Brilliant Article From Martin Evening on Lightroom vs. Capture One Pro

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Martin did a just brilliant job on this eye-opening article, and I want you to be able to read it (even if you’re not a KelbyOne member). His article is the cover story in the Sept. issue of Photoshop User magazine (published 10-times a year for KelbyOne members). The magazine is normally around 120 pages per issue, but I pulled out just Martin’s article for you to download in PDF format below.

SPOILER ALERT: In short: Martin shows you the difference between how Capture One Pro “juices” their RAW conversion, and how you can set up Lightroom to have the same look, if you want that “juiced’ look.” I think a LOT of people will be surprised and enlightened  when they read this.

Here’s the download link to Martin’s article.

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Hope you find that helpful. That’s it from here in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. Looking forward to meeting some of you in Venice on Saturday. 🙂

Ciao!

Scott

P.S. Thanks to everybody yesterday who shared my Worldwide Photo Walk details for this weekend. Much appreciated (you guys are cool!) – only three days to the photo walk. Whoo hoo! 🙂

Author: Scott Kelby

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books. You can learn more about Scott at http://scottkelby.com

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39 Comments

  1. I find it really questionable how many professionals find it great that images look better “out of the box” in Capture One.
    Excuse me but – are you photographers or kids who are just playing around?!

    The #1 reason why one uses RAW in the first place is to get an unprocessed image, so that one can develop it oneself. Otherwise, you might as well shoot all JPG and let the camera sharpen, tonemap and whatever to create “a better look out of the box”.

    I for one was appalled when I realized that Lightroom (at least a few years ago) had default settings that were NOT all 0 (or whatever the neutral value may be for a given control). I expect FULL creative freedom with whatever my camera gives me. That means that by default, the RAW processing tool should do NOTHING aside from the necessary color space mapping to bring the RAW image to something that can be viewed on a monitor.

    But it’s good to know that both Lightroom and Capture One produce the same base image when their settings are all set to neutral (haven’t tried Capture One yet). That way, professionals can set up their own default preset(s) (if at all – I prefer to tackle my sessions one by one) and kids can play around.

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  2. I carefully read the article and I thank very much the author. I’m a LR user and I’m very satisfied, I also tried Capture One, but will not make the switch, I feel confortable with LR. But there is one BIG BIG BIG thing we must admit! Capture One is much better in the management of the highlights. Look at the picture in the PDF article, the photo where it is illustrated the use of Highlights and Shadow Recover …. with Capture One in the upper left where should be the sun, there are no artifacts or halos around the sun while LR is crap, sky turned grey, unwatchable! C’mon Adobe, you have to improve!

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  3. Great article. I’ve use LR for years not and have gotten used to it and I finally know what I’m doing (mostly). I have downloaded a trial version of CaptureOne and I love that the tethering tool works flawlessly and FAST. I wouldn’t make the switch just for the tethering feature, but man that’s fast. Wished Adobe would listen to its customer base a bit more and fix that issue in LR.

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    • AMEN!!!! My work is starting to shift more towards tethered shooting and don’t want to shell out the $$$$ and shift my workflow which is totally CC based to CapOne just for tethering. And we shouldn’t – if the CapOne engrs can do it why can’t Adobe? It’s embarrassing when shooting tethered with a client and then waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the image to appear – even running USB 3.0 on a fast computer with gobs of memory, and even though am shooting a D800. 36MB is PEANUTS these days – c’mon Adobe!!!!

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  4. Very good article. I found the article quite balanced, and constructive, rather than saying one is better or worse, but instead centering on how to give a similar rendition of one to the other. I see a lot of people get quite hooked up on this bit and that bit being wrong in the article, or whatever, but the main topic was useful for me. Glad you took the time to get something on the internet about it.

    I too am right now just in the middle of a trial transition between Lightroom and Capture One. I wrote up a rather verbose description of what I have found so far, not to trash either side, but more my observations while attempting to see if migration from one to the other is possible. If anyone wants to read it…

    http://www.ephotoquest.com/-/galleries/blog/software-review-capture-one-v-10

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  5. First of all Mr. Evening is writing books for Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop (which are very good and I own both). Secondly, Mr Kelby’s Kelbyone service is absolutely terrible in my experience – videos not playing correctly or autoplaying – etc on both the Mac and the iPad, and when you try to cancel there is no cancel button, they force you to CALL them up to cancel.

