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The Capture One Outrage

#captureOneGate?

in General Rants , Friday, December 16, 2022

The photointerwebs, or at least that part which is interested in Capture One, exploded in a orgy of demonstrative outrage last week, when a new pricing model was announced for Capture One software.

In a nutshell, the current offer is that you can buy a “perpetual” license, which will give you long term rights to use a particular release of the software, for as long as you meet the hardware / operating system requirement. In addition, any feature upgrades added up until the next major release you also get to use.  The to-be offer is much the same, only it removes the feature upgrades part, and can be bought at any time to cover the then-current product feature set.

It’s pretty clear why they made this move: some time ago, they introduced a subscription model running alongside the perpetual model.  A major touted benefit of the subscription model was that you get new features when they’re ready, not just at major release points (yearly in Capture One’s case). The problem here is that perpetual licenses also got that benefit, and the perpetual upgrade pricing was not very different to a subscription. So perpetual was more flexible, and on top of that did not lock you in perpetuity to a subscription. 

Since there are clear financial reasons for software companies to try to persuade their clients to move to a subscription model, this must have presented a serious commercial dilemma for Capture One.  And although their messaging was pretty flawed, actually I think they’ve come up with a fair compromise between offering choice to their customers and remaining a viable company, attractive to investors.

So Joe Photographer everywhere screamed he was going back to Adobe, which offers way better value for money (I’ll get on to that later), Joe of course forgetting how outraged he was when Adobe, faced with a similar dilemma, not only summarily dropped perpetual licences altogether, but also played a very nasty trick on customers a few months prior to going subscription only with their Creative Suite upgrade policy change. Then, they coerced people into upgrading, by drastically reducing the cutoff for upgrade eligibility from previous versions - only to kill off upgrades altogether a short time later.

But whatever - this is how commerce works. Neither Capture One nor Adobe are charities. They both need to pay their staff, keep the lights on, and keep the markets happy. Do I like the last part? Not much, no. Can I see an alternative? Nope.

So after several years of Adobe as The Great Satan, suddenly they’re all saints rolled into one.

But anyway, as Paul Reiffer put it, even skipping the false claim (well, false for now, I’m not that naive) that Capture One is forcing you into subscriptions, does any serious photographer really make core creative decisions based on whether or not there’s a subscription model involved?  I certainly don’t.

Adobe (and DxO, and Exposure, and Iridient) make great software. And a lot of people are very happy with Lightroom. Personally, I’m not. I dislike Lightroom for two reasons: one, it has an awful User Interface which makes it an absolute drag to use. But more important, for my tastes, it is an absolute battle to get any kind of attractive output from it. In Capture One my basic process is this: adjust exposure, balance shadows and highlights, adjust contrast with a Luma curve.  That takes about 30 seconds. With Lightroom it is nearly impossible to reproduce.  First of all to me Lightroom controls seem very unsubtle, and second they all interact with each other, following a Grown-Ups Know Best model apparently based what Thomas Knoll thought photos should look like.

Yes, the Adobe Photography Subscription, offers, on the face of it, a fantastic deal. But does it? Lightroom is not for me. Bridge is a clunky disaster area which seems to get worse with every update. Portfolio is ok but not much use to me. Lr Mobile is certainly very nice to have, but the UI is not pleasant. Photoshop? Well, of course, Rome remains Rome. But I think I can live with Affinity Photo for the few things Capture One can’t do.
So yes, an Adobe Photography Subscription is (much) cheaper than a Capture One subscription. Again, is that the basis for creative choice? Hey, a Kodak-branded Chinese Point & Shoot is WAAAY cheaper than a Nikon Z7!

But that’s just me. Don’t worry, I’ve got a long list of grievances against Capture One:

Obviously, the pricing is getting rather excessive. Generally speaking, a ceiling of $200-$300 per year for a core piece of somewhat specialised software is not that ridiculous. However, the problem comes more with what the upgrade or subscription charge brings you. In recent years this has not necessarily been very impressive. In particular for a lot of people Capture One 23 brings absolute zero added value, although for a particular customer segment I imagine it is pretty fantastic. Then again, that same segment probably was underwhelmed with Capture one 22. You can’t please all the people all the time. Actually the new pricing model does appear to be offering more flexibility on which features you want to pay for, but this is also wrapped up in a mysterious “loyalty scheme” which so far we know nothing about.

Capture One for iPad was, and remains, a massive disappointment. The core application looks fantastic, but it is rigidly locked to a workflow which places it as some kind of initial preprocessor for the desktop application. And development seems to have paused if not stopped.

Capture One refuses to support Hasselblad cameras. Well, I don’t know which party is to blame here, and it would certainly require full cooperation from Hasselblad to develop a solution comparable to Phocus, but still… time to get over past feuds?

Capture One’s catalog is far better than its many detractors claim. But it has vast scope for improvement, and while a few bones get thrown to customers who actually value catalog features now and then (versions in separate collections in Capture One 23 is nice, for example, but so far I can’t convince myself that it is $200 nice). The catalog needs to extend parent-child view to User Collections (at least we have it in Folders now), and really, really implement some model of Stacks, Ideally Aperture’s model, not Lightroom’s half-assed hack.  And yes, maybe get a competent data modeller to optimise the database?

But for me it all boils down to this: Capture One gives me results that I’m really very happy with, and is largely a pleasure to use. I’m happy to pay for that, unless the pricing or licensing gets completely insane, and honestly, we’re far away from that. The recent announcement is an adjustment dictated by market conditions, not some dastardly schemes designed to shovel vast amounts of cash to a predatory private equity firm, however attractive that narrative might be to drama queens on the interwebs.

