Gadgets & Gizmos

When it comes to editing our photographs, Photoshop has been the leading program for over two decades. However, in terms of popularity, Lightroom must be making a big impact given you can do 80% of what you need to do, without going into Photoshop. How long will it be before you can do everything in Lightroom?

Or in Capture One? The latest version, Capture One 12, offers yet more capabilities with the introduction of luminosity masking as part of its layers menu.

In comparison to Lightroom's adjustment brush and graduated filters, Capture One's adjustment layers are far more user-friendly – and much more similar to the way layers work in Photoshop. The big benefit is that layers can be turned on and off easily in Capture One, whereas in Lightroom it's much more challenging to isolate one of a number of adjustments to see its individual impact.

While Capture One has had adjustment layers for many years, only in version 12 does it offer luminosity masking. It's not as sophisticated as Photoshop or one of the many luminosity masking plug-ins, but it does make creating accurate masks for clearly defined subjects much easier. For instance, isolating a grey seal against a snowy white background is very straightforward – because the tones (the luminosity) in the subject are so different to the tones in the background.

One of the benefits of masks in Capture One is that they are easy to modify, so once you've used the luminosity menu to mask your subject, you can switch to the brush and eraser tools to modify the mask – perhaps removing other areas that have been picked up by the luminosity mask, but are not required.

Other new features include an improved gradient mask, a new radial mask, inclusion of Fujifilm's film simulations and an upgraded interface.

The reality today is you can use Capture One without Photoshop for 90-95% of your work. However, it's not inexpensive with a monthly plan costing $33 (if you commit to at least 12 months, or $39 per month if you don't), or purchasing it outright for $481.

The best way to work out if Capture One is for you is to download the 30-day trial and compare the same raw file processed in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. If you prefer the way Capture One works, you have your answer!

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