Mark Galer is Wrong About Capture One Pro

Ed note: After this story ran, Mark edited the original article, removing many of the incorrect points we addressed. We ‘ve since updated Mark’s status from Adobe Influencer to the past tense.

Mark Galer, a Sony Pro, wrote a post called 10 Reasons I Won’t Be Switching to Capture One Pro. Mark then posted it to every Sony group on Facebook and I guess everywhere else. Not sure what Mark’s motivations were or are (he was an Adobe Influencer), but the problem is his ten reasons are full of factual inaccuracies. Lightroom is a great program, and while people don’t need a reason to use Lightroom other than “I like Lightroom” or because its workflow works for you, his post is worth responding to here.

I’ve written about both programs and last year worked with Capture One on a series of sponsored posts about the latest rev. Capture One and Lightroom are good solutions for different users. What it came down to for me was the non-modal windows in Capture One and not having to toggle between Library and Develop thousands of times a week, 50 weeks a year.

Every photo I edit and manage with Capture One is also opened in Photoshop for fine tuning, so this isn’t an anti-Adobe piece but a point-by-point response to Mark and why he is wrong about Capture One Pro.

Sidebar: I don’t think these 10 Reason I Hate X articles are useful except to drive traffic. There are always going to be pros and cons about anything. They spread well, but when they have factual issues, those get spread too.

Again, Lightroom is a great product, with millions of users and tons of reasons why you should use it. Capture One Pro is a great product with millions of users and tons of reasons why you should use it. If you’re going to pick one, it’s good to be armed with the facts.

Below are his reasons (in bold) followed by our comments. To not just Lightroom bash, we’ve included notes where Lightroom does outshine Capture One Pro.

  1. Lightroom + Photoshop is a more affordable solution, so you should use it—Okay, but then a compact camera is a more affordable choice than a pro camera too and that doesn’t mean you should use it. You can get the CC subscription and not use some of the software, I never open more than half the suite’s offerings. For example, if you like Final Cut Pro X and not Premiere, it wouldn’t be good to use Premier just because it’s cheaper. Also, Capture One Pro for Sony is US $50. So if you use it for a year before they update to 11, that’s $4.16 a month. That’s not really a big price differential.A full single-user subscription to COP10 costs $299. If COP did full version updated annually, that’s still $24 a month.An a7R II is $2898. The G Master lenses are around $1500. I’m not sure that $24 a month should be the use-case decision.
  2. Roundtripping support: The round tripping Mark describes in Lightroom is identical in Capture One. You select “Edit In” (right click, or menu) a file, and it creates a virtual copy, and opens that in PS. As soon as you save the file in PS, it updates in Capture One and that’s “catalogued alongside the original image in my library as well.” As I said above, I do that with every photo.
  3. Non-Destructive workflow via Smart Objects: This is a great reason to use Lightroom. If you use smart objects, there isn’t similar support in Capture One Pro.
  4. Synchronized Images and Edits across all Devices: Another great Lightroom feature that’s not available in Capture One because there are no Capture One photo editing apps per-se for mobile. There’s a remote app for Capture One Pro, and you can run tethered shooting and review images in your catalog, but it doesn’t synchronize across devices like Lightroom does.
  5. Confidence in on-going support: Capture One Pro is older than Lightroom. It was on V3 by the time LR 1.0 came out. If you count the LightPhase software it came from, it goes back to 2000. By 2004 it had changed to C1 and was up to v3.  In 2010, PhaseOne bought MediaPro from Microsoft to strengthen their asset management tools. Adobe isn’t dropping Lightroom, but PhaseOne has been doing their software longer, and have updated it more regularly.
  6. Extended Workflows + Plugins:  Plug-ins are definitely a killer Lightroom advantage. When it comes to the “Web” and “Book” tools, I don’t use those and don’t know any photographers that currently are. Every photographer I know has a website, many make books, few or none use these tools to do it.  Making a Blurb book isn’t the same as making a high-end wedding album, right? Slideshows are good, though I can’t remember when I used a slideshow last? Last time I did one, it was a Keynote presentation.
  7. Image quality: I think this one is an interesting debate, and I’m not going to tackle the raw processing engines, because that’s highly subjective. Mark says you tend to have to do less work in Capture One Pro to get a better looking result because the images starts off closer to being final. I think that’s a huge reason to prefer the image processing in Capture One Pro–after all, isn’t the point to do less work? I do think you can get similar (though often not exact) iterations across both. Sometimes I find a Lightroom adjustment more to my liking than Capture One Pro, usually I prefer Capture One Pro (especially with their lens profiles active.) Mark adds multi-image HDR and panoramic stitching under the Image Quality section. If you do panoramic stitching and HDR multi-frame composting as part of your regular work, Lightroom is definitely the tool for you. If you do this occasionally, then Photoshop will certainly do both. Mark also says that the result of the panorama merge in Lightroom are saved as a raw file. This is not exactly accurate. Even Julieanne Kost, who I love dearly, isn’t being clear on what is going on when she says the resulting panorama is a raw file. As Petapixel noted “It is also worth pointing out that Camera Raw/Lightroom Photo Merge HDR are saved as compact, scene-referred 16-bit floating point TIFFs that can contain over 30 stops of image data. This is compared to HDR files that contain “baked” output-referred data that have to be saved as 32-bit TIFFs in order to store more than 30 stops of image data. Therefore Camera Raw/Lightroom HDR DNGs offer a more efficient workflow for HDR photography compared to other HDR-­‐processing methods.” In other words, Lightroom is making a 16-bit TIFF file that is wrapped in their own DNG format. Saving a file as a 16-bit TIFF maintains the same amount of exposure data. You can, for example, take several JPEG images and create a panorama and the resulting file is a DNG. That doesn’t mean it’s raw. Mark then lists a number of features he’d be sad to lose. Some are tools that are in fact in Capture One Pro. We have separated them below, under the section Other Notes to not confuse things in a long post.
  8. Creative Cloud Services: Creative cloud is great and is a big benefit to Lightroom users.
  9. Convenient publishing to Social Media and Adobe Stock. This is my biggest complaint about Capture One Pro. They should add social media tools like yesterday, but the focus so far has been on editing tools, speed and streamlining. Maybe a studio shooter using Capture One Pro is thought to have an assistant that can upload to Facebook?
  10. Full DNG support: Adobe’s DNG format is only recently an open-source format. Prior to being submitted to standards bodies, it was an Adobe-controlled format. It’s not surprising that Adobe has better support for the format that they introduced, and they licensed. That said, each iteration of Capture One Pro since version 8 has had better support for DNG files. An issue is that DNG converts the raw files to Adobe’s standard profile, while Capture One Pro uses the camera profile to create its initial conversion. Images brought in from DNG don’t look exactly like their raw counterpart, but they’re very close. Below is a screenshot of a Sony a7R II image (left) and a DNG made with DNG Converter on the right. The DNG comes in with more contrast and more saturation, but it took two quick adjustments to make either look like the other.


