Capture One is multi-faceted image processing and asset management software. As a raw processor, it is considered the gold standard, supporting over 500+ cameras, and with it comes a uniquely powerful toolset for developing, color grading, and tethering. But that is just the tip of the technological iceberg that is Capture One. With a focus on user experience, its mountain of capability and complexity is hidden under a veneer of simplicity so as to make working with your images fast, focused, and easy.
Although Capture one is known for being the software of choice for high-end professional photographers, it’s designed to help every level of photographer create professional-caliber images. With a feature set that’s geared for speed, accuracy, and a level of customizability fit for the most discerning professionals (read: Victoria's Secret, the Royal Wedding, etc.), it is also designed for ease of use and fun.
If you are new to Capture One, here are the top 10 things you should know.
1. You Don’t Need the Latest or Greatest Cameras (or Computers) to Get the Most out of It
It is Capture One’s ability to provide a great experience and develop every image to its best possible version —regardless of the camera used — that makes it so special. In fact, Capture One can bring out the best of old camera files and make them look different and better than you’ve seen them before, and unlike other popular software that can be really taxing on a system, Capture One will run on less.
2. Getting Started Is a Breeze
When it comes to using image editing software, it’s common to find that users are about as adventurous as a hermit. The tendency to avoid experimentation is often a result of thinking about how powerful the applications actually are and being intimidated by this, assuming the learning curve is too long and that using it is too difficult.
As mentioned above, Capture One puts a focus on user experience and design, and you can be familiar and up and running in 10 minutes. Of course, there are depths of Capture One that you can learn after, but you can go from download to import and developing in minutes. Check out this video for a quick overview of the interface.
3. Capture One Plays Well With Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
For those who use Lightroom or have in the past, it warrants pointing out that it’s actually easy to move Lightroom catalogs over to Capture One, retaining exposure values, ratings, and so on.
Capture One also works beautifully with Photoshop, allowing for full round-trip file management. That means you can edit a file in Capture One, open it as a PSD in Photoshop for anything outside the scope of Capture One, like Liquify, and then send that file back to Capture One (layers intact) to edit further if you choose. Capture One is, however, so powerful, that you may find your time in Photoshop cut drastically.
4. The Skin Editor and Uniformity Tools in Capture One Will Transform Your Portraits and Make Perfect Skin Easier Than Ever
One of the biggest challenges to producing a beautiful portrait is managing skin tones, and Capture One has a dedicated Skin Tone tool that makes easy work of perfecting them. Combined with Capture One’s ability to use masks and layers, you can correct and alter skin appearance so you have beautiful photos of people.
5. Capture One Leads the Pack in Tethering
There’s good reason Capture One is being used on sets of those like Russel James shooting Victoria’s Secret, or Peter Lindbergh shooting the Pirelli Calendar, but the tethered-capture workflow in Capture One offers so many benefits for photographers at all levels, whether you’re shooting a cover of Vogue or a senior portrait. The process is fast and simple and provides advantages in organization, review, adjustments, and even live view or remote camera control.
There’s also an accompanying mobile app for iPhone or iPad that allows for wireless review, rating, and wireless shooting. It’s called Capture Pilot, and it’s free, unless you want wireless camera control.
6. The Best of Presets Are Also on Capture One
Capture One comes with a number of built-in high-quality Styles. Styles are the combined settings from multiple tools that are applied to images in a single step, unlike Presets, which are the saved settings from individual tools.
Styles can be used as an endpoint or a starting point, with many able to be applied to layers for precise control of the intensity. And in case you were wondering, your favorite presets, like those from Mastin Labs, are available from Capture One as Styles.
7. With Capture One, Fujifilm Files Have Never Been More Flexible
Capture One and Fujifilm have collaborated to allow full Fujifilm raw file and tethered support. Sixteen film simulations are available in camera, ranging from color stocks like Provia and Velvia to black and white film like Acros, and the collaboration between Capture One and Fujifilm means photographers using the renowned X-Series and GFX-series cameras will be able to edit photos with Fujifilm Film Simulations.
These in-camera settings have been faithfully reproduced in Capture One to provide an identical experience when working with the files, resulting in images that appear the same as if the Film Simulation picture profiles were applied in-camera.
8. Capture One Has Powerful Local Adjustments and Layers
From high-quality healing and cloning to fine masking, layer stacking, and layer opacity control, Capture One has a broad range of local adjustments, powerful layers, and layer masking tools that allow you to maximize the flexibility of a raw file. That means you can get the most out of each shot and do more with a raw processor than previously possible.
9. Capture One Is Available to Purchase or Through Subscription
While you can buy any of the Capture One versions outright, you can also opt for the subscription if that suits you better. There are also brand-specific versions for Fujifilm and Sony that work only with the specified camera brand and come at a lower cost. All versions of Capture One come with a full, free 30-day trial. You can get it here.
10. Capture One Works Wonderfully With All Your Favorite Editing Accessories Like Wacom Tablets, Loupedeck+, or Palette Gear
As photographers in the modern era, we often use a myriad of accessories to help us be faster, more accurate, and find a workflow that’s optimal for our individual tastes. Fortunately, all the major tools are made to work with Capture One. From Wacom tablets and Tangent panels (or Tangent App), to Loupedeck+ and Palette Gear, they’re all Capture One friendly, and with Capture One’s growing tool set and functionality, these accessories can be even more powerful.
Of course, there is a lot more to Capture One than is listed here, and hopefully, this has piqued your interest. Over the next few weeks, we are going to teach you how to use Capture One from the ground up, right to the edge of the envelope, so check back often.