10 Reasons to Switch to Capture One Pro 11. Part II


Two years ago I published an article with my ten reasons to switch to Capture One 9. It had dozens of thousands of views and hundreds of shares and comments.
Thank you all for your feedback. Time has passed, and Capture One 10-11 releases brought us new robust features to be added to the list.

That’s why I have updated the post and divided it into two parts. The first part is dedicated to amazing features that Capture One delivers besides the processing itself.
The second part, which you’re reading, is all about the RAW editing; Layers with opacities, RGB channels Levels correction, Luma and RGB Curves, Color Editor and many more tools are waiting for you here.

But if you wish to discover great features of interface customization, processing, tethered shooting and color rendering in Capture One – I recommend you to start from Part I.

5. Layers

Layers and masks are quite common features for modern RAW-software, but Capture One’s approach has a number of strong advantages.

5.1. All the essential editing in layers.

In Capture One Pro 11 you can basically do all the editing in layers: Curves, Levels, Color Editor, White Balance, Color Balance, Exposure, Contrast, Saturation, Brightness, HDR, Clarity, Sharpening and Noise Reduction, Purple Fringing, and Moiré – all these tools are available with layers.

In practice, that will completely change your editing process: after a few weeks in Capture One, you will think layers.
Layers in Capture One are not an add-on to the main workflow – they are an inseparable part of the workflow.

5.2. Advanced layer management.

Layers in Capture One is a separate tool with an easy-to-use layer management system. You can name layers, quickly switch between them, copy and invert layer masks; create a new filled layer or clear mask with just one click.

Also, you can assign all the layer actions to hotkeys and significantly increase the speed of processing.

5.3. Complicated masks in few clicks.

What I truly love is how easy and fast you can create complicated masks in Capture One.

For example, you can select any color from the image and create a mask out it in just one click.


Create a mask of the model’s skin color or clothes, mask the sky on your image – all these tasks will only take a few seconds. No more meticulous work with the brush and eraser.

Also, you can quickly draw a mask and make it perfectly accurate with the Refine tool:

Yes, that’s how professional gear works – it saves your time.

Of course, there are all the regular tools: Brush, Eraser, Gradient, and Auto Mask. You can also set mask’s Opacity, Hardness, and Flow. If you’re working with a pen tablet, there is a pen pressure option available.

5.4. Layer Opacity and presets in layers.

In Capture One you can not only build all the editing in layers, but you can also change opacity for each layer as well.

Just imagine that at any moment you can change the opacity of all your image adjustments. What is even more important – you can change opacity differently for each of 16 available layers. On the RAW file. Just think about it for a second.

Applied style – Kodak Royal Gold 400 v4 Winter from Film Styles Extended Set.

Impressive, right? Then, how about this: you can also apply style or preset to any layer and change its opacity as well.

In Capture One 11, styles and presets can be assigned to layers. This means that you can easily create a really complicated mask and apply saved adjustments to it.
Click here to see what you can create with styles/presets and Capture One Pro 11.

In this post, I’ll give you just one short example of how you can apply different styles to the model on the image and environment.
First of all, we’re creating a mask from skin color to have a layer with skin mask only. Then we’re copying skin mask to a new layer and inverting it to have a layer with a masked environment.

Now we’re applying different film styles to each layer and adjusting opacities to achieve the best look.


In previous examples, I’ve used 1styles.pro Film Styles for Capture One, they are updated for Capture One 11 and are compatible with layers.
Simply try them on your images with layers, it’s entirely new experience for RAW editing.

You can download five 1Styles.pro Film Styles absolutely free of charge and try it on your images with layers:

Buy now

Here you’ll find 7 additional free styles to test.

5.5. Retouch tools.

In Capture One, you will also find excellent tools for image retouching: Heal and Clone layers.
Clone layer works like a Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop; it simply copies the selected area. Heal layer is smarter, it also changes saturation and lightness to blend images more smoothly and accurately.


With these tools, you can easily remove and replace objects on the picture and perform quite a complex retouch.

