Phase One Media Pro Released

Today Phase One announced the release of Phase One Media Pro. We thought our customers would appreciate a little elaboration from our point of view.

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Capture Integration is proud to offer Phase One Media Pro at 10% off

The Executive Summary

Capture One: Manages a Particular Session at a time. Great tethering workflow. Fantastic raw-processing quality.
Media Pro: Manages a Catalog of All your Images. Great tools for mass-metadata entry.


Phase One, based in Denmark, released its raw workflow program Capture One* in 1998, nearly a decade before the release of Adobe LightRoom or Apple Aperture. Originally it only processed raw files from Phase One digital backs. But after developing the patented algorithms for processing raw files Phase One opened Capture One to processing raw files from 35mm dSLRs. This early lead in creating and refining the math and techniques for raw processing has paid dividends in image quality. Capture One has been widely regarded as producing the leading image quality (color, detail, noise, transitions, lens correction). See a recent comparison to LightRoom.

Capture One’s workflow is based around Sessions (a.k.a. “Projects” in other software)**. A Session for a typical user might be a particular commercial job (e.g. shooting the Sears Spring 2011 Catalog), or a particular trip (e.g. North Dakota Wildflower trip of August 2011). Capture One provides very powerful and fast ways to view, edit, adjust, process, and share all the images from a a given Session. But Capture One has never provided extensive/powerful tools to view, edit, and share an entire Catalog of images. While comparing, processing, and editing images that were shot in different sessions is possible in Capture One (e.g. via Albums) it is not ideal for this purpose.

Enter “Media Pro”, which has a long history as a leading tool for managing large catalogs of images (and movies/PDFs/contract-documents etc) quickly and easily. Media Pro was originally developed by iView and was, at its time, the industry-leading solution for catalog management – ahead of its time and its competitors. In 2006 Media Pro was purchased by Microsoft and renamed Expression Media as part of a strategy to create a suite of programs which could rival the Adobe Suite or Apple’s iLife Suite. This did not happen. Instead, for four years, the program languished in Microsoft’s hands; few (if any) meaningful updates. As a result Media Pro, which had a strong and loyal user-base, lost market share to newcomers such as LightRoom and Aperture and fell behind the technological curve (especially regarding user interface and integration).

Phase One realized that Catalog Management was important to their customers. So in May of 2010 Phase One bought Expression Media from Microsoft and began working on releasing a significantly updated version of the program. That updated version is called Phase One Media Pro and was released May 10, 2011.

This is just the beginning of a long term commitment to the Phase One software suite. Just as Capture One has seen aggressive development in the last last three years we expect many improvements, features, and optimizations to come for Media Pro. Notably much of the year between purchasing Expression Media from Microsoft and today was spent on boring-but-necessary tasks such as changing over to Phase One servers for Activation of the software, and implementing integration with Capture One. Now that the milestone of a public release has been reached more energy will surely go into new features, speed enhancements, and other improvements.

Why Separate is Better Than Integrated

Many customers may ask if Expression Media will eventually be merged into Capture One. While Phase One itself has a policy of not commenting on future products/software we at Capture Integration feel very confident in saying that this will not happen. Moreover we feel it should not happen. Programs such as Aperture and LightRoom are built as general purpose tools to allow you to manage both a particular Session/Project and your overall Catalog. In theory this sounds great – a one stop shop for all your needs – but what it means in practice is software bloat and a lack of specialization.

Take for instance the needs of a major fashion shoot where the photographer is tethered to a laptop for instant review of the images by an on-site Art Director. During the shoot cataloging features are completely useless – the photographer only needs a limited number of tools during the shoot itself. But having the catalog features built into the program being used to tether means a larger, slower program, with needless buttons/tools crowding the user interface. In Capture One a user can select [Window > Workspace > Simplified Tethered] and instantly be looking at a program where every feature relates directly to simple tethered shooting.

Now take for instance the needs of a Wedding Photographer who is creating/updating his collection of his best marketing materials. In this case the ability to deeply refine/adjust the image is moot. This situation calls for instant and easy sorting and searching of tens or hundreds of thousands of images. Media Pro’s catalog engine and user interface is built around absolute speed for catalog management, by including only features, user interface, and programming related to catalog management.

Adobe realized that Session Management / Raw Processing and Catalog Management were two distinct sets of needs when it created LightRoom; to try to account for those different sets of needs Adobe separated tools into different “Modules”. But the overall user interface, organization, and speed of the program, are designed around having to accomodate both Session Management and Catalog Management functionality in one program. Being good at everything almost always means being great at nothing.

Phase One’s approach moving forward will be to focus developing Capture One for what it does best: tethering, raw processing, and session management, while Catalog Management tasks such as mass metadata managent are delegated to Media Pro. Both programs will remain open components of a larger ecosystem. Using Capture One for tethering and processing does not necessitate using Media Pro to catalog the images (though of course that will carry many benefits) and using Media Pro for cataloging does not lock you into using Capture One to tether/process. Both will remain available for sale separately and will be developed independently (but cooperatively) in-house.

Installing version X.0 software

Please see our article on the Wisdom of Waiting when considering X.0 software (first release of major versions).

*The first name of the program was not Capture One. It was renamed Capture One at version 3.
**The Windows version of Capture One 3 was not based on sessions.
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