Adobe Lightroom and Capture One are two popular software options for professional photographers. These editing programs are must-have tools to create quality photographs, and investing in one of these software solutions will help you take your photography to the next level.

You might be wondering whether you should invest in Capture One or Lightroom. We invite you to read our Capture One vs Lightroom review to get a better idea of which software matches your needs.

Is Capture One an Editing Software?

Capture One is a photo editing software made by Phase One. It’s one of the most popular Lightroom alternatives, which is why we wanted to do a Capture One vs Lightroom comparison.

Capture One Pro software comes with core editing capabilities that let you adjust things like contrast, saturation, individual color channels, shadows, highlights, luminosity, and more. You can also use one of the built-in styles or presets to edit a photograph and achieve a specific effect. The software supports RAW files, JPEG, and other formats.

One of the key features of this tool is a customizable workspace that allows you to select the tools and workflows you want to access while editing RAW files or images. This program doubles as a tethering tool so you can manage your camera settings in real-time, and you can use it to manage files for your different projects.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Capture One

Capture One has become a must-have editing tool for professional photographers thanks to the quality of the editing tools and customization options. Here are the top characteristics and drawbacks to consider when thinking about Capture One vs Adobe Lightroom.

Unique Lens Cast Correction Tool

Have you ever taken a picture and wished you had used a different lens? Capture One can fix this!

If you end up with a shot that suffers from chromatic aberration, distortion, and other issues linked to selecting the wrong lens, you can use the unique lens cast correction tool to correct these problems. You can also edit your image to make it look like it was captured with a different lens.

We like this Capture One feature because of the accuracy of the results, and you can play around with it to get some new effects if you have a limited collection of lenses.

Tethered Capture

You can connect a Canon, Nikon, Sony, or Fujifilm camera to your laptop for tethered capture. You can control your camera through Capture One and do some edits on RAW files in real-time.

Capture One connects to your camera instantly. This feature is a must-have for professional photo-shoots!

Different Customization Options

The customizable workspace is one of the key advantages of choosing Capture One over other photo editing software. Editing tools can be overwhelming because of their complex menu and learning to navigate the menu and keyboard shortcuts of a new editing platform take time.

Capture One offers a simple process you can follow to create a customized workspace with easy access to all the editing tools you need for a project. You can create your own interface, add and remove tools as needed, and save your different workspaces.

If you have two monitors, you can create a customized dual-monitor interface with Capture One.

Simple Focus Mask

A simple focus mask is an automated tool that helps you go through your images and select the ones with the best focus.

This feature shows you the sharpest area of a photograph by applying a colorful mask over it. You can rely on this feature to go through shots and select the ones where your subject is perfectly in focus. You can adjust the mask settings to control how sensitive it is and make precise local adjustments.

Deep Color Editor

The color editor is another standout feature of Capture One. It’s easy to master, and you can perform a wide range of tasks with this tool.

The Capture One color editor uses a full-color spectrum, and six preset color ranges that you can select to edit that specific range. You can switch to advanced mode to create customized color profiles. You can also apply color edits to a single layer.

Nonstandard Approach to Luma Curves

Working with Luma curves allows you to adjust the density and tones of an image. Most photographers are used to adjusting RGB layers to make changes to hues and saturation.

However, Luma curves adjust the tone of your image without changing the hues and saturation. It’s an interesting feature for portraits since you can easily correct skin tones.

Separating the Luma and RGB curves is unusual, and it might seem counterintuitive to adjust tone, hues, and saturation separately. If you are used to adjusting color and luminosity together, the Luma curve feature could be a drawback.

How Much Does Capture One Cost?

Pricing is an important consideration for many photographers who are wondering about Capture One vs Adobe Lightroom.

Capture One is an investment. We think this investment is justified given the wide range of features and professional quality of the tool. However, there are more affordable options to consider if you’re getting started with photo editing, such as Lightroom.

You can get started with a free 30-days trial to explore the different tools and determine if Capture One is a good fit for you.

