Review: Capture One Film Styles (Capture One Pro, New Version)

Capture One Film Styles has a brand new way of altering your images.

Capture One Film Styles, as it was properly called, were styles (otherwise known as presets) created by a third party developer. But recently, Capture One decided to make their own. Indeed, with more people coming to Capture One, there are great reasons why they needed to do something like this. One of the biggest things people want to do is more or less what they did in Lightroom, but with the enhancements and superior RAW editor in Capture One. For those photographers, it means film-like presets. As a film shooter on the regular, Capture One Film Styles is sort of an awkward situation.

Features

Capture One Film Styles is a pack of film simulation presets you can unbundle in Capture One. There are a number of color simulations and black and white simulations. Each of these have a +/- to give a variant on each look. Many other options out there do things like this. For the photographers who think using presets is absolutely stupid, I’d like you to kindly reconsider. Presets can be a great way to breeze through work and get back to shooting and booking clients, but they can also be a great way to start out in your editing process with your own adjustments.

Ease of Use

When you open up Capture One, you can apply the styles by going to the according tab and applying them. As you scroll over each, you’ll get a full image preview. Over the months that I’ve been using them I’ve tested them with Nikon, Sony, Canon, and Fujifilm RAW files. In my opinion, they do absolutely fantastic with Fujifilm RAW files, not so incredibly with Sony RAW files, not bad with Canon, and okay with Nikon. But this is based on, again, what may be an unpopular but very personal opinion.

Image Quality

Capture One Film Styles are completely okay as actual presets. But if you’re looking to actually get the look of film, I have to be honest and say this is the first Capture One product I consider to be complete rubbish. I see it originally in the idea of their naming convention. Film 1, film 2, black and white 12 is pretty lazy as an idea and what it tells me is that they’re trying to emulate something that looks like film but that they’re not going to tell you that inspiration. What this reminds me of is a Facebook group that annoys the absolute hell out of me called “Looks Like Film.” I feel the group doesn’t at all do justice to what good film photography does because there are many photographers in that group who have never shot film. To that end, I feel like Capture One is trying to go after that group as a means of getting $69 out of their pockets rather than trying to inspire photographers to actually shoot film while providing guidance. And in many ways that makes sense–they’re a digital photography company whose only analog bit of history is the Mamiya company whom they purchased and more or less gutted.

If you actually shoot film, you’ll understand that these looks aren’t really what film does. To be fair, the black and white simulations are closer to film, but even so they’re still not perfect. At the same time, it’s pretty difficult to screw up a black and white vs color. I’ve shot with loads of film and The Phoblographer is currently on a mission to review every film emulsion currently available on the market, so I’ve had quite a bit of time to sit there studying what each does and how scans can affect their looks. Film is what it is, and most of the time when we see scans online, they’ve been subject to a lot of personalized corrections.

Sony a7r II and a Capture One Film Style

Lomography Color Negative 400 in Fujifilm GW690 III

Here’s a quick comparison in a situation where I use the same lighting situation, same background and, for reference, you should know that whether I’m shooting in film or digital I tend to shoot the same way. The tones just don’t look like film.

With all this said and done, I think that there is an audience that would love these looks and they’re not bad looking as they are. They’re just really not like film and I’m steadfast on that belief. RNI Films does a significantly better job when it comes to emulating the look of film and if that’s what you actually want, I recommend using that and setting your white balance to either 5600K or 3200k.

Conclusions

In brief, Capture One Film Styles are nice, but they don’t look like film to me. RNI does a much better job, but these Capture One presets will appeal to the photographers who want a film look but don’t know a single thing about what film looks like. If you still actively shoot film, you may be as infuriated in some ways that I am.

The Capture One Film Styles pack is available in both the US and Europe for $69.00. But if you want to simply play with a few, you can download the free sample pack here