It seems only a short while ago when I was undecided on the RAW processing software that would replace Lightroom. I shortlisted several potential alternatives – Capture One Pro, RawTherapee, DxO Optics and Darktable among others – but was able to try out only Capture One Pro properly. A demo version 10 of Capture One gave me 30 days to test it, after which I was able to continue evaluation by signing up for a beta copy of version 11. After using Capture One for several weeks, I made a decision to stick with it despite its hefty price tag. Now seems to be the right time to publish this, with the last standalone version of Lightroom 6.14, having just been released. Needless to say, my attempts at using other software I listed earlier were quite lukewarm. So to the reader who is here expecting a comparison between different alternatives to Lightroom, this post is unfortunately not it. Instead this post documents my migration from Lightroom to Capture One.
Many photographers, including our team at PL, have been frustrated with Adobe’s latest move to discontinue the standalone version of Lightroom, something Adobe said it would not do in the past. As a result, a number of us (including myself) have been looking for alternative post-processing tools that can replace Lightroom completely. For the past few years, I have owned Phase One’s Capture One Pro software, which I found to be very capable when it comes to post-processing images. Some of Capture One Pro’s capabilities (such as color adjustments, adjustment layers, etc) are light years ahead of Lightroom, and performance-wise, Lightroom has only been getting worse year after year, with things like adjustment brush slowing down even some of the most powerful desktop computers, whereas you can stack layers and layers of adjustments on images in Capture One without slowing anything down. Because of this, I have been running Capture One for some time now, hoping that I can fully transition to it at some point in the future. However, the biggest reason why I have not been able to fully transition, is the lack of Fuji GFX 50S camera support, something I was hoping I would see in the new version of Capture One 11 that was just announced today. After looking at the release notes of Capture One Pro 11, I came to conclusion that Phase One has no plans to support the GFX 50S or any other medium format camera on the market to protect its own medium format system. For this reason alone, Capture One could never replace Lightroom as post-processing software for many photographers out there.
With so many new cameras being released each year that allow capturing images in RAW format using different compression levels, bit-rates and other proprietary data, it is becoming increasingly difficult for post-processing software to keep up with all the changes and provide full support for RAW formats. Although camera manufacturers have been bundling their own image converters, such tools are often underdeveloped, buggy and lack the necessary features to be able to rely on them for post-processing images. Despite the fact that some post-processing software tools as Adobe Lightroom and Capture One provide frequent updates to support new cameras, it is getting practically impossible to provide full support for every new camera and RAW format features. It is time for camera manufacturers to come up with a single universal RAW format that can be easily supported by all post-processing software and we as consumers need to push camera manufacturers to adopt this format.
With so many editing / post-processing software packages on the market today, photographers might find it rather difficult to go through them all and compare key features in order to pick something that would ultimately work for their needs. Many of us go through that stage, especially when starting out. What is the best software for photo editing? What features does it have? Is it easy to learn and how much does it cost? These are just some of the questions photographers seek answers for. While John Bosley and I have been working hard on producing our PL Level 1: Post-Processing Basics course, we have decided to share one of the charts that we will be including in the course with our readers, which compares the most popular non-destructive editing tools on the market. It took us a while to compile all this data, since there are so many different features and considerations one must go through to make a meaningful comparison. The chart has not been fully finalized yet, since we are currently looking for your feedback and ideas, so that we can hopefully make the chart complete and comprehensive enough for those who are interested in such a comparison.