Last updated on December 6th, 2019

Is Capture One better than Lightroom? There’s no one answer for that and it depends on what you’re looking for. I’ll discuss some important factors in comparing Capture One vs Lightroom that’ll help you decide.

First of all, both Capture One and Lightroom are image management and editing software. For this reason, new photographers should consider both Capture One or Lightroom for their photography software.

There’s also occasions of experienced photographers moving from C1 to LR or vice versa for one reason or another.

Furthermore, I’ll be comparing Capture One Pro 20 and Lightroom Classic in this blog post.

Capture One vs Lightroom

capture one vs lightroom

Capture One provides two ways to manage photos: catalogs and sessions; whereas Lightroom is only catalog-based. I don’t shoot tethered but from research, many photographers prefer tethered sessions in Capture One.

Lightroom has a better RAW image import process since it can convert RAW files into Adobe’s lossless DNG RAW format. DNG files save a considerable amount of space when working with thousands of photos. For some reason, Capture One only converts RAW files to DNG during export. Capture One can also render DNG images.

Capture One has layers – one of the best ways to edit images with stacked adjustments. Therefore, you won’t need Photoshop unless you’re doing advanced editing. Lightroom doesn’t have layers.

Lightroom has panorama image stitching and HDR merging whereas Capture One doesn’t. These features aren’t deal breakers but I can see where travel photographers may want these features.

I personally don’t do much panorama stitching and my HDR photography is done in Photomatix or Aurora HDR.

Capture One has better color grading with its advanced color editor. But you can still color grade well in Lightroom.

Lightroom has book and print modules. Most photographers don’t use all the modules, but for client jobs, the book and print modules make it easier for soft proofing print-ready images. You can still soft proof images in Capture One by changing the ICC profile and so on.

Capture One has a customizable interface. The default interface is a bit clunky but it’s easy to adjust and move around the tools to a photographer’s workflow. Lightroom’s interface is not customizable.

Lightroom is intuitive for beginners. It’s easy to import, edit, and export images from the start. Capture One has a learning curve that will require you to read or watch a few tutorials.

Capture One has better RAW image rendering for Fuji and Sony cameras as mentioned by other photographers. The images just look sharper and crisper on Capture One.

Lightroom’s retouching is better with its spot removal brush. The Capture One spot removal tool is limited and is only good for dusts spots or small distractions. You can’t use C1’s spot removal tool to paint over an area (I couldn’t figure it out) or choose a sample source like Lightroom.

Conclusion

The above Capture One vs Lightroom comparison should give you a better idea on which software is right for you. But it really depends on your needs.

Another alternative to Capture One and Lightroom is Luminar 4. The software’s image management is not as great as C1 or LR but it does have really good editing abilities. For more information read my Luminar 4 review.

Finally, one aspect that is overlooked is Lightroom CC comes with access to Lightroom Mobile: a powerful mobile image editor for Android and iOS. And you can sync your Lightroom Mobile photos to your desktop version of Lightroom.

For more information on C1 and its pricing, read my Capture One Review.

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