    SO lets level the playing field here a bit shall we, there is in fact a good book on C1 written by Sascha Erni titled “Capture One Pro 9” which
    in a level headed writing style covers C1 in depth as Mr. Evening’s books cover Adobe LR/PS. Mr Erni has experience with the developers of C1 as well as Martin does with Adobe so he is an expert on the program and the code comprising some of the image processing algorithems. He compares LR in a straight forward manner without criticizing LR and MR. Evening has also done this for the most part in this articale without criticizing C1.

    So with this as a backdrop let me just point out the main difference between C1 and LR in terms of color adjustments. The entire C1 image processing pipeline exclusively uses ICC profiles that are specifically implemented and calibrated for specific hardware devices such as cameras, displays and printers. And Adobe took the lazy way out by plopping in a “one size fits all” approach with the “Adobe Standard” profile. This is nothing to be complemented in any way – it is a waste of our time. C1 “overcooking” images is also a waste of our time.

    Lightroom is so outdated it is pathetic given how much money Adobe rakes in over the program and they completely SCREW people who use the stand alone version by purposefully omitting features that are included in the CC 2015.8 version such as the new Reference View feature, and NUMEROUS other features. I have heard from a very well informed source (who’s last name ends in “rup”) who actually stated that some of code that is critical to performance was written in 2007.

    C1 is a very expensive program initially but does not pull this bullshit. Once you purchase the program the first time (which adminittedly costs as much as a monthly BMW payment at $300) the upgrades are not bad – $90 per year with a 10% discount – there is always a 10% discount somewhere.

    So marketing BS aside use whichever program you like. I am not a C1 snob, I use both programs becasue I purchased them both. I am actually gravitating towards Lightroom lately because it has some features I like that fit my “WORKFLOW” better and “TAKE MY PHOTOS TO THE NEXT LEVEL”. Ha, a little stab at what is really going on with this article on Scott Kelby’s money making magical mystery tour.

    This endless bullshit is not even relevent anyway. Do the many incrediblly talented teenagers taking pictures with cellphone cameras in terms of composition, style, content, etc – then editing them conservatively using $3 apps give a shit about which “RAW converter” to use on a computer or camera that costs more than they make working part time for almost a year?

    Talent doesn’t have a damn thing to do with cameras or software or color management! AMEN to Vincent Versace! He does not play this crap – he tells it like it is. There is a great YouTube video titled “The lens is the brush”. He praised a Nikon 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 D lens launched around 1993 which he said he built his career around and stated that it “has the best bokeh I have ever seen”. So he is not peddling gear. His main point though was to drive home the fact that the software and the gear are NOT that important.

    Do you think wedding photographers who don’t live in Los Angeles need $20,000 worth of “WHAT”S IN MY BAG” garbage?

    So back to the shilling guys .. and hopefully we can take all of this including everything I just ranted about with a grain of salt because none of it is important when you have talent and can fix most image problems in post – regardless of which camera or software you are using. Just consider that in a few years cellphone cameras will be good enough for all of us to use as a main camera that fits in our pockets, you know like the teenagers are already doing now.

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    • Well.
      On one hand the articel describes quite frankly the more sophisticated sharpening and other improved algorithms of C1 that are superior to LR’s.

      But there are some errors in there, too. The highlight sliders of C1 recover significantly better blown skies, I have tested this repeatedly with different versions of LR. The example shown here seems to tell otherwise which leads me to the conclusion that other settings have been changed here, too, like boosting exposure.

      Also, it is a bit sad and showing that though with much twisting and additional steps in LR you can come close to the C1 output, the main point of a raw converter SW should be maximal image quality with minimal effort.

      Not mentioned here are the color editor and, with C1 version 10, localized adjustments on painted masks of just about any setting.

      Also interesting for a certain fraction should be that the C1 Express version for Sony is free, and the Pro version for Sony usually costs only 40-50 Euros.

      I moved from Photoshop and LR to C1 and haven’t looked back. I use PS only for two things now: Image stacking and context specific healing brush, though I haven’t checked lately in C1 how good that tool currently is there.

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  6. I’m a wedding and portrait photographer based in Chicago. Currently I’ve gotten into more studio portraiture and thought that as I build out a new portfolio for our company, I would give C1 a shot. Since 2011 I’ve been a LR user and can say that I’ve been pretty happy with it.

    I read somewhere and agreed with the quote “Lightroom feels like an comfortable old pair of worn out slippers.” My workflow and speed of processing in LR is quick. Tonal adjustments and crops take me seconds to do on basic images. The switch to C1 for my first time ever was very odd. I knew the tools I was after and it was just a matter of time to find them and set them up in C1 the way I was used to it in LR.

