5 Reasons You Should Switch From Lightroom To Capture One in 2023

5 Reasons You Should Switch From Lightroom To Capture One in 2023

In a lot of my articles, I go on about how incredible Capture One is and how every photographer (with a few exceptions) should switch from Lightroom to Capture One.  In this article, we will finally take a deep dive and see for ourselves why it’s worth considering the switch in 2023.


If you are shooting tethered, Capture One is pretty much the only viable option. Having tried tethering into Lightroom exactly once, I saw how inefficient and slow it was. Even on a modern computer, with a 20mp camera, it was still far too slow to be considered adequate for a fast-paced professional workflow. Additionally, Lightroom didn’t allow for the advanced tethering features that Capture One has. Capture One provides more control over your camera, live view, focus adjustment options, and so much more that Lightroom lacks.

The only benefit I see in tethering into Lightroom is being able to see the image you captured on the back of your screen, however, why would you want to do that if there is a full-scale preview available anyways?

So, if you shoot tethered and want a faster, smoother workflow that doesn’t stall production, go for Capture One.

Customizable Workspace & Capture Pilot

This one is another big one for me, as I tend to use my laptop in combination with a monitor, as well as a phone. For workspace for photoshoots is vastly different from my editing workspace. Because I don’t want people tampering with anything on my computer besides rating and tags, I set up the workspace for shooting to only display the image, file name, star rating, and color tag. While the client sees this, I can be at the back making some adjustments via my laptop and displaying them on the big screen to the client.

Another big one for me is Capture Pilot. Capture One allows users to connect to a local network and preview as well as rate the images. This app is completely free, and I love using this on big productions to make sure that the client has their own preview and is not crowding the monitor area. This is also useful for me as I can be far from the monitor but check images on my phone easily. 

Export Menu

I always deliver my files in at least two formats: full-res and web. This helps my clients save time and upload an image that is plenty for social (web), while also giving a full-resolution file to crop, adjust and print on large format media. Usually, however, there are even more formats that the client requests. You often find yourself having to export the same image in multiple variants, sizes, and versions. This is exactly where the proven recipes and the export menu of Capture One are irreplaceable.

The ability to create custom process recipes, save them and use them over and over again for a specific client or purpose has saved me hours of time. The ability to make each recipe export to a particular folder, have the file named after the version it was exported as, and be able to track what was exported and what was not is a game-changer for my workflow. It just helps me keep everything organized, especially on large productions. This all may sound unnecessary to a beginner photographer, which is where Lightroom wins: its export menu is simple and easy. Then again, I don’t see Capture One’s menu being that hard to navigate. 

Session Functionality & Organization

Another bonus of Capture One over Lightroom is the ability to make each production into a session. I title my sessions in the following format: dd—mm—yyyy-shoot-description. This helps me to determine what happened and when. Each raw file captured in that session is also named like this, as well as each exported file contains the name of the raw file and +the export version (full-res, web, etc).

Each shoot is a session, which gets its own name. Capture One will create 4 folders: Capture Output, Selects, and Trash. All of the files that I shoot go into capture, finals go to Output, and retouched images go into Selects. This way, all of my shoots are organized, and I can easily navigate thousands of images to find the one I want. Unfortunately, lightroom does not provide photographers with this functionality, which often leaves you disorganized and looking for files in the wrong places.

Raw Image Processing

A lot of photographers tend to say that Capture One processes colors in a more natural film-like way. This leaves Lightroom users with a clinical, almost too perfect, version of the same file. While being a valid point, I think it’s too vague and out there to be able to base an argument over. Instead, I want to talk about the ease with which Capture One lets you do post-production. In Lightroom, the editing panel is condensed to a develop tab. There you will find all adjustments, including color grading. I found Lightroom to prompt me to use the more basic sliders, and never actually go down to color grading. At the same time, one of the first things I discovered about Capture One was the ability to color grade like never before.

