Capture One vs Lightroom

Is Capture One really that much better than Lightroom? 

I asked myself that question about four months ago when I picked up a subscription to Capture One Pro 9 (now 10). I've been an avid Adobe Lightroom user for the past 4 years and love the workflow I had developed. Lately, since I've incorporated tethered shooting into my workflow I've started to notice some of the down flaws of Lightroom. I initially noticed on a client shoot that my images were not coming through as fast as I would like for review and I was finding myself waiting much longer that I needed to check focus or exposure. I did some research and found that Capture One typically has better skin tones and a lot faster interface. I fell in love immediately with the software. What took several tweaks to do in Lightroom, Capture One did by just importing my photos. They all looked almost perfect right out of the camera. 

Edited with Capture One

Edited with Lightroom

As of a couple weeks ago, I was only using Capture One Pro for editing everything. It wasn't until I decided to just give it another try. Before I started editing I did some research and found this article where the author goes into detail about how to setup lightroom and make a preset that simulates the Capture one Pro look.

Basically, all it is bumping the sharpness up to 75 for Nikon, 55 for Canon, or 45 for Fujifilm. Then reducing the radius to 0.9 and detail to 15. Here are my settings for Nikon:

Next, you want to change the tone curve preset to medium contrast and the camera calibration to Camera Portrait, This will give you almost the exact same look as Capture One Pro. So really it comes down to speed. Capture One is noticeable faster than Lightroom. Adjusting lightrooms cache limit does help but Capture One is still a speed demon. I think there will be a major update soon to Lightroom. Over the past several months as Capture One has increased in popularity people are noticing how slow Lightroom is. 

If you are trying to pick between the two I would say get Lightroom for the best bang for your buck. Most people in the creative community have the Adobe Photography Creative Cloud pack which comes with Photoshop and Lightroom for only $10 a month. That is a steal! Capture One is still pretty cheap however at only $15 a month. 

It really is just personal preference and opinion. I grew up with Lightroom and will be switching back to it. I will have Capture One for the next 8 months, but as of right now I am going to try and focus more on editing in Lightroom. It is what I'm comfortable with and does an amazing job at integrating with Photoshop (which is where I do all my retouching). I can pull all my photos into lightroom, make selects, right click an image and edit in Photoshop as a tiff then it is already back in my Lightroom catalog ready to go.

The best thing to do is sign up for a trial of each and spend a few weeks on each to compare and contrast them for yourself. Here are the links to each software:

Capture One Pro

Adobe Lightroom