Why You Should Be Using Capture One Pro Instead of Lightroom

For hardened Lightroom users such as myself, Capture One Pro can feel like a bit of a mystery. What are the advantages and why would you consider changing? Ignoring for a moment the pros and cons of payment models, here are some excellent reasons why Capture One Pro might be worth investigating.

In this detailed video, photographer Eli Infante runs through some of his editing and reveals some of the power that Capture One Pro has over Lightroom, and when it comes to managing multiple layers with more detailed edits, the software certainly looks to have some genuine advantages.

Some other points for consideration: in Lightroom, if you've set up a number of small adjustments using brushes and gradients, it can be hard work to revisit them and give them tweaks. If you've been retouching a model's face, this can get very complicated.

Firstly, there is no means of labeling an adjustment. This means that you have to click through each one, looking at the settings or the mask to figure out what each adjustment does, and this can be hard work. Secondly, there's no quick and easy way to toggle adjustments on and off. In Capture One Pro, you simply toggle the layer with a tick brush which makes comparisons — whether that's before and after, or different versions of the same adjustment — far easier.

Secondly, Lightroom limits you to 16 sliders and a color brush (where is Vibrancy?). You can't make local changes to HSL/Color or Tone Curve like you can with Capture One Pro.

I want to keep playing with Capture One Pro but the 30-day limit makes it tricky as I want to dip in and out whenever I get time. My proposal to Capture One would be to produce a version that only exports low res files, or perhaps doesn't export raw files at all. This would give me time to get used to the software without feeling that trial period ticking away.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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So my issue on changing over, which I would like to give it an honest try, is that I use the Pfixer panel with Lightroom. This saves me tons of time, and honestly, the "muscle-memory" in reaching for sliders and knobs keeps me from ever wanting to go back to using a mouse.

If Pfixer ever does a setup for Capture One, I will give it a serious attempt.

Why You Should Be Using Capture One Pro Instead of Lightroom: Because we are "Sponsored"?

yup! You fnd it at the end of this page!

And when I see below in the add "fast import" that is a joke. Try to imort 500 images with CO it takes you 20-25 minutes from local SSD whereas LR takes it in 2-3 minutes!

Where do you see "sponsored" anywhere on this page? Just because some author on a website prefers one product over another doesn't mean their are sponsored. Personally I prefer Capture One over Lightroom and Ill tell everyone that's my preference. Does that mean Im sponsored by Capture One because I like them them more?

Also, if they are "sponsored" by Capture One, why are all the ads I see on the page for Adobe? Seems counterintuitive to be "sponsored" and advertise for another brand.

Sounds "Sponsored" to me too because the title reads: "Why You Should Be Using Capture One Pro Instead of Lightroom" versus "Why I use Capture One Pro Instead of Lightroom".
The first one reads like a sales pitch and the second one doesn't.

Russell, are you a Fstoppers newbie? They run these "17 REASONS WHY CAPTURE ONE SAVED MY FAMILY FROM THE POORHOUSE AFTER I DITCHED LIGHTROOM" type thinly veiled "sponsored" articles all the time.


So you read only the title. If you read the article you’d discover that it wasn’t a puff piece at all so not likely to have been sponsored

not sure what the c1 sponsorship deal is with fstoppers but i have a feeling it includes plugging it with endless articles or headlines way beyond the 7-8 times marketing experts say it takes for a message to heard and turned into a lead.

Judge the video on its merits after actually watching it. I'm really tired of this "sponsored" meme.

i guess you believe those claims on amazon about how "I received this product in exchange for an unbiased review" too.

Because the files look better in c1.. and you have seen " sponsored" stuff from Adobe the last 20 yares and no one is Complaining about that but Complainins over C1.. Stop Complaining!

I guess I'm glad Nikon is not sponsoring or else we would have to see 100 "73 Reasons Why You Should Be Using 58/f.95 Instead of 50/1.8 NOW!" "headlines"

I have C1 and it worked well with Nikon. Their profiles for Sony are pretty atrocious.

quite possibly very out of date but my beef with Capture One was multiple. I assume many of the problems I encountered have been fixed (I do hope so for the users' sake), however, after reading the text here and viewing the video, both very nice, I popped over to a couple of the forums I was in as a user to see the state of things and I noticed there are still similar, and serious issues. The first was the issue of driver compatibility with other software, especially ant-virus and the need to reinstall drivers after Windows updates. I likened it then to Wacom (which I still use on a love-hate basis) and similar problems. At the time I had the impression of the latest model sports car with fundamental issues under the bonet which had not been fixed. I see in the forums that the driver isues remain.
I had major problems with latency on large jobs, and ocasional crashes, one extremely serious in a wedding with 1,500 images being trapped for more than a week. Which leads me to back-up and help. When things were good, they were wonderful. Minor problems solved immediately, clear advice and rapid response. Very similar to Wacom. Until... when things went wrong, they went very wrong and back up just disappeared. I was refered to user forums and I must say the users were very helpful, but Capture One, abismal. There were a number of other things which thankfully for users seem to have been fixed. I feel that Capture one has fabulous marketing and is touted by some of the best in the field. Great. But to my mind, extremely overated and limited in many of the same ways LR is. It's an alternative to LR, but I don't think it´s any more than that.
I would never go back, even if it was freeware.
Adobe has its us and downs, but it suits me.

