Capture One Review
Updated · Oct 10, 2022
Best for: Editing RAW images
What Is Capture One?
Created in 2008 by Phase One, Capture One has turned into a fantastic tool, loved by many photographers. Since its launch, the software has seen multiple upgrades and changes, with Capture One 21 as its most recent version.
As of the summer of 2020, Capture One became its own company. The pro photo software is ideal for editing digital photography and works wonders for image cataloging and RAW image processing. One significant benefit is that you can tether your camera straight to the solution.
The photo capture software works with most camera brands, including Nikon, Fujifilm, and Sony. Also, it supports various export formats. In a world where Adobe Lightroom seems to dominate, Capture One appears to be holding its own.
Capture One Features
Let’s take a look at the fantastic features this photo editing software offers.
Sessions and Catalogs
Capture One Pro gives you two distinct file management methods: Sessions and Catalogs.
The Capture One Catalog works as a centralized library that includes all your photos. It's similar to other photo editing software like Lightroom, as you can organize all the files in folders and collections inside the catalog.
Capture One differentiates itself from the competition with the Sessions feature. Sessions also work as libraries of your images, but they are separate databases created per project/shoot. Not only helps this create a smoother workflow as you don’t have to load your entire library, but it’s also much more organized.
Sessions are beneficial during shoots. You can create a tethered Session, connect the camera, and images will go straight to the Capture One software.
Capture One High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Generally, there is a loss of details and colors in highlights and shadows during photo editing. But the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature takes care of this by stimulating imagery from a single photo.
You can quickly rediscover details in both Shadows and Highlights. The Highlights slider of the Capture One photo editing tool reduces brightness. You can use it to recover details from overexposed regions.
Similarly, by analyzing the color data in shadow regions, the HDR tool Shadows slider recovers detail no longer visible from underexposed images.
Masks and Layers
There are instances when you want to correct a specific part of an image. This is where the Masks and Layers feature comes in. You can create up to 16 layers per photo, and it offers different simplified ways to make a mask that is non-destructive. Some of its abilities include:
- Draw Mask: Apply adjustments to an image by painting over the desired area.
- Linear Gradient and Radial Masks: Create an easily adjustable gradient area. You can use Radial to develop and shape round masks with soft edges quickly. It also works for custom vignettes and applying creative effects to enhance focus.
- Luminosity Mask: Limit masks to a selected illumination range. With it, you can make fast, precise adjustments to Shadows, Midtones, or Highlights.
Capture One Format
It’s possible to import pictures to Capture One Catalog by connecting a memory card, camera, external disk, or receive them from your Adobe Lightroom Library. Alternatively, you can tether your DSLR with the program to instantly receive your photos.
Likewise, the Capture One app can only receive files from some supported formats, including:
- RAW (from a range of supported digital camera)
- DNG (from a range of supported digital camera)
- PSD (read-only)
- QuickTime/Windows Media Player
No Capture One review is complete without talking about one of the software’s best qualities: noise reduction. Luminance noise exists in every digital image; it is the product of a light-sensitive chip, regardless of ISO. But too much distortion can ruin the quality of a photo.
The Luminance function removes the pattern-like noise often present in shadow areas. The Capture One photography program also comes with a Color tool that removes noticeable noise from images. They usually appear as subtle green/magenta patterns.
Capture One 21 New Features
The latest update, Capture One 21, comes with a handful of new features. Notable among them are:
- Speed Edit: Allows you to make changes to pictures without navigating to editing tools.
- Dehaze: Helps you control the amount of haze and improves the saturation in flat-contrast images.
- ProStandard Profiles: Present colors more naturally, creating a better transition between the hues. It is best suitable for portrait and product photography.
- HEIC Support: The Pro capture software supports HEIC/HEILF 8-Bit files to the degree that the operating system you’re using can back the folder.
- Faster Asset Management: Access better tools, high-resolution thumbnails, and quicker image importing.
Capture One Ease of Use
One hallmark of a good photo retouching tool is how easy it is to use. If you’re familiar with Adobe Lightroom, you won’t find it challenging to use the software.
But for a new user, it can be slightly confusing. The interface is hard to navigate and appears more complicated than it needs to be. Many Capture One reviews show that even experienced photo editors find it hard to understand at times.
Note that despite this, the interface is very customizable. You can create an intuitive interface to include only the tools you need. You can also set up keyboard shortcuts to make your Capture One workflow easier.
Another helpful tool is the presets (Styles). You can buy them from Capture One or other style creators, but it will make using the software more accessible.
And while the learning curve is steep, an introductory video shows you around the software. You’ll learn how to navigate the solution, locate the various tools, and use sliders efficiently. You can watch it before starting your free trial.
Capture One Supported Cameras
Capture Ones allows you to tether your camera to your computer, which is a huge benefit for photographers. You can send Capture One DNG as originals or converted files. Note that the camera you’re using must support RAW.
Capture One supports all major camera brands, including Canon, Konica, Minolta, MamiyaLeaf, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Phase One, Samsung, and Rico. On top of that, it has special integration for Sony, Fujifilm, and Nikon. Let’s take a look at those three in more detail.
Capture One and Sony
Capture One Sony support comes in two variants: Capture One Express for Sony and Capture One Pro for Sony. The express version is free and best suited for editing RAW files and image cataloging. The one downside is that it doesn’t have some of the software’s professional tools.
The paid version, Capture One Pro for Sony, works well with professional tasks like tethered shooting and all additional features. It is excellent for complicated processing and advanced color correction.
