Saturday, January 24, 2009

CaptureOne, DxO Optics and Lightroom

I've been doing a bit of playing with CaptureOne and DxO Optics RAW converters.  To date, I really like the resulting photos from Capture One.  I believe (from my very non-scientific approach) that CaptureOne's raw processing is superior to Adobe and it's the fastest of the three.  I've been focusing my research solely on basic white point, color, contrast correction and less on other aspects like sharpening and noise reduction.  While I like the results, here's my dilemma. 

I really like Lightroom, especially since version 2 came out.  The toolset is awesome as is the asset management.  I find myself using photoshop only for noise reduction and specific touch ups and perspective corrections. 

OK, now for the dilemma.  My workflow in Lightroom keeps my most of my images in RAW.  I can upload to flickr, my blog, my website, etc. directly from RAW or create an appropriately web-sized jpg as needed.  I can even print from raw.  I'll create jpgs if I used a print house but only convert the few images I plan to print.  This has cut down significantly on my files and disk space since I have far fewer jpgs or tiffs than when I converted everything from RAW to JPG!

So, now that I see what CaptureOne (and even DxO Optics) can do, I'm frustrated that I can't seem to export the RAW files with my develop settings from CaptureOne (or DxO) to Lightroom and retain those develop settings.  CaptureOne and DxO does allow a DNG export but I lose the edits.  At least till now, I haven't found a way to retain the settings as I output to DNG.  This would require Lightroom to manage JPGs instead of raw, or manage both and increase my disk space requirements (5D II raw files are ~25MB!).


I believe it's RAW converter is superior to Adobe as well.  What it has going for it is superiorI really like the raw converter.  I also find that choosing the auto white point and auto everything [command F] gives really awesome results as compared to the auto stuff in DxO, Lightroom and PS.  Using these auto functions on a whole shoot is a real time saver and it's the fastest to complete processing the images.

I'm still learning the software but I bet some presets can be built to do specific things but right now I'm concentrating on the best quality raw converter.  Importing from a card or camera is dead simple and automatic.  The file management in CaptureOne is also very intuitive including the directory structure for importing, sorting and processing files.  Manipulating images has all the usual tools for fine tuning including sharpening, noise reduction, curves, shadow/highlight and more.

DxO Optics Pro

 DxO Optics is also a product of interest.  

What I really like about DxO is the quality of its RAW noise reduction and is also calibrated to take into consideration specific camera and lens combinations.  It will also compensate for wide angle shots where perspectives get thrown out, stretched, etc., great for architectural shots.  While it can do all this automatically, it also has the ability to fine tune a large number of attributes as in CaptureOne and Adobe products.  However, it's processing speed is considerably slower than either CaptureOne or Lightroom.

DxO has made attempts to be better integrated into Lightroom and offers three different ways to manage your images based on using Lightroom as the asset management tool.  However, I believe in all cases this still requires doubling up on your images and managing both RAW and JPG files which I am trying to minimize.  DxO offers a small guide to the three ways of setting up relationships with Lightroom depending on how you want to use each tool.  

Summary to Date

I haven't made any final decisions to purchase either PhaseOne CaptureOne or DxO Optics Pro yet.  I'm going to continue looking at both.  Ultimately, I need to decide whether the gains of either are worth the cost versus Lightroom which I already own.  Even more, is whether the incremental improvement is worth the increase in storage needs and managing a library of RAW and JPG images.

Update (1/25/09):  Here's another blog that gives a more detailed comparison but it reviews Lightroom version 1.3 in the mix.  CaptureOne is now up to version 4.6 and DxO version 5.3.  It still provides some good detail:


1 comment:

raster said...

Our photographer at work is a huge fan of Capture One... I'm hoping he can attend PhotoCampMilwaukee, because I'm sure he could give a good tutorial on it.