    To be honest I spent most of the time simply configuring the tool bars, menus and shortcut keys to be exactly the way I like it. Knowing that if it wasn’t that way, I would be left with a bad taste in my mouth. All things being equal in terms of settings…I think I can safely say that C1 is better at this moment in time.

    Defining the “better” is difficult. The RAW images do look noticeably better when imported but of course you can work to bring them close. I could see more detail, had more options and the controls are smoother. The detail was discussed in the article so let me talk about the options. The Color Editor is a tool which is out of this world. I would guess that the HSL is the closest thing in LR but it’s much more intuitive in C1. The Color Balance is also a great tool and more intuitive.

    That’s just a few options but to put it this way, LR is like driving a Honda Accord…it’s my wife’s car and it drives perfectly fine from point A to B. But C1 is like getting into the cockpit of a much more sporty car which can handle the speed and corners much more smoothly. When making adjustments in LR it feels like the pixels are less comfortable with what I’m asking them to do. In C1 they respond perfectly. This all might sound very bizarre in how I describe it. But coming from a guy who absolutely hates the idea of changing his workflow around…I believe that I’ll be ditching LR and migrating over. You just need to try C1 and see for yourself.

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  7. Such strong feelings by so many. Both are rich incredible programs. What a blessing to have such great choices available. Pick the one that works for you and go forth. I use both for various reasons. I do more in LRCC because it fits my needs and workflow best. But for certain images I need Capture One. Also Capture One’s tethering is superb and LRCC’s is worthless. If LRCC had equal tethering I might not have ever discovered the qualities I appreciate in Capture.

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  8. Hello! I’ve been looking for a forum to write my opinions on LR vs C1…

    I’ve been a digital operator for a few years now. Maybe 7 years.
    I lived and worked in Paris for 4 of those years, I was digital tech with one of the largest and highly regarded digital houses in Paris, working with some of the ‘big’ photographers, clients, art directors,magazines. Lots of high-end fashion, commercial, advertising and editorial jobs. Too many to remember.
    I now do the same in Barcelona and in between I did it in New York. I’ve worked on jobs in the largest and best studios, and I’ve worked on location jobs where I ended up carrying my laptop setup while shooting tethered up mountains across rivers. For real.
    I’ve also worked on the shittiest little portrait no-budget jobs.
    I feel like I can say “I know what I’m talking about”.
    I have used Capture1 for all of that time, a little before, I dabbled with Lightroom in version 2 maybe.
    Right now I’m on a 5 day job with a team shooting content for one of the largest tech companies in the world (begins with an i and ends with ‘tel’), and they insist I use Lightroom (CC), because they want to keep their catalogs straight across many jobs.

    I can honestly say that I find it to be AWFUL.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BL8ePRIjABE/?taken-by=okeedokee.co
    thats an instagram post complaining about it.

    I find Lightroom to be so complicated. The layout, the workflow, the process. the controls are really fiddly. The curve control isn’t even a real curve control. To me it’s a huge mess. The split toning tool is SO bad.
    Capture one is so simple, so clean. That’s SO important when you have to work fast and accurately. The controls in LR seem so inaccurate too, the sliders are so small that a small slide with the wacom pen and the adjustments go crazy. and you can’t seem to expand out the control panel to make them larger.

    I’m aware that many people use LR and get great results. I have many friends who use LR. mostly wedding photographers or architecture photographers.
    but no colleagues – they all use C1. And we complain about it sometimes when it bugs, when the camera won’t connect or when it won’t generate previews – but honestly I think it’s best piece of software I have ever used. You can tell that it’s made for pros by pros.

    next to it, LR (to me), is like ‘My First Raw Editor’.

    Sorry Martin Evening! I’ve learned a lot from reading your books and I know you also know what you’re talking about, I respect you greatly, but LR is a piece of shit.

    ok thats it thanks everyone. I have to get off to work now, day 2 of 5 with Lightroom…
    Paul

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    • I cannot agree more from both a workflow perspective and also in the way C1 handles RAW images is a cut above the rest.

      I have tried to replicate the same tonality and emotion to an image within LR and found it excruciatingly difficult. Lots of people use it, and art in and of itself is personal expression so each to their own! But C1 for me.

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  9. I use lightroom and C1. Lightroom for me is quick and easy and C1 is, well I’m still learning. I will say this though, “Force Quits” are frequent and very annoying with Lightroom and after several months using C1 no “Force Quits”! NONE!
    The main reason I use C1 is shooting tethered. Capture 1 outshines Lightroom by miles and miles! Its well worth the cost just in tethering alone. Lightroom is slow, much too often stops working, several times forcing me to un-plug the tether cable and shoot with the camera memory card.
    So with Lightroom you get; ease of the retouch, force quits and tether lockups.

