Getting Started With Capture One

I've recently started getting more familiar with Capture One, though I, like many others, used to feel a little intimidated by the interface and enjoyed the comfort zone I could edit in with Adobe programs. This great video shows you how to get started with the program.

The Art of Photography made this helpful video about Capture One. The interface is different than Adobe's. It's a different company, different approach, and focused only on photography, not design or image editing in other graphic art forms. With a couple of minutes browsing around and clicking, it's actually quite easy to understand the workflow they believe a photographer goes through to get their images to a client. The interface is also very customizable, and the power of the right-click on specific areas will open up the application to you and give you quick access to various tools. 

The Advantage of Using Capture One vs Lightroom

It might not be clear at first, but the catalogs of Capture One and the way of managing your image library database is a lot more dynamic than that of Lightroom, and you can move it from hard drive to hard drive for archiving or editing, which is typically how a photographer works. Lightroom can slow down due to the way it handles its library, though Capture One does not. I am a professional retoucher, and I need to know my way around Capture One and Photoshop and how to best go between between the two as an on-set retoucher or when I'm back at the studio. This video was a great refresher, and if you're starting out as a retoucher or photographer, it's a great overview to get started with one of the applications used across the industry on a global scale. 

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25 Comments

I am a bit flabbergasted by all these people who just recently started using Capture One, and seemingly having just opened the app start telling us why the rest of us should use it.

Reginald Walton's picture

Or why all of a sudden Lightroom is the worst image editing software ever made. I get it, people like to bash Adobe (and much of it is probably deserved), but just b/c they have the leading editing software on the market, they are the enemy. It's kind of like when new gear comes out, everyone wants to bash their particular brand of gear b/c they don't have the latest features. But hey, it's good to have choices.

Matthew Saville's picture

Lightroom is not "all of a sudden" the worst image editing software ever made. It has slowly degraded into a blunt instrument for consumer image homogenization over the last 10 years. Most folks who have recently found that they love Capture One have been dissatisfied with the look Adobe gave them for years, if you ask them to tell more of their story.

I do agree however that it's silly for people to act like an expert when they've just discovered something. Having said that, Ted Forbes is the exact opposite of that stereotype. He's the real deal.

Reading various articles and watching videos on Capture One, I've thought about trying it out but, honestly, I can't think of a reason to do so. I love the images I get out of Lightroom with an occasional trip to Photoshop. They haven't taken away any of the original capabilities so how could it have "degraded into a blunt instrument for consumer image homogenization"? If people are getting those kinds of images, it's on them...not the software.

Matthew Saville's picture

It's great that LR still holds appeal to you, Sam! My only remaining question, just out of curiosity, would be how long ago did you shoot and edit your first raw image?

Probably about 7 or 8 years ago. I was late to digital. Why do you ask? Don't get me wrong. If someone can give me a compelling reason to switch or even just supplement with Capture One for certain tasks or situation, I'm very willing to give it a shot.

Matthew Saville's picture

No, I'm a firm believer in not evangelizing anyone who is happy where they are. Over the years I've held very strong opinions about actual superiority / inferiority when it comes to all the usual things, Nikon vs Canon, Mac vs PC, ...all the way back to when RAW vs JPG was still a thing. If I've learned anything over the years, it's that I never get anywhere with anyone unless they're actually dissatisfied with their current situation.

I've you've been editing raw photos with Adobe for 7-8 years and aren't disenchanted with it, then carry on! I still use BR and LR for plenty of things, when I have to. But as someone who first shot landscapes on slide film, and raw NEFs as early as 2004, I now prefer C1P11 for my landscape work, whenever possible.

Michael Holst's picture

I'm comparing LR6 with the most current version of C1 and I agree that the initial default quality isn't anything to write home about but the advantage I find C1 has is after adjustments have been made the files "look" cleaner than the LR ones with similar adjustments. I'll post samples after I'm back in the office.

Michael Holst's picture

Yeah some people are getting a little overexcited but there is some truth to what they're promoting just filter the info and take it with a grain of salt.

