Focus Assistance and Capture

Capture One's unique Live View mode enables you to check composition, control focusing, and capture the image, all from within a dedicated workspace. Note compatibility with the Live View mode requires a supported camera model.

An overview of the workflow

Live View is created to work in a studio environment and is fully-integrated into Capture One Pro. However, the live view image can be overexposed beyond the parameters of the adjustment sliders if Live View is used outdoors or if a camera is pointing directly towards an overly bright light-source.

  1. Open Capture One Pro and start a tethered Session or Catalog (e.g., choose File>New Session...).
  2. Connect a compatible camera via FireWire or USB. (Capture One will automatically recognize the camera or digital back). 
  3. Activate live view by pressing the movie camera icon in the Camera tool, or choose Window>Live View. The Live View window will open.
  4. From the Live View Tool Tab (movie camera icon), if not already selected, go to the Live View Controls tool and, if necessary, from the Orientation tool, adjust the orientation of the live view image to match the orientation of the camera. 
  5. Adjust Lightness and Quality as desired to set brightness and sharpness of the live view image. To further assist with image assessment, click on the RGB icon in the main Tool bar, to switch between a color or a monochrome live view image. (This does not affect the captured image.)
  6. To adjust the camera settings, select the Capture Tool Tab (camera icon), located top left beneath the the main toolbar of the Live View window.  
  7. From the Camera Settings or Camera tools, set the aperture and shutter speed. Set the shutter to BULB or TIME function with a supported medium format camera or technical camera and Phase One digital back. (The live view image will be displayed as soon as the shutter is opened).
  8. Set white balance using the White Balance picker. (Note WB is only to aid the live view image.)      
  9. From the Overlay tool add a suitable file to, for example, capture a comparison image, or to help composition in accordance with a specific layout.
  10. Adjust the composition and set the focus distance (adjust using the camera’s AF system in conjunction with the Camera Focus control buttons, or manually with the Focus Meter, where supported).
  11. Press the capture button located in the Camera tool. With certain medium format cameras and digital backs, the Live View window must be closed before setting the shutter speed to correctly expose an image.


Adjusting focus using the camera’s AF system

When using Live View the Camera Focus tool can be used not only to control autofocus (AF) independently of the shutter release but also to override the point of focus using manually controlled powered-focus buttons.

The Camera Focus tool located in the Live View workspace is essentially the same tool found in the main application's Capture tool tab, however when the camera is operating in live view mode there’s support from a wider range of camera models. Note that, the camera must be a supported model and the lens must be an AF type and feature a native mount.

The Phase One XF camera (with Firmware Update #3 or later installed) and IQ digital back complete with a Phase One FP or Schneider Kreuznach LS AF lens supports all of the tool's features, as do a wide range of semi-pro and pro-oriented Canon and Nikon models. (Note that Canon cameras do not support the AF indicator.) A number of Sony camera models are also compatible. However, the Sony models support only the autofocus option and AF confirmation indicator, and are not compatible with the powered-focus control function.

There are six powered-focus buttons in total arranged in two groups; labeled Near and Far. Pressing and holding one of the buttons continues to drive the focus motor of an AF lens until the button is released. The focus remains locked until pressing either the tool’s AF button, or another of the powered-focus buttons.

The outer buttons (triple-arrow icons) adjust the lens in large steps and can be used instead of the AF button to achieve an approximate distance setting. The mid-buttons (double-arrow icons) offer fine adjustment, while the inner buttons (single-arrow icons) allow ultra-fine adjustment. This allows a very high degree of control over focus when using live view, and is particularly useful, for example, when the subject is located off-center.

  1. From the main menu select Window > Live View, or from the Capture Tool Tab, click on the Live View (movie camera) icon in the Camera tool to open the Live View window. Note when a supported camera is attached and ready for tethered capture, the Camera Focus tool’s AF and powered-focus buttons will be enabled (colored white). When one or the other is grayed out, then that feature is unsupported. If both are grayed out and the features are supported, check the connection.
  2. Select the camera’s AF mode and active AF point as usual and check the lens is set to AF.
  3. Focus approximately on the subject by pressing on the AF button in the Camera Focus tool. Alternatively, press and hold one of the outer powered-focus buttons (triple-arrow icons) to focus roughly on the subject. The buttons will drive the lens until you let go. The image in the Live View window is updated during focusing. An AF indicator light above the button duplicates the function of the camera’s built-in AF indicator. (Note Canon cameras do not support the AF indicator.)
  4. To fine-tune focus, press and hold on the appropriate mid- or inner- focus-control buttons, while observing the image for focus in Capture One’s Live View Window.
  5. Release the button when focus has been achieved. The setting will be locked.

