The Premise

I am issuing yet again another raw file that I shot (as I have done before) totally straight out of camera. (Download the raw file in question here.) It is an image of Alessandra Sironi, shot on South Beach in Miami earlier this year. The image is hardly perfect, and it was a simple overcast day and I shot it with totally natural light. The file will be available for about a week, depending on how many submissions I receive.

To enter, take the raw file to completion using Capture One Pro only. Remember, Capture One was never intended to be or to replace Photoshop in your workflow, (Capture One was the was what Adobe copied drew inspiration from to create Lightroom, but I digress). Capture One Pro has always been a powerful piece of software, and it has really become a rather functional retouching system more than ever with the latest release, version 9.

Once again, please don't download this JPG file for your edit. It's only here for reference so you know what the image looks like.

Phase One refers to Capture One as "imaging software" (as opposed to "retouching software" I guess?) and there notable differences between it and your seminal and beloved Photoshop or Lightroom. That said, you can — and many artists do — complete photos entirely in Capture One without involving an Adobe product at all.

EIP That Sucker

So here is how it is going to work for all you Capture One fanboys and fangirls because there have to be some ground rules to keep things fair.

If you're not aware, Capture One has a proprietary format that you can export as, or pack, called EIP (which stands for Enhanced Image Package). Basically, this allows a Capture One user to export their raw file with all settings, adjustments, and metadata without processing the raw so another Capture One user can open said raw file and see it with all the edits. This is not entirely unique to Capture One of course, but submitting your edit as an EIP ensures that you cannot use Photoshop in your edit. In other words, you can't cheat — so there!

The raw processing engine that Capture One uses is not compatible with Adobe Camera Raw (as found in Lightroom or perhaps using a Raw Smart Object in Photoshop). To get your image to Photoshop from Capture One, you have no choice but to process/output it as anything from a 16-bit TIFF to an 8-bit PSD to, well, a few other file formats.

To be clear, exporting your raw file from Capture One to Photoshop can work, but you lose all your Capture One adjustments to the file when you do; it's essentially starting over.

Upload Your EIP and Email Me a Download Link

Your EIP will be a a lot larger than a downsampled JPEG, of course, so you will need to upload it to wherever you prefer (Dropbox, for example) and then email me a link to download it. Please enclose your name and contact information as well, and send to (I strongly recommend against trying to email me the EIP directly, as mailbox quotas will be breached almost immediately, and I will never receive your file.)

What Does the Winner Get?

Well, how about a free download of the Fstoppers Joey Wright Swimwear Photography Tutorial — will that work? Good, because that's what the winner of the Capture One Retouch Challenge gets! Who picks the winner? Me, that's who. The stakes are high, and the contest is officially a go. Have at it, Capture One-ers!

Missed where to download the file? Just click here, no worries. Let's see what ya got, Capture One peeps!

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dred lew's picture

"Capture One was the was what Adobe copied drew inspiration from to create Lightroom"

Correction; that was Aperture. Lightroom was created because of Aperture. And Aperture was created because Adobe wouldn't listen to photographers' pleas for simpler photo editing workflows. Apple did listen and created Aperture in collaboration with the photographers. Adobe was in shock when it was released and rushed to get something similar to market. To this day, Lightroom still has shoddy underpinnings and weird workflows because it was rushed. Unless Adobe rewrites Lightroom from scratch, these remnants will probably forever live on.

Capture One back then was nothing more than a RAW editor, they had no concept of a DAM or round-tripping whatsoever. Its DAM was an afterthought and it painfully shows. To this day, Capture One's DAM is still years (if not a decade, at the "speed" they are moving) away from reaching feature parity with what Aperture had 3 years ago when they stopped developing it. Even Lightroom's DAM (also lagging behind Aperture) is much more robust that Capture One's. The only strong feature of Capture One is really its RAW development and the quality it produces. For everything else, there are better alternatives.

Despite the resentment for Apple because of its abandonment of Aperture and the community, credit where credit is due; there would be no Lightroom and Capture One as they are today without Apple and the pioneering photographers. I think we can all agree that this changed the way a lot of photographers work nowadays.

juergen buettner's picture

what is DAM? sort of asset management?

J H's picture

Short name for Digital Asset Management, so in short, yes.

Glen Grant's picture

Indeed LR is not a drawn inspiration or a backhanded copy of C1
Adobe LR was developed from the acquisition of Pixmatec RawShooter back in 2006, released Feb. 2007. If memory serves me right both C1 and Raw Shooter had the same designer at the time who went on to work with Adobe in developing LR after the acquisition.
Back then Adobe simply made the software a much simpler and easier to use tool supporting DAM and ability to do so much at a cost of under $200USD, much cheaper than the cost of C1 Pro (C1 was very basic) back then.
My first RAW management tool was RawShooter and was impressive back in those days.