4. Levels


Photographers with a wide Photoshop background are usually quite skeptical about Levels tool. In Photoshop, Levels is truly not the main tool; you can do almost all the same actions in Curves.

In Capture One, Levels is a much more important tool.

4.1. Black and white points correction

The main purpose of Levels is to edit black and white points – if you have a faded image, Levels may improve it dramatically.


You will also have all the control over Output black and white points; it’s really useful for pre-print editing.

4.2. Red, Green and Blue channels level corrections

Moreover, Levels has one not so obvious, but absolutely amazing feature which is level corrections of Red, Green and Blue channels.
Have you ever seen an image with a strong color cast, which couldn’t be fixed with any of the regular tools?
Then it’s a turn for the correction of R, G and B channels. With those tools, you can set black and white points for each color channel separately.

In that case, you’ll get the most accurate and correct color, which may completely change your image:


And the best thing is that Capture One can process it automatically!

Channel level correction allows you to get the true and realistic color at the first RAW-editing stage.
Viewing professional portfolios, have you ever thought: “How did they achieve such a clear color?”. Well, that’s how they do it.
And it’s only one of the tools from Capture One’s armory.

4.3. Levels in layers

Third unique feature – black and white points correction in layers. It’s not quite evident, but you can set local black and white points for each layer with Levels.
If you’re a landscape photographer, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this tool.



If you’re a portrait photographer Levels in layers also bring absolutely unique features.

For example, on this image, I have drawn a gradient mask on the left side of the picture and adjusted the white point:

3. HDR, Color Balance and Clarity

All of these tools, in one form or another, are available on the most popular RAW-converters. The difference is that in Capture One they work much more accurately and smarter.

3.1. HDR


Since its first release in Capture One 6, High Dynamic Range tool was drastically updated several times. Today it provides an amazing quality of Shadows/Highlights zones correction.

Here are some examples: Capture One 11 High Dynamic Range on max and Lightroom CC (2015.5.1) Shadows/Highlights on max for the same images.




3.2. Color Balance


Color Balance is all about color toning, a great tool to gain some atmosphere or to set the mood for your image.
It works equally well for portraits, landscapes and sometimes even for technical color corrections.



The main advantage of Capture One’s color toning is that Color Balance works not only with Highlights and Shadows but with Midtones as well. It gives you many more editing possibilities.

Like all the other essential tools, Color Balance works with layers in Capture One, and it delivers fantastic results.
On this image, in just a few clicks I’ve created a mask based on water, changed its exposure and added Color Balance correction.

By the way, with workspace customizations, you may create a separate tab and place different Color Balance modes on the same screen.


3.3. Clarity


When I was talking to my colleagues, I noticed that many of them really enjoy Clarity tool, but at the same time, they are a little bit wary of its effects.
The reason is that in most popular RAW-converters Clarity tool is just a single slider without any additional settings.
That’s why sometimes it may work great, or it may ruin your image as well.

In Capture One, Clarity tool has four different modes, and each of them provides a unique effect.
For example, Punch mode works harder and seriously affects color. On the contrary – Natural mode is very accurate with your image and almost doesn’t touch color.



Capture One’s Clarity tool also has one additional slider – Structure.



It’s a really useful tool when you’re editing images with stone, wood or any other texture materials.

1) At Phase One on-line store click “Add to cart” to purchase Capture One Pro 11.
2) At Check Out page enter this special code AMBC1BLOG, select “USE VOUCHER” and you will immediately gain 10% discount.

2. Curves


Curves are one of the main tools for professional image editing. It allows you to get the full manual control over image’s contrast and color.

Besides all the common features like per-channel work, Capture One’s Curve tool also has several amazing unique features:

2.1. Layers support

Curves in Layers open a whole new dimension of image processing possibilities.

First of all – using Curves with masks from Color Editor you would be able to change any color of the image completely:


The second useful case is a local color correction, it’s absolutely irreplaceable for a wedding and portrait photography.


