The big attraction of Capture One Pro is the combination of tethered shooting with a sophisticated and full-featured RAW processor.
The catch is that while RAW support includes most of the popular SLR makes and models, the tethered shooting is limited to Canon and Nikon SLRs and Phase One backs.
This is a huge shame, because although the RAW processing here has a lot to offer, RAW converters aren't hard to find. Tethering is much less common and a good combination is rarer still.
A closer look at the Tool Palette reveals how much control is available. Capture One Pro splits processing into logical sections – exposure, colour, cropping and so on – each with its own sidebar.
Graphing and histogram displays are given more space, making them clearer and more comprehensive than usual, while some of the features have extra controls compared with more familiar RAW processors.
Colour takes pride of place here, with separate sections for white balance, colour processing, colour management and skin-tone filtering.
The exposure controls are more basic, with Contrast, Brightness and Saturation and dynamic range processing with Shadow and Highlight controls.
The Surgical Correction tools include removal of purple fringes and a semi-automated chromatic aberration corrector. There's also pattern and chroma noise reduction, although this could be more aggressive – in tests on sections of sky taken with a Canon 1D Mk III, it was hard to create a reassuringly smooth result.
A common criticism of earlier versions of Capture One was that it could feel fiddly, and that doesn't seem to have changed here; the Phase One workflow is technically oriented and less immediately rewarding. The one exception is variant creation. You can produce variations instantly on a basic look, with either subtle or drastic changes. We found the black and white ones particularly good.
The more powerful features appear with deeper digging. Batch processing and preset management are both sophisticated ways to increase studio productivity, developing and storing your own creative looks, based on all of the settings in all of the tabs. These are perfect for studio work when used with tethering.
If you have consistent lighting, you can create a single unified look across an entire shoot, or try out a series of different looks across the entire shoot to see if any one shot stands out. A nice touch is the way that looks are instantly previewed when you mouse over them in the menu.
Overall, Capture One Pro is a very attractive and powerful application. It's most likely to appeal to professionals who'll find that good RAW conversion inside a tethered shooter will save them time and money.
More casual users who only need an occasional tethered shot will most likely find they can get by with what they already have – the RAW workflow features in Capture One Pro are a subtle, but not quite compelling, step up from the competition. But for someone who works in a studio all day, every day, Capture One Pro can do a lot to polish and manage their shots – and make them shine.