Capture One and Cobalt

This software is powerful; you need to know more about it.

As usual…
Please take a seat, have a scone and relax; at the end, you will have a deeper knowledge about your raw developer.

Today we will address a topic often glossed over by specialized magazines or blogs in the sector, Capture One in the practice of the amateur or semi-pro user.


The mighty world of digital backs.


In a world dominated by Adobe, which offers its modular system for many platforms, Capture One was born as native software for Phase One systems, formerly Mamiya and only then becomes available for all other photographic systems.
Its interface is devoted to the professional thanks to a series of unique functions, from tethering to colour management and sharpening combined with the quality of its demosaic engine. That was enough to convince many photographers even non-professionals to jump on it.
As already said, the colour management, the skin tone editing, the tethering, the Luma curve, the speed of the software itself, the notes, the levels, the advanced sharpening with diffraction removal and many other perks are a big temptation coming from other software and sometimes, for the general photographer coming from Canon, Nikon and other mainstream camera system, the huge limit of the generic colour profiles was a secondary problem.

But let’s take a look in detail, why does Capture One require ad hoc optimized profiles?

Capture One as mentioned was born as software made to work the files of Phase One medium format digital back; in fact, the ad hoc colour profiles provided for each illuminant are one of the reasons why a medium format of that brand not only costs 2 or 3 times a full-frame top of the range but more than 5 or 6 times.
When you buy a Phase One you are in fact also buying the professional software to produce the work; in the offer, you have the hardware, software and interfaces useful for the workflow, precisely the colour profiles provided for the most common illuminants made especially for your digital back.

When we talk about this specific detail is worth mentioning that precisely for this complete offer, today we see that the management of the ICC input profiles of Capture one is done for a single illuminant; the manufacturer did not ask himself the problem by foreseeing that the software was completed by the offer of many profiles with a single illuminant for each digital back model.
Today, with the spread of this software and its use on bodies that work under generic profiles, a problem arises that many do not face because they are not aware of this limit. A profile calibrated for daylight will maintain its coherence close to the expected illuminant and not far away, towards a Tungsten or opposite and this raises serious problems for those who may use Capture One to work on skin tones with difficult and mixed lights such as wedding photographers.
It is almost impossible to maintain consistency and accuracy in the field if the generic profile, even done with improved accuracy as the new Prostd colour profiles in daylight, is locked on the single illuminant. Capture One needs profiles made for your specific camera at the most used illuminants.

Our basic profiles, in fact, contribute to making the supported cameras at a level close to that offered for the aforementioned digital backs which for this completeness also in the software have stellar prices.
Yes, everyone could create his own profiles (let’s say everyone should create) using at least a Color Checker SG, a certified group of lights d50 and StdA and the time to get that done in a proper way.

We offer calibrated, coherent profiles planned for the two most popular illuminants and anyone, from the amateur who uses his small mirrorless, to the professional with his Leica/Canon/Sony/Fuji etc., will be able to benefit from the software more ‘complete and close to how it was conceived. To this is added the presence in the offer of a profile, the REPRO, completely linear; Capture One offers by default a selection for the film modes, including the linear one. That selection is still affected by a hidden curve; our Repro profile goes over that offering a full linear profile.

In fact, all of us might think we have little Phase One’s digital backs 🙂

Cobalt Digital and film emulations.


The photo editing market today is full of presets, those for working in the studio, those for landscape photographers or wedding photographers, those for vintage moods, etc etc.
Most likely also our offer can easily be incorporated into that market and this is a fundamental mistake; this statement does not arise from an overestimation of our product in comparison with the others that work as presets, but from a technical distinction.
We create base profiles and advanced tailored profiles for Capture One built on our calibrated profiles, not just adjustments that result in a preset.
When you use a preset and then want to recover a wrong light, shadow or exposure, the adjustment itself required by the recovery actually distorts the colourimetric relevance of the preset; when the preset is the profile itself and you are working with Capture One, you have an infinitely larger margin and ideal for anyone who wants to edit their photos starting with a specific colour.
When I import the photo and apply one of our custom-tailored film profiles on the image by selecting the .costyle to activate the profile itself and some minimal adjustments required (such as grain), I could easily have results that at first glance are bad for contrast or saturation.
This happens because the profile is designed for a perfectly exposed photo and taking into consideration the great possibility offered by Capture One itself to undergo deep editing with few tools.
In the most extreme case, that of the film emulations, which are more extreme than digital ones, we have 4 very powerful weapons on Capture One:

1-Curve Type
4-Luma Curve

Sample 1


I have an underexposed image and I would like to edit it using the Cobalt Ektachrome colour from the Cobalt Kodak Film pack on Capture One. I Open the image and after the selection of the .costyle I see that:

As a customer I would be infuriated by such a result if this were a bad preset, super contrast, saturation and complexion; but we are not working on a preset and the starting photo is underexposed. In order to have a result similar to what we expect from an Ektachrome emulation, first we select the linear curve type to have more margins, then we adjust in sequence exposure, saturation and Luma curve that I remember is one of the greatest advantages of Capture One by allowing us to modify the l of LAB without having to go to Photoshop.
Once this is done we have this result, all quickly without smudging.

Sample 2


I have a long exposure image taken using two stacked filters and I would like to edit it using the Cobalt Gold colour from the Cobalt Kodak Film pack on Capture One. I Open the image and after the selection of the .costyle I see that:

This time the thing is not so serious but the result is far from what I expected, obviously just move as said above and:

Obviously, I report only two extreme cases to make the concept understood: with profiles made ad hoc you have the possibility to work the file like a file just imported but with the colour that we have decided to give. The desired final result is allowed by the freedom of editing granted by an advanced program such as Capture One.