UPDATED: Capture one vs lightroom – Bye Bye Adobe?

Adobe Lightroom vs Capture One

Original Post, 17th October 2020

I have been curious about Capture One for a while and thankfully I received a 6 month subscription included with my X-T4 (thanks Fuji).

I know Capture One can be hard to work out how to use, there are various versions and subscription models. However, once you get past this, Capture One is a great tool for making the most of your photography.

Thanks to some great resources online I have been teaching myself how to use it. I have to be honest, you don’t have to do too much to see the difference.

The above photo was shot on my X100T at sunrise and I imported the RAW file into both programs. The left image is the Lightroom version with some automatic adjustment applied (the RAW file was too dark to see anything in Lightroom).

The right image is how Capture One sees the image. No edit.

Immediately you can see that Capture One understands the subject and has much warmer tones with a greater level of detail. There is more detail, better rendering of the shadows and highlights.

Having this as the starting points already saves me time over what I would do in Lightroom to get the image to look like this.

I am not saying Capture One is perfect though as there is no mobile editing software (such as Lightroom CC), and it’s only since I started using Capture One that I realise how much I use Adobe’s CC offering. Not just for editing photos, but for having access to them to view and share wherever I am.

I have overcome the sharing/viewing issue by installing a new home server which monitors my Capture One folders on my computer and copies all the content automatically to the server. This means I can access my original and edited files anywhere.

The one-step that is missing is the editing on mobile but I may consider using something else going forward solely for mobile editing.

I like what I can achieve with Capture One so maybe my workflow will change going forward and I will do all my work on my desktop… let’s see how this goes.

Capture One can look unfamiliar, especially if you are used to Lightroom but don’t let that put you off.
You can configure so much in the program that you can truly make it your own.

The way Capture One reads the pixels in the photographs is also different from how Lightroom does this, giving more clarity, better contrast and sharpness. This is an advantage for Fuji, Sony and Nikon shooters.

Having the Fuji version does mean I can only edit Fuji RAW files (I learnt this the hard way), but to be honest I am not sure how much I will want or need to edit old Leica, Olympus or Ricoh files (but it’s worth considering if you shoot with multiple systems. You’d be better off with Capture One Pro).

For me, a Fuji shooter, the program has the same film simulations in the program that are in my cameras, not a version of them. This means my photos are faithfully recreated whether in RAW or JPEG. Again saving me time in post production (or eradicating post production entirely).

It’s early days but so far, I am enjoying Capture One. Who knows, this may spell the end of my reliance on Adobe (and save me some time and money in the long term).

*If you’re reading this on mobile you may not see the image switcher above. There here are the seperate images.

Capture One

Update March 2021

Since writing this I have used Capture One some more but sadly not as I expected.

I have an X-T4 and and X100V and the image quality from Capture One is better than Adobe Lightroom.

Sadly though, I have so much legacy work and my entire catalogue in Adobe that I found it hard to remove myself from the Adobe eco-system.

In the end, the convenience of the Adobe Creative Cloud and familiarity won over the editing capability of Capture One.

I told myself I would see how I go and keep one of them before the Capture One license started to charge my account.

That is now and I have note used Capture One enough to justify the cost of Adobe Creative Cloud and Capture One. I have therefore ended my subscription with Capture One.

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