Guest Photographers

Color grading made easy

With Capture One Pro 8.2 we have released a completely re-designed Color Balance tool. This new tool offers an easy and accessible way to tone your shadows, midtones and highlights, while maintaining the legacy functionality of the old Color Balance tool.


Giving your pictures a subtle color tint in Capture One can be done in many ways. We have the global color adjustment tools in the White Balance and the Color Balance Master. Previously, If you want to target local tones in the shadow, midtones or highlights Curves and Levels can be used. The learning curve when using Levels and Curves in specific color channels can however be quite steep. This approach requires in-depth knowledge of complimentary colors and how input/output values affect the picture.

Simpler. Better. Faster.

With the new Color Balance tool, we wanted to make the color adjustment process simpler, better and faster. The tool has been separated into the 3 basic components of the image. Each of these tools has 3 user inputs: Hue, Saturation and Lightness, allowing for more intuitive and precise control of the final outcome.


The new tool has a completely new algorithm, which allows for more precise adjustment while maintaining separate control for the luminance and saturation. Compared to Levels or Curves, this retains much deeper shadows, and brighter highlights, so you can actually achieve the toning you want, without getting that tell-tale “milky/soft” look.

However, if you still want to create the low-contrast look you get by adjusting the Shadow output Level, this can be obtained even more locally using the Color Balance Lightness slider. Using these sliders in their respective components provides a brand new method of adjusting lightness that only affects the selected tonality.

Adjusting Levels will affect the entire images, because of the linear nature of the tool. Curves with enough carefully placed point can provide the same local effect, however, Curves also affect the saturation to a much larger extent.


You can of course still combine all of Capture One Pro 8’s tools with the new 3-way tool, and I highly encourage anyone to do so. This will open brand new possibilities for color grading and adjusting your pictures to achieve the exact look you want.

The tool is highly customizable, and like other tools can be viewed as a floating tool. You can also decide if you want to use the 3 way, or the separate shadow/midtones/highlight tools for easier reference.

Convenient shortcuts

We have also introduced into this tool a convinient set of mouse- and keyboard shortcuts for the tool to offer quick control of each setting. Some basic default shortcuts are:

  • While hovering over the Saturation, Hue and Lightness slider, the mouse scroll wheel controls the amount.
  • If the ring inside the Hue circle is selected, the scroll wheel controls the saturation. If the Shift-key is pressed, the scroll wheel now controls the Hue instead.
  • Hue and Saturation can also be controlled with the arrow keys, if the ring is selected.


In the upcoming Part 2, I will cover workflow, good practices using the tool, along with examples on how and why to mix the 3-way color balance with other tools in Capture One Pro.

Best regards,

Christian Grüner

Christian Grüner
Christian Grüner

Christian is Test Manager with the QA/Test department in Phase One. In the very little spare time a job in Phase One gives Christian, you’ll find him shooting pictures, recording aerial imagery with pro-grade drones or trying not to crash on the mountainbike in the woods. 

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Comments (31)

Great new tool! Man I really like my purchase of C1P because there always is new features. 8.1 was just release and there’s already 8.2! Looking forward to reading part 2.

Hi Tristan,

Very happy that you like the result of months of hard work.


Wouaa … look’s like more complicated to use than previous tools, but, it same time, once you have understand it, when you are used to,it seams that you can work very much more quickly !

Hi Alexandre,

It can indeed look daunting at first, but as you say, it is very simple to use, and provides awesome results quickly.


I played with this new tool yesterday, just two hours before the webinar with Pratik, and I was blown away. It really speeds up the work, and I finally have the option I missed from the levels functionality — to crush the shadows and lift them flat up, to mimic push-pulling from analog workflow. Thank you for that!

Hi Marcin,

Thank you for using it. Glad it can give your photography a boost!


jean nius

nice tool
in the introduction a screenshot is shown
a lake an mountains in 3 views;
one only highlights
one only midtones
one picture that only shows the shadows

how do i bring up this 3 way of showing the colour grading in the picture?