Other notes

Here’s a list of things Mark said he’d miss if he switched from Lightroom to Capture One Pro

  • Vignettes with multiple options (sophisticated choice and level of control)

Yes, there is more control in Lightroom. You can, however, choose from elliptical, circular on crop or circular vignette in Capture One. 

  • The Radial filter

You can do a radial filter as an adjustment layer in Capture One Pro. Any tool can be applied as a radial filter. 

  • Soft Proofing (the ability to effectively prepare images for print – RGB or CMYK) to view and manage out-of-gamut colors.

There are many more soft proof features in COP, especially in Capture One than Lightroom. You can even soft proof how a file will look with a selected JPEG compression, scaling and profiles for output.  Even better, you can, though the menus, go to any Process (output presets) and see what that will look like without having to dial it in. Have a client that you send images to at 1024 and their custom ICC profiled monitor? you can proof that. Sending it to a Canon printer outputting to Hahnemuhle paper? You can proof that too.

  • The Dehaze filter

This is a great Lightroom feature and why I roundtrip in Photoshop. You can do a mix of clarity and structure in Capture One Pro but not as nice/convenient.

  • Upright (automated ‘keystoning’ of images)

Automatic keystoning is available in Capture One Pro, as is manual. 

  • Spot removal that can be painted in lines as well as spots.

There is both spot removal in COP and a healing brush.

  • Positive and Negative values when adjusting Highlights and Shadows

I’m not really sure why you want a highlight and shadow recovery tool to have negative recovery, but if you do you can simply do this by moving the white point and clipping the highlights and moving the black points and clipping the blacks.

  • The Vibrance slider – a more sophisticated way to add Saturation as it has an algorithm that serves to protect colors that are already saturated.

Capture One Pro does this….From their user online user manual: “The positive values (attained when the slider is moved to the right) are comparable to what 3rd party software often refers to as Vibrance. Vibrance is gentler to the skin tones and will be able to enhance, for instance, a blue sky without over-saturating the rest of the image. The negative values represent regular saturation settings.” The color correction tools in Capture One Pro are pretty astounding as well, and offer much more granular control than Lightroom. 

  • History states of ALL my previous edits – allowing me to return to any point in time of the editing process. This also allows me to compare a current edit with any previous history state.

This is a great feature not in Capture One Pro. 

There are a ton of great Lighroom features and Mark Gale mentions a bunch of them. There are also a ton of great COP features, that he didn’t.

Like the non-modal interface, completely customizable interface, floating palettes, presets for output types, and a bunch more discussed in our posts about the app.


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