Like other photo-editing applications, Capture One offers one-click preset image effects, which it calls ‘Styles’. These are made with carefully-crafted combinations of image adjustments which you can use as-is or inspect and modify to suit your own tastes.
You do get a selection of Styles built in to Capture One, but most are sold separately via the Capture One website as Style packs – you can also buy Capture One with certain Style packs as reduced-price bundles. Other companies make and distribute Capture One Style packs too. The market isn’t as large as for Lightroom presets, but the overall standard is probably a bit higher to reflect Capture One’s expert/professional audience.
Capture One also offers Presets as well as Styles, so it’s worth quickly spelling out the difference. Presets are simpler one-click image adjustments which use a single editing tool, such as Curves or Color Balance. Styles are more complex adjustments made with combinations of more than one tool.
The Style under the spotlight in this post has the rather unromantic name of ‘SN-04’ and it’s from Phase One’s own ‘Seasonal’ Style pack. The name might be bland but the Style itself is great. It brings depth, warmth and contrast to outdoor shots and works particularly well for travel photography, where you’re often trying to capture a more intense yet ‘timeless’ look.
Here’s a ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot showing the difference. Capture One’s default rendition is already pretty strong (left), but the version with the SN-04 Style applied (right) is much warmer and richer.
So let’s deconstruct the SN-04 Style and see just how the individual image adjustments are combined to create this effect.
01 How to browse and apply Styles
In Capture One, Styles and Presets have their own panel and by default you’ll find this on the Adjustments Tool Tab – that’s the one that looks like a clipboard with a ‘check/tick’ icon. When you add a Styles pack, you’ll usually find it in the ‘User Styles’ section. Here’s our original image (left) and a Version (right) with the SN-04 Style added.
02 The Capture One Color Editor
This is where you’ll find many of the adjustments used in Capture One Styles. The Color Editor panel has three tabs. There’s a ‘Basic’ tab (not shown here) where you can adjust different colour ranges side by side, but this Style uses the Advanced panel, which makes adjustments to individually colours selected individually using an eyedropper tool and works separately. We can see that the SN-04 Style slightly increases the saturation of colours in the tan/brown range.
03 Multiple Color Editor adjustments
But the Color Editor doesn’t stop at one colour. In fact you can make multiple colour adjustments, and the SN-04 does indeed add a second. This one is much more significant, reducing the saturation and lightness of blue-sky tones and shifting the hue value slightly. This is what gives blue skies their distinctive darker/faded look with this Style.
04 Color Balance adjustments
This is not the only way to adjust colours in Capture One, and the SN-04 Style also uses colour shifts in the Color Balance panel. This has a ‘Master’ tab for shifting the colour balance globally across the image, but it also has tabs for different Shadow, Midtone and Highlight adjustments. You apply colour balance shifts by dragging the gadget from the centre point of the wheel towards the colour you want – the further you drag it, the bigger the shift. If we select the Shadow tab, we can see that the SN-04 Style has a very small colour shift towards blue.
05 Complex colour shifts
If we swap to the Midtone tab, though, we can see that the colour shift is now in the direction of amber/red. The SN-04 Style doesn’t apply a colour balance shift to the highlights, but it is possible to do this too, which means that the Capture One Color Balance panel can apply quite complex colour shifts across the tonal range – its often used in conjunction with the Color Editor, but they do two distinct and separate jobs.
06 Curve adjustments
The SN-04 Style applies two more adjustments. In the Curves panel there’s a fairly strong S-shaped adjustment that darkens shadow areas (you can see that in the water at the base of the picture), lightens bright tones and increases the midtone contrast.
07 More Clarity
There’s also an increase in the Clarity setting. The effect is fairly subtle but it does give objects and outlines in the picture a little more ‘punch’.
Capture One Styles use some quite complex and carefully-balanced adjustments. The software doesn’t offer the textures, overlays and fake ‘bokeh’ you can find in other effects tools like Alien Skin Exposure X, ON1 Photo RAW or Analog Efex Pro, but it can nevertheless offer a very wide range of creative ‘looks’ when you know how. As with other programs, the quality of its preset effects depends on the skill of the creator as much as the tools in the software, and that’s what you’re paying for with Capture One Styles packs and other commercial preset products.