Here is a breakdown of pricing options:

  • You can subscribe to Capture One Pro for $20 a month but will have to spend more for a multi-user license.
  • The monthly subscription costs $9.99 if you have a Fujifilm or Sony camera.
  •  You can make a one-time purchase to own a Capture One Pro license for $300.
  • Capture One offers a $450 bundle that includes a pro license and a package with different styles.

Is it Difficult to Learn?

Capture One is an advanced photo editing tool. Unlike Lightroom, it’s not suitable for beginners, and you should keep in mind that there is a learning curve, even if you have years of experience with photography and editing.

Capture One has a lot of videos available, and you can explore the online repository to learn about different editing options. However, you need to be familiar with technical photography and editing concepts to master the different tools offered.

The sheer number of editing tools and settings can be overwhelming at first. It’s an advantage if you need a comprehensive photo editing tool that can do it all, but the learning curve can be a drawback for photographers who are looking for an intuitive solution they can use to make simple edits.

It Does Not Offer Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has become a staple of asset management strategies. If you plan on using Capture One in a professional setting, the lack of cloud storage is a drawback.

Cloud storage would have been a convenient option for studio photographers who edit photos on multiple devices or studio photographers who need to share their work with clients and team members. Capture One already works as a platform you can use to tether your camera and capture and edit images. Adding a cloud storage feature would have made Capture One a convenient central platform for creative projects.

Integration Capabilities

Capture One Pro doesn’t support integration with plugins or third-party tools. It’s not a major drawback, but it’s convenient to have a platform where you can edit your photos and publish them on the web with one click.

Editing in Lightroom

Lightroom is an Adobe product. It’s somewhat similar to Photoshop, but Lightroom is meant to be used for extracting images from your camera, processing RAW files or a RAW image, editing, and organizing your library.

Lightroom allows you to work with comprehensive image data if you use the RAW files format when shooting. You can make edits that Lightroom will save, but Lightroom will also preserve an original version of the image or RAW file. You can easily remove specific edits, or go back to the original version of the image or RAW file.

Lightroom is meant to be a comprehensive tool you can use from the moment you shoot a picture to the moment you publish the edited image. In Lightroom, you will find extensive image editing options and tools designed to help you manage your image library and send your images for publication.

laptop on desk

Image by Lalmch (Pixabay License)

Lightroom’s Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the top features that make Lightroom a smart choice for photo editing as well as potential drawbacks.

The Lightroom Ecosystem Based on Cloud Storage

Adobe offers a cloud-based solution for editing and managing your images. Lightroom is more than photo editing software. It’s a family of products.

You can install Lightroom CC on your Windows or Mac computer, use Lightroom for the web from any browser, and download the Lightroom app on your Android or iOS phone and tablet.

Your photos are stored on a cloud server. You can access them from any device, share them with others, and work on edits from multiple devices.

This cloud-based approach is an advantage because it’s adapted to modern workflows. Most of us edit images on more than one device and like using mobile devices to work on-the-go.

Local Adjustments and Masks Management

The mask feature and associated organization tools stand out. Masks are easy to manage, and you can accomplish a lot with that editing feature if you want to work on local adjustments.

On local adjustments, you can use masks to edit a specific area of an image. The auto mask feature is a convenient tool because it will automatically limit edits to an area with the same color. You can achieve precise local adjustments with this tool. It helps you save time since you don’t have to define the area you want to edit manually.

You can create different brush effects, switch between them, and tick a box to indicate if you want to apply the auto mask feature for these brush effects.

You can work with different types of masks, including color range masks, luminance range masks, and depth range masks. Switching between these different types of masks allows you to target elements with precision.

Each mask comes with a convenient side menu where you can use sliders to adjust your selection, edit color, luminosity, and more.

Lightroom Presets Simplify Editing in One Click

The Lightroom presets are another feature worth mentioning. Presets are similar to filters you would apply to achieve a specific look when editing your images.

Presets are an interesting feature if you want to make some quick edits or need to achieve a consistent look across a collection of pictures.

You can download and install Lightroom presets, or create your own presets from scratch. You will find presets designed to help you correct skin tone in portraits or apply popular filter effects to wedding photos.