Focusing manually with assistance from the Focus Meter

Capture One’s Live View Focus Meter (LVFM) tool provides visual confirmation of the optimal point of focus when manually focusing with the Phase One XF/645DF+ cameras and IQ3/2 series backs. The LVFM is also compatible with a number of Canon, Nikon and Sony models that adopt contrast-detection AF, and it has some additional capability with the Phase One iXG Camera System (see here for more details).

The tool has a horizontal white-colored main-meter with a secondary orange-colored fine-focus meter that's used to verify the optimum point of focus. By placing a focus-area in the viewer Capture One measures the contrast and provides data to the main and secondary meters. A fine-focus meter is also embedded within the frame of each focus-area, allowing you to concentrate on the image in the viewer rather than the tool itself. Up to three focus-areas can be set in the viewer, each one contributing data to a separate meter. Which one you use to determine the point of focus is up to you, however you can use the others to check focus at other points of interest in the viewer.

Although the LVFM provides high precision it is recommended for use with static subjects only and that the camera is used on a stable support (e.g., a sturdy tripod, studio-stand or copy stand). A high-quality, ideally double-shielded interface cable (FireWire 800 or USB 3.0, as necessary) is essential for reliable operation. If in doubt, use the cable supplied with the camera, or refer to the camera manufacturer's user manual.

  1. Click on the Live View (movie camera) icon in the Camera tool to open the Live View window.
  2. Select the camera’s manual focus mode and focus approximately on the subject using the focus ring of the lens.
  3. Activate the Focus Meter tool by clicking on the Focus Meter icon in the Live View Focus Meter tool, or from Tool bar.
  4. To position a focus-area, click on the point of interest or subject in the viewer of the Live View window. To check focus simultaneously at different points within the frame, up to three focus-areas can be set. Attempting to set a fourth will prompt a message to close or move one of the existing focus-areas.
  5. Adjust the position of the focus-area on the subject by either, clicking inside the focus area's frame and dragging, or by clicking and dragging focus-area’s top-bar.
  6. For improved accuracy, focus areas may be resized to fit the subject by grabbing the black frame at the side, bottom or corner. (To delete a focus area, click on the X icon in the top right corner.)
  7. Each focus-area has a built-in fine-focus meter within its frame as well as a corresponding horizontal focus meter, located in the LVFM tool. Like others, this tool can be removed from the tool bar, repositioned and resized for convenience.
  8. Slowly turn the lens' focus ring while observing the meter carefully. The main (white colored) meter peaks at, or occasionally close to, optimal focus, leaving an orange-colored marker at the high point. Located in the main meter’s frame as well as the focus-area’s frame, a secondary orange-colored fine-focus meter is used to verify the measurement. Please avoid zooming in or out, resizing, moving a focus-area or covering the lens at this stage, as the meter will be reset.
  9. Continue to adjust the lens' focusing ring with care, until the secondary fine-focus meters reach their maximum point. When optimal focus is achieved, the outer orange fine-focus meters enclose the both the frame of the focus-area and the white bar of the main meter, which then changes color to orange. Note, under certain (i.e. low-contrast) conditions, the main meter's bar will not change color, however, best-possible focus is achieved when both bars no longer continue to rise. 
  10. If both bars fall, the point of maximum focus has passed. Please return to step 8 and repeat.

Composing in real time using an overlay

The Live View window includes an Overlay tool like that found in the main Capture One application. It works in exactly the same way, allowing you to superimpose a previously made transparency file of a layout, for example of a magazine front cover, on to the live view image. Not only does this help you with your composition in real time but if the camera is ready you can capture the image directly from within Capture One. Find out more information on working with an Overlay.

  1. Set up the camera for tethered photography.
  2. Start a tethered Session or Catalog. (Choose File > New Session..., or File > New Catalog...).
  3. Start Live View.
  4. From the Overlay tool, insert a file with a transparent background layer by dragging and dropping it into the Overlay window, or by navigating to it after pressing the File action button (... icon) to locate and select it.
  5. Adjust the subject according to the layout of the chosen file. Alternatively, adjust the position of the file to your subject using the sliders or select the Move Overlay (hand icon) and adjust the overlay in the Viewer.


Capturing images

When working tethered in Live View mode, Capture One offers a number of options to capture the image.

  1. Capture an image using one of the following options:
    • Click on the Capture button located in the Camera tool, next to the movie camera icon.
    • Click on the Camera icon in the main application's Toolbar. When a camera is tethered and powered, the camera icon will be lit (when the camera is asleep, or detached, the icon will be grayed out). You can use this setting or the following options to continue capture when making image adjustments in Capture One (i.e., when the Capture Tool tab is no longer open or accessible.)
    • Press the shutter button on the camera body (or attached remote release).
    • From the app's main menu, select Camera > Capture, or use Cmd(⌘)+K (Mac), Ctrl+K (Windows).
  2. The captured image will be saved to the designated folder by Capture One, and the image displayed in the main application's Viewer.