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)

outofcamera_C1_L1031898
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.

outofthecamera_LR_L1031898
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.

1akademie_C1_L1031898
processed in Capture One

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

1akademie_C1_L1031898
processed in Lightroom

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

outofcamera_C1_L1031926
straight out of the camera as rendered by Capture One
 
and 

outofcamera_LR_L1031926
straight out of the camera as rendered by Lightroom

And the finished image in both programs...

akademie_C1_L1031926
processed in Capture One

LR_L1031926
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,
2London_vs_Atlanta_L3000923

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

bw_LR_L3000923

Lightroom's default color mixing for that shot:
bw_conversion_rollerderby

The user can then zero out the color mixing if they like
bw_zeroed_colormixing_LR_L3000923

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
bw_adjusted_C1_L3010200

And the same shot converted in Lightroom
bw_LR_L3010200

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

bw_conversion_parade

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

LR_L3010386

bw_LR_L3010386

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

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.

capture_one_black_and_white_checkbox

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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