You can apply a preset with a single click and make additional edits to customize the results and achieve a specific aesthetic. Presets are a useful learning tool for beginners, and it’s applying your own presets will help you save time when editing large quantities of pictures.

+1000 Free Tutorials and Lessons

Adobe offers a huge selection of online courses and tutorials. You can find tutorials for the different Adobe products and explore the help section of the official Adobe website to find short answers to specific questions.

Adobe offers more than 1,000 courses for Lightroom. Some courses are geared toward beginners and will help you get started with Lightroom. You will learn about basic concepts like adjusting brightness and color, sharpening an image, and getting rid of noise.

There is an entire series of courses about the local adjustments and mask feature we mentioned above, some tutorials that focus on presets, and some tutorials that walk you through specific projects.

The courses also cover the different aspects of the cloud-based library, and you will find courses on topics like portraits, food photos, landscape photography, pet photography, and more!

Smart Search Options Found in Lightroom CC

The Lightroom CC smart search feature is impressive. It’s a core feature that will help you save time when browsing through your library.

You can add tags to your image to easily filter results and explore tags. Lightroom CC pulls GPS data from your camera and lets you see all the images taken in a specific location. We think this feature is interesting if you travel a lot! You can also filter images by the device.

Lightroom CC uses an AI to read the content of your images. If you use the smart search feature to issue a keyword, the search result will return images with content that matches the keyword you entered. It’s a convenient feature for searching through large libraries, especially if you don’t want to read through tags.

This AI supports facial recognition. It’s a smart feature that can read the content of an image and group them depending on the models present in the shot.

The smart search and other library organization options are an advantage if you take a lot of travel photos or work as a professional photographer and often end up with hundreds of images after a photo-shoot.

Integration with Adobe Photoshop

The external editing feature allows you to switch between Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom in a couple of clicks. If this feature is enabled, you can switch between these two platforms by right-clicking on an image and selecting ‘Edit In.’

The external editing feature is convenient if you use workflows that require you to use both tools.

close up of laptop screen

Image by StockSnap (Pixabay License)

Limited Picture Retouching Options

Picture retouching is an area where Lightroom doesn’t perform well. You can use a clone and heal tool to copy a few pixels from an area of your image and copy them in a different spot. This simple feature is a good way of hiding a blemish on a portrait, but it doesn’t allow you to make any advanced edits.

There is a skin-softening preset you can use to correct skin tones. You can adjust the clarity and sharpness, and use the auto mask tool to select your model’s skin. The tool works like a filter that improves the appearance of human skin tones, but it’s not a precise editing tool.

If you notice redness and similar problems in a portrait, you can fix it by adjusting the luminance sliders. It’s a very basic editing technique that will change the luminance of your entire image or area selected with a mask.

The main issue is that these picture retouching tools lack nuance. Other tools like Photoshop or Capture One Pro have more advanced retouching tools compared to Lightroom.

Payment: A Monthly Subscription

Adobe has adopted a cloud-based subscription model. Photographers have to pay a monthly fee to access cloud storage and use Lightroom CC and other tools.

There are different subscription options to choose from:

  • There is a photography plan that gives you access to 20GB of storage, Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Spark, and Portfolio for $9.99 a month.
  • You can access these same tools and get 1TB of storage for $19.99 a month.
  • You can subscribe and get Lightroom by itself and 1TB of storage for $9.99 a month.

The potential downside of that subscription model is that you have to keep paying for your subscription to access your cloud-based library.

Adobe doesn’t offer the possibility of making a one-time payment to purchase a software license for Lightroom. The monthly subscription is an ongoing expense, and the cost can end up exceeding what you would pay for a software license if you use Lightroom over the years.

Lightroom vs Capture One: Which One Fits Your Needs?

We took a closer look at the Lightroom vs Capture One Pro debate and found that there are a few areas where one program performs better than the other. An important consideration for the Lightroom Capture One Pro question is whether or not you’re familiar with Photoshop.

Photographers who possess a strong knowledge of Photoshop will get used to the Lightroom interface quickly.

Here are some of the things that could tilt the scales in favor of one editing platform over the other.

