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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

Let’s take a closer look at Capture One vs Lightroom. On one hand, we have Adobe’s Lightroom, and on the other, Phase One’s Capture One.

We’ll look at what makes them similar, and what makes them different. And if one’s better than the other.

A screenshot of editing a landscape photo in adobe Lightroom. Capture One vs Lightroom.

Capture One

Capture one is Phase One’s pride and joy. They specialise in high-end digital photography equipment and software.

They manufacture open platform based medium format camera systems and solutions.

Capture One is their editing software package.

A screenshot of editing a cityscape photo in Capture One Pro. Capture One vs Lightroom editing software


The biggest advantage compared to Lightroom is that the workspaces are completely customisable.

You can hide tools, viewer, thumbnails and icons. Or move and resize them.

This is a benefit if you change your workspace with each new project or photographic genre.

This is great to have, but like me, I waste time trying to search for areas I have moved before.

If you are doing the same adjustments to your images across the board, it is a little redundant. But still great to have.

Another helpful area is the use of annotations. This is beneficial for the professional or studio photographer. It will let you save notes for use later.

You can add handwritten notes on the image, to follow when you have time.

This is also beneficial if you aren’t editing the images. It gives others a chance to follow your thought process easier.

Capture One follows a session based workflow. You can use tokens to set where you want your images saved. The images will add themselves when exported.

It will even create the path for you. And it will keep the smaller web images in the same project, but in different folders.

A screenshot of editing a portrait photo in Capture One Editing software

It is a quick and easy way to add keywords. And it tends to be more for studio rather than landscape photographers. They work off different ideas and workflows.

Keeping along the line of studio photography, Capture One is a beast when it comes to tethering. It is the best program to do this with.

You can sync other devices for others to sit back and watch the photographs appear.

They can also rate the images in real time. Perfect for those who work with clients.

Many people believe that Capture One has a better RAW processor. For me, it’s very close to Lightroom. There are also those who comment on colour management and sharpness. But I found that these settings apply to your images on opening.

Capture One uses colour profiles that are not only unique to the brand but also the camera model. This saves time and effort when finding the correct colour for your camera’s images.

Also, the colour editing sliders offer better fine-tuning control, particularly for skin tones.

The Shadows and Highlights sliders have a greater range of tone control. And the new Luma Curve is useful for precise control of luminance and colour contrast.

A screenshot of editing in Capture One Pro. Capture One vs Lightroom.


Capture One is a great piece of software and has many elements that make it great. One of the biggest problems I found was the lack of a library.

Like many photographers, I have my work spread out over many folders and hard drives.

In Lightroom, the location of my images does not matter. They are all organised inside the programme itself.

For culling the wheat from the chaff, Capture One also fell behind. In Lightroom, I can open a folder of images, and go through them. This is where I apply flags, colours and star ratings.

I can’t do this in Capture One.

And, if I decided I wanted to go from Lightroom to Photoshop, I could do so with a click of a button.

A person using Lightroom editing on a laptop in an office setting

It will also keep the edited version for me, which is great for when I send it back from Lightroom into Photoshop. Capture One allows me to export and then I need to go an open Photoshop, so it take time.

There is definitely a steep learning curve to using Capture One. Most of us grew up with Adobe products, so we understand their placement and logic. Relearning a new software will take precious time away from editing.

What many photographers will see as the number one area for deciding to use this software, is its price.

If you buy Capture One the outright cost is the same as 32 months of Adobe’s CC photography option. This is great if you plan on using it for longer.

If you subscribe, it is still 60% more expensive than the Creative Cloud from Adobe. And it doesn’t come with the features either.

A screenshot of Adobe Creative Cloud, photo editing software


Lightroom is the brainchild of Adobe. After Photoshop, Lightroom is the younger brother. This is where basic and local adjustments are king.

You can create HDR images and panoramic shots through different modules. This means you can manipulate your image any way you wish.

A stunning coastal seascape on a bright and cloudy day, edited with Lightroom or capture one software


The biggest advantage here is that Lightroom is cost effective. By subscribing to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you get Photoshop and Lightroom. All for the price of a few trips to Starbucks.

