5 Reasons Why I Ditched Lightroom for Capture One Pro

rumford baking powder biscuits process with Capture One Pro 8

Rumford Baking Powder Biscuits for Clabber Girl


I have to admit I’m a huge fan of Lightroom.  It’s an amazing program that’s perfectly tailored for photographers.  So why did I ditch it for Capture One Pro?  The answer is simple: phenomenal image quality.  In addition, the program has a host of features that are ideal for studio photographers.  What started as a simple trial has turned into my permanent image processing solution.  Here are the 5 reasons why I left Lightroom 5 and switched to Capture One Pro 8.


This program is quick. I mean eat a plate of Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies quick.  As soon as you snap the shutter, the image appears on the computer.  In this respect, Capture One Pro 8 makes Lightroom look like a dinosaur.

In addition to speed, it hosts a variety of other fantastic features like live view and remote viewing.  It even has the ability to show editorial overlays and focus masks.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies Processed with Capture One Pro 8

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies for Clabber Girl

Customizable Workspace

If this was the only advantage over Lightroom, I might still buy it.

In Lightroom, images with a portrait orientation look small due to the fixed workspace.  With Capture One, I can place the filmstrip on the right and use the full screen for image previews.  When I’m out on location with my 15″ laptop, this feature is invaluable.  In addition, I can move and customize just about any other part of the workspace to fit my needs.

Capture One Pro 8 Workspace

My assistant Arpine sitting for a few test shots

It’s Not Made By Adobe

Let’s face it, Adobe has won the hearts and minds of photographers.  Unlike the days of film, where professionals used a wide variety of cameras and film stock; digital is all about Nikon and Canon files being processed with Lightroom.

Capture One offers me the chance to break away from the pack and process images with a unique set of tools.

Fat Free Chocolate Cake processed by Capture One Pro 8

Fat Free Chocolate Cake for Clabber Girl


As opposed to Lightroom that creates a catalog for an entire lifetime of photos, Capture One creates a session folder that holds the raw images from a single photo shoot.  Once you’ve finished editing the raw files from the session and output the images, you create more session folders for new projects.

Unlike Lightroom with its huge catalog, the folders are self-contained and I can hand off the “selects” to a retoucher.  All of the changes I made in Capture One are held in the folder from the photo shoot.

Capture One Pro Image Quality

As I said at the beginning of this post, the image quality of Capture One Pro 8 is phenomenal.

When I first started using it, I loved the default image rendering so much, I tried to replicate the same look in Lightroom. (I really didn’t want to learn a new interface)  I came close, but Capture One has the “secret sauce” that really brings out the best in Nikon Files.  It even does a beautiful job with the typically flat files from the Canon 5Dmkii.

cranberry orange nut bread ingredients processed with Capture One Pro 8

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread Ingredients for Clabber Girl

Parting Words

Capture One isn’t all wine and roses.  The program is complex and has a substantial feature-set.  As a longtime Lightroom user, I found it to be frustratingly counter-intuitive when I first started using it.  Fortunately, Phase One offers an extensive library of video tutorials and within a few hours I was able to overcome my initial hurdles.

I never thought I would leave Lightroom, but Capture One has won me over with lightning-fast tethering and beautiful image quality.

If you would like to see Capture One’s amazing image processing for yourself, Phase One now offers a 30 day trial of Capture One Pro 8 here. (no affiliate link)

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  1. 1

    I too like Capture One Pro, but I find their pricing model infuriating – much like Adobe’s. Phase One forces you into a subscription model by their outrageous price discrepancy between the subscription and purchase option.

    Besides, before I jump ship I’ll wait till LR6 comes out and then re-evaluate.

    • 2

      I feel you. I definitely have mixed feelings about the subscription model. I hate being locked into a program forever just to open my files, but at the same time, the subscription model opens up software to a lot of lower income digital artists. Many of the students I work with have stopped stealing software and are now learning a wider array of programs because they have access to them as part of Adobe CC.

      If I had my choice, I would purchase PS every other cycle (or every 3rd depending on the changes), but I think the subscription model is here to stay.

    • 3
    • 4

      If you count in the lower price of an upgrade compared to a full new version, there is actually an advantage of buying it instead of subscribing in the long run. 🙂

    • 5

      I’m the newbie on COP. Just know a bit more than which way is the best to figure it properly? Could you please mention someone, may I follow his/her guidelines to learn it, David?