I have a Lightroom 6 license. No need to pay every month.
If this Capture One could be bought without monthly subscription I would consider it. (edit: it can at 350 euro, way more than I ever payed for Lightroom 6)

Although, as a Olympus user I must pay 24 a month while Fuji and Sony users only pay 11 a month. With these rules I'm never going to buy, subscribe or try this software.

Are you able to get support for new cameras/RAW file formats with LR 6?

Nope, so as soon as I get another camera that isn't supported by Lightroom 6 I will look to other software. As I am not willing to pay a monthly or yearly fee and don't want to spend hundreds of euro's it's not going to be C1P nor is it going to be a new version of LR..

It's not going to be C1P anyway because of the financial discrimination towards non Fuji/Sony users.

Ahh, that’s the problem I have already... Agree about C1P, very strange pricing! I’ve been looking at Luminar, but I’ve yet to decide what to do. Have LR CC now, but it has been buggy and so far support from Adobe has been a nightmare.

Fuji and Sony users only pay 11 a month because Fuji and Sony looks like A$$ in lighroom and adobe dont wanna do anything about it.. that why Fuji and Sony whent to work with C1..

I used Capture One for years and loved it. I especially liked that I didn't have to switch modules to access all the menu items and controls I needed. But I moved to Lightroom when I discovered the Maps modules. As an aerial photographer it was so valuable for me to have this location information built right in the software.

It's one click in LR. You have do to the same click in CO (left part of upper menu). It's just called different. Therefor the LR catalog is so much more powerful than the weak CO. I use both and up to now CO for some special things. But since they now changed their deveopment module and copied the LR one the magic is somehow gone. They have blacks and whites now but without the power of LR to have it visible for fine adjustment by hitting option (Mac).

It's probably been 10 years since I moved but at the time I liked the CO1 interface much better...hard to say how I would like it now. But one thing I do remember liking about CO1 was being able to bring up more than 2 images at 100% for checking focus. I can only do 2 in LR and it drives me crazy when the images switch from left to right depending on which I have selected.

I use C1 for one thing and one thing only, tethering. The layers, local adjustments, and cloning are just too unwieldy when working with over 1000 photos. Let's not forget the lack of a history panel, I use this way too much and I can't live without it. Then the speed, I always hear how fast C1 is, well I ran it on an Intel 6700k overclocked to 4.85GHz and Nvidia GTX 1080ti. Now I run an AMD 3900x on my new refresh. The speed does not amaze me, the export speed used to be better than LR, not anymore. The secret to keeping LR running very fast is having the catalog and images on a SSD (NVMe) and turning off the hyperthreading (SMT) by running a little command code.

LR is by no means perfect, I would appreciate HSL on local adjustments and continued speed improvements. They have made great strides in speed, they need to continue doing so.

I bought Capture One for tethered shooting also since I don't like the way Lightroom handles it. The one aspect I did prefer in LR is that as a Canon shooter, LR allowed me to save images to my dual camera cards in addition to my saving them on my laptop. Tethered capture in C1 only saves to the laptop. I don't think Nikon shooters were able to save to the camera cards in LR, so it may not be a big deal for them.

The menus of Capture One is a little confused and I always will need Photoshop to my works. I can`t keep paying an Adobe Plan and a Capture One license at the same time. It is nonsense.

For me it was like this: When I first ever started photography, got LightRoom ... watched YouTube videos, A Scot Kelby Book, some Lynda tutorials ... BUT I never felt and it never clicked for me .... Then one time I downloaded Trial version of Capture One ( it was version 8.0 back then ) and watched ONLY ONE YouTube video from their own makers and Everything made sense and clicked for me!!! So I got hooked up ... .... few years later still I don't get the folder structure system in LightRoom lol ... With C1 it is a session and copy paste open it anywhere

1. Image Quality
2. Tethering
3. Sessions

Where it worries me if they forget who they are: C1 is by PhaseOne. A leader in world image quality. High end high paying clients. A fashion industry standard ... SO PLEASE DON'T GET INTO DUCKING PLUGIN CRAP OF PRESETS for C1 just to APPEAL to more normal subscribers. Stay true to your roots.

Why isn't this post tagged as "sponsored"? I CTRL+F "sponsored", and only results are in the comments.

Because preferring a product over another <> Sponsored

Psssst...they are allowed an opinion.

Why don't you read previous comments?

only lighroom fanboys "caers" if it is sponsored

Lightroom is really fast to use, if you know it well, I am much faster, then my hardver. (a little out-of-date though) :-)
Tried C1, an it was way slower experience, and mainly, because I miss the option to hover my coursor over a slider and with the arrow keys (also with Shift) I can change them really quickly and precisely. Maybe I will try a consol later, but for me this is really fast ui. In C1 there is only mouse click and move, isn1't it? (I'm really asking)

There isn’t only mouse click, you can hover a slider and use the mouse wheel for changing values

Comments sections on these posts are always amusing, but then so are the articles most of the time.

