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As Adobe increases its monthly tribute for running Photoshop and Lightroom, some photographers are looking for an alternative. However, this isn't the main reason you should investigate Capture One. Much more important to consider is image quality and if you prefer the way Capture One works – many photographers do. And just as Lightroom can replace much of what Photoshop does, Capture One can replace Lightroom and so it can be the raw processing and image editing application of choice.

Late last year, Phase One released Capture One 11 with some incremental, but very important improvements.

For photographers reading this magazine, one of the most important aspects of post-production is the abililty to selectively edit the image. In Photoshop we use layers and masks, in Lightroom we use the adjustment brush – and similarly Capture One has its local adjustments. It is within local adjustments that many of the improvements lie, especially a much faster and more robust processing engine, which means the masking process is much quicker and your consequent edits flow better.

For photographers already using Capture One, why should you upgrade? More tools have been added to the local adjustments tool, now simply called the 'Layers' panel. These include the levels and colour balance, and you can also add a layer with a filled mask much more easily than before. You can also add presets to layers, one preset per layer, but of course you can have multiple layers. And for each layer, its opacity can be adjusted from a slider control sitting up the top of the layers panel. It's a great improvement for photographers looking for an alternative to Photoshop, but like Lightroom, it still doesn't replace Photoshop as tools like luminosity and channel masks are unavailable!

Other pro-level features include being able to annotate notes over the top of photos (for sending files off to your retoucher), exporting Capture One files with crops, overlays and watermarks preserved as separate layers in PSD files, and Lab mode readouts in addition to RGB. Catalog restoration functions have been beefed up and when importing files from partially full memory cards, a duplicate checking feature will save you time.

For more information, visit https://www.phaseone.com

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