  2. 7

    What I don’t like is the fact, that Phase One uses Telerik Analytics to collect data and monitor usage of the software. There is no way to opt out of that, so I stopped using the Software.

    • 8

      I had no idea Phase One uses Telerik Analytics. Thanks for sharing that info. I guess if I ever write a post titled “5 Reasons Why I Ditched Capture One,” I’ll already have my first point 🙂

      • 9
        • 10

          Perhaps a tad late. Get yourself software like Little Snitch for Mac, or several such programs for windows, which will let you know every time a new program on your computer connects to some server behind the scenes. This is called “calling home” and even the best software do it. When you first use capture one, and it starts to show you all these calling-home pings, you can enable the usual ones to PhaseOne and save them “forever” so you won’t be doing this again, but anything that goes to analytics companies you could forever turn off.

  3. 12

    Ever heard of making a new catalog for each shot? I’ve been doing this since ages in Lightroom and it is just like sessions in C1. You can import other catalogs into current one as whole or part, etc. There are tons of options and with this you keep a catalog size small at all times. So section Sessions is not a valid one.
    p.s. Tethering works in LR. Works like a charm 🙂 I’m using both (even for the times I shoot with Phase One) and not much difference.

    One great advantage for LR: presets. And I mean tons of pre-made and very fast creation of your own. If C1 makes a converter from LR presets to their own (which I do not think it is possible because of different ways to apply settings to a photo) I would think about switching completely but until then – no way.

    • 13

      Sounds like you’re a big fan of Lightroom. I am too. I actually make a new LR catalog per shoot when I work at a studio that doesn’t have C1. It works great, but I still prefer the workflow of a C1 session. The session folders just make sense to me.

      With regard to tethering …… seriously? I find these two programs so different. I love using the live view and focus masks. C1 tethering is so feature rich,it’s a big part of what sold me on the program.

      I don’t use pre-made presets, but I agree that the aftermarket support around LR is amazing. If I had a deep investment in the LR ecosystem, C1 would be a tough choice.

    • 14

      LR does not fully support tethering with my D4, there is the option of the Wireless Connection but a costly solution. That is why I am going to give C1 a shot. Thanks for the great article David.

      • 15

        I had no idea the D4 wasn’t fully supported on LR. I think part of the issue of tethering on LR is that it’s an afterthought instead of the primary function like C1.

  4. 16

    Timely post. I’m considering capture one Pro, but still on the fence. You’ve given me some options to consider in making an informed decision. Thanks for sharing!! By the way, the vegan chocolate chip cookies are AMAZING!!

    • 17

      Thanks for stopping by Tonya. Those Vegan cookies are so addictive 🙂

      It took me years (and multiple trials) to finally switch to C1. LR is so good, Adobe makes the decision difficult.

  5. 18

    Hi David,
    Thanks for writing down your opinion.
    I’m thinking of switching to C1 for several month, there are so many performance issues in LR. (By the way, I am using LR since Version 1.4). I’ll wait for th 6.x Version and then I’ll decide definitely.

    How long did it take you to become familar with C1? Did you migrate your LR Catalogs into C1 Catalogs?

    • 19

      It took me about 3 months before I was completely comfortable with the program. It’s also one of the few programs where I have to regularly consult the manual. I don’t find it intuitive. The image manipulation tools and speed are exceptional, but the user experience could be better.

      I didn’t migrate my catalogs to C1. Since I have an Adobe CC subscription, and I’ll have access to LR indefinitely, I didn’t see the need to change my archival process.

      LR can definitely be slow. To speed it up, I moved the main catalog to an internal disk and stopped to program from writing to XMP.

  6. 20

    I find your article interesting because I have been an amateur Capture One user for many years, transitioning into C1 Pro 8. Perversely I have resisted the LR and PS juggernaut for sometime, using Gimp when I wanted some more image-manipulation over and above C1 Pro (not often!).
    I took out a CC subscription to LR and PS in the last year and I’m slowly trying out LR in parallel to C1 Pro. Having got used to (I suspect a small subset of) C1 Pro, I do find navigating the Develop module in LR much less intuitive!
    Recently I was surprised to note a much noisier image arising in LR from a high-ISO Sony A7R shot that looked so much better in C1 Pro 8.

