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Let’s talk about Lightroom vs Capture One. Capture One and Lightroom go after different users with different needs.
Capture One is a tool more focused on capturing the professional photography market and hence has primarily been designed as a professional RAW processor.
Lightroom aims to capture a wider audience of people who take photos. It, therefore, has integrated functions like online services, making panoramas and creating books.
Overall, Capture One allows for functionality and control above and beyond Lightroom. From access to more editing tools to a quicker, more customisable and seamless workflow.
Table of Contents:
- Editing Tool
- Local Adjustment & Masking
- Details & Image Quality
- Workflow/Interface Features
- Tethering Features
- Purchase Licence
- My Tool Preferences
These summaries will compare some of the features from Lightroom vs Capture One that I think are most noteworthy about the two programs.
Editing Tool Summary
Comparing the two programs, Capture One still has more tools than Lightroom. Adobe will always want to stay competitive so this might change. As it stands, however, Capture One still offers far more control and editing tool options than Lightroom.
|High Dynamic Range||Yes||Yes|
|Curves||4 types||5 types|
|Advanced Colour Editor||No ❌||Yes 🔥|
|Skin Tone Editor||No ❌||Yes|
To continue to evolve your images, having access to multiple tool options, like 5 curves can make a huge difference. Being able to map tonal values with control via the Levels tool, further allows us to control contrast and brightness.
Lightroom vs Capture: Local Adjustments & Masking Summary
Lightroom has improved its masking and local adjustments to keep up with Capture One (26th Oct 2021). Lightrooms tools are simpler to use with good results. Capture One just takes one step further with the functionality to use any and every tool in a mask or local adjustment.
This in itself is a reason to switch if image quality is important to you.
|Tools available to masks||Limited||Full Tools 🔥|
|Mask Opacity||No ❌||Yes 🔥|
A major complaint I hear from Lightroom users is the limited ability to adjust every desired aspect with a Lightroom mask.
Details & Image Quality Summary
Image quality is a huge deal for photographers. One of the huge factors in switching was the difference in quality I noticed solely on the difference in RAW decoding engines and algorithms.
I far prefer the way Capture One processes noise and renders colours.
|Profiles||Yes & Creative Profiles||ICC Profiles|
|Texture||Yes||Yes (equivalent tool)|
|Sharpening||Limited control||More control & tools/sliders|
|Grain||1 type||6 types|
|Image quality||Good||Better performance and rendition.|
Therefore, just upon import, your images are comparably better.
Workflow/Interface Feature Summary
Capture One does allow for a more fully customisable workflow and workspace. That does come with what feels like an overwhelming interface at first.
Lightroom is simpler and cleaner because it has access to fewer tools, but mostly because of the way it splits up the Library and Develop Module. Capture One combines the two. Which makes for a better workflow once you get used to it.
|Tool/ Function||Lightroom||Capture One|
|Overlays||Yes. Limited||Yes. More customisable 🔥|
|In-built Tool Presets||Limited||Yes. Can be customised|
|Annotations (Retouching Notes)||No ❌||Yes|
|Side by Side Editing||Used to compare||Can edit multiple photos side by side individually 🔥|
|Syncing or Copying Edits||Yes||Yes|
|Presets||Yes||Yes – known as Styles|
|Focus Mask||No ❌||Yes 🔥|
|Panoramas / HDR Merging||Yes||Yes|
|Print Module||Yes||No ❌|
|Mobile/iPad Editing||Yes (both iPhone & iPad)||iPad editing coming 2022|
|Workspace Customisation||Limited||Yes 🔥|
|History of Edits||Yes 🔥||No ❌|
Some features aren’t available in Capture One as they don’t appeal to the same audience as Lightroom.
Tethering Feature Summary for Lightroom vs Capture
Capture One vs Lightroom has always and remains to have the better tether functionality. This does depend on your camera and computer, but in my experience Capture One is faster and less glitchy.
|Tool/ Function||Lightroom||Capture One|
|Tethering Interface||Yes. Limited||Yes 🔥|
|Live View Control Panel||No ❌||Yes 🔥|
|Tether Camera Settings||Yes. Basic||Yes. Full Settings|
|Ability to Focus||Live View only.||Live View & Workspace|
|Exposure Meter||No ❌||Yes 🔥|
|Live View Overlay/Grids||No ❌||Yes 🔥|
|Sync All Settings||No ❌||Yes|
Apon side by side comparison, Capture One is quicker than Lightroom. But with a good GUP, both programs excel.
DP Review did a Head to Head Speed Test you can read about.
Purchase Licence Options
Because you can buy a full, perpetual licence and own it forever, Capture One is the cheaper option.
Adobe moved away from the ability to have a perpetual licence with their software. There are pros and cons to this. Capture One still allows you to buy each version and own it forever (if you aren’t fussed about getting each update).
|Purchase Licence||Lightroom||Capture One|
|Ability to buy a perpetual licence||No ❌||Yes (own it once and forever) 🔥|
|Bundle with Photoshop||Yes||No ❌|
|Approx. Cost||$10.48 p/m||$199 (perpetual licence) or 25 p/m|
If having the latest version with updates is the most important, Lightroom is cheaper. Adobe appeals to a wider audience and aims at capturing people who don’t consider themselves photographers but take photos. Capture One, on the other hand, has more tools and is, therefore, more expensive if you go the subscription route.
I have typically purchased the perpetual licence for Capture one. I own Capture One 12, Capture One 20 and Capture One 21.
10 Things I Prefer About Capture One vs Lightroom
Now some of this stuff is subjective, but for me, these functionalities have seen my workflow and my image quality improve.
|Feature/ Tool||Capture One|
|Superior Image Quality||The way Capture One treats noise. It gives this silky smooth lustre to images on import that’s unmatched by Lightroom.|
|Mask with Full Control||Ability to use every tool in a mask.|
|Ditch Catalogues||Ability to ditch cataloguing all together by using Capture One Sessions.|
|Exclusive Tools||This might change over time but at time of writing, there are a number of tools that Lightroom doesn’t have.|
|Workspace Customisation||Customise the entire workspace. Drag and drop, add tools anywhere.|
|Superior Tethering||Faster tethering, better Live View and more supported camera brands.|
|Faster Performance||I see better and faster performance with Capture One.|
|Accurate Colour||More advanced colour tools and processing edges out colour for me in Capture One.|
|Edit Side-by-side||Make image identical with the ability to edit images side-by-side, in any combination.|
|Export Recipes||Better functionality for export images with export recipes.|
Read more about Why I Started Using Capture One Pro here.
What I Think Lightroom Does Better
It’s hard to get a program to do 100% of everything better. This wouldn’t be a fair comparison if I didn’t talk about the few things I think Lightroom does better.
|Luminance – HSL Panel||I don’t like the way Capture One’s luminance tools in the Basic Color Editor (HSL Panel) render brighter colours.|
|Range Mask||Lightroom’s Range Mask is easier to use with great results.|
|Vibrance||Capture One doesn’t have a vibrance slider.|
|Transform Panel||Auto transformations are easier in Lightroom than in Capture One (Keystone).|
|History of Edits||There is no such feature in Capture One.|
Further reading: if you’re interested in reaching more on the topic, where are some worthwhile articles.
Photography Lyfe: Lightroom vs Capture One: Should You Switch?
Expert Photography: Capture One vs Lightroom (Which One Should You Choose?)
Thomas Fitzgerald: Capture One vs Lightroom from someone who uses both
Got feature questions about Lightroom vs Capture One? I’d love to have a discussion. Let me know in the comments below.