My main issue is that the writer has been evaluating Capture One for less than 30 days with his trial version and he's advocating CO over LR with only a cursory knowledge of the product. Here's a shocker, I use both. I have used LR since the product first came out. I have used CO since version 10. I thought I had to use one or the other exclusively and it caused me great angst. Both products have their strengths and weaknesses. LR is a great cataloging tool and pretty darn good at photo enhancement. CO is great at color grading and finessing the color of an image. I could elaborate further, but I won't for now. However, I always import my images into LR and do some work there. That may be all the photo needs; or I may want to take it further and export the image into a session folder and pick it up in CO and do some more work there. Then, of course, there's Photoshop, Luminar and a plethora of other tools available to get your image just right.

Did we change timelines and no one told me? All these people saying how they like LR more than CO in the comments? That's so strange lol. It's usually the opposite.

I use LR from habit and its "free" since I wouldn't get rid of PS. Don't really want another bill lol.

Very smart of him to display his e-mail-adres... Always blur personal details in video's for your own security!
It's a very well made tutorial on layers though. I like it!

I find the colors in capture one to look weird. The curves algorithm and the contrast slider are dreadful looking. The saturation slider is more like a vibrance slider, but there's no real saturation slider.

My photos end up looking better when edited in lightroom.

If you are interested in trying it out and the 30-day period is not enough - just subscribe for $10 and give it another month. Cheap enough for almost everyone.

I came to C1P20 from darktable for Fuji xt3 and Fuji GFX-50S. I do miss some of the finer fine tuning options like zone system (amazing for landscapes, you could simulate this with fill masks), so many layer for each control (it allows an overall 15 layers), history (none in C1P20) and other things.

But I have learned to simplify my post processing and do better image capturing. My experience with LR is very limited (maybe 30 days), but their subscription model isn't for me.

I don't use gimp/ps much, but I do have affinity pro if I need further editing.

It is good to see choice in software so that the individuals can pickup what suits their need the most.

These photos are more alike than they are different. Would be more convincing if he used a variety of types: Landscape, Nature, Travel, maybe even food. Three portraits don't make a convincing case.

In reference to this:

"Some other points for consideration: in Lightroom, if you've set up a number of small adjustments using brushes and gradients, it can be hard work to revisit them and give them tweaks"

Capture One allows you to label your local adjustments and Lightroom does not. This does make it easier to find a specific adjustment if you need to edit it. Depending on what you need to do though, it is not necessarily easier to edit it in Capture One.

Capture One is better than Lightroom in many areas. Linear and Radial gradients are not one of those areas. In LR you can create your gradient, use the brush to erase a portion of the area inside the gradient and to add portions outside the gradient area (a face, a tree, a building, etc). You can continue to refine your gradient by dragging the control points with the brushed in or erased areas remaining in place. This is incredibly useful. In C1, you have to rasterize a gradient layer before you can brush on it and you can no longer use the control points to adjust the position of the gradient after that. I strongly prefer the way LR works here.

In reference to this:

"Secondly, Lightroom limits you to 16 sliders and a color brush (where is Vibrancy?). You can't make local changes to HSL/Color or Tone Curve like you can with Capture One Pro."

This is true that C1 makes more tools available for local adjustments, but one thing it does not have is the color tool. You can't create a linear gradient, fill it with blue, and drag it over your sky for example to make an overcast day look more like a clear day. Or maybe in a portrait where maybe you have a gelled or colored light visible in the corner of the frame, you can use a gradient with that same color to enhance it or extend it further into the frame. I didn't realize how often I did this before I started editing in C1. I still haven't found a suitable workaround for it.

The author is correct that these two features are great strengths of Capture One, but the way these same tools are implemented in Lightroom may fit your workflow better. It doesn't matter how may articles you read saying that one program is better than the other - it will always come down to your specific workflow.

As for the 30 day trial, C1 offers you a choice between a subscription or an outright purchase. You can always pay $20 to get an extra 30 days.

Hey Mark, thanks for this. These observations probably merit an article all of their own. Excellent points, and none that I'd considered before. Very much appreciated.

I've used C1 exclusivly for a couple of years now

The main reasons I moved over are

1. Image quality is very much better. It extracts more out of the raw files.
2. Total customisation of workspaces. This is a godsend when slipstreaming your workflows
3. Tethering works 100%, every timr
4. Speed. So fast in comparison
5. Session structure makes backups a breeze

I when I swapped, Adobe had moved thier licencing model, and lightroom was running like a bag of bolts in treacle. Capture One actually utilised the hardware on my workstations, it flew in comparison, where lightroom just seemed to ignore most of the hardware available to it.

The downside was there is quite a learning curve, but as a perspective, I was immediately editing weddings faster than in Lightroom whilst I was learning

Agreed with all this. I have used twice a trial of C1, and loved almost everything with it. The only issue, and quite a big one for the astro/night photographer that I am, is that I never managed to achieve a noise reduction nearly as good as in LR, so I had to give up C1. Oh that and the fact that it's super expensive to buy, and the upgrades aren't cheap either.

They just uprated the noise reduction in v20

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