The new Dehaze slider in Capture One 21 shares the same name as the tool in Lightroom, and the same aim – to reduce atmospheric haze in outdoor shots and restore contrast and depth.
Capture One 21 does this using some advanced algorithms and a ‘matrix’ of adjustments which aren’t disclosed. Lightroom appears to use a kind of exaggerated ‘clarity’ adjustment over a much larger radius.
The Lightroom Dehaze tool is effective on misty landscapes, but also on any image which is lacking in contrast or ‘punch’. It’s very good at giving object outlines real definition. On the downside, it needs to be used carefully because it can easily tip into an ‘overprocessed’ look. Both saturation and noise levels increase markedly with big adjustments.
Capture One 21 Dehaze is different
The Capture One 21 Dehaze tool has a very different effect. It does reduce atmospheric haze but without the exaggerated local contrast adjustments of Lightroom’s equivalent. It does exactly what it says, but if you’re looking for the same Lightroom Dehaze magic across a range of images, you might be disappointed.
On the surface, the Capture One 21 Dehaze tool is no more complicated than Lightroom’s – you simply push the slider to get the contrast increase you want, right up to a maximum value of 100 (you can also apply negative values to increase the haze effect).
Superficially, it looks like what you’re getting is a broad contrast increase, but actually you are not. The contrast does increase, but without pushing the highlights into overexposure; in fact, bright, hazy skies gain definition, detail and clarity and any overexposure is pulled back (if you are working on a RAW file).
This is a much less obvious effect than Lightroom’s. Lightroom’s Dehaze slider soon produces an exaggerated effect – which is fine for dramatic scenes and treatments. Capture One 21’s Dehaze tool, however, is much subtler to the extent that you might be the only one to know that anything has been done to the image at all.
The Haze Shadow Tone picker
Very quickly you’ll spot that the Capture One 21 Dehaze tool has an additional control. The Haze Shadow Tone picker.
By default, this is set to Auto, so that Capture One will automatically select the Shadow Tone color used for the effect. This will typically maintain neutral looking tones as you increase the Dehaze value. In effect, Capture One is trying to work out the ‘color’ of the haze.
But you can select the Shadow Tone color yourself using the eyedropper tool. Capture One suggest clicking on a shadow or hazy area in the image to see how the effect changes. This will also shift the overall color rendition so, as with white balance eyedropper adjustments, you might need to click a few times to find the right area. Occasionally you might click on a spot that gives some quite odd tonal transitions in that area, so be prepared to experiment.
Is the Capture One 21 Dehaze tool useful?
It certainly is, but most often in scenes where there is actual haze. It’s not quite the magic drama bullet that Lightroom’s Dehaze tool is, but it’s much closer to what the name suggests.
It’s not useful on every hazy shot. Sometimes what you actually need is a simple Levels adjustment to set proper black and white points to increase the contrast. That’s something you have to decide image-by-image. The Dehaze tool will not give the same result. It will take away the appearance of haze without crushing or clipping the highlights.
Like its Lightroom equivalent, Capture One’s Dehaze tool can also produce an overall darkening effect, but you can compensate with an Exposure increase or use an adjustment layer and mask to restrict it to a specific area of the image.