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2.2. Luma Curve

RGB Curve correction has some limitations, and the most common problem is that it also affects image saturation.
To avoid that issue, Capture One has created an additional type of Curve called Luma. It affects only luminance of the image and works the same way as L-channel in LAB does.
For example, Luma Curve is an excellent tool to add some contrast to, without ruining image colors.



2.3. Advanced interface

Curves is a considerably complicated tool in itself, and it is really important to have a convenient interface to use it.
In Capture One, you can change the size of your Curve tool or create separate tools for each channel:


And don’t forget to use a handy built-in preset with five standard points on the Curve.

1. Color Editor


Above the great color rendering, Curve and Levels tools stands Color Editor – the main tool for color correction in Capture One.
It’s a real game-changer that makes professional work with color at times easier and faster.

1.1. Basic features

Color Editor allows you to select and to work with any color on the image. What is really convenient is that you may see where on the image the selected color is located.


For example on that image, I would like to correct shirt’s color hue without affecting the skin tone.

It’s tough because skin and shirt colors are quite close, however, in Capture One, you can easily select only the necessary color.


But what do you do, when few objects in the frame are absolutely the same in color? Turn on the layers!

1.2. Color correction in layers

Color Editor works great with masks; it allows you to process local color correction of any object in the image.



Now you see, why I put Color Editor on the first place, it’s a really amazing tool. But it has one more feature that every portrait photographer would love.

1.3. Skin tone mode

Color Editor has a special Skin Tone mode for detailed portrait color correction. In Skin Tone, you can select a color and unify its hue, saturation, and lightness to a chosen color.
In just a few clicks, you can even out a quite problematic skin tone:


In the end

As you’re reading this article, you might think, that I’m quite blind to limitations of Capture One. This is not true: I totally agree that it would be great to add some sort of History tool and radial gradient to Capture One and to make dozens of other small improvements.

But I have seen how everything was changing. The first time I tried Capture One version 3, it was a completely different application. Year after year, update after update it became better and stronger.
I would understand if you have tried Capture One 6 or 7 and didn’t find enough reasons to switch. 5-6 years ago Capture One’s main advantage was a clear color rendering and tethered shooting capabilities.

Things have changed, and after many years of evolution Capture One can beat any other software not only in color but with a mass of unique editing features.
Today there is only one reason not to try a new gear – admit to yourself that you’re accustomed to your old 18-200mm lens.


Author – Alexander Svet

Alexander Svet – professional photographer and specialist in image processing.
Phase One Certified Professional and Capture One trainer.


Capture One Pro 11 license (single user – 3 seats) price is 279 EUR / 299 USD

If you wish to upgrade your Capture One Pro 9/10 license to Capture One 11, it would cost 119 EUR

There is also a subscription option available:

Single user – 3 months subscription – 30 EUR per month
Single user – 12 months subscription – 20 EUR per month
Single user – 12 months subscription (pre-paid) – 180 EUR

Save 10% on Capture One Pro 11

For all the readers of Alex on RAW, a 10% discount for Capture One Pro 11 license is now available.

It works equally well for a full version of Capture One Pro 11 or an upgrade.

How it works?

1) At Phase One on-line store click “Add to cart” to purchase Capture One Pro 11.
2) At Check Out page enter this special code AMBC1BLOG, select “USE VOUCHER” and you will immediately gain 10% discount.


Capture One 11 for Sony

For Sony camera owners there are two special versions of Capture One 11:

Capture One 11 Pro For Sony – 79 EUR
This is the same Capture One Pro 11, but it works only with Sony RAW files.

Capture One 11 Express For Sony – free!
Express version doesn’t have some nice features like tethered capabilities, masking, local Curves and few others features.
Capture One 11 Express works only with Sony RAW files too. In everything else, it’s the same Capture One 11, and it’s absolutely free.

If you wish to upgrade your Capture One Pro for Sony 9/10 license to Capture One Pro for Sony 11 it would cost 69 EUR.

Learn more about Capture One for Sony.

Capture One Film Styles Extended Set

«Film Styles Extended Set» is our new development created for advanced users of original «Film Styles for Capture One».

