Capture One vs Lightroom

Capture One vs Lightroom

Last Updated on May 16, 2021 | In Lightroom Tutorials by Stefano Caioni Leave a Comment

Last Updated on May 16, 2021

Are you looking for a comprehensive analysis of Capture One vs Lightroom?

Capturing a RAW image is just the starting point with photography. In order to obtain the exact image you desire, you require a tool that can edit RAW files. You can think of this tool as a sort of the modern-day equivalent of a dark room. Adobe Lightroom and Capture One are two such incredibly popular post-processing tools for photographers. Most of their basic features are common. Where they differ are in the advanced features. Each of them excels in different aspects, and perform certain tasks better than the other. Depending on one’s exact requirements, a case for either of these tools can be made.

Capture One vs Lightroom

Here is a breakdown of Capture One vs Lightroom to find out which tool is better suited for your needs.

Capture One vs Lightroom: The Advantages

Adobe Lightroom Pros

Organization: Lightroom has numerous features that make organizing your photos are a breeze. The face detection feature that is incredibly useful for sorting images of people, and it does so with great accuracy. Lightroom CC’s AI-based keywording is another superb feature that will save you a great deal of time.

Third Party Features: Lightroom offers significantly more support, tutorials, plugins, and presets than Capture One. It is also easier to find answers to obscure questions with Lightroom as compared to Capture One.

Lens and Camera Support: Almost always, Lightroom is faster at supporting RAW files from cameras. It also offers support to some older and more obscure lenses. Although not a big deal for most users, this can be a very useful feature for certain photographers.

History: One of the most useful features of Lightroom is it’s history panel which keeps track of all the post-processing steps. The ability to see the entire edit history is a very useful feature. It prevents you from going too wild with the edits.

HDR and Panorama: Lightroom creates HDR and panorama files as DNGs rather than the space exhausting TIFFs. Additionally, the HDR conversion on Lightroom is the most natural-looking compared to other software.

Related: How to Edit Photos in Lightroom

Capture One Pros

Customization: It is possible to set up assignable keyboard shortcuts on Capture One. The layout of the interface can be customized as you desire. You can make it look very similar to Lightroom or any other tool that you wish. This type of customization is rarely seen in other tools.

Color Adjustments: The color editing options with Capture One are more comprehensive than other tools. This makes it much easier to deal with tricky lighting situations. You can adjust boundaries freely and also add effects to very specific colors without affecting other at all. You can add highlights, shadows, and mid tones using the Color Balance tool.

Layers: One of the best features of Capture One is the presence of layers. You can add dozens of layers and local adjustments for each, without slowing down the tool at all. You can also add gradients and brushes as part of the layer masks.

Annotations: You can add annotations to your photos very easily with Capture One. Notes can be directly added to your images, making it easy for others to edit as well.

Healing Layer: The built-in spot healing layer is superior to Lightroom’s spot heal brush. It is much faster than Lightroom’s tool, since healing large areas can make Lightroom lag significantly. Additionally, the healing points don’t overlap like on Lightroom, allowing for finer adjustments.

Speed: In general, Capture One is quicker and more responsive overall. It is less likely to freeze, even when applying dozens of local adjustments. The only place it lags behind Lightroom is export speed, but hen accounting for the common freezes with exports in Lightroom, Capture One performs faster overall.

Try Capture One Free here.

Capture One vs Lightroom: Where They Both Excel

Export Options: A number of export options are present in both Capture One and Lightroom. On Lightroom, exporting is fairly trivial and easy to access. The export option in Capture One is just located in different sections. There are 5 different tools present rather than a single convenient dialog box as in Lightroom.

Color Rendition: Both tools have their own strengths and weaknesses in this department. Capture One has superior color adjustment based tools, giving you much more flexibility in this domain. The colors with Lightroom may be a little more accurate and a tad easier to adjust during post-processing. Depending on your exact needs, one of the tools could prove superior.

Learning Curve: In general Lightroom is a little more lightweight than Capture One and a tad easier to use. The extra customization of Capture One causes it to be a little more complicated to use. Although the argument can be made that Lightroom is a little bit faster to learn overall, it is essentially the same.


As part of Adobe’s subscription model, you can get Lightroom CC for just $10 a month. The bundle also includes Photoshop CC, which is useful for photographers as well. There is no option to buy the tool for lifetime use.

With Capture One, you can either get a subscription plan that costs $20 a month or pay $180 for a full year. Unlike Lightroom, however, you can buy the latest version itself for $299.

Capture One vs Lightroom: Our Winner

Both Capture One and Adobe Lightroom are superb RAW image editing tools. Each of them has their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Lightroom is more popular, and has many more plug-ins, support, and presets available. It also comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop, which is great for pixel-based edits.

On the other hand, Capture One offers more color adjustment options and profiles that can make post-processing very easy.

Just like with cameras and lenses, depending on the result you want to achieve, you can use either of the two tools. There is no clear winner in this case.


Now that you understand where each of these editing tools excel, you can make the right choice for your needs! Next time you edit a RAW photo, just look out for the type of features that you end up using a lot more. You can then choose the appropriate photo editing tool.

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