Where Lightroom Ultimately Beats Capture One

Lightroom is the best choice if you’re familiar with Adobe products. There are a few features that make Adobe Lightroom stand out.

The Organization, Management, and Storing of Your Photos

The cloud-based photo library is a big plus. You can access your photos from anywhere, and the asset management capabilities will help you save time when looking through your photos.

Capture One Pro is somewhat lacking when it comes to asset organization since it doesn’t offer cloud-based storage.

Panorama Feature

Lightroom has a convenient merge feature you can use to create a stunning HDR panorama by merging a few images. With Lightroom, you can edit the images, but the merge feature guarantees a professional result with minor edits. You can add a cylindrical effect to create depth.

panoramic scene of city

Image by Pixexid (Pixabay License)

Multiple Adjustment Sliders

Most adjustment tools have sliders with a broader range and a higher maximum strength in Lightroom. These sliders in Lightroom give you more control over the edits, and you can achieve a more noticeable difference.

Tethered Mode for Camera and Lens Support

The tethered mode supports a wide range of cameras and lenses. You can choose the equipment you’re using to get the best results possible when working with the tethered mode in Lightroom.

two photos lenses

Image by Mylene2401 (Pixabay License)

A Convienent History Panel

Both tools let you edit images without changing the original image. You can undo edits at any time and go back to the original version of the image.

Lightroom has a history panel feature in its Develop module that helps you track edits and see previous versions of a project. You can see the different steps you took, reverse them, and see what the image looked like before each edit and compare the different versions. You can use the history panel to cancel edits or to reproduce a specific workflow.

Capture One Pro has an undo function you can use to go back to an earlier version of your image, but you won’t be able to track the different edits you made and develop a workflow.

Detailed Noise Reduction

Both tools support noise reduction. However, Lightroom is more performing in that area. You can use sliders to reduce luminance and color noise, and the results are better than with Capture One Pro on average.

Overall Cost Point and Value

Capture One Pro and Lightroom both offer a $9.99 a month plan. However, Capture One Pro only offers that option if you have a Fujifilm or Sony camera. You will have to pay $20 a month if you have a different camera.

Lightroom offers a $9.99 a month option that includes the Lightroom software, cloud storage, and additional products. With Lightroom, you can get additional storage for $20 a month.

Integration with Third-Party Plugins

Lightroom uses the cloud to support plugins and integration with third-party tools. These features are convenient if you need additional options to manage your assets or publish your edited photos.

Lightroom supports inventory, web gallery, and publishing plugins. You can use these tools to protect your images, send them to WordPress, Piwigo, and other platforms, send them to Costco for printing, or publish them on social media.

Smart Search Options

The smart search feature makes Lightroom a convenient option for managing your assets. Capture One Pro doesn’t have anything that compares.

Lightroom allows you to create customized tags to search through your images, and there is an AI feature that analyzes the content of your images. Lightroom’s AI even supports face detection so that you can easily find all the images of the same model!

Assimilation with other Adobe Products

Choosing Lightroom makes sense if you use other products from the Adobe family, like Photoshop. You can easily access your images from different tools by using your email address thanks to the cloud-based storage, and you can switch between different tools like Lightroom and Photoshop for a convenient workflow.

We recommend exploring Adobe Creative Cloud subscription options if you want to get the most from this product family.

User-Friendly Interface

The look and feel of the Lightroom interface are clean, crisp, and modern. We think the user-friendly interface will help you save time, and you should easily find tools once you get used to the menus. It’s a user-friendly interface that organizes tools in a logical manner once you get used to it.

Where Capture One Overtakes Lightroom

Capture One Pro is probably the best Lightroom alternative software out there. When comparing Lightroom vs Capture One Pro, we found a few areas where Capture One Pro is a clear winner.

Overall Speed and Efficiency

Capture One is superior in terms of speed. You will notice a difference when launching the program and when processing RAW images. This point is significant if you have a computer with limited speed and processing power!

The lack of cloud-based options can be a drawback, but not relying on the cloud means that a slow internet connection won’t be an issue when accessing your image library.

