Why I am switching from Lightroom to Capture One

Capture One 11.1

Capture One 11.1

I have been a Adobe Photoshop Lightroom user since the first day I started photography. When I was still shooting with the Nikon cameras, I never gave it a thought about trying out other RAW editors. However, things changed for me after I switched to Fujifilm X series camera, specifically Fujifilm X-T2. The biggest problem with Lightroom is it simply can't handle sharpening Fujifilm's RAW files very well. Every time I had to bring the RAW files into Photoshop as a tiff file then apply sharpening there. I found this process is not very enjoyable. Eventually I decided to give Capture One a try. I downloaded the free trial version and purchased a license after the 30-day free trial. Now I have been using Capture One for more than six months, and finally I made the decision to entirely switch from Lightroom to Capture One, not only because it handles Fujifilm's RAW files better, but also because it provides more powerful tools that meet my needs. In this post, I am going to talk about the features that won me over to Capture One. Remember Capture One provides a 30-day free trial and at any point if you are interested to purchase the license, you can save 10% by using the voucher code AMBCAI.

Better details rendering, especially for Fujifilm's RAW files

This is the biggest reason that got me started trying out Capture One in the first place. The X-Trans sensor in most Fujifilm X cameras, such as the Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujifilm X-T2, uses a more randomized pattern of RGB pixels compared to the conventional pattern found in Bayer sensors. The benefit is the anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor can be removed without adding too much of moire, therefore the image may appear sharper. However, Lightroom doesn't render the details coming out of this type of sensor very well. If you are not careful when sharpening the RAW files, it is easy to get some bad-looking artifacts. By comparison, I don't find it is a problem in Capture One at all. In Capture One, the details are rendered sharp and natural at the same time. 

Much better and more flexible color adjustment tools

This is another big advantage of Capture One over Lightroom. In Lightroom, you had to work with one of the color channel sliders to make color adjustments and these sliders are not available for local adjustments, meaning you can't use these sliders for a particular area of your photo. On the other hand, Capture One offers a more powerful color editing tool. The "Basic" tab in the Color Editor tool works just like the tools in Lightroom. The "Advanced" tab allows you to use a color picker to pick any color from your image, then you can directly change hue, saturation and lightness for that color. You can pick as many colors as you want. What is even better is that the color editor tool in Capture One works for your local adjustments as well. If you want to adjust a particular area of your photo without affecting the rest, you are able to do this in Capture One.

Color editing tool in LR

Color editing tool in LR

Color editing tool in Capture One

Color editing tool in Capture One

The clarity tool that actually works

Clarity tool in Capture One

Clarity tool in Capture One

I don't use the clarity tool in Lightroom at all because I think it is too crunchy, meaning it gives the photo an unnatural look. Also at the same time I don't think it actually improves the details. However, I do enjoy using the clarity tool in Capture One, especially the structure slider. It makes the fine details sharper and stand out further but still keeps the photo natural.

Flexible curve and level adjustment tools

Levels and curve adjustments in Capture One

Levels and curve adjustments in Capture One

Another powerful tools that Capture One provides are levels and curve adjustments. Lightroom doesn't provide a levels tool but it has two sliders to set the black point and white point. In Capture One, it doesn't provide the black point and white point sliders but I think levels is a more intuitive tool to set the black point and white point. Also the levels tool in Capture One also allows you to adjust the mid-tone which Lightroom doesn't provide this function.

Lightroom does provide a curve toning tool but I think the curve tool in Capture One is better because it offers an additional channel: Luma. Luma channel allows you to change luminosity without changing the saturation of the colors. So I can add contrast without adding saturation. Later if I want to add saturation, I can go to the exposure tab and add saturation separately over there. Separating contrast and saturation to me is a flexible way to edit my photos.

Layer for local adjustments

Layers in Capture One

Layers in Capture One

If you are familiar with layers in Photoshop, then you are familiar with the concept of layers already. In Capture One 11, all the local adjustments are put in different layers. That way you can always easily adjust the opacity of each layer to control how strong you want your adjustments to appear.

Moreover, the local adjustments are more flexible and powerful in Capture One than they are in Lightroom. In Capture One, almost all the tools can work for your local adjustments, whereas only a few are available for local adjustments in Lightroom.

Customization

Last but not least, you can customize just about everything in Capture One. If you don't need a tool, you can remove it and you can always add it back. You can customize all the buttons at the top. You can customize keyboard shortcuts. You can customize your workspace. For example, you can put the file browser at the bottom or at the right hand side. Or you can put the editing tools at the left hand side or at the right hand side. You can pull a particular tool out of the tool tab and make it as big as you want. The customization capability improves your efficiency and speeds up your work flow.

Capture One provides a 30-day free trial. Feel free to download it from Phase one's website and try if you like it. At any point if you decide to purchase the license to continue after 30-day free trial, you can use voucher code AMBCAI to save 10% on your total cost(currently works for a standalone license or upgrade from lower versions). Check out how to use the voucher code at the coupon page.