Sensor dust is an issue with most interchangeable lens cameras, and some more than others. My old Sony A6000 was particularly badly affected, as this landscape image shows. The closer you look at the sky in the top left region, the more spots you see. In fact they are everywhere, all across this image.
Some spots are not obvious and can just be left – unless you start carrying out some serious tonal adjustments or use local contrast effects like Clarity and Structure. Then they suddenly become obvious, and it can be enough to make you write off an image completely.
But Capture One has a new AI Dust Removal tool, and if you’ve not been paying attention (like me) you might easily have missed it.
Now as well as Clone and Heal tools, Capture One has Spot Removal and Dust Removal tools on the same drop-down menu on the top toolbar. These work fine, but you have to apply them manually, choosing an appropriate brush size and then dabbing on each offending spot. They use slightly different algorithms, and the dust removal uses a local brightness adjustment better suited to dust spots, though to be fair the other tools can be similarly effective.
But this is not where you’ll find the AI dust removal option. Instead, you need to swap to the Refine tab, where there’s a new Dust Removal panel.
It’s not complicated. At the side is a pop-up menu for choosing between dust or spot removal, and apart from that there’s just a big Remove Dust button. Click this, and Capture One will spend a second or so scanning your image for dust and then will display a whole collection of individual dust removal marquees of different sizes to match the dust spots it’s found.
I have to admit I’m impressed. It didn’t find every spot in my image, missing one in a thin strip of cloud and a couple more in the water, but it certainly saved several minutes of manual repairs.
It seems to be pretty sensitive too, finding very faint spots that could easily have been overlooked. If you want to check where dust spots have been removed, you need to select the spot removal tool in the Dust Removal panel or on the top toolbar – click on any other tool to hide the repairs and go back to normal editing.
AI has become a bit of a buzzword in digital image editing these days, to the extent that it’s easy to dismiss it as marketing fluff. Capture One seems to be using it very effectively, both in its AI masking tools and here with its dust removal.