Posted in General Rants on Friday, December 16, 2022 at 11:16 AM • PermalinkComments ()

Website Update

Plus ├ža change…

in Site Admin , Friday, July 29, 2022

If you visit here frequently, first, thanks a lot, and second, you may notice some changes.

Following various comments and a lot of procrastination, I have completely rebuilt the back end of this website to prepare for it being adaptive to different devices.  The actual full adaptation will be Phase 2, but already the strict fixed width design is gone.  I’ve also tried to fix, streamline and improve various other things, including the comment system. That was also the subject of some criticism, so I removed the old Disqus implementation a while back.  Of course having done that my already meagre comment stream dried up altogether.  My spam count however went through the roof.  So, I have tried to tune the native Expression Engine comment system a bit, but it does have limitations.  It’s on the list for future improvements.  There are probably still quite a lot of glitches here, and there are a few areas where things are not quite finished, but I decided to push it out there as-is and fix stuff on the fly.

I actually started all this nearly a year ago, with a trial shift to Squarespace. That really didn’t work out. Squarespace is probably ideal for most people, especially if you’re starting out, but it doesn’t really lend itself to any kind of complexity or true customisation. And it really is very expensive. So I had to roll my sleeves up, get into old dog / new tricks mode, and modernise my CSS and backend code. Hopefully I’ve now got a solid base for the future, and I can get back t spending my meagre spare time on adding hopefully interesting content.

I’d be delighted to get any feedback, positive or negative. Via the comments system, of course.

Posted in Site Admin on Friday, July 29, 2022 at 12:35 PM • PermalinkComments (2)

Oh, and another thing

bullshit red alert

in Unsolicited, rabid opinions , Thursday, June 03, 2021

You know, if there is one thing that the photo chattering classes go on about which really makes my blood boil, it is “storytelling”.  There’s a fine example here, if you can stomach the smug, pseudo-intellectual self-congratulatory vibe on that site.

With very few exceptions, in my opinion, single, still photographs cannot “tell stories”. One standout exception I could think of is Bill Anders’ “Earthrise” photo. But even that is not telling a story, rather it is intensely evocative. Elaborately staged photos, on the lines of Crewdson, can just about tell stories, but there it is more a case of hinting at a story, where the audience’s imagination is left to fill in the gaps. In a wider context, representational art can also hint at a story, or refer to a known story. But can a painting or a sculpture actually tell a story, any more than a photo?  I think not.

A sequence of photos might tell a story (but not a sequence of random snaps in London as in the linked article), but that’s sliding towards movie territory. Movies and naturally the written or spoken word can tell stories (astounding revelation, I know).

But all these identikit “street” photographers banging on so earnestly about being “storytellers”, when all they are doing is just constructing some pseudo-artistic babble to justify buying another (Fuji) camera…. Well, I’d say “words fail me” although obviously they haven’t.

Why is simply enjoying taking photos not enough for everybody? Why do people taking photos of mountains decide they have to be “Fine Artists”, and why do people taking photos of random stuff in cities insist of being “Storytellers”? Obviously photography can be art, but just saying it is isn’t enough.

Honestly, the bullshit level is gone way beyond critical.

Posted in Unsolicited, rabid opinions on Thursday, June 03, 2021 at 02:26 PM • PermalinkComments ()

Strange Weather

A propos nothing

in Travel , Wednesday, April 21, 2021

With external borders more or less closed, this part of Switzerland has turned into pretty much the whole country’s holiday destination. But the famed “Ticino mediterranean climate” is not playing along.

For example rather than the tranquil sun-kissed beaches the tourists might have been hoping for, instead Lago Maggiore has been savaged by strong glacial winds, ending up with scenes more reminiscent of the wild north than of the sunny south.

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I suppose it’s Nature’s Way of telling us to stay indoors. And wear a mask.

Posted in Travel on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 02:20 PM • PermalinkComments ()

Them ‘ol stagnation blues

meanwhile, at the crossroads

in General Rants , Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Life goes on, and one sure thing is that my virtual stack of photos grows ever higher. Unfortunately, my satisfaction with said stack only diminishes. I’ve been doing photography as my main pastime for over 20 years, and I have to admit that I’ve got little to show for it.  I have very few photos I find rewarding, and I fear that if I ever hit a peak, it was well in the past and not in the future. And not very high.

Why is this? Well, leaving aside any lack of skill, recently I’ve come to realise that in one way or another, good photos tell a story. This is nothing new, clearly. But it implies that to take a good photo, you need to have a story to tell, or something to express related to the photo. And I don’t really have that, very often. I’m not sure many others do, although many claim to, but I would imagine that if the vast majority of my photos express anything at all, it’s a sense of total detachment. I’m sure somebody, I can’t find who, is quoted as saying “to be a more interesting photographer, become a more interesting person”. A useful instruction, but one I’m afraid I have not managed to complete.

Technically I still always manage to get stuff wrong. The focus is off, or in the wrong place, the depth of field is badly chosen, the composition is insipid or flawed. Even (especially) when presented with fantastic opportunities, I screw up.

Every now and then, I think I’ve actually got something good, but then I compare it against a random selection of other people’s work, and it just looks sad. Every day I see beautiful photography scrolling past on Twitter and Facebook, seemingly effortless created, and every now and then I get tempted to join in, but soon regret it.

I’ve read countless books, studied countless monographs, even watched YouTube videos (ok, only when I was bored), but none of it sinks in.

There’s just something missing. I go through the motions, I present a perfect facade of being a photographer, but I cannot for the life of me create a convincing photograph, and I’m more and more accepting that this will never change.

My mother in law thinks I’m “Pro Level” though. Bless her 😊

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A completely pointless photograph, a few days ago

Posted in General Rants on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 05:17 PM • PermalinkComments ()

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