Nowadays, I love playing with their color grade panels, and especially a tool unique to Capture One: skin tone. This tool alone was enough for some photographs to make the switch from Lightroom to Capture One. It essentially reduces the amount of retouching you have to do, and sometimes, there is virtually no retouching you need just because of how capable this tool is.

Closing Thoughts

To close off this article, I want to say that I still sort of use Lighroom. Not to edit or process images, but to catalog them. The organization within a session is good for one shoot, but when I have to sort through thousands of final photos, I do prefer lightroom. So at the end of the day, while 90% of everything I do is in Capture One, a small fraction of my workflow is still in Lightroom. My advice to someone who is on the fence between the two: go Capture One or go home.

What is your experience with using Capture One and Lightroom? Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!  

Illya Ovchar's picture

Illya Ovchar is a fashion photographer based in Europe. In his work, Illya aims to tell stories with clothes and light. Illya's work can be seen in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and InStyle.

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I switched from LR to C1 a few years ago, but not b/c of all the reasons most people did. I only switched b/c I like the option of using Sessions in C1 and LR doesn't offer that. With regards to tethering, I read this is one of the most used reasons people switch (other than they didin't like Adobe's "subscription model" (which we all subscribe to other services, like Internet, mobile phone, streaming, etc,) but that's another store for another day. I still never saw the big speed differences when tethering in LR and in C1. The best thing about tethering in C1 is that it's a more simple process (not sure if LR has changed that or not), but I didn't see any difference in speeds and I used them side by side for a couple of months. A lot of people talk about how their photos "POP" right when they are imported into C! and that's true, but that's b/c C1 applies a present automatically on import and you can do the same thing in LR, you just have to set that preset yourself and then you're good to go. So for me, if LR had the Sessions option, I'd be back using it b/c the $9.99 for LR and PS they've offered for over 10 years now has not gone up in price. That's my 2 cents.

Although I prefer C1P for tethering. Years ago I always ignored Lightroom because it could not do sessions. But what I do now in LR is I just create a catalogue instead of a session – more or less a "fake" session. Each project gets its own session/catalogue.

One more advantage for C1P – but which I don't use – is to move sessions in a "real" catalogue. This is not possible with LR and my workaround.

I did the same when I was using LR, I created a catalog for each photo session. I suppose if I ever went back to LR, that's what I would do again. I do like the fact that C1 makes it "somewhat" easy to bring in your LR catalogs and convert them to either C1 catalogs or sessions.

Sessions are boss, I never use catalogs. Thank you for your input, Reginald! Glad to have you here.

Not a big fan of LR myself, but if someone doesn't do tethering, the Photoshop/ACR combo, for the price, is hard to beat. The improvements in brushes (even able to apply curves in brushes in ACR), together with ease of using third-party applications in Photoshop, are second to none in the industry. After using C1 for several years, I stayed with Adobe for these reasons. About cost, when we factor what Adobe throws in with the Photographer subscription (LR Classic, LR, Photoshop for iPad and iPhone, Portfolio, Premier Rush, and some iCloud storage), the bundle offering is also hard to beat. And everyone implies that C1 is cheaper than the basic $9.99/monthly Adobe subscription (cheaper if you pay yearly) with all it provides, but I'm not sure if we did the math, that C1 is really cheaper by offering the same applications in the bundle. Both are great programs, though, and everyone must choose based on what their needs, and budget, are.

if you sort and preview your images in LR then take the picks to C1 IN SOME IMAGES you will get better results for pure PP before using PS. However PP in C1 is much slower than LR which unless you're going to make prints LR is much faster and results are about the same. JUST my take I use both but with lots of experience you can make the same image with either Program.
Keeping C1 up to date may cost you more money.

