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5 Reasons to Choose Capture One Over Adobe Lightroom

If you’re not a fan of Adobe’s subscription plans or find that editing your photos isn’t quite as quick as you’d like, you might want to consider checking out Capture One. Here are five reasons to make the move and five more reasons to stick with Lightroom.

Justin McDonough of Dunna Did It has put together all of the reasons why he switched from Lightroom to Capture One, and it makes a pretty compelling list. If you’re pondering what the competition is like, keep in mind that you can try Capture One for 30 days, and you don’t need to submit any payment details in order to get started. There’s also Capture One Express, a free version with fewer features designed specifically for use with Fujifilm or Sony cameras.

The ability to create layers in Capture One gives you a lot more power and control, though Lightroom is about to catch up by introducing some layering options of its own in an update that’s due to go live on October 26. Some would argue that this upgrade is long overdue, and it will be interesting to see how Adobe’s new features compare.

Which do you prefer and why? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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19 Comments

Barry Strawbridges's picture

Proud Capture One user. However, Phase One has been heading in the wrong direction with the last two versions.

Stuart C's picture

The next one is going to be great though.

Mike Ditz's picture

The next one always is!

Stuart C's picture

In this case it really is, Pano stitching and HDR merging.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

How so?

Thatcher Freeman's picture

For me, my favorite feature in Capture One is the Sessions based workflow. For whatever reason, none of its competitors seem to allow you to just put images into folders, and this is more consistent with how I prefer to keep myself organized (for someone who mostly works gigs rather than long term photo projects), and I can easily just throw a session folder on a flash drive and move it between computers without any issues.

Having to round trip out of the software for HDR or panoramas gets old really fast though.

Reginald Walton's picture

Agree on the Sessions workflow. That was the only reason I switched from LR to C1. I was using both until my LR subscription expired and then decided to make the switch over to C1. If LR were to ever have that feature, I might be persuaded to go back.

Denni Russel's picture

You can absolutely and easily have photos go directly into specific folders in LR. I'm not sure what you're talking about there...

Thatcher Freeman's picture

The sessions thing is pretty interesting--each project essentially has a bunch of images in a few folders and a separate database file for that specific session. If you later wanted to ditch Capture One, your images are already organized, and if you wanted to move from one computer to another, then you just have to copy the directory containing your images and the database file to another computer. When I'm working in some "session", Capture One can just forget about any images that aren't in that session. And I can move my directories with their sessions around without having to worry about relinking files or whatever. Not sure LR has an analogue for that though I haven't used LR in a while.

Marc Perino's picture

In principle you are right. And I like that very much about C1P. And the non-sessions workflow had me not using LR for a long time.
But even though LR does not offer this option officially I just create a catalogue for each "session". No one forces you to use a single catalogue.

Unfortunately since I do some architectural photography once in a while I cannot use C1P because of its horrible keystone tool I stick for that to ACR and LR. But I would rather like to use C1P because I think in all other aspects it is superior to LR (and with the next update it can do HDR and Panoramas).

Robert Nurse's picture

C1's tethering, alone, is worth a look.

Mike Ditz's picture

I roundtrip a lot, usually start with C1 then PS for retouching, then back to C1 for final grading.
I use 90% Sony and 10% Canon. In my opinion C1 is still "way more better" with Sony files than Camera Raw, especially with the highlight and shadow adjustments, and the specific color editing that Justin mentioned. The difference with my 5D2 files is not as obvious but the vintage 5D2 sensor has not aged well.
C1 is weird when coming from the Adobe universe, it takes time to figure out why and how it goes about different processes.

Matt PZ's picture

I find C1 so frustrating as it is so close to being the obvious choice with some more advanced features and control, especially around colours and layers - I use C1 and LR and am comfortable in both, but ultimately a few things always bring me back to LR - the better photo management, better application and range of presets (own presets) and most of all how seamlessly it round trips to plugins - C1 is arguably the finer more precise tool, but I find it consequently slower to use, and the way it plays with other systems is clunky as hell. I now tend to use LR for jobs with lots of files that I need to work through quickly, and C1 if I am doing some detailed work on a single image. C1 needs a few more iterations before I will finally leave LR behind - although the tethering is far far better on C1

Mike Ditz's picture

Pretty much totally agree with you.

Károly Zieber's picture

My biggest frustration is the lack of a history panel in C1E. For me it is a must have, the fastest way to compare even a slight change. Without it, the whole progress is slow and cumbersome. It is hard for me to imagine, how others work around this deficiency.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I have no idea why a history panel would be soooooo important.

1. There's a before and after button/menu.
2. You can temporarily turn off each tool by holding ALT and the reset button on the tool.
3. You can temporarily reset a slider by holding the caption of that slider.
4. You can quickly duplicate the image with all the adjustments for compare or snapshot/backup. I have mine set to the INS key. I can duplicate an image (once, twice, etc) and make changes to each to see which I like better.
5. There are layers. If you want to experiment on an adjustment, put it on a layer.

I can't imagine someone being so indecisive they need a step-by-step history of what they've done.

Károly Zieber's picture

Which is less cumbersome and faster: create multiple versions with different settings/disabling sliders/using layers OR put ANY before with ANY after picture side-by-side with two clicks (Y, then select any previous adjustment on the history panel)?
Your before/after solution shows only one step, not any.
Experimenting with the best outcome is not indecisive, don't be swaggering. So why do you have the duplicate option mapped to the INS key? Why do you compare, if you are not indecisive? As you said: "to see which I like better.". Does this mean, that duplicating is superior to a history panel? If so, why, if it is slower and not as flexible?
Your eyes adapt to color and brightness, it is great to have an option to switch back and forth, test the outcome of multiple settings in one go, step back with ease and speed.
It is always nice to understand others, without trying to make them look like inferior for a logical question.
Soooo, it is that important :)

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Don't work backwards, work forwards. The point of creating multiple instances is so you can see a variety of adjustments. You can create multiple (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc) and view them all at once and adjust individually. None of that limited nonsense of only comparing 2 and using the history to work backwards.

Think about it, Capture One has been around at least 14 years and many pros use this app. Yet, no history panel. Folks with a sold workflow don't go backwards.

Think about it, even in LR video tutorials, how often do you see them using the history panel? Literally never. Either they are using the global before/after, or they are toggling off/on the modules.

If Capture One is going to add more features, Subject AI should be on top of that list. :D

Károly Zieber's picture

Which is less cumbersome and faster: create multiple versions with different settings/disabling sliders/using layers OR put ANY before with ANY after picture side-by-side with two clicks (Y, then select any previous adjustment on the history panel)?
Your before/after solution shows only one step, not any.

Experimenting with the best outcome is not indecisive, don't be swaggering. So why do you have the duplicate option mapped to the INS key? Why do you compare, if you are not indecisive? As you said: "to see which I like better.". Does this mean, that duplicating is superior to a history panel? If so, why, if it is slower and not as flexible?

Your eyes adapt to color and brightness, it is great to have an option to switch back and forth, test the outcome of multiple settings in one go, step back with ease and speed.

It is always nice to understand others, without trying to make them look like inferior for a logical question.

Soooo, it is that important :)