Capture One for Nikon Express and Pro Explained

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Recently Capture One released Capture One for Nikon, a special version of the software for Nikon camera owners.
Capture One for Nikon includes the Express version, which is available free of charge and a Pro version that comes with a reduced price tag.
As you might have guessed from the name, both versions handle only Nikon RAW files.
Let’s figure out what features you can get for free and what might be the reasons to switch to Nikon Pro.

Capture One for Nikon Video

Why Capture One?

Capture One is a professional RAW-converter which is well known for realistic and clear color “rendering” and outstanding processing tools.

Also, Capture One supports Nikon Picture Control color profiles. Thus, you can get the same color for your RAW files as you have shooting JPG.

Of course, you have full control over the color as well. Capture One allows you to edit any color range you wish. Plus, you can always see what part of an image you’re working with.

In Capture One, you can easily create complex masks. Just draw a rough mask, select Refine, and you get a perfectly accurate mask.

Moreover, you can copy this mask and invert it to edit only the background area.

Now you can edit it with all the tools: Exposure, Curves, and Color Balance.

Using such Pro tools as color channel Levels you can quickly fix color cast or enhance a flat image.

We’ll get back to these tools when we talk about Pro version, now let’s see what features does Express version of Capture One for Nikon has.

Capture One Express for Nikon

Capture One Express for Nikon is a completely free version of Capture One with a basic set of image editing tools.
You can download it here; it’s really 100% free, no credit card required, there is no trial period whatsoever.
So, what Capture One Express can offer to Nikon camera owners?

First thing, you can run a solid image archive with Express version. You can store and organize your files there, quickly rate images, and filter them.

Secondly, Capture One Express for Nikon offers the same realistic and clear color “rendering” of your RAW files, as Pro version does.
The Nikon Picture Control color profiles are available in the Express version as well.

Thirdly, you have access to all the essential editing tools. Say, you can easily recover shadow and highlights, Also, you can adjust flat images with Levels tool.

Express version allows you to perform basic color correction.Black and White tool is also available in Capture One Express.
Plus, you can apply styles and presets with saved adjustments.

BTW, here is a nice lifehack. Capture One Express for Nikon actually contains all the pro tools; they are just hidden from you. However, you can still apply styles that contain pro adjustments. Here I have a style with advanced color correction and channel curve adjustments.You can’t adjust any hidden settings; still, it’s pretty cool that you can have pro adjustments in free software.

Finally, Express allows you to export your edited images into JPG, TIFF, and other final formats.

Here you can say: looks awesome, but why do I need to pay for Pro version then?
Because Capture One Pro for Nikon can do way more!

Why Switch to Capture One Pro for Nikon

First and foremost – Layers. Layers in Capture One Pro isn’t just a tool for some local adjustments; they are deeply implemented into the workflow.
Let me give you an example. Here we have a nice image with some pretty dull water. How would you enhance it in your RAW converter?

There is no way to select this area quickly by color or luminosity. Drawing a mask on water manually is going to be a painfully long process. So, this is how I do it in Capture One.

I can’t create a mask from the water here. However, I can easily create a mask from everything else, like this.

Now, all I need to do is to invert this mask and refine it.

So, we’ve got a perfect mask on water, let’s add some contrast and color correction.

Of course, you can draw masks in Capture One using a standard brush tool as well. You don’t need to be accurate with masking, simply use the Refine mask shortcut to polish your mask quickly.

Gradients are also available in Capture One. Classical linear-gradient fits landscapes excellently, especially when you need to enhance the sky.

Radial gradient works great for portrait images. Here I’ve used a radial gradient to quickly mask everything except the face to add clarity and contrast there.

What I love the most is that gradients in Capture One act as regular masks, so you can easily erase unwanted parts.You can even adjust the gradient mask for specific luminosity levels.

Speaking of portraits, Capture One Pro for Nikon offers some advanced tools here as well.
First of all, you can easily even out the skin tone by using the Color Editor Skin Tone feature.
Select a color range you would like to even out and set a source color, done.

Secondly, you can retouch your images right in Capture One. Choose the Heal tool, and select areas to retouch. Capture One auto-finds source points for retouching, and there is no limit for heals on a layer.

Capture One Pro for Nikon has way more tools for color correction.
For quick color adjustments, I like Direct Color Editor. This tool activates with shortcut D and allows you to adjust color just by moving the cursor. Vertical movements adjust saturation; horizontal movements affect hue, Alt+horizontal movements adjust the lightness of a color.

For deep color correction, the Pro version offers Advanced Color Editor. Here you can select any color range you want and adjust its saturation, hue, and lightness.
Keep in mind that color correction works in layers as well, so basically, you can adjust any color on any area of your image.

Another excellent tool for color correction is color channel Levels. Sometimes you might notice a color cast on your image. In this case, you just need to adjust each color channel individually. Capture One Pro can do this automatically, simply set up channel mode in the general preferences and click auto-adjust.

Finally, Capture One Pro for Nikon offers a customizable interface. If Capture One interface looks way too uncustomary for you, feel free to set up your own workspace.
Capture One allows you to change everything: try to place tools on the right side of the screen, or place the browser below. If you would like to have Color Editor near HDR tool, simply drag-n-drop it or add additional Color Editor there.

Some of your tools can be pinned in the tool tab, and some of them can be located in the Scrollable area. Basically, you can recreate even Lightroom workspace there, but I recommend you to arrange tools the way you like, not the way you got used to.
Now, to the pricing.

Pricing

Capture One Pro for Nikon as a 30-day free trial, and you can always switch back to the free Express version.
The regular Capture One Pro perpetual license costs $299; the Pro for Nikon is $129. Again, the only difference between them is that Pro for Nikon works with Nikon RAWs only.
Also, if you’re okay with subscriptions, Pro for Nikon has subscription plans available starting from $9.99 per month or $99 for an annual payment.
With a subscription, you always have access to the latest version of Capture One, and that’s really convenient. However, in the long term, a perpetual license is more cost-effective even if you’re going to buy all the paid upgrades.

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About Author

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