On top of this, you get free online storage. And you can access the professional areas on the Lightroom Mobile app.

There is tight integration between other Adobe software. Sending an image from Lightroom to Photoshop will save an edit as a virtual copy. When you import it back, it will keep both versions for you.

Something like this really helps your workflow. Especially when you don’t have a clue about exporting and resolution.

Lightroom operates from a non-destructive standpoint. When you edit your image, you can revert back to its original in one click.

Lightroom also lets all your devices attach to it and use the same images. If you are working on your home computer and need to leave, use the mobile application instead.

A close up of a tablet on a wooden table

Capture One allows the camera files from 400 different cameras for use in it’s software. Lightroom allows almost double that. Phase One has a vested interest in medium format cameras. So if you shoot on a medium format that isn’t Phase One, you can forget about using Capture One.

Lightroom has an extended workflow concept. Not only can you edit your images in almost every way you may need, it is a library and RAW processor. Its clever use of modules allows you to create a map based on GPS locations, a book, slideshow etc.

You can even use third party software to achieve things not possible in Lightroom itself. LRTimelapse is a great program to create beautiful videos from sequential images.

Lightroom boasts strong demosaic software and can support 32-tiff and DNG files.

You can even publish your images straight from within Lightroom to social media. Facebook, Flickr and Behance, to name a few.

A screenshot of the library in Lightroom. Capture One vs Lightroom.


The problem some might find with Lightroom is they don’t like the library aspect. All images need an import into Lightroom, which takes time. I too find this a drag, but I can select the images, click on the import button and go and do something else in the meanwhile.

This process takes longer if you are creating 1:1 previews. They allow you to see the image at a better and higher resolution. But they can slow you down. .

Lightroom is limited in the way that you can’t customise your work area as you see fit. Some buttons can be tricky to know how to operate, and I’m still finding out things I had no idea existed.

Capture One tried to make the photographer edit as little as possible.

It increases the colour and sharpness of an image upon opening it. This saves the photographer time. Lightroom provides a base, so you need to know what you want from your image first.

Adobe Lightroom is not free. It comes at a subscription price, and that’s it. So if you use it for the next five years, you are still paying for it.

Capture One is paid off after 32 months, making it free for the rest of your life.

Adobe Lightroom pricing plan


When it comes to the choice between Capture One and Lightroom, there is no clear winner. Both are great programs to use in editing your photos. They do the exact same job in the local adjustments. Also in fixing exposure and colour temperatures.

The difference comes into play when you look further. Then you notice all the extra features each program has. For me, Capture One is a little more professional than Lightroom.

This isn’t to say Lightroom doesn’t help you to create professional, high-quality images.

Capture One focuses on those elements needed when shooting an advertising campaign. It gives you great tethering, which you can see from many devices.

It also uses annotations, which only studio photographers would use.

Lightroom is for the everyday users. It is very user-friendly, it holds your images and it gets the job done well. It is cheaper in the short-term and has everything you might need. And more.

Use Lightroom if you are social media savvy, use Capture One for pleasing the clients.

A laptop on a table with Lightroom editing interface open - lightroom alternatives

Also, there is nothing stopping you from using both software. The cost would be very high. But if you have both and need them for different photographic disciplines, then why not?

They offer different things, so get the best from both worlds.

Each program is only as good as its user. For Capture one, you need to spend a long time practising and searching for ‘how to’ videos. If not, then it’s almost a waste of time and money. You won’t need it.

If you want to create and work with DNGs, it won’t be possible.

Lightroom is the all-rounder. It gives you great tools in every direction. From lens distortion correction toresponsive develop sliders.

I use Lightroom for the majority of my work, and although I’m not against using both, I won’t make the switch. There are too many other things I want to do with my dwindling spare time.

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

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Craig Hull

Craig is a photographer currently based in Budapest. His favourite photographic areas are street and documentary photography. Show him a darkroom and he'll be happy there for days. As long as there are music and snacks. Find him at and Instagram/craighullphoto

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