Personalized Workspace

One of the main advantages of choosing Capture One is the ability to customize your workspace. You can choose from pre-existing workspaces, or add and remove tools to create your own workspaces from scratch. You can save different workspaces and switch between them as needed.

Unlike Capture One, Lightroom doesn’t offer any customization options and delivers a single interface.

Organization of Your Files

Capture One Pro delivers two ways of organizing your files, while Lightroom offers a single library view.

You can choose between sessions that give you access to all the relevant files for each shoot. It’s an easy way of creating backups for your files, and you can create a selection of the best images for each shoot, see your edited files along with the original images, and manage your trash folder.

The catalog view takes an approach that is similar to a database. You can create a referenced catalog based on your file structure, or create a managed catalog if you organize your images with a different system without changing your file structure.

RAW Files Conversation

When converting a RAW file to different formats, you will notice that Capture One delivers results that are better in terms of saturation and contrast.

Layer and Luminosity Masks

The luminosity mask feature uses a Luma Range to help you edit areas with similar luminosity levels. You can use this mask with layers or gradients.

Notes Feature to Create Annotations

Annotations are a convenient feature that is missing from Adobe Lightroom. You can use this tool to scribble and add notes over your image.

It’s a useful tool for planning your edits, keeping track of your ideas, and getting back to work quickly after not working on a project for a while. You can toggle the annotations on and off, and they will appear as an additional layer over your image without affecting the image itself.

Organization of Your Files

Capture One Pro delivers two ways of organizing your files, while Lightroom offers a single library view.

You can choose between sessions that give you access to all the relevant files for each shoot. It’s an easy way of creating backups for your files, and you can create a selection of the best images for each shoot, see your edited files along with the original images, and manage your trash folder.

The catalog view takes an approach that is similar to a database. You can create a referenced catalog based on your file structure, or create a managed catalog if you organize your images with a different system without changing your file structure.

Easy Tethering Abilities

Both tools support tethering. However, Capture One delivers a faster experience. The tethering setup is easy to master, and you can sync up your camera with your laptop in a matter of seconds.

Shadows and Highlights Sliders

We mentioned slider ranges as one of the things Lightroom does better. That is true for most features, but Capture One has a wider range when it comes to editing shadows and highlights.

Sign Up With a Free Trial

You can sign up for free trials with an email address with both options so you can test their pros and cons. However, Adobe will give you a free seven-day trial while Capture One offers a free 30-days trial. Having an entire month gives you plenty of time to explore all the different tools available.

Similarities Between the Two Programs

We found a few areas where there are no clear winners in our Lightroom Capture One comparison. These elements aren’t pros and cons, but these settings can impact your experience with both platforms.

Overall Learning Curve

Whether you choose Capture One or Lightroom, you have to be willing to read about the settings of either program. These tools are meant to be advanced photo editing products and are suitable for professional use. Thankfully, Lightroom and Capture One offer comprehensive online resources for learning about these editing tools, and you can get tips from online photographer communities.

You will have to familiarize yourself with advanced photo editing concepts and learn to use the different tools. Exploring everything Capture One and Lightroom can do will take time!

Lightroom might be a better choice if you have used Adobe products in the past since you will already be familiar with some tools and might find that navigating the interface is easier.

Standard Color Quality

The color adjustments are similar between both tools. Capture One and Lightroom use RGB color editing, and you can make precise color adjustments.

Lightroom’s color sliders cover a slightly broader range, but Capture One has a color editor that allows you to create precise customized color profiles.

laptop with man using track pad

Image by Free-Photos (Pixabay License)

Exporting Options

Both tools support similar file formats. The workflow for saving and export your work is similar between the two photo editing tools.


The Lightroom Capture One debate is an ongoing question among photographers.

We think that Lightroom is your best option if you work across multiple devices or want cloud storage for any other reason. The smart asset organization capabilities, integration with other Adobe products, free presets, and online courses and tutorials are compelling reasons to consider Lightroom over Capture One.

However, Capture One has a superior approach to workflows between its fast tethering capabilities, session mode, customized workspaces, and history panel feature. 

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