Adobe comes from the postscript world which may mean nothing to most photographers but if you want to separate anything colorwise, you can't do it without PostScript interpreter, icc and often a Rip. I'm not surprised that LR will print faster as C1 is more of a rgb oriented software. That's why I don't use C1. I have no proof but having a long experience in delivering cmyk to my clients and some experience with drum scanning on Linocolor, I anticipate beautiful things that may or not happen in C1 at rgb level are not distinguishable when separated. You just wrote that you don't see the difference on print which confirms my thought. I’m no expert however. That leaves C1 having a possible advantage in rgb but since most rgb devices are not calibrated, perceiving the details differences may be only limited to the photographer on his personal screen and few others who have similarly calibrated screens.

That's interesting, I never saw that happen on my end. Will look out for that next time!

--- "but when I have to sort through thousands of final photos, I do prefer lightroom."

IMO, you'd probably fix a good portion of that issue if you'd use yyyy-mm-dd format instead. The way you have it now, dd—mm—yyyy, it might as well be just random numbers. You're always going to have to rely on searching or a DAM system. The way you have it, you can't even sort by folder name to get a chronological list.

For me, naming convention matter.

I have to try that out! thank you for suggesting it, Eddie.

I go one step further in C1 and use [Image Date (yyyy-MM-dd HH.mm.ss)] plus a descriptive suffix. In that way I can see the actual sequence of shots taken wwithout any tricky sorting, and it costs nothing more than a little column width in a file manager. I concede that it's seldom very useful, but sometimes it turns out to be quite handy.

I think that's quite overkill for a filename. It'd make too long and convoluted; and as you pointed out, it's seldom useful. it's best to keep simple and easy to read and very easy to reference.

What if I'm on Lightroom due to the cross cloud compatibility between the android version and the windows version? I would jump on C1 immediately if i could use it on my galaxy S8+ tablet and my Pixel 7 Pro and pick up on my PC.

That's a valid reason to use Lightroom!

I never warmed up to LR and preferred C1, it's been over a decade and love how I can create sessions, do basic edits before sending to PS and go back to RAW files archived on my external drives if needed.

That makes the two of us haha. I like using C1 way more than LR, although it is yet to be a decade.

The reason why the specific capture software used makes no difference to me is because when I shoot tethered, which is for most of my work, I look at capturing the data as in the way I feel is the proper exposure for the subject. What ever capture software people use makes no difference at capture time since the camera itself has full control of the captured values. It’s literally identical to film where the emulsion is set at manufacturing time when it’s all dried and packaged. From there you have the exposure part and the processing part where you can fine tune the image by playing with time and/or first bath temperature in a properly balanced E6 line and then scanned with a higher end drum scanner.
Personally, I don’t find ever the time to fine tune all aspects of the images as I shoot, especially on a busy day. I can open and show the details I capture if the client ask for it or if I send images for approval via email or what ever they want me to, but none of it will be 100% representative of the final image I will send. While my laptop is calibrated the final images are always processed on my larger monitor in a specific environment that I trust to be accurate enough for total consistency.

I see your point, Benoit. To some degree, I even agree with it. However, not going to lie, but while it should not matter what software you use, it sort of always does. I mean, one of my friends has been sorting out images in the Mac preview app and then photoshopping them. He was doing it for the past decade or so. I gather it's part of his workflow and he shoots incredible work. Then again, had he used C1 (or LR) he would've been much faster.

I don't use LR or C1, just PS and EOS Utility. For sorting images, I'm old fashion obviously, but you have to realize that there were no LR when I started. Since I work nearly 100% with accounts, all my accounts get assigned a specific 3 digit starting number. Each job I archive has those three digits and the next three start with 001 on the first job and then goes up. So some may be at 200+ if I have worked with them for many years. Then that's it! I archive the job in a year and month specific folder and create a back up the same way on a second archive drive. What ever is in the client folder will be used for retrieval, and most of the time each file contains the name or code of a product or person. If a client need me to retrieve something which happens from time to time, I can go look in my billing for their code name of a file and look for it or do a search right away from OSX. OSX search has improved drastically and can search in documents so the name can be traced directly from a PDF from billing if the name or code has been itemized properly in the invoice. I don't remember ever not finding a client file.

