“Is it difficult or different” should be the stock response to commentary that Capture One is either difficult or has a long learning curve, because the two terms are often conflated, and the reality is C1 is easy (especially the latest versions).
Having taught Lightroom and Photoshop for many years, I saw it there too: people leveling up to Lightroom from smaller, less capable apps would find Lightroom daunting when it isn’t difficult. In the same way, neither is Capture One, particularly if you’re coming from another editing software.
But we’ve mostly grown up learning on Adobe programs, and anything different means leaving that familiarity and comfort at the door. Yet, like that old adage: “what you want is just outside your comfort zone,” Capture One is what many of you (not all) are looking for, but are concerned about having to spend a lot of time figuring it out.
You needn’t be. And here, we’ll touch on why.
*If you don’t have Capture One, this is the perfect time to try it, and you can click here for a 30-day full trial of Capture One Pro so you can follow along.
First off, as a primer, here’s a very basic breakdown of the Capture One interface on a whole as an exploding diagram. This is just quick reference to quickly get the lay of the land on how the default workspace of Capture One is organized:this three-minute video, which also quickly goes over this and immediately brings a level of familiarity to the interface for you in greater depth. Additionally, it helps to know where all the shortcuts are, what they are, and how to change them. Simply go to Edit>Edit Keyboard Shortcuts, then hit the Summarize button at the bottom, and it’ll open up a window with all the shortcuts listed out. You can save it for reference.
But Capture One has something else to make adjusting to C1 even easier, particularly for those of you who are are familiar with Lightroom and feel like they want the extended capabilities of Capture One but want to use some of that LR muscle memory by having the layout look similar. There’s literally a one-click solution in Capture One.
Making the Workspace Familiar
The level of customizability within Capture One is so high that you can save your workspace to look however you want for whatever reasons: broken down by genre, shoot, or whatever. If you know you like certain things at your fingertips for portraits, you can save one for that, one for landscapes, and so on. But it comes with a number of options made for you, and one is called "Migration." This functions simply to give a one-click way of making Capture One look like the space you might be used to with Lightroom. Of course, you can start with that and then adjust to your liking; adding to it, removing, etc.
See below for the default, then the menu path to change the workspace, then the adjusted space:
New Features and Tutorials
Once acquainted with the interface, most of Capture One will be immediately familiar to those who have used other editing software, and therefore, the only things to focus on are the extended capabilities — of which there are many. But there’s no need to get discouraged, as there are a bevy of tutorials that can go really into detail in a methodical and structured manner on how to use those functions, many right here on FStoppers, and many more on Capture One’s YouTube channel and other power users like Ted Forbes for free.
We will continue to bring more Capture One content here and are happy to answer your questions; however, I would recommend starting with these articles and videos:
There are so many different and deeper ways Capture One is different than Lightroom, but it's easy to learn and worth it.
If you don’t have Capture One, this is the perfect time to try it, and you can click here for a 30-day full trial of Capture One Pro.
If you're looking for a quick and effective way to learn Capture One, check out The Complete Capture One Editing Guide.