Saturday, December 28, 2013

Who would win in fight? Lightroom 4.4 versus Capture One 7.1.5*? (some semi-coherent notes on post processing black and white photos)

I spent the first weekend of November in San Francisco for LHSA's annual meeting and a Leica Akadamie North America workshop on the Leica Monochrom.

I've been using Capture One since 2008, when it shipped with the Leica M8.  The Monochrom ships with Lightroom.  About ten months ago, Capture One could not process the files from the Monochrom. Only since around version 7.1 could the program render the files.  And even now, there is no special Monochrom settings or presets as there are for other Leica cameras or cameras by other manufacturers.

Since Capture One is what I've been using for the last seven years, it's pretty much what I know (and I didn't get the Monochrom until Phase One announced support for the Monochrom).  I'd thought I'd take a little time to compare a few shots in each program.

Here is a shot "straight from the camera" as rendered by Capture One (that is to say no adjustments)

straight out of the camera as rendered by Capture One

and here is the same "straight out of the camera" shot as rendered by Lightroom.

straight out of the camera as rendered by Lightroom

In Capture One, I made some small adjustments to the level curves, exposure and burned the highlights a little bit for the final image.

processed in Capture One

and from Lightroom where I tried to replicate the same adjustments.

processed in Lightroom

Here's one that's quite underexposed rendered by each program "straight out of the camera" in Capture One and Lightroom

straight out of the camera as rendered by Capture One

straight out of the camera as rendered by Lightroom

And the finished image in both programs...

processed in Capture One

processed in Lightroom

It appears that there might be a little bit more shadow detail straight out of the camera in Lightroom than Capture one.  And for my purposes, it appears that anything Capture One can do, Lightroom can do.  I am envious of Lightroom's graduated filter tool that is absent in Capture One.  And in addition to the "highlights" and "shadows" sliders, Lightroom has "lights" and "darks" sliders which I haven't figured out what they do that is different from "highlights" and "shadows."  I suppose I should experiment with them or read the friendly manual.

In any case, what is remarkable about the Monochrom, after processing shots from the M8 over several years, is how much you can recover from the shadows and underexposed shots.  You can not push 2-3 stops in post with the M8 and get decent shots, when you can do that with the Monochrom.

After some examples of processing Monochrom shots in Lightroom, Justin Stailey covered some basics of converting photos from a color camera to black and white in Lightroom.  I was surprised to learn that Lightroom's default behavior is to mix the color channels a little bit, instead of having them set to "zero."

Here are a few examples from some color photos I took in the last month or so (I didn't really believe this was happening until experimenting with this).

Here's a shot from a recent London vs Atlanta bout, processed to my liking in Capture One,

Here's the same shot (processed in Lightroom to look like the shot processed in Capture One, minus the slight crop) and then converted to black and white


Lightroom's default color mixing for that shot:

The user can then zero out the color mixing if they like

Here's one from Santa Cruz's recent holiday parade, processed in Capture One

there's a present on your head

and converted to black and white in Capture One

And the same shot converted in Lightroom

Adobe's clever engineers have chosen this color mixing as the "auto" setting for this photo.


One more example. Processed in Lightroom and then converted to black and white



And Lightroom's default color mixing for this photo...

And what the conversion looks like in Capture One

bw_adjusted_C1_L3010386 (1)

Capture One's default for color mixing is the same every time.


I think I prefer Capture One's approach (can Adobe's engineers really be that clever to know the appropriate auto mixing every time? Or do they simply prefer to always make the reds darker?)

*That's a really silly title for a blog post. It's like  Superman or Batman? Xena or Susan Ivanova?

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