So, to summarise - a loaf of vague reasons highly specific to your workflow and style of photography that are utterly meaningless to most people. So why is the article titled why ‘you’ should switch. What an absolutely pointless article.

Here's another more "universal" reason to move to Capture One: image quality. The RAW processing in Capture One is better than anything Adobe provides. Second reason: Adobe is bloatware. Have a look at the fees in puts on your computer and you'll see that it loves to consume resources. Try to delete Adobe and you'll need Adobe's own removal programme - which by the way, doesn't actually remove everything. Obviously, use Adobe if none of that matters to you or you just like it better. Your call.

Absolutely not. I've found the demosaicing in Capture One to be far more aggressive than LR or ACR meaning you get over-sharpened images in places where you don't want over-sharpening - such as clouds. It's awful for landscape shots. It's also slow as hell, easily a second to two seconds lag when you move the dehaze slider left or right, compared to instantaneous in LR or ACR. The masking is the worst I've ever used in any RAW editor - just woeful - the magic brush is totally useless and you can't even add or subtract from a mask? lol! Also - the PS/LR photography bundle is significantly cheaper than Capture One.

I have never used Lightroom and have been using Capture One for several years now. This is not the time to jump to Capture One if you care anything at all about a perpetual license. They have announced that they are not going to give any upgrade discounts on perpetual licenses and the undertone is that they are trying to push everybody to the subscription model. It is a great RAW process, great at tethering, etc. What they are not good at is recognizing that their loyal customers have other options like DxO who will likely be getting my business as soon as I get any new camera that requires me to buy a C1 update to use it.

"if you shoot tethered and want a faster, smoother workflow that doesn’t stall production, go for Capture One."

Unless you shoot Leica which produces .dng files natively. Leica-.dng- files are substantially faster in LR than in C1.

As far as colors go, personally, I hate what C1 does to my files as a default. Way too saturated and "brassy" for lack of a better word.

For my Sony cameras, I use C1 to tether with in the studio, but then once I get the files home, I put everything into my LR catalog. I do all of my color grading in Photoshop anyway and the flow between LR and PS is better for me.

Ah, I never tried tethering a Leica. Great to see it supports .dng, I wish more cameras did that.

So do I; or at least provided the option. Processing .dng files in LR is a very good process.

If you don't like what C1 does with the files by default it is very easy to modify and use that as your own default.

I've done that, but it's so far from ideal that it's not worth it to me; especially doing it for each individual shoot. In the studio, I generally shoot a white balance patch and use that white balance during the shoot. Even then it's pretty awful (for my aesthetic). Plus the sharpening that C1 adds is just way too much no matter what I do. The way that C1 renders files is just awful--again for my aesthetic. I've spent a fair amount of time messing with it and still not happy.

I understand that a lot of it comes down to my current workflow with LR and PS and that I'm happy with it and I'm used to it to get what I'm after. At the end of the day it's not worth fighting through developing a workflow with another ecosystem when I have everything I currently need and want with Adobe--outside of the tethering aspect anyway.

Setting default C1 capture sharpening is fast and easy. Tweak to whatever is your preferred capture sharpen then set that as the default for the camera profile. I very seriously doubt the color defaults would need to be redone for every shoot if you are capturing the WB at the start of the workflow. With a known WB, set up whatever color, saturation, contrast, etc. defaults and tell C1 you want it to be the default for that camera profile, just like sharpening.

Like I said, even then, I don't like what C1 does to the files. They look too sharp, and "digital" no matter what. I'm good with the flow I have with LR and PS. No need to fix what isn't broken.

As others have said, the author is citing workflow issues, then at the end admits Lightroom cataloging is superior. The reality is that any advanced software will do what you want 90%of the time and the “ideal” workflow is one you’re used to. After all, most reviewers say that if you want true to camera raw conversion, you should be using each manufacturer’s own software. My own suspicion is that a significant portion of Capture One users use it because they believe it is more “professional” and another percentage do because they hate Adobe’s prescription model.

