Bye, Bye Lightroom

There is no question that Lightroom is the most popular RAW-converter on the market.

I’ve been a rather happy Lightroom user since version 3. It’s quite comfortable, cheap and easy to learn.  I look at RAW-converter as photography gear. Just like a camera, lens or even comfortable backpack. They will help you carry your gear longer and more far, to places that you always wanted to explore. It would be silly to hold on to the kit lens you got with your first DSLR and never look for anything better.

The reason for which I decided to switch to Capture One is more or less subjective. Supported by many positive reviews on the Internet and the personal experience by many great photographers. But the main reason was in the intuitive user interface with excellent tools for color correction and adjustment layers.

I m not going to take this article in criticism style by pointing to weaker aspects of this or that software.  This article will explain main reasons, which were important for my decision to go with this software.

1. Color Editing

Many users highlights a perfect first color rendition in the RAW converter in Capture One. I think it is a pleasant thing, but not decisive, not for me. I almost everytime start with Linear Curve. That may look quite flat, but its a great starting point for RAW editing.

Talking about colors, It is a place where Capture One excels. You get powerful color balance tool. What gives you control over Hue and Luminosity in shadows, mid-tones and highlights. You have the color editor to adjust specified colors in the image and great skin tone editing as well.

To be honest it is something I haven’t found in Lightroom and was always forced to do “detailed” color corrections in Photoshop. It sped up my productivity and most of all I enjoy working with the colors more than ever.

2. Exposure Editing

Capture One offers much the same functions to adjust the exposure. They call it differently, but mostly, you will achieve the same result with them. In many reviews, people appreciate the improved results in the delineation of shadows and highlights. I personally have not tested how much CaptureOne is better than lightroom. If I am satisfied with the result, Im not trying to be critical.

But what you will surely welcome are possibilities of modification via Luma Curve, and better Clarity.

Luma Curve effectively control the luminosity without affecting Hue and Saturation. I found adjustment done by Luma Curve more pleasing and since then I use RGB curve editor only for color corrections. Clarity offers more control than Lightroom. In Capture One, Clarity tool has four different modes, and each of them provides a unique effect.
For example, Punch mode works harder and seriously affects color. On the contrary – Natural mode is very accurate with your image and almost doesn’t touch color. Capture One’s Clarity tool also has one additional slider – Structure. It works similar to the tool called micro contrast I use with Google Nik plug-in in Photoshop. It adds micro details without oversharpening effect to the image and I use it more often then clarity lately.

3. Adjusting Layers

Adjusting layers are simply what you call local adjustment in Lightroom. But in my opinion, much better organized and offer more local adjustments. In addition to the possibility of what Ligtroom offer you can locally adjust color curves, luma curve and edit colors. Layer functionality enables you to keep your editing steps organized. You can name them. You can change their order on top of the base layer they are applied and you can copy masks from one to other. You can create masks by color selections as well. That’s  very useful and saves time.

4. Customization

In Capture One you can customize almost anything. Reorganize and resize each workspace element. Put any tool in any place on the screen or duplicate tools and create custom tool tabs. Save workspaces with different tools and layout for editing color images, black and white, organize photos … whatever you will like and will fit your personal preferences.

5. Overall speed

I’m not a professional photographer. I’m not under pressure of short deadlines or still eager clients. I can say that everything I do I have enough time. Image processing speed is not as important for me, still, I couldn’t not notice that Capture One is much faster than last versions of Lightroom. But even if the speed is not the most important feature for me, I love to invest the time for creative process instead.

Final Decision

It looks like Capture One outperforms Lightroom and is the best option for the RAW editor on the market. Of course not, neither Lightroom is not. For sure I’m missing some features what Lightroom offer and do in a better way. Also, Capture One is more expensive and Lightroom will always have better support. More users, more presets, tutorials and plug-ins to extend its capability.

But I do enjoy work with Capture One more. I feel to have processing more under control and my latest outputs confirm my words.I don’t think even after only 2 months of use I need stronger argument to keep Capture One in my pipeline.

Have a good day.