I use both. It's a little weird I know but depending on the intention I have for a photo or a series I'll use one or the other. They both are better than the other at specific things.

The way I see it, people getting excited about competition (really in any industry) is a good thing for us consumers. It helps slow the increase in pricing and keeps the firms innovating to be better than the other. So as annoying as fanboys can be, they're a sign of a healthier consumer market.

Chad D's picture

hahahhaha so so so true :)

same folks I reckon I used to say get a good monitor :) and they say no my $200 dell is awesome I get back prints just like my monitor ?

but at least more are seeing the quality and control of C1

Matthew Saville's picture

I absolutely prefer Capture One for my landscape photography work, because the colors and tones just look WAY better than Adobe, both right out of the box and with "heavy editing" applied. Adobe's version of raw processing has slowly evolved into a sledgehammer that is designed to pound tones and colors into submission, and allow for wildly unreal looks, while Capture One seems to have maintained a "look" that closely mimics the real world, or at least a film-like interpretation of the real world.

Simply put, when I see a landscape photograph that has been edited in Adobe and has required drastic slider adjustments to the highlights or shadows, the image no longer seems real to me, it just screams "courtesy of Adobe!"...

Having said that, I do still recognize Lightroom as the go-to powerhouse for when, like it or not, your workflow does require that images be "beaten into submission" at a very high speed. When you've got 1,000 wedding photos to correct, Lightroom does it faster. I wish Capture one had "Auto-Sync" and "paste previous" as well as a more robust preset system, but alas. Still, I do enjoy the superior layered edits interface C1 offers, for when I'm taking my time on individual images.

Photo Kaz's picture

I still use both LR and C1 but to be honest I think I get the best results when I spend time using Photoshop. I'm getting better with luminosity masking and though it's slower than the other two tools it gives the best final result. For most of my photos, I do edits in C1 and catalog in LR. For the best photos, I edit in Photoshop.

Matthew Saville's picture

I am one of the (increasingly rare, apparently) photographers who usually avoids excessive localized color manipulation, such as luminosity masking and whatnot. I prefer to get my colors looking pretty accurate in-camera, and then pursuing that same look with simple edits in raw processing. (It's pretty easy to do, if you understand all the in-camera controls that are possible, shoot RAW+JPG, and edit with both files visible.)

I know a lot of landscape photographers have gotten into luminosity masking and other things in Photoshop, many talk as if they couldn't possibly imagine calling an image "finished" unless they had followed their "usual' workflow all the way through Photoshop.

I went through some of those phases as well, and dove deep enough into working with masks and different color spaces etc. etc. ...at least enough to decide that none of that was for me.

To each their own, of course. I just feel a deeper connection to photos when they receive almost no editing; they remind me more of the place itself, and the moment when I was actually there, instead of all the minutes I spent sitting at a desk staring at a digital screen.

Photo Kaz's picture

If you shoot raw most of your in-camera settings are completely useless. RAW files need significant editing to look finished. I'm really not sure what you are getting at here?

Matthew Saville's picture

What I'm getting at is that not all workflows have to be complex, and not all raw images need "significant" work to look finished. Especially when the raw engine understands how to create a vibrant and crisp yet natural look, which matches the In-camera editing that is in fact what the camera maker intended the image to look like. What you call "completely useless", I call very important in my overall workflow.

Chad D's picture

skip this garbage just go to the capture one actual channel youtube so much better info and proper use source etc..

finally folks are coming around 10 years later :) glad to have ya on board :)

Chip Kalback's picture

Hard to classify Ted Forbes / AOP as garbage 🤔 this video was pretty helpful actually.

Chad D's picture

then you will be blown away at what you can learn on phase ones channel

time for capture one to sponsor these endless capture one #switch articles.

Jorge Garcia's picture

I still use both C1 and LR. The only reason I'm really still using LR is for panoramas, which C1 doesn't support (yet?).

