"Your photos look great! What presets are you using in Lightroom?"
Another Instagram direct message. I typed back "I don't use Lightroom, actually. I use Capture One Pro."
It wasn't always this way though. About two years ago, I was using Adobe Lightroom to edit all of my photos. I wasn't very satisfied with the results I was getting (mostly because I wasn't tapping into all of the features), so I was open to checking out other types of editing software.
That's when I heard about Capture One.
Intro to Capture One
Capture One Pro is a photo editing software made by Phase One. It is popular among professional fashion photographers. The main "bread and butter" feature of Capture One Pro is its unmatched raw editing power. The program is just incredibly capable of pulling out more details and better color rendition from raw files than Adobe Lightroom.
When I first was testing Capture One against Lightroom in 2015, I processed a photo of a UPS worker in the North End of Boston.
Here is the Lightroom version:
And here is the version in Capture One
Just look at how much more detail is in the bricks. Also the overall color and contrast looks better as well.
In my video comparison of Lightroom vs Capture One, I did a side-by-side edit of a portrait image I shot in December. I did my best to make the same adjustments in both programs.
Again, here is the Lightroom version:
And here is the version I edited in Capture One
Clearly, the Capture One version has more saturation. I'd usually prefer to dial that back slightly because it can be a tad bit much, but it's nice to have the option of more intense color rendition.
Should You Switch to Capture One?
It's a matter of personal preference. If you are satisfied with Lightroom, then it probably doesn't make sense to switch.
However, if you're itching to try something new then give Capture One a shot.
There are several versions of Capture One software:
- Capture One Pro 11 (latest version)
- Capture One Pro 11 for Sony (much cheaper, only works with Sony cameras)
- Capture One Express for Sony (free, only works with Sony, doesn’t have access to all of the features)
Previously, the biggest barrier to entry for Capture One Pro was the cost (about $300 USD). But now they’ve also started offering a subscription model, so you can start using the full version of Capture One Pro for as little as $15/month.
If you’re interested in trying out Capture One, here are some links to the software. I am not affiliated with Phase One/Capture One so I receive no benefits if you go through these links.
The Sony Advantage
Sony camera users have an advantage when it comes to Capture One.
First, there is a FREE light version of Capture One for Sony users. It's called Capture One Express Sony.
Second, Sony users can also get a steeply discounted version of Capture One Pro 11, if they want access to all of the features.
I shoot with a Sony A6000 and started using the free version of Capture One Express in 2015. Eventually I upgraded to Capture One Pro for Sony in 2016 and have been using it ever since.
If you are a sucker and shoot with anything other than Sony, then your only options are:
- Full version of Capture One Pro 11 (either subscription or outright buy)
- 30 day free trail of Capture One Pro 11 (after which you will either need to abandon or buy)
It's really up to you what editing software you use. If you can't afford Capture One Pro or just don't want to use it, no worries. You can still create great edits in other programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop, VSCO or Snapseed.
Just focus on mastering whatever software YOU are using and make the most of it.
What photo editing software do you use? Let me know in the comments :)
About the Author
Dan Bullman is a portrait photographer and YouTuber based in Boston. He produces educational videos, gear reviews and other content to make you a better photographer faster. His videos have been viewed over 1 million times. His portrait work has been featured on accounts like @moodyports @followingboston and @portraitmeet.