My personal feeling is that as an amateur who wants to spend his time capturing images, I have a hard time justifying learning and maintaining two parallel software systems just to make my (non-tethering) workflow “easier”. If I was making money with my photography and tethering a lot, I might feel differently.

That's what I do, I use the Canon EOS utility since day one. Technically, very early on, there were no alternatives and it did feel weak compared to the Leaf Capture I was used to (made for Leaf backs). Early EOS Utility versions would crash a lot too probably because computers were slow at the time. I tried C1 when it first came out as a beta but never could get used to it. It did not have the tethering option back then. Last time I downloaded a free trial was about 3 years ago, and I still didn’t see where it was advantageous enough for me to spend my time adding the app and master it. As long as the hard drive has plenty of space, EOS Utility is extremely fast at transferring images today.
Just to give you an idea on how Leaf Capture was ahead of it’s time, by the very early 2000s the developer (Raw developer) had a moire removal tool very similar in use to what Adobe Raw now offers. They were 20 years ahead but you could only use it for their MOS (mosaic) native files. Leaf was later absorbed by a few companies eventually merging with Phase One. Therefore, it’s very possible that the Leaf moire removal tool exists within C1.

Great software, however it is too expensive and lightroom is good enough for most users. But hey, use whatever suits you!

Too expensive, it's the most expensive raw editor on the planet. I have a version 20 license, it's not bad but I did not, and will not, upgrade. I moved over to Dxo, and I am all the better for it.

Why does this sound like an old article?

Why is there no mention of Wireless tethering? I no longer have to deal with that dreaded orange cable getting stuck on things. I freaking love this new ability. I think this could be an added value feature to offer previews during the wedding on an iPad.

Also no mention of the time-saving Group overview, Smart Adjustments, Cull viewer, and Free Live viewer. These are amazing new time-saving features. I was thinking of subscribing to one of those A.I. editing apps but these tools might eliminate the need for A.I. software.

I'm totally done with Photomechanic. C1 quickly imports the images I need, processes my RAW, and exports my deliverable. C1's programmable workflow is mind-blowing. The job I dreaded doing now is like playing my favorite video games.

--- "Why is there no mention of Wireless tethering?"

Probably because it's slower. As it stands, many complain how slow LR's tethering is. That's why they choose C1. I can only presume wireless is even slower than LR. And, probably another reason is reliable connectivity. I have yet to see any videos of anyone using wireless tethering.

I think sports people do but these are probably exported jpg not RAW.

The title, "5-Reasons why you should..." is pure click-bait and we all clicked. And now we're commenting. Brilliant!

Must help him pay his bills.

Speak for yourself. I didn't see it as clickbait. If the title has names of software, I would have clicked on regardless, and commented if I can relate or have 2 cents to chip in.

Man, it's 2023, some folks are still acting like babies, "Boohoo, clickbait this, clickbait that, boohoo."

I don't know if this title was a clickbait. One thing is for sure, this subject has been hammered a few times in the past in similar ways and didn't bring anything new. But Illya recently published an article explaining why clickbaits help him (help him help us apparently ??). At least he is very honest about it, but he put himself in that situation.

--- "this subject has been hammered a few times in the past in similar ways and didn't bring anything new."

Then, you would think people would just skip it and keep scrolling rather than whine about it.

I took a peek at Illya's past articles and to be honest, none of them I would consider clickbait. Sensational titles are to be expected.

The titles I ignore (from anywhere) are when they say something like, "I bought This and Guess What Happened Next!"; "She Said This, and OMG.....". Stupid shit like that. Notice I said ignore. What I don't do is go to their comment section and complain like a little bitch, "Clickbait!"