    • 21

      I’ve been using LR for so many years, I’ve gotten used to its idiosyncrasies. Although the development module is basically Camera RAW from PS, Camera RAW is very straightforward in comparison. I also prefer the develop module of C1. It’s a small thing, but one of the features I really like is the fact that I can name my layers.

      • 22

        David, yes I agree about naming layers! Shooting a lot of Australian landscapes and often using a Leica M9 with its CCD sensor, means I often create a ‘highlights/glare’ layer to control the obvious.

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      Yes, the shadow lift and highlight recovery is ridiculously good. I like that I can target the shadows and then do a midtone lift with levels. The combination is very flexible and replicates the look of a large on-axis fill light.

  8. 26

    I’m just starting out in photography and I like the thought of shooting Tethered. I worked and birthday party last weeking shooting tethered into LR5 but I was having some issues with it. I found that it stop auto advancing my shoots. Maybe its user error but LR5 seems a little buggie to me. I’m try Captru One Pro 8 and see if I like it. I’m expecting the worst base on interface but we will see. Also I would like to know if I could use my color checker passport. I’m starting to love that tool.

    • 27

      I’ve had stability issues with LR5 too. I’ve now used Capture One Pro 8 on dozens of jobs and it’s been rock solid. The Color Checker doesn’t work automatically the way it does with Lightroom, but you can create custom ICC profiles (based off the color checker) with the color editor. I have found the built in profiles of C1 very good for my various camera systems so I simply use a grey card to correct color.

      • 28

        this was one of the biggest adjustments to me, as I was Big into color accuracy. I have been certified in Capture One so I was able to ask all of those questions that bothered me about switching from LR to C1.

        The Color Checker thing…That was pretty much just a habit I had to break myself of. As long as you have a good white balance/grey card/etc., you are good to go as long as your camera profile is correct. This took some trusting but it is pretty spot on.

        I started my C1 adventure with Leica and went from there tinkering with my Canon files. I have since stopped shooting Leica and have just focused on Canon as everything I currently do is used with the Canon kit.

        Anyways, if you are on the fence with this dilemma, you owe it to yourself to at the least download the trial and give it a go. I will say you will have to discard your LR ways of thinking to fully embrace the C1 way. Once you do, the level of control and structure/fluid movement is amazing!

        All of that and I forgot to mention these guys were some of the forefathers in digital color, ICC profiles and the likes. I forgot all the correct data so excuse me if I am wrong but they know their stuff! It allows us to work and let C1 disapear!

        • 29

          Thanks for the detailed response! I’ve also been very happy with the built in profiles from various camera systems. For my table-top and catalog work, I simply use a QP101 calibration card and call it a day.

          • 30

            Camera profiles: I confess that I only recently started earning about these, buying a Color Checker passport (now used pretty much on every session). The catalyst was acquisition of a Pentax 645D and discovering how appallingly bad were the colours arising from C1 pro 8 and its use of a generic DNG Neutral profile for the 645D. Australian landcapes were flat and lacked zing, Conversely here on a family stay in NW Europe I find that the C1 Pro generic profile generates far too much too blue-green for a natural look.
            I’m forced back into LR and exploration of other RAW editors to see what they produce with DCP files I generate. I agree that C1 Pro enables ICC file customisation but I have yet to find a relatively quick solution to the blue-green issue just mentioned.

          • 31

            From everything I’ve read, C1 doesn’t support the Pentax 645. Considering DNG is an Adobe creation, LR is likely the best way to process these files.

  9. 32

    Thank you for the forum! I just purchased sony a7rii and use it with zeiss otus. The combo is amazing. I just bought C1 and I admit. Picture cuality unrivaled. That said, I do have a problem. As many fotografers, I use photoshop to do some liquify in and retouching, frequency separation to edit models faces., maskings, etc. Things I can not do on C1. The problem is when I edit with PS, the image suffers from significant degradation. Now I’m frustrated. I want to keep the quality of C1 but can not have it because I have to use PS for editing, and that defeats the purpose of using C1. If c1 has edit tools as PS, I would be perfect. So yes Best image quality raw prosessesor in the world, but upssssss, Sorry no tools retouching if you want image heaven. I’m sure my models will happier to choose an image with corrected imperfection even with inferior image quality than C1’s perfect image quality with facial imperfections. Hope this makes sence.

