Get Sharper Fuji RAW Files with Capture One Pro 7

Sunset through the grassI‘ve been using the Fuji X-T1 almost exclusively for most of 2014. During that time, I’ve been in love with how well it has performed in every shooting application that I’ve throw at it. The X-T1 tracks moving subjects with surprising accuracy and speed, at up to 8 fps, it has a number of great film simulations and features, and, of course, it’s a very lightweight camera, which allows me more flexibility and mobility as an outdoor photographer.

However, I’ve had trouble getting my processed images to look as good as I know they can be, especially with regards to sharpness. The X-Trans sensor has no optical low pass filter, which allows it to render subjects with incredible resolution, yet even with the latest version, Adobe’s RAW processing engine and demosaicing algorithms still have trouble with the Fuji RAW files.

If you’re a Fuji X camera user, you’ve probably noticed this as well. Lightroom does fine with the straight in-camera JPEGS from the Fuij’s, but with RAW files, you get this slightly fuzzy, watercolor look, especially with textures like grass and foliage. Even with hard defined subjects, I just haven’t been satisfied with the soft look that I get from Lightroom.

I’d heard that Capture One Pro 7 does a better job with Fuji RAW files than Lightroom. I wasn’t keen on complicating my life and adding yet another program to my workflow, but since they had a free 60 day trial version, I decided to give it a test drive.

4 days into my test drive, I threw down my credit card and bought the full version. Why? Because after processing just a handful of images, I was blown away by how much shaper the Fuji RAW files look when processed by Capture One. It’s like I have a brand new camera all over again. Rather, it’s like I suddenly have a souped up X-T1 that’s even better than it was before.

Capture One uses a completely different set of processing algorithms than Lightroom, and while I really like Lightroom’s versatility, I just can’t ignore a solution that gives me better results with my camera of choice. After all, the final image is what counts more than anything else.

So, long story short, I went ahead and complicated my life, all in the name of getting better looking photographs. I’m still getting used to the interface and experimenting with exactly how I’ll be implementing Capture One into my workflow. I’ll write more about that in a future post, but for how, here’s a simple comparison between Capture One vs. Lightroom to show you the difference.

I shot this photo with the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 27mm pancake lens, then cropped to full size so that you can closely inspect how each program renders the blades of grass. You can click on each one to see the bigger version, but even with these smaller versions, you can already see the difference.

The first photo is Lightroom, the second is Capture One Pro 7. You be the judge. By the way, Right now, Capture One Pro 7 is half price. They ran a 50% off sale in June, and for some reason, decided to bring the deal back for a few more days. I think the sale runs through July 27.

AK-NAT-ANC-01273

Processed with Adobe Lightroom 5.4

Sunset through the grass

Processed with Capture One Pro 7

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3 Bestselling Portable Hard Drives

Small portable hard drives are considered essential tools for any photographer today. Combined with the slim size and high storage capacity that the latest drives feature, they fill a number of important functions for shooters of all styles.

A small USB drive that fits inside your pocket or camera bag can house your entire image library. Paired with a laptop that’s running Lightroom, you have the freedom to take your entire business on the road. This means you can edit and process images anywhere, fulfill photo requests from clients,  share any photo with anyone, anytime, send images for printing and update your catalog as you shoot new photos.

Portable drives can also be used to deliver images to clients and they make for perfect backup solutions when you’re on location. For many assignment photographers, it’s standard procedure to backup each day’s work to a pair of drives.

Finally, external drives offer a great solution for off-site backup. Having an extra drive allows you to keep an extra safe copy of your image archive, just in case there’s a fire, flood, tornado, hurricane or break-in at your home or studio. Think about it: a hundred dollar hard drive is pretty cheap insurance. The idea is that you keep an current backup at home and swap it out each week with the off-site drive.

With these examples, it’s easy to see why you should probably have at least a couple of external drives, if not more. Here are three of the most popular slim style USB drives on the market today, I’d recommend any one of these models. They all run on Macs and PCs and are Apple Time Machine compatible.