    Capture 1 offers; Hard and confusing to update, complicated retouching, Exceptional tethering, not a single force quit so far.

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  10. Here’s a podcast from (humor alert…!!!) the “good” Martin (Martin Bailey) that goes into considerable detail on this very topic. YMMV: https://www.martinbaileyphotography.com/2016/08/01/jumping-ship-from-lightroom-to-capture-one-pro-9-podcast-534/ I’m trouble wrapping my little pea-brain around this controversy. The devil, as they say, is in the details, and a true “heads up”/”side-by-side” comparison is difficult. Not unlike parsing out cell phone plan features and billing…

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  11. Very interesting analysis on a much discussed topic. I don’t understand Steve M’s vitriol on a benign issue, one that concluded that there are difference which are easily explained, can be replicated, and merely illustrate two different Raw development approaches. There were no winners or losers.

    As far as Mr Kelby’s motivations and intents, that’s for him to say. It’s entirely his ball game, and a very informative and educational one at that. But if you don’t like what you read, then don’t.

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    • Very interesting analysis on a much discussed topic. I don’t understand Steve M’s vitriol on a benign issue, one that concluded that there are difference which are easily explained, can be replicated, and merely illustrate two different Raw development approaches. There were no winners or losers.
      as well as good intraday cash tips keyword in a stock market

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  12. And why would anyone want his image sharpened and color graded before retouching? Obviously the author of this article doesn’t even understand that sharpening is a destructive process! Lame marketing.

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  13. Thanks for the freebie Scott.
    Shill away – much appreciated !

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  14. B&W images have “color contrast”? Did you mean “tonal contrast”…?

    Excerpt: “…the blackand-white conversion process is good at suppressing halos
    along areas of color contrast.”

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  15. I question how the two compare when you push the adjustments close to their respective extremes. Does one generate more (undesirable) artifacts than the other?

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  16. I do not think this was an honest article.

    1. It’s published by Kelby Media (a shill for Adobe) about an Adobe-specific product being compared to a non-Adobe product that was originally built by, and for, a specific camera line.

    2. Mr. Kelby has chosen to remove the exclusiveness of the article for paid KelbyOne subscribers, and post the lead article of their now-digital-only magazine (even though subscription rates have not changed) online for free. And it’s posted on a KelbyOne managed website.

    3. Mr. Kelby claims that he feels that the contents of the article are so important, that it is necessary to make available to everyone at no cost. This leads one to consider whether this is truly useful information, or Mr. Kelby being pushed to further Adobe’s agenda (and Mr. Kelby’s own pocket) because the Adobe Lightroom software is losing ground to a competitive product (again, originally meant for a specific camera line—which is directed at an exclusive group of professional photographers that can afford the camera line).

    It is my opinion that Adobe has worked to insistently bring their products to the masses. No longer is Photoshop meant for professional photographers and artists. No longer is InDesign meant for professional publishers. Unfortunately, this has lead (rightly or wrongly) to faux-pros, those who honestly strive to become professional, and professionals to seek alternatives. The alternatives may be desires for improved stability, higher-quality RAW conversion, better pricing—all in an effort to produce exclusive art that cannot be obtained through “common” software.

    4. If the article were honest and truly useful, then similar compare-and-contract documentation would be provided in regards to other photograph-processing software (i.e., now-discontinued Capture NX2 used exclusively by Vincent Versace, ON1 Photo RAW, or another camera-specific software like Hasselblad Phocus).

    Note: Of course, it would make no sense to document discontinued software, but it would be worth noting the outstanding quality of the software, as noted by Mr. Versace, and his recommendation to replace NX2 with Phase One’s Capture One.

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    • Totally agree… I have used both for a few years now.. Capture one pro is a far more powerful product than adobe lightroom. Mr. Kelby is very biased towards adobe because that’s where he makes his money.

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      • If C1P is so much better then why are you using both?

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        • Sometimes clients require you to work in Lightroom.

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    • On the contrary, I found the article quite balanced. Martin had a number of good things to say about Capture One. His main point is that you can get great results from either LR or CO if you’re willing to put in the time to understand how they work.

      There are great pros using both products, so it’s not useful to say so and so is using one so the other must not be as good. The argument could go both ways. By the way, One Photo Raw isn’t even out yet.