    • 33

      Don’t get me wrong, I want C1 to be My every thing tool so desperatly. I see the potential. Lr has its brother photoshop! Where is C1’s perfect editing companion? I think it Is not born yet.

    • 36

      Yes, I agree with you. The combination of an A7rii, Zeiss Otus, and a completely RAW image editor like C1 would be image heaven 🙂 With the last few versions of C1 Pro and the addition of Layers and healing tools, I think we’re getting closer to that ideal. No matter what, moving pixels around with the healing brush or liquify tool is still going to cause some degradation even in a RAW workflow. Considering I used to retouch prints with SpotTone and a brush, all of these tools are a miracle !!

    • 37
      • 38

        That’s an ideal solution. In the latest version of C1 you can now right click the image and select “edit with…” This will move the image into PS as a 16bit ProfotoRGB TIFF. After the editing is complete in PS, the new file will be saved directly back into the C1 session.

  10. 39

    Yes, I agree that Phase One has a strong official line (already known, but just discovered on their forum since entering my last comment) in not supporting the P645D/Z.
    On the other hand I have been using C1 Pro to process my Leica M8…M9 DNGs for months, in preference to LR; for all the similar reasons we agree upon.
    I guess I have to accept that Phase One don;t want to encourage (any increased) competition from P645 cameras an order of magnitude cheaper than Phase One / Mamiya Leaf competition but it leaves a bad taste for amateurs who invest hundreds of dollars maintaining C1 pro even if we will never be their target market.

  11. 40

    I have always been a LR user and recently just purchased a new laptop so I am exploring my options. My current editing program is LR4 which is many years old. I am surprised how good it is that I never found the need to upgrade! But that’s until I found out Adobe has stopped supporting new cameras on the old LR4. Although not expensive but I dislike the fact you are forced into subscription if you want to use the software.

    C1 naturally became my alternative. It’s expensive to purchase so I just started the 30 day trail (where does it say 60 days?). Being a long term LR user I found the UI of C1 very counter intuitive. C1 has a lot of controls in some areas that LR doesn’t offer, however there are many other areas where C1 lacks terribly too. LR allows way more control on vignetting tools while C1 only has one slider. C1’s watermark options are very limited and to some extend it’s like using Windows Paint!

    I admit I am still very unfamiliar with Capture One and I might need a full month to get used to is (OTOH, LR was just very intuitive when I first started) . I heard of a lot of good things about C1 for sure so I can’t wait to experience it fully.

    • 41

      C1 Pro is a great program, but it took me a long time to get used to it. I’m sure C1 is lacking features compared to LR, but LR can’t do things like live tethering. I think there is give and take with any program. I teach Lightroom and thinks it’s an amazing program, but I love C1 for the image quality and stability.

  12. 42

    People are like sheep. They all follow each other. They all think they need Photoshop and Lightroom. I came from Aperture 3 , searching for a replacement and suddenly I found Capture One Pro 8 , which is a great program but not finished yet ; there are bugs in it and in my point of view missing some tools / plug – ins .

  13. 44

    Wicked website, I have to say that I came upon your article as I was looking to see what people thought of COpro8, I have it on test and am very impressed, I started with Lightroom as a beta tester and have always loved it but since they launched ver 6 I have nothing but hassle and wished I stayed with ver 5, anyway, the point is I will definitely go with CO and see how it goes, I now live in Slovakia and it is not always easy for me to get honest if any opinions on software, you have really good articles and I’ll keep an eye on your site from now on plus my wife has already seen a couple of recipes she like so good on two fronts eh! Well done both of you.
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  14. 45

    I made the switch a few month ago. Shooting tethered is night and day. C1 is just so much quicker and I love the focus mask. It took me about 5 minutes to decide to switch after importing a model shoot I had done (previous to testing C1) and the way it rendered skin tones and detail won me over instantly. I still love LR but in terms of speed and image quality (and stability) it has nothing on C1.