Capture One and Nikon
The digital photography editing software is also available for Nikon camera models. Like the Sony support, it comes in two versions: Express and Pro. Whichever option you choose to go with, you’ll have access to Nikon profiles to match your camera’s custom colors. In their Capture One reviews, users praise the high-quality processing offered by the editing tool.
Capture One and Fujifilm
With the software, you can edit photos with Fujifilm Film Simulations. Like Sony and Nikon, you have the option between the Express and Pro versions. Also, Capture One for Fujifilm gives you the following features amid others:
- Duplicate checker
- Capture pilot
- HEIC/HEIF support
- Import from other applications
- Integrated movie import
- ProStandard profiles
Capture One vs Lightroom
Lightroom is possibly one of the most popular editing software out there. While Capture One offers many similar features, there are some key differences.
Lightroom boasts of excellent cataloging and organization features. It uses advanced facial recognition to streamline photos, and you can use keywords and metadata to filter images. Capture One uses Sessions and Catalogs to help you save pictures per shoot, sort, or group photos manually.
Capture One saves original files in the RAW format. It adds extra saturation and contrast, making it more striking than what you’ll get using Lightroom.
Lastly, Lightroom is more beginner-friendly than Capture One. Lightroom’s design makes it easy to understand its tools and features, and the interface is simple and well structured.
Capture One vs DxO PhotoLab
Capture One works with some of the popular camera brands, including Nikon, Sony, and Fujifilm. DxO PhotoLab is compatible with a wider variety of brands like Canon, Samsung, Apple, Olympus, and GoPro.
The organizational structure is quite different between the two. DxO PhotoLab uses basic search and album tools, but its primary categorizing system is folders. The downside of the preceding is that, unlike Capture One, it is not a digital asset management system. Capture One software organizes pictures using Sessions and Catalogs, which is easier to use.
Another plus point of Capture One is that it offers Shadows and Highlights recovery tools. While DxO PhotoLab also provides similar benefits, the High Dynamic Range effect of Capture One wins.
Another big difference can be found in the noise reduction qualities. DxO has two options, regular “Fast” and processor-intensive PRIME, but neither eliminates the disruptions. Capture One does a much better job at it. Even at the lowest ISO level, the solution takes care of all the noise without sacrificing textural detail.
In conclusion, we recommend Capture One over DxO PhotoLab.
Capture One Pricing
Capture One has a few pricing models. They include Capture One Pro single-user, multi-user, and enterprise. On top of that, the software offers Styles.
- Capture One Pro Single-User: Includes all features and technical support.
- Capture One for Sony, Fujifilm, or Nikon ($14/month or $199): Limited to the camera brand you choose.
- Capture One for all major camera brands ($19/month or $299): Works with all major camera brands.
- Capture One Multi-User (From $359/year): Works with all major camera brands, includes all features and camera tethering. Between 2-50 users, price increases per additional user.
- Capture One Enterprise (From $229/year): Works with all major camera brands, offering you the complete feature set, camera tethering, admin key (master profile), and management dashboard. Between 2-50 users, price increases per additional user.
- Capture One Styles: The software also offers different Style Kits, which are filters that you can use during your editing process.
- Beyond Styles Kit ($98): Nine designs in three variations, including Beyond Film and Beyond B&W techniques.
- Retro Styles Kit ($207): Covers 48 designs in three packs containing Film, Cinematic, and Black and White techniques.
- Color Grading Styles Kit ($265): Contains 62 designs in five different packs, namely Sunbound, Deep Forest, Seasonal, Matte, and Spectrum.
- Ultimate Styles Collection ($642): Includes 145 designs in 13 different packs containing everything already mentioned. Additionally, you’ll be able to use Editorials by Marie, Michael Woloszynowicz, and Pratik Naik.
- Bundle (From $149): You can bundle the lifetime license deals for Sony, Fujifilm, or Nikon with some of the Style kits offered by Capture One.
Capture One offers a free Express version for Sony and Fujifilm, which gives you some limited features to get started. Alternatively, there is a 30-day Capture One free trial for the paid plans. You can also get a refund for any purchased product if you have not activated the license.
Lastly, there is a 65% discount for photography students. Part of the concession package is free webinar access, tutorials, activation for up to three computers, and free software updates. Note that you’ll have to verify your student status before you can use the discount.
Capture One Review – Verdict
Our Capture One review shows that the software offers high-quality editing tools, customizable workspaces, unique color profiles, and the ability to tether your camera to your computer during a shoot.
However, as impressive as the editing tool is, it is not very beginner-friendly and has limited presets. It doesn’t help that it’s quite expensive.
But despite that, Capture One is a reliable one-stop-shop for getting the best noise-free images. You can try it for yourself using the 30-day free trial.
What is Capture One used for?
The software is a fantastic photo editing software with cataloging functions. It supports different camera brands like Nikon, Fujifilm, and Sony, among others.
Is there a free version of Capture One?
The Express version of the software is completely free to use. If you want to access all features, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans, starting at $14/month. Alternatively, you can buy a lifetime license, starting at $199. All plans come with a free 30-day trial.
Is Capture One free for Fuji?
The Capture One Express version for Fujifilm is free. While it has limited tools, it can still edit RAW files and is useful for image cataloging. If you want to unlock all features, you can upgrade to the pro version for $19/month or $199 for the lifetime license.
Is Capture One free for Sony?
The Capture One Express for Sony is free. It offers limited features, but you can unlock the rest by upgrading to Pro. Many Capture One reviews show that while it’s great to see a free option, the paid version gives you great value.
How much does Capture One cost?
The Capture One price depends on what plan you need. Prices start at $14/month but go up to $6,959/year if buying it for a larger team. You can avoid renewing plans by purchasing a perpetual license.
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