As far back as I can remember, I’ve been using one program to manage and process my images — Lightroom Classic. And while I still have great memories using it, there were some things that were starting to bug me.
For one, the lack of updates. While Lightroom Classic is an extremely robust program, it was starting to get long in the tooth, in terms of getting feature updates. It’s younger cousin, Lightroom (formerly CC) was getting most of the attention. And rightly so — Lightroom is a great program. But if you rely on a local storage workflow, it’s not ideal.
And two, speed. While Lightroom Classic had improved its performance due to things like GPU Acceleration, it is by no means fast. It was manageable, as long as you had a computer that was amped up enough to handle it.
So why Capture One?
I had heard a lot about Capture One in recent months, mainly surrounding their v.20 update. While I had tried Capture One before, I found it to be overkill for what I needed at the time.
But now, with time on my hands, I figured it was worth another look.
In my discussions with other pros, Capture One was known for speed and accuracy when it came to color performance. But for me, it’s well-known throughout the world of Olympus that Capture One does the best job in terms of RAW processing its files.
I did a lot of reading and YouTube watching before I got started with Capture One Pro 20. One of the first things I did was set up the interface so it looked similar to Lightroom Classic.
To do this, you can go to Window > Workspace > Migration. This will do two things. One, it’ll add the Tools sidebar to the right (instead of the left), and it’ll put the filmstrip (known as the Browser) at the bottom.
With this change alone, you should feel much more at home.
From there, I dove into my tool tabs. While many tutorials will tell you to activate the Quick tool tab, I really don’t think it’s necessary. You’ll find pretty much all the tools from Lightroom’s Develop module in the Exposure tool tab. If you find yourself not using some of the tools in the Exposure tool tab (like Levels), you can right-click and remove it.
The great thing is, as you decide to personalize your workflow more, you can make your own custom tool tabs. Check out this article from Chris Anson, which will show you how.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on the above steps — including using the Quick tool tab — check out this video from The Phoblographer below. It really helped me in getting started!
While some people say that Capture One’s catalog system is inferior to Lightroom Classic’s, I disagree. Capture One offers a wide variety of organizational tools through User Collections. But figuring it out is a bit confusing at first.
There are four parts to the User Collections area — Albums, Smart Albums, Projects and Groups.
Groups (which have a folder icon) and Projects (which have a Collection Set icon from Lightroom) are basically just there for organizational purposes — you can’t put photos inside of them. For my workflow, I have a Group, then a Project under that, followed by Albums and Smart Albums.
The nice thing is that you can have nested Smart Albums, meaning you could create a “Selects” album that automatically pulls from, say, a color label or star rating. But it only pulls in photos in that Project. This is something I’ve been asking Adobe about forever, and it’s definitely already improved my workflow!
Groups can be nested under other Groups too, meaning I can stay more organized than ever. Plus, your entire User Collections area does not have to be alphabetical, meaning you can click and drag them to any order you wish.
Finally, if you like to use edit EXIF and IPTC metadata through keywording, star ratings and more, you can do those just like you would in Lightroom Classic. You can even add metadata for Getty Images (which is built-in by default).
Some helpful tips
If you want to filter by star rating or color tag, that can be done in the Library tool tab. But what if you want to select multiple filters at once, and show only, for instance, blue and green tagged photos?
On a Mac, hold down the Command key as you click each option. On Windows, use the Control key.
Changing keyboard shortcuts
If you want to change your keyboard shortcuts to be more like Lightroom, go to Edit > Edit Keyboard Shortcuts. For instance, I set mine up so I could use regular numbers for some of my color labels, just like Lightroom. I use 6 for red, 7 for yellow, 8 for green, 9 for blue, and Cmd+0 to zero out the colors.
While Capture One offers a basic export option, you’ll probably find yourself using the Process tool tab, instead. This will export all the photos you have selected according to what processes you have checked. This makes it super easy and quick to automate your exports and perform export options like Output Naming and size adjustments. There are some great built-in export options already there for you.
You can’t add a watermark during a standard export — it has to be done through the Process tool tab.
While Capture One is a great program, there are a few things missing.
Limited plugin support
Sure, there are plugins in Capture One, but they’re super limited. In order to edit in Luminar, for instance, I find myself right-clicking on a photo and clicking Edit With > Adobe Photoshop, and then using Luminar’s plugin mode in Photoshop. This automatically brings the photo back into Capture One.
I tried sending it right from Capture One to Luminar, but you then have to manually export the photo and import it back into Capture One.
Note that this is more of a limitation of the third-party software not building full plugin support for Capture One, rather than it being a Capture One decision.
No automated transform options
You can manually correct for distortion and angle in Capture One, but there’s no one-click “Auto” or “Level” buttons. It might mean just a bit more work when it comes to finishing your photos.
Limited spot removal
Capture One has spot removal, but you can’t hold and drag it across an image. You have to click and then adjust the size of the adjustment, which is always a circle. If you want to use spot removal like you do in Lightroom Classic, you have to rely on creating a layer mask in the program.
No HDR or Panorama support
I found myself using the built-in HDR support in Lightroom Classic quite a bit. It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll need to rely on a third-party program like Aurora HDR to process a bracketed HDR image.
No support for Smart Object RAW files
If you are used to using Lightroom Classic’s “Edit In” feature, there is no option to Open as a Smart Object in Photoshop. Capture One exports TIFF files (8 or 16-bit) for editing in Photoshop.
Will I be switching?
I was really unsure about switching before I started this process. But while there are some things missing, I can ultimately perform everything I need to either within Capture One or with the addition of third-party plugins through Photoshop.
For me, the switch makes sense. The speed, editing and organizational tools really put me over the top. While I still have a place in my heart for Lightroom Classic, if you find yourself wanting a bit more like me … give Capture One Pro 20 a try!