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      • Sure, he had plenty of great things to SAY about both, but he also SAYS lightroom pre-sharpens to 25, Capture One pre-sharpens to 140-180, meaning that Capture is twice as sharpened.

        But lightroom’s scale is 0-150, so they are pre-sharpened to about 1/6 of full. Capture One’s scale is out of 0-1000, so they are pre-sharpened to about 1/5 of full. (Slightly more, but certainly not TWICE as much)

        Furthermore he SAYS comparing images set to x in one and y in another look similar, but his own examples show this is not the case! look at the third example of the tree bark that is supposed to look the same.

        Does that look the same to anyone?

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    • My friends, I would only like to comment that although I did not read the article and have no interest in doing so, there is no software that will make your “art” exclusive. There is also no camera that will make your “art” exclusive. Nor is there any reason to believe that your or my photos are “art.” We all take pictures and nothing more. One consumer (I don’t mean paying only) will believe the picture to be “art” and another will believe it to be trash.

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    • Steve M, I have to disagree with your comments about this not being an honest article. After actually reading the article, the author shows no bias toward the Adobe product. He is merely pointing out how LR users can achieve similar results that are produced by default in Capture One.

      In fact in the first paragraph of the article he writes; “I concluded Capture One is indeed a solid RAW processor that has a number of unique features that are missing in Lightroom”.

      And in closing he states; “I am disinclined to criticize Capture One’s approach. If Capture One customers find the optimized approach gives them the end result they’re after quicker, are they wrong if they happen to like what they see? Capture One certainly has the professional-level tools to produce great-looking images”.

      (I included those quotes from the article in case you hadn’t read it)

      As to your other points – This was published in a magazine called “Photoshop User” and Mr. Kelby’s Business based on providing training for folks that want to learn to use Adobe products. I’m not sure that makes him a “Shill” for adobe, but you apparently do.

      Also, one might conclude that Capture One is also interested in “bringing their product to the masses” as according the the the Capture One website the program has support for 400 cameras. This includes models from just about every camera manufacturer, from top of the line pro models to point and shoots. It sounds like a good marketing strategy to get you product into the hands of as many consumers as possible.

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    • You read my mind! I mean I own LR but moved to Capture One. As a Nikon shooter I used Capture NX2 too, which lead to much higher IQ as LR ever was able to. And Capture One even produces much better IQ for me than LR or PS will do. And it has nothing to do with just being a special “look”.

      So excited as Scott is I don’t even need to read the article as it will be of course pro Adobe but it clearly shows to me that Scott is well knowing that Capture One produces better IQ. What LR can do better than Capture One is the workflow, esp. handling of catalogs and printing.

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  17. Scott – Thanks for sharing this article with the LR Killer Tips audience. Over the years I found a core set of LR develop settings that I adjusted on just about every photo including +clarity, +contrast, +vibrance, +sharpness, +sharpening mask, +noise reduction. Since I was increasing these settings more often than not I decided to make those minor adjustments my new import preset (note: Noise reduction tied to ISO by camera serial number). I still need to review all of my images, decide what to keep/show and make additional edits, including adjustments to the sliders changed during import, but the revised import settings saves me the extra slider moves when importing a new CF card. It’s not a big deal on one image, but if you have hundreds of images having those small adjustments (that I would make anyway) already set in the Develop module is a real time saver.

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  18. Hi all,

    good article. A bit too much in detail regarding the different default settings for sharpness and noise reduction. LR’s vibrance slider is almost the same as Capture One’s saturation slider. The color editor of COP is my personal greatest advantage comparing to LR. LR has more specific tools to work with (red eyes reduction, Pano and HDR) and Capture One has slightly more powerful general tools in my opinion. You may get nearly the same results in RAW conversion but this depends on image and camera.

    Best regards,
    Jens

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    • I must say that comparing raw files from my camera (olympus em5) I can notice a difference I sharpness when both programs have sharpnening set to zero.
      I also found that the dng files LR save the raw files in (this is an option many people say is the best to use) have this loss off sharpness. If I compare the dog file vs the raw file in capture one, I can not get the sharpness in the dng file as compared to the orishi all raw file……
      I’m very curious what on1 has to offer with the upcoming raw processor, very pleased with the on1 software so far

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      • Sorry for all the typos, spEllen checking acting up…..

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        • What the article fails to mention is that even if you can get sharpening to match that of C1 in LR by modifying settings in the Detail module, increasing luminance noise reduction up from 0 slows down LR to a crawl when performing any other adjustments, especially with local brush. This is not the case with C1.

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