Hi Jean,

You can find it in the 3-way Color Balance Tool, click “3-way”.


The new Colour Balance tool is great and it is nicely improved. However I am going to miss the numerical settings. Would be nice to have that option in the future release. Over all Capture One is the best Raw editor. Thank you.

Hi Vallabh,

As this is designed as a mostly creative tool, it was designed without numbers for now.



Numerical values are indeed borderline crucial: I don’t like eyeballing it with important images.

Pretty exciting stuff! I can’t wait to mess with it and see if I can speed up my workflow. I usually saved this for PS.

Hi Nate,

Glad this has helped you optimize your workflow.
Making this adjustment in CO will provide even greater image-quality when exporting, as the raw-image has more information than the exported bitmap.


in C1: is there a way to apply a “graduated” color to an image, like when we apply a graduated color filter over the lens? thanks…

Hi Craig,

There is indeed. The easiest way is probably using a Gradient Mask and the White Balance Tool (adjusting both Kelvin and Tint).


Hi Christian Grüner
I have a question. Since phase one excluded the Pentax 645Z files I am thinking of using in a first step another RAW converter than PO and make the color balance on a tiff basis in PO with your new features. Makes this sense or is the loss of information due to the tiff conversion too significant? Thanks for your answer Paul

Hi Paul,

I would say the loss of information is too great, but it will of course get the job done.


Juan Antonio Diaz

Esta herramienta nueva es tan magnífica y extraordinaria que , casi, parece mágica o como si hubiera sido enviada desde otro mundo mas avanzado. Muchas gracias

Stephen Chapman

Dear Christian

Thanks for the information about using the new colour balance tool. This is a great addition to C1.

I am fairly familiar with this approach to colour grading, having used it for video with Magic Bullet Looks etc.

I have been wishing for some time now that I could use the power of C1 for grading video footage. I was wondering whether you have any plans to develp this aspect of your software to enable working with AVCHD, Mpeg 4, DNG-cine raw etc.

This would be an enormous benfit to professional photographers who are increasingly being required to produce video for clients as well as stills.

You will be aware that although some of this functionality is available in Lightroom, you are limited to rendering out at quite low bit-rates. If you could give your customers the ability to output graded video at professional bit-rates, this would be a major step forward.

Kind regads


Hi Stephen,

There are currently no imidiate plans to support editing of video-files.

However, we do support the cinemaDNG file format. These can be graded and exported to bitmaps, and imported and sequenced by software like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro.


Hunter Clarkson

The expanded curve feature in 8.2 is very nice.
Points can be added to the RGB curve by clicking on the image.
Is there a way to add points to the individual red blue and green channels by clicking on the image?
The way I am adding points to the individual channels now is to observe where the vertical line is on the channel as you move about the image and then add the point where the vertical line is.

Hi Hunter,

Thank you for your comment.

Placing points on the individual RGB curves is sadly not possible at this time.

Your current method is probably the best alternative.


Jack Varney

The scroll wheel hovering inside the circle on Windows apparently is different. On my system scroll sets saturation, alt+scroll sets lightness and ctrl+scroll the hue.

Hi Jack,

Thank you for your comment.

You’re right.
It seems there’s a minor alignment bug. We’ll look into aligning the 2 platforms.


Milan Arnost

Thank you for the article.

I like the new 3-way color balance tool functionality, but I miss numeric values for sliders from previous simple color balance tool version. Current design doesn’t match the other tools in C1.

Do you expect some changes in the design in the upcoming updates?

Hi Milan,

Thank you for your comment.

Phase One, and so also Capture One, will continue to be innovative, but we also know our heritage.

I cannot comment on specific future improvements, but it is obvious that Capture One will continue to evolve on all parameters.


Scarlett Freund

I love this post. But it would have been nice to have before-and-after pictures so we could see the original tones and the color grading effects. Maybe next time?

Hi Scarlett,

Thank you for the comment.

That will come in Part 2.


please in french it will be so cool