Could Capture One Pro 11 replace Lightroom Classic CC
Towards the middle of last year Adobe finally released an update for Lightroom that was said to increase performance, something I was beginning to find quite irritating when it came to using Lightroom. In fact I even went as far as downloading Capture One Pro to play with to see if it was a viable alternative to Lightroom. Adobe then released an upgrade to Lightroom that was supposed to fix the performance issues. I downloaded the update, and my Capture One Pro trial quietly came to an end.
For a few weeks things with the updated Lightroom seemed to work out ok. I had just bought the new Macbook Pro with touchbar, so things were nice and speedy. Towards the end of the year I started to notice my Mac would end up getting incredibly hot, and the fans would come on when I just doing something simple like working through images to make selections. I opened up Activity Monitor and noticed that at times Lightroom was using as much as 400% of the CPU, which was crazy. I’m not surprised my Mac was getting so hot.
I began Googling and noticed on the Adobe forums that this issue seemed to be happening to a lot of people and not just me. Some people with even more powerful computers were having the same problems. No matter what settings I turend off and on, there was no change. I decided to re-download the trial of Capture One to see how it would compare. Straight off Capture One Pro hardly uses any CPU, and at a push will use up to 140%, and no surprise my Mac’s was cool to the touch and my fans hadn’t come on once.
Moving over, and dealing with catalogues
It’s quite uncomplicated migrating from Lightroom to Capture One, like in Lightroom where you can import other programs catalogues, Capture One has the same functionality, depending on the size of your Lightroom catalogue it can take up to a few hours. During migrating Capture One brings across all your Lightroom collections and your edits, and ratings too.
The layout of Capture One is different to Lightroom which may take some getting used to, but what’s great about Capture One is you can add and remove tools as you need to, and you can also move them around the window, so nothing is stuck in one position like with Lightroom.
Everything in the Capture One catalogue is contained in one file, unlike Lightroom where you have a catalogue file and a preview file. I’ve also noticed that the Capture One catalogue file is much smaller compared to Lightroom which for my catalogue seems enormous, but this may change with the more work I do in Capture One Pro.
Another thing I find great with Capture One is you can have more than one catalogue open at once unlike Lightroom where you can only have one open at a time, which at times can be a pain, especially when you have numerous catalogues for things like different countries or jobs.
Editing and image quality
Straight off I feel my RAW files look much better in Capture One than in Lightroom. Importing the same image into Lightroom and the results just look so flat! This could be due to Capture One Pro adjusting your images slightly on import based on your camera’s EXIF data. Sure you can get similar results in Lightroom, Scott Kelby wrote an article about it, but it includes having to create a preset which you need to apply on import. So It is possible, but why not just get the same results in Capture One Pro automatically, plus you don’t have your computer working overtime like it does in Lightroom.
Unlike Lightroom you don’t move between different modules, instead there is a set of icons or as Capture One calls them Tool Tabs (which you can add or remove as you see fit) these tool tabs start with your folders, and move from left to right, similar to Lightroom. From left to right I’ve selected: Folders, Lens Corrections, Colour, Exposure, Details, Adjustments, Metadata, Output. Each of these tabs has a set of tools, and these you can also add or remove as you need.
A tool you don’t find in Lightroom, that I’ve been finding incredibly useful is the focus mask in Capture One Pro. It displays a green overlay on your images showing which areas are in focus. For quickly running through images to which ones are in focus this tool is brilliant.
This is similar to the library module in Lightroom where you can see your folders, as well as collections, colour tags and star ratings.
This is where you can apply lens corrections, and remove chromatic aberration, or fix things like lens distortion. This is also where you can work on straightening your image, using the keystone sliders. You can also access the crop tool from here.
This tool tab is where you can work on your white balance using the Kelvin and tint sliders. Should you wish to turn your image into black and white, this is where you’d begin that process. You can also adjust the colour balance of your image here.