Extended Set contains 100 new film styles, 25 grain emulation styles and uses amazing features of Capture One.
In Extended Set you will find a lot of completely new film styles like Kodak Gold and Royal Gold, Kodak Ektar, Agfa Vista, Rollei Retro, Kodak Max and UltraMax.
Also, we’ve added new variants for existing styles, and by your many requests, we’ve created artistic variations of styles for the most popular films.

For Extended Set we’ve developed 25 universal grain styles with different types of film grain. It works equally great with our original styles from the First Set.
We’ve also created unique film grain emulation for each of the 30 B&W styles.

«Film Styles Extended Set» – is a great creativity tool for experienced photographers and is the final part that completes film styles collection for Capture One.

Try 7 styles for free.

Kodak Royal Gold 400 v3 Summer

Film Styles Extended Set is fully compatible with new Capture One Pro 11.


About Author

Alexander Svet – Professional photographer and photography instructor. Phase One Certified Professional and Capture One beta tester.

  • devtank

    I have 9 and I don’t see much if any actual added features to 11 that would justify an upgrade.
    By virtue of the fact that I have to ask, probably means I don’t need it, however, what are the actual differences, what has been removed and what has been added and what has been rearranged/renamed/tweaked?

    • Hi,

      Thank you for the comment, I’m writing an article about this now, there are lots of new features)
      Key improvements:
      – Layers Opacity
      – New Styles Interface
      – Styles and Presets for Layers
      – New tools for Layers
      – Refine mask tool
      – Output Proofing
      – New Delete Concept
      – “Before/After” button
      – Output sharpening
      – Annotations for retouchers
      – LAB readouts
      – Duplicate Checker for the Importer
      – Improved performance
      – Improved catalogization
      – Improved Back-up and Restore for Catalogs
      – Compressed RAW Support
      – Auto masking (for Fuji)
      – PSD support (read-only)

      BTW, it’s important to remember that usually Phase One offers license upgrade only for two-versions-old software or newer. I mean in case with Capture One 9 it would be impossible to upgrade it to Capture One 12.

      • devtank

        That’s actually good to know, about the two-version limit on upgrades, thank you. Also, thank you for the specific upgraded points of interest, I actually downloaded teh release notes and saw some specifics in there also. Once again thank you for the response.

      • Kurt

        That would have been quite the same question from the viewpoint of a CO-10 user; What, besides of the layer-capability, would justify the upgrade to CO-11 ?

        • Well, I think the new layer features (Layers Opacity, Styles and Presets for Layers, Refine mask tool) 100% worth the upgrade. But if you’re not so interested in layer-oriented processing as I am, and you’re not working with retouchers (the new Annotations tool), and you’re not using LAB – then it’s quite reasonable to wait with an upgrade until 11.1-11.2 or Capture One 12 would be released.

  • Astolat

    Yes, yes, agreed. But what if C1 does not have a profile for your camera, like my Leica CL. Or will not tether with my Leica SL. These are major issues for me. I have to tether the SL with LR (awful) or use a Sony A7… with C1. Not what I want! Maybe it’s because Leica has a commercial relationship with Adobe and Sony with Phase One. Don’t care. I shan’t be buying COne11 until I can tether with my SL.

  • Class A

    I’m a big fan of C1 but cannot see how LAB readouts or annotations would be useful to a large number of users. Yes, certain users will love these features, but isn’t it the case that many more users would benefit from an improved vignetting tool? The current vignetting tool is embarrassingly basic and it would be very little effort to offer the same level of flexibility that exists in LR. Compared to something as frequently needed as flexible vignetting, the LAB readout and annotation features seem very obscure.

    Another gripe I have with Phase One is that they leave nasty bugs in C1 10 (for instance the redo/undo bug for curves) and the only option to get rid of them, is to pay the (now increased) upgrade premium to C1 11. AFAIC, bugs that impede workflow to the extent that the redo/undo bug does, should be fixed and offered as a C1 10 upgrade. With decent software development techniques (versioning), it would be extremely cost effective to do so.