When to Use Capture One


Today’s Question: When or for whom would Capture One be an alternative to Lightroom Classic or Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I think that for most photographers Lightroom Classic and Photoshop represent a better overall workflow solution. However, for some photographers such as commercial studio photographers (especially if they collaborate with clients) Capture One represents an alternative worth considering.

More Detail: In many respects Capture One can be thought of as providing many of the features available in Lightroom Classic or Photoshop. In the early days of Capture One I felt that it offered what was perhaps the best processing capabilities for raw captures. However, over the years all the various tools for processing raw captures have improved to the point that excellent quality can be obtained with just about any of them.

In other words, the decision now is mostly about workflow needs and personal preference.

I consider Lightroom Classic to be superior to Capture One when it comes to organizing your photos. It would be fair to say that Capture One has some additional features for optimizing photos that go beyond Lightroom Classic, but of course you can send photos from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop and go far beyond what is possible with Capture One.

Where I think Capture One has an advantage over Lightroom Classic is when it comes to collaborating with a client in the studio, even while actually capturing the photos. Capture One provides a good workflow for tethered capture, so a client can be reviewing photos as they are captured. There is even a Capture One Live service that enables remote collaboration via the internet.

Because of the overlap in features and the workflow issues involved, I don’t think it makes sense to use both Capture One and Lightroom Classic together. Rather, I think photographers should choose one or the other. I prefer the combination of Lightroom Classic and Photoshop over Capture One, but I also think Capture One is very good software for the photographer.

For a photographer who hasn’t already started using either of these tools, it is worth evaluating both. I think most photographers would be better served by Lightroom Classic and possibly Photoshop, but for some photographers (especially studio photographers) the unique features of Capture One may be a better fit.

Note, by the way, that Capture One is more expensive that the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. The Creative Cloud Photography plan includes Lightroom Classic and Photoshop and costs US$9.99 per month, while Capture One Pro is US$24 per month. Both subscriptions offer savings if you pay annually. Capture One Pro is also available with a perpetual license for one major version at a cost of US$299.