  15. 46

    Thanks for posting this article! I found it while doing a google search of “which is better for tethering, Lightroom or Capture One”. I do a lot of headshots (a lot of them!) and need to streamline my culling and proofing process (including global edits of raw files) just to keep up. I decided recently that the only way to do this is to start shooting tethered and to use a tripod (don’t know why but I’m not a fan of tripods, but doing batch cropping is a bit of a drag when you don’t shoot with one and each shot is a little different). I consider myself pretty adept at LR and I can fly through global batch edits using it (PS is another story and I’m very slow there so now send out a lot of my retouching). Anyway, the point is that I find LR a bit of a crapshow when it comes to tethering — it’s slow and it keeps dropping the connection to my D810 or D800 and it just generally makes me not want to shoot tethered at all. So, I’m trusting you, man, when you say that C1 is faster, because I have to tell you using it for editing raw images so far feels like walking in water while wearing weighted boots. It’s slow going because I have to think about everything!! And the other night it wouldn’t process anything (which is what I think they call exporting). I kept getting error notifications. I’m using the 30 day trial version so I don’t know if this is some restriction they’ve put in, but I don’t think so — it’s supposed to be a full unrestricted version! I haven’t tried tethering yet but plan to this coming week … and it better be fast and not buggy or I’m going back to LR. Part of me is afraid it will be great at tethering because then I’m going to have to force myself to learn it and get comfortable with it.

    Btw, as for price, I always wonder why people complain about the price of software like this. I mean, really, compare it to a camera body or a lens or a studio strobe or a softbox or just about any piece of photo gear and then think about how much you use something like LR or C1 every day to make your photos as perfect as you can and suddenly 300 bucks doesn’t seem that expensive. I’m in the gradual process of switching from Elinchrom to Profoto and you want to talk about expensive??! Yikes!

    One final thing: if you want to speed up your culling process I suggest not doing it in LR or C1 — do what the photojournalists do and use PhotoMechanic. Huge raw files resolve lightning fast! I found that I could wait 2 or 3 full seconds for a 75 meg raw file to fully resolve in LR (multiply that by hundreds or thousands of files) even with a fast iMac whereas in PhotoMechanic, they resolve almost instantly. That has shaved loads of time off my post production.

    • 47

      PhotoMechanic is not resolving raw files, it just displays the embedded jpeg preview. A lot of viewers do the same. Unluckily, LR won’t allow for that, probably because slowness has become its trademark, and introducing some speed in the program could frighten the users. In fact, they recently added GPU DECELERATION in LR 6 (yes, you read it right): if you’ve got a qualifying GPU, the program will use it to make the adjustment brush EVEN SLOWER.
      Sometimes I think LR is some kind of joke or weird social experiment where they just keep adding nonsense features and slowing things down, to see how long people is able to keep up…

      • 48

        That’s very funny Antoni re. LR deliberately being slower. I’ve noticed some lag time when using the adjustment brush since upgrading to LR CC and wondered what was going on.

        Thanks for the clarification re. PhotoMechanic. I had actually heard that before (re. jpeg previews). I frankly don’t care how it works, though — I’m just happy to have that blazing speed when culling photos. It’s painful doing that work in LR.

        But, I’m left with my old problem: I don’t have time to learn C1 and my free trial actually expired before I could get comfortable with it, but more importantly, I didn’t have a chance to work out some of the issues I was having processing files. One of my studio mates (who is an excellent photographer) has used nothing but C1 and swears by it, so I may just have to take his word for it and take the plunge. Sigh.

  16. 49

    I have read through most of the threads and found what I have been experiencing. Lightroom has slowed down and it seriously has added to the time it takes to edit a wedding. I need something faster. Will C1 do the job as easily when it comes to handling lots of different lighting situations. LR is just toooooo slow!

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    I use Lr, am so happy. Although, i used for some days C1 and i realized that image quality is amazing. I am thinking of change LR for C1. But the only thing that it concerns me is how easy is C1 for organize photos ? Also i do not know if there is the possibility to use an transparent image for watermark ? The truth is that export menu in Lr is so simple…..

  19. 52

    Hi David, a good article… and great looking food images!

    I too am right now just in the middle of a trial transition between Lightroom and Capture One. I wrote up a rather verbose description of what I have found so far, not to trash either side, but more my observations while attempting to see if migration from one to the other is possible. If anyone wants to read it (hope it is okay to post that here)…

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  20. 53

    While I don’t really shoot food, my reasons in the wedding and portrait aspect were the same as you listed. Switched a few months ago…the moment I installed C1, I never looked back at LR ever again.

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