Nino Batista's picture

I worked for Apple during the launch of Aperture. One of my first assignments was to master Aperture and be one of the first Certified trainers for it. There was some discussion about the impetus of Aperture at the time, but I never did confirm or clarify any of that - I'll take your word for it.


dred lew's picture

Oh you did? Did you miss the roadshows then? That's where the then contributing photogs and Apple representatives explained the beginnings and concept of it. The one-stop-shop photography workflow was brand new and everyone was just blown away by it. Ahh, memories...

Nino Batista's picture

Was hired after all of that, and was told before I sat my ass in the chair was told "You're getting Aperture certified" and I was like "Do what now?"

I still use Aperture. lol

Michael Padilla's picture

I still use Aperture also, and thanks for the comment, I've been working in CP1 10 trial, and I'll be completely honest, in usability, the UI and DAM, and especially tools/brushes, Aperture still completely blows CP1 and LR out of the water... I have NO idea what Apple was thinking when they decided to kill Aperture.

dred lew's picture

I'm slowly but surely transitioning over to C1. It has its real pain points but the quality is nice. Aperture still works and I keep using it for keywording since C1 is absolutely useless in that regard.

Yeah, I was in disbelief when they discontinued Aperture but supposedly it was because of infighting in the team. Which in turn may have been due to the overhaul of the whole photo workflow, i.e. going from iPhoto to Photos. The idea behind Photos was that any kind of edit on the desktop was syncing to the phone/iPad and vice versa. Would have been hard to make that work in Aperture but frankly, I don't think it needed that.

I guess we'll never know what the real reason was but infighting sounds plausible, not the first time this happened there.

Have fun with C1!

Jason Lorette's picture

Ahh darn...guess I won't be doing this challenge...I don't use C1, never have. :(

J H's picture

You really ought to give it a go, i'm not saying it'll change your life but it was a worth while change for me. I like it better than Lightroom in many ways. C1 devs need to work a lot harder on the graphics engine for this puppy less sluggish. I custom built my own workstation with no compromises for work like this, C1 is still not very snappy. LR wasn't much better though.

Jason Lorette's picture

To be honest, I hardly use LR ever (RAW > Camera RAW > PS). It's just the workflow that always worked for me, I'm sure there is faster/easier ways but it took so long to learn this one :P

Nino Batista's picture

C1v7 was a serious dog on my comp. Didn't change my hardware at all, and C1v8 was three times as fast upon installing. C1v9 is good too - however all C1's have always been pretty resource intensive.

dred lew's picture

Yeah, it used to be out of control with RAM usage. With v9.2 they finally managed to contain that though. Now it starts out below 1GB and goes up to about 3GB and stays there. Before, it used to hog in excess of 10GB.

They are making improvements but it is taking forever I feel.

Justin Myers's picture

So this is where Reddit gets its photos from people needing retouching. Can't wait to see what people come up with.

Dan Lubbers's picture

So how do we get the file to export as an EIP? I followed the directions from the link for EIP but it says for Capture One 7, not 9 and under File, I do not see an option for "Pack as EIP." I've used Capture One a few times, but not that knowledgeable with the software. Thanks!

Kailash Gyawali's picture

Found the solution, check the image below :)

Kailash Gyawali's picture

found the solution :), File > Export Images > Originals

Dan Lubbers's picture

Awesome! I couldn't believe that I was not able to find the solution on Capture One's website. Thank you!

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Looking forward to seeing the results. I'm not sure Im brave enough to attempt it. As much as I love C1, still a large part of my workflow is in PS. Definitely looking forward to the results though.

Nino Batista's picture

It's a serious challenge! Fun fact: I'm still working on my "nothing but C1" edit of this shot, too!

Dan Lubbers's picture

I thought the premise of this retouch challenge/contest was to perform it entirely in Capture One 9 and "not" use Photoshop for any of it???

alex ivanoff's picture

but I just could not resist and retouched for fun)

alex ivanoff's picture

I think retouch in Capture One 9, this perversion)

Nino Batista's picture

I mean, I put a file on the web, I can't fully control what people do with it - haha!

Unfortunately, I don't have Capture One for this ReTouch Challenge. As a Sports Photographer, I have not had the opportunity to do any fashion retouching. Since I only use Lightroom, I thought I would post a before & after - about 30 minutes of work. Looking forward to seeing the other results. Thank you Nino for providing us with this extremely useful practice platform.

Nino Batista's picture

Glad you enjoyed! You're not eligible for the contest, however, but hope it was fun for ya.

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