Capture One Soft Proofing


Robin Whalley, Landscape Photographer

29 July 2019

In this tutorial, we’re looking at Capture One Soft Proofing. We’ll discuss what Soft Proofing is before looking at how it works in Capture One. We’ll also look at the Capture One Proofing function which is a useful feature to help you proof your photos.


The Colour Management Problem

As photographers we face a tricky problem. The photo we see on our screen when editing probably doesn’t look the same on someone else’s display. And if we try to print our photo it almost certainly won’t look like what we see on screen. To overcome these problems, we need to use colour management which sounds more complex than it is.

When using colour management, you must remember you can only control your equipment. It’s therefore essential to ensure your monitor is correctly calibrated first. By this I mean is if you display a red square on your screen, it looks red and very importantly is the correct shade of red. This is what screen calibration does and it’s something you must do.

Once you’re confident your computer is displaying the colours in your photos correctly, it’s time to think about other output devices. If you print your photo, you need to understand how the printer and paper you use affect the photo. If you want to share your photo online you also need to consider how it might display on other people’s screens. Capture One soft proofing can help us with both problems.

What is Soft Proofing?

When we talk about soft proofing in photography we tend to be referring to a process used in printing. A soft proof is a simulation of how an image looks when it’s printed, taking into account the printer and paper used. This allows us to judge how the image would appear. If we see problems, for example with the contrast, we can apply adjustments to fix this before printing. This can help us match the print to what we see on our computer screen.

Soft Proofing for the Internet

But, soft proofing isn’t just about how a print might look. We can also use it to simulate how other people’s computers might display an image.

If we’re posting an image online, it could appear on many different screens, each with different capabilities. As photographers, it’s likely we’re using a high-quality monitor capable of displaying a wider range of colours than your typical internet device. When a colour is beyond the capability of a device it’s said to be “Out of Gamut” for that device. To be able to display the image the device “makes a guess” at the best colour to use. If we’re editing our photos using a high-quality device, we could unwittingly include lots of colours that are out of gamut for many devices.

The answer to this problem is to use soft proofing but this time with a set of colours that simulates the “standard” for the internet. This standard is known as a Colour Space or Colour Profile and the best one for the internet is something called sRGB.

Using Capture One Soft Proofing

One of the nice features of Capture One Pro is that the display is always showing a soft proof. It does this using the something called a Process Recipe which is another great feature. In Capture One you can create a Process Recipe for processing your RAW files into images. The Recipe lets you define lots of things such as the file type, where it’s saved, what its name is and importantly, what Colour Space to use.

When you select a Recipe in the Process Recipes panel you see the details of that Recipe in the other panels. This is where you define the Recipe including the ICC Profile or Colour Space.

Capture One Process Recipes

Capture One Process Recipes.

Capture One’s default behaviour when you select a Recipe is that the image preview changes to reflect the defined Colour Space. If we use the sRGB ICC Profile which is the generally accepted standard for the internet, we see how the image will appear on devices that support that standard. And if we have a Process Recipe that has a printer profile set as the ICC Profile, we can see how the image looks when printed.

If you want to see this in action, watch the following video.

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Capture One’s Proofing Feature

We’ve already said that Capture One has a Soft Proofing feature where proofing is always on, but we can modify this behaviour further. Let’s say you create two Process Recipes. In one Recipe the ICC Profile is set to Adobe RGB because that’s the Colour Space you use when photo editing. In the other Recipe, you set the ICC Profile to the printer profile you’ll use to print your photo with.

Go to the Capture One “View” menu where you’ll find the option for “Proof Profile”. The default for this is “Selected Recipe”.  Change this to the Recipe where the ICC Profile is set to match your printer profile.

Capture One Soft Proofing in the View menu

Capture One Soft Proofing in the View menu.

Having set this, you will see the Capture One preview change to reflect the chosen ICC Profile rather than the profile in the current Recipe.

Look to the right side of the Capture One toolbar and you will see an icon that looks like a pair of spectacles. Click this and Capture One switches to the “Recipe Proofing” mode. This is where the screen shows a proof using the ICC Profile in the Recipe. Click it again (to toggle it off) and Capture One shows the printer soft proof you set. You can now toggle between using the Adobe RGB ICC Colour Space and the Printer soft proof using the spectacle icon.


If your familiar with soft proofing in Lightroom, the Capture One Soft Proofing approach can feel odd at first. It is though worth the effort to familiarise yourself with the Capture One method. By creating a print Process Recipe, you can make this your default for checking the image. But when your editing, switch on the Recipe Profiling. Capture One then shows a Soft Proof of the image using the Colour Space in the current Recipe.

If you haven’t tried Capture One, you’ll find a trial download on the Capture One website.

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