1. Western Digital My Passport Ultra USB 3.0

WDUltradrive

The #1 best selling slim external hard drive is the Western Digital My Passport Ultra. It’s is a rock solid storage unit that comes in three sizes (500GB, 1TB and 2TB) and four colors (black, blue, red and gray), which lets you differentiate your drives way better than labeling them with masking tape and a sharpie.

I’ve used multiple incarnations of this drive for years for and they’ve never let me down. It’s small, reliable and reasonably priced. I’ve got three of them sitting on my desk right now.

2. Seagate Backup Plus Slim USB 3.0

SeagateSlim

 

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim is another very reliable and versatile drive, and they’re the thinnest portable drives on the market for the size. I just used a pair of these on my last big assignment for master storage, backup and delivery of image to the client and I loved how small and sleek they were. The Backup Plus Slim come in four sizes (500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB) and four colors, just like the WD Ultra.

 

3. LaCie Rugged Mini Disk USB 3.0

LaCiedrive

The LaCie Rugged Mini Disk has become a very popular hard drive with outdoor photographers because it’s built with a shock absorbing rubberized housing that protects your data if you drop your hard drive or get it wet. It’s rated to withstand being driven over with a one ton car, and it offers reasonable weather resistance in the rain and snow.

The LaCie Rugged comes in 500GB, 1TB and now there’s even a 2TB version as well as Thunderbolt compatible drives for the newer Macs. Here’s a complete list of all the different configurations and sizes. They cost a little more, but that’s a small tradeoff for the how much more durable it is compared to other non-rugged external drives.

My Early Years: Curt Lyons Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo

Learn Photography Online with the Pros

CurtHornsMother

Life was good in the summer of 1996. I had a pretty cush day job scanning photos at a Kodak PhotoCD lab, and I spent just about every afternoon and weekend rock climbing around Colorado and Wyoming. Still a few months away from being fired from my job… ahem, I mean turning pro, my photography passion was in full swing and I ran countless rolls of Fuji Velvia slide film through my Nikon N90 trying to build up my skills and my portfolio.

At the time I was pretty focused on rock climbing photography, and as luck would have it, I had a few built in models with my fellow dirtbag climbing buddies. One of these cats was my good friend and co-worker Curt Lyons, who sat across from me at the photo scanning station. (My other climbing co-worker was Juston Ledoux, seen bouldering in this photo.)

Tall and lanky, Curt was a southern California boy who had honed his skills at places like Joshua Tree, Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks before moving to Colorado. He was a solid climber and a lot of fun to hang out with. I learned a lot from him during those years we climbed together, and we still love to reminisce about those early days. One of my favorite memories of Curt was watching him make cowboy coffee during our trip to Devil’s Tower.

We had driven his little brown Toyota truck with the white topper up from Fort Collins the night before, and were camped in this open field within sight of the tower. The next morning, I crawled out of the back of the topper and saw Curt swinging the coffee pot around in a circle by the handle in a crazy windmill motion. He looked just like Pete Townshend.

His method was to boil a camp kettle full of water and loose coffee, then take it off the stove and use centrifugal force to make the grounds settle to the bottom of the pot. Brilliant. Pure genius, and wildly entertaining to boot.

Horn’s Mother

Anyway, during the summer of ’96, we climbed quite a bit at this funky place near Laramie called Vedauwoo. “Vee da voo,” as it’s pronounced, is like a mini Joshua Tree, full of rounded granite boulders, great crack climbing and relentless wind. The routes at Vedauwoo aren’t very long, but most of them are hard. Hard enough to make you cry. In addition to the sandbag factor of the routes themselves, the feldspar crystals that make up the surface of the rock at Vedauwoo make for great friction, but they tear your skin apart if you’re not careful. Most people tape their hands.

Of course, Curt, being a California purist, refused to ever tape up. He had good enough technique that he could get away with no tape. Me? No way. I always taped. I wasn’t nearly as confident in my skills. Plus, taping was part of the whole experience. A technique in itself. It was part of the uniform.