Zoli Tarnavölgyi's picture

I found, that if I change Camera Profile to Camera Standard instead of Adobe Standard in LR, the colors, saturation and contrast is very-very similar to C1's default. (at least for my 5d3) It's because C1 uses the camera profiles, as I see (or their own to the proper brand). Just made some adjustments, and after this, comparing the same raw file in the two software, they were exactly the same. So.... I think, it"s only up to the default settings. And in LR it can be changed! And I also have to note, that similarly to video edits, sometimes the more flat profile (like Adobe's) is better for a starting point. (I work with portraits)

C1 defenetly has a lot more editing option, the skin tone modul is pretty awesome, no question, but the whole app is more complicated also. I think, that it is easier to work quick in LR. But the whole thing depends on your demands.

So I don't say, one is better or the other. It's just different. LR is more simpler, with fewer options and tools, but with easier handling. And actually, it has a lot hidden gems! :) The only complain is its slowlyness, when stepping to next - already edited - photo, that's true. But with a strong machine, it's pretty okay now.

Pawel Paoro Witkowski's picture

Took me like 3 attempts to switch to C1, wasn't that convincing at the very beginning. Now sometimes I switch to ACR colour rendering as C1 fails in some colour scenarios for me, but still it usually produce more interesting colours (interesting != real).

What I really love is tethering in C1, working on cable with camera might not sound super great, but I do see RAW images immediately on screen (client too of course) and I can apply changes that are copied over next photos. This is so helpful as I can do some colour changes that are reflected onto next shoots giving my client closer look to final version.

Another thing I like is working with batches of files, selecting them and operating over them. Sometimes I use C1 just for that. Let's say I would like to decide which of 3 images im interested, I select 3 of them and I got dedicated button to show them next to each other of go full screen with them. Using arrows I move around only those selected items. Some more non trivial selects are: grab all 5 stars images that got green flag pick, show only .CR2 images using simple "search" feature.

There are plenty of useful things, and getting more used to them makes you stay with C1. Keep in mind I needed like 3 approach to get used to really see value in it.

Photo Kaz's picture

I use a workflow with three tools: Capture One, Lightroom, and Photoshop. I now use C1 for my raw processing because it's much faster and the results are great. Before I made the switch to C1 I overbuilt a Windows PC to try and get Lightroom to run well, but it still doesn't despite a ton of hardware. That was the final straw, and now I edit in C1.

I still catalog in Lighroom as I find it a superior DAM. One of the main reasons is the ability to import (or add) GPS info and as a landscape photographer that is very useful. I also like the face detection, it does come in handy.

I also process raw files in Lightroom that, for whatever reason, were not captured well in the field. Adobe does a MUCH better job of highlight and shadow recovery when you need to push files a lot. C1 just doesn't cut it here, but luckily I don't have to do this too often.

Photoshop is necessary for complex adjustments, like blending exposures using luminosity masks. There are still plenty of things it does that LR and C1 can't manage. Eventually I can see dropping Lightroom if Capture One adds a few of the cataloging features I use, but Photoshop is likely to stick around for a while.

I've been a photoshop user since the version3 (not CS3) and moved to LR due to the size of files as thousands of PSD files could take up so much space on HDD. I enjoy the speed (well now it kind of questionable...) of LR and the file size even though outcome from photoshop I prefer much better. CP1 start trying since version 8 I think, but never got too into it as the learning carve is a bit steep before you get comfortable,however, I do find the outcome using CP1 way better suit to my taste than LR, but the file size are not the same as LR. I wish CP1 can reduce the file size and also some of functions that LR is better at.
I try to use photoshop or CP1 for beauty, portrait or editorial which I can spend more time retouching on each images. LR, I use it for catwalk, event and others that just need to have minimum edit.

I've been working with a trial version of C1 for a while and and I like the results I'm getting. I find that if I process the same raw file in LR and C1, making roughly the same edits, C1 gives me a cleaner final image than LR most of the time. The highlight & shadow recovery tools seem as good as Adobe's if not a little better.

What's stopping me from making the switch is the thought orphaning the many thousands of images I have in my LR catalog. Migrating them to C1 doesn't make any sense as only some of the adjustments will be migrated. I don't want to maintain LR just for the older images, but it looks like that's my only option. I'd love to hear how anyone else has handled this issue.