This tool tab is where things begin to look a little familiar. This tab closely resembles the basic panel from the Develop module in Lightroom. Here you can adjust things like your exposure, shadows and highlights and add some saturation. You also have levels and curves tools which are particularly useful. One tool I find much better in Capture One is the Clarity slider, with it’s different ways that it can affect and change your images. You have different dropdown options for this slider, and each option affects the image in various ways. Images tend to look much crisper and dramatic when working with the Clarity tool particulary when selecting Punch in the dropdown menu.
The Details tool tab is where you find tools for working on Sharpening, Noise reduction and spot removal. You also have a tool for adding film grain. Like most tools in Capture One there are numerous drop down options for each tool, giving you so much more control. For black and white images I quite like the effect Silver Rich has on my images.
The adjustments tool tab is where you find your presets, and built-in styles. You can save your own recipes or download different styles and presets from websites like you would with Lightroom. One thing to note is that you cannot bring Lightroom presets across to Capture One Pro.
The Metadata tool tab is similar to what you’d find in Lightroom. This is where you come to add keywords, and colour labels. You also come to this tool tab to find out information about the photograph such as exposure details.
The Output tab is self-explanatory, this is where you come to export your images. Here you can create recipes, similar to Lightrooms export presets, but one thing I do like about exporting out of Capture One is that you can export more than one file type at the same time, so you can export TIFFs and JPEGs at the same time. This tool tab works very similar to Lightroom where you choose your file format, with set criteria, as well as where you want to export to.
I haven’t done a big export yet from Capture One, but with small batches of exports it already feels quicker than exporting out of Lightroom, which I feel takes forever.
Other things worth nothing
Catalogues vs Sessions
With Capture One you can work with either Sessions or Catalogues. A catalogue can be seen as a way of organizing semi-permanent projects or for organizing large volumes of images, similar to your Lightroom catalogue. This is the route I have gone.
A session is suited more for on-site workflow, and can be used to organize all your work from RAW files, settings files, and library files saved onto separate hard drives. Sessions are also useful for when you shoot tethered.
Keyboard shortcuts in Capture One Pro are completely customizable…meaning you can set your own keyboard shortcuts to different tools. This cannot be done in Lightroom and you have to work the keyboard shortcuts Adobe sets.
For anyone who sends their images off for professional retouching might like this adding feature in Capture One Pro. The photographer can mark-up his image or images with notes for the retoucher.
Most of the time adjustments done in Capture One Pro are done on a global scale. Should you require to some more advanced editing to specific areas on an image, Capture One Pro gives you the option to work on specific adjustment on separate layers, for instance you might want to do just sharpen the eyes of a portrait or add a graduated filter to a sky in a landscape.
Performance and price
Performance-wise I find Capture One Pro to miles ahead of the recently updated Lightroom Classic CC. I find certain things to be much faster, from opening catalogues to importing and exporting images is much faster in Capture One. Although Adobe promised that the new Classic CC to be improved performance-wise, I can’t stand working in it while my laptop heats up and my fans go crazy. It seems a lot of Lightroom users are finding this, so I’m glad it’s not just me.
One thing which is a big deciding factor is the price. With Capture One you can still buy the app as a standalone product which you can’t do with Lightroom anymore, or you can go the subscription route. You need to bear in mind that the price of Capture One is double that of the subscription for Lightroom and Photoshop. If you use any other Adobe products, things start getting expensive.
If I was to move over to Capture One for my own work, which I’m still seriously considering, I would need to keep my Adobe subscription going because I have a lot of clients who use Lightroom.
I recently ended up chatting to Adobe Customer Care and they pointed out two items in my Lightroom preferences that I should have unticked “use graphics processor” and “generate previews in parallel”. While this has helped a little bit, my catalogue still takes 5-10 minutes to open properly, and sometimes I have to quit Lightroom and relaunch it for my folders to show up. Still not ideal.
Is a bump in performance, better looking images, and a better workflow worth $20 a month on top of my $10 Adobe subscription? I’m inclined to think it may be. I still have three weeks left of my Capture One trial and hopefully when it comes to an end I’ll have a clearer idea on which direction I’ll be going, but currently it’s looking like the Capture One road for me.