Sometimes during the week, Curt and I would even race up to Vedawoo to get a couple of routes in after work. Usually, we had a route in mind, and on a particular July day, we drove so that Curt could try a route called “Horn’s Mother.”

HornsMother2

One of the classic hard routes at Vedawoo, Horn’s Mother is the highly visible 100′ overhanging, leaning, flaring fist and off width crack right on the front of the Coke Bottle formation. You can see it right from the parking lot. It’s rated at 5.11a, but that’s Vedawoo 5.11a, which means really freaking hard. I’ve led quite a few 5.11 routes in my time, but I was always way too intimidated to try Horn’s Mother.

The crux of the route is pulling through a short overhang pretty close to the start of the route. After that, you climb 25′ up to a pod, and then it’s just 50 or so feet of strenuous and sustained 5.10 hand and fists jamming up the left leaning crack. If you have small hands, it’s even harder.

Curt brought another friend to belay him so that I could shoot photos of him climbing the route. (I don’t even remember who that was, but I’m sure that Curt sill does.) We climbed an easier way up the formation so that I could fix a rappel line down the face and be right there next to him while he was on the route.

He sent the crux like is was no problem. If course, I was way above him coming down my line, so I didn’t actually see him on that part of the route. When I did meet up with Curt about halfway up the final crack, he was tired. Arms about to die tired, but he kept chugging up the crack with solid technique, a bit of brute force and the benefit of a long reach.

About two thirds of the way up, he was was getting really gassed and desperately needed a rest. Determined to do the entire route without falling or hanging on the rope, Curt knew that he had to take a break and shake his arms out, and as luck would have it, he found a way to get out of the crack and stand on these little granite pods that stuck out there on the face.

Throwing in a #4 Friend, he clipped the rope, stepped out of the crack and actually found a no-hands rest right there win the middle of one of the hardest routes that he’d ever climbed. This odd, precarious feat of balance allowed him to regain the strength necessary to power up the last section to the top.

Watching Curt climb Horn’s Mother up close was an awesome experience and I’ve always loved the photos I shot of him on the route. I’ll never forget that day and I’ll never forget the look of pain, suffering and thankful relief when he found that tiny rest spot that gave him brief reprieve from the unrelenting crack. I’ll never forget the close, intimate view that I had of him while he pushed his limits and onsighted the route on his very first try. During those brief minutes, and for the next few days, Curt was my hero.

I shot this photo on Fuji Velvia 50 slide film with my Nikon N90 and 24mm f/2.8D lens. I still have this lens, and in fact, it’s probably seen more use shooting rock climbing than any one of my other lenses.

Thanks for the memories Curt. I hope the route didn’t leave you with too many emotional scars.

HornsMother3

My Early Years

This series called My Early Years, profiles some of my images and experiences as a budding young photographer back in the mid and late 90s. My goal to show you that photography is a progression and that we all have a long road of unique experiences that make up our photography life/career. And to tell some fun stories.

Most of the images in this series were shot on film and are thus derived from either Nikon Coolscan files or from early Kodak Photo CDs, which are still readable on Apple iPhoto.

I hope that you enjoy this look back at the much younger and much less experienced Dan Bailey. If you’d like to read more articles like this and be notified whenever I post similar features, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which also includes regular news, exclusive content, photography tips, industry isight and special deals.

The Art of Bikepacking Presentation, July 16 in Anchorage

Artofbikepacking

Tomorrow evening, Wednesday July 16 at 7PM, I’ll be taking part in a presentation called The Art of Bikepacking. The event will be hosted at the Bicycle Shop on Dimond Blvd., here in Anchorage, Alaska, and it will feature a … Continue reading

5 Of My Recent Favorite Images

Gnarled pine trees at sunset

With summer in full swing here in Alaska, I’ve been shooting a wide variety of subject matter, including landscapes, outdoor adventure, aviation and even some wildlife. Here are a few of my recent favorite shots and notes on how I … Continue reading