I think in the last few years, instead of people growing skin, they've grown to be snowflakes. :)

I recently wrote an article on the contrary.
I switched to C1 a few years back as I am using Fuji and LR was terrible at that time. I switched back for few months now. If I acknowledge the point that you above, I believe that the target customer of C1 and LR are different. As a landscape photographer, C1 is lagging behind LR in terms of tools and raw processing (for example masking is awesome in LR). It can of produces a too realistic result.

C1 is nice but updates are rare, usually with an advertised "revolutionary" but they most of the time deal with menu and organization. It's nice, but advanced functionalities is what photographers need too. It is also notably more expensive for updates you are getting.

In the end, I am happy I switched back to LR for now. But who knows what the next chapter will be about.

Whew after reading all of this, I am glad that I use Lightroom…. Plus, the great cataclysmic fear that LR was going to have annual price increases hasn’t happened. The bottom line is that almost every kind of software will go to a subscription model. It’s the only way these firms can stay in business.

While I do wish Lightroom tethering was better (it's a bit convoluted for a Sony shooter), the new LR masking features really have been somewhat of a game changer for me. I'm sure C1 will be implementing something like that in the future but for now there's no way I'd give it up.

I'm a bit envious of LR's new masking...especially since it's adaptive.

Yeah, I never realized how much I'd utilize the masking and I'm impressed with how well it works. I have little doubt that the Capture One folks are working to add this feature as we speak.

I used to pay for C1 - but due to changes in the licencing i've stopped using the software. It's becoming too expensive for a non-pro photographer. It's well made software - but the price/quality balance has been lost (for me). And selling me upgrades for items that should have been fixed for free (e.g. the Pano-bugs?) - that was my limit...
I won't pay rent for using software. It's by perpetual license or it's not. I'm strict on that point.

I agree C1 produces superior images but LR Ai and masking has changed the game. C1 needs to catch up

Interesting comments on this article, been using the Adobe CC subscription since release and for the price it's a no brainer to sign up.

However, I don't know how you manage to keep a stable tethering with Lightroom and your camera...
Tried with various Canon cameras over the years, MacBooks and my favorite surface book 2 using specialized USB cables, cheap cables but never managed to NOT crash and burn shooting tethered with Lightroom.

Least time I tried tethered shooting with LR it ended up with a broken catalogue and such a hard freeze of the laptop it took an hour to get it up and running again.

Ended up downloading the C1 pro trial to be able to finish the photo shoot and the whole experience were r.o.c.k. s.o.l.i.d.
Not a single glitch and blazing fast, even switched to a longer cheap USB cable and it worked flawless.

So yes, anyone shooting tethered and care about a no fuss solution should try C1 pro. That's my experience at least.

Ofc photography isn't immune to personal taste and preference but I do like how much better the raw conversion comes out even at default on C1 then LR and as someone mentioned, just the "skin tone" feature should do make the choice easy for anyone shooting a lot of portraits. It's that good.

So my only gripe with C1 pro is the price, for someone like me, a really enthusiastic "hobby" photographer (don't make any money from photography compared to what i paid for my gear) I can't really justify paying a subscription for C1 pro nor buying the full price version that I know won't see any updates.

Weirdest part is I was in a test panel/interview for C1 pro pre- subscription came out and I asked them "why isn't there a cheaper standalone option for Canon like a lot of the other camera brands? It's weird a Sony or Fuji or Nikon owner gets a discount but a Canon owner has to pay more then twice as much. Also, you should have a subscription/full price option that's a lot cheaper for us amateur/hobby photographers that doesn't make any money from our pictures but really loves the software but can't afford it justify the cost"

The C1 team said "that's a really great suggestion and a few things that might surprise you in the near future"

The result?
A more then twice as expensive sub compared to Adobe CC and no cheaper standalone for Canon and raised prices across the board...

So still hoping for that cheaper option and I do know the regular C1(non pro) is cheaper but the tethering isn't in that version neither the really great presets so it's pretty pointless compared to the pro version.

Guess I will be stuck using the trial versions when I do my occasional portraits 😂👍

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