Capture One – We Are Breaking Up

Capture One Is Awarded The Worst Marketing Message Ever

Capture One my former much loved RAW processor
Capture One, my former much-loved RAW processor

Like many of you, I received an email on Wednesday, January 18th, about changes with Capture One Subscriptions, Licenses, and Cost Of Ownership. Let me tell you, I have never seen a more confusing piece of marketing and such a poorly thought-out campaign as I have with this email.

The lead line is this, “At Capture One, we want to be completely transparent with our pricing and how much it costs to own our software. In this guide, you’ll discover which payment option might be best for you and a breakdown of how much it would cost to own Capture One Pro over six years.”.  

Phase One, to my understanding, still owns Capture One but broke it off into its own company a couple of years ago. One of the things that got people staying with Capture One was that you could buy a license instead of a subscription. You most likely know that Adobe offers its Creative Suite and a Photoshop and Lightroom combo as a subscription model.  

When Adobe announced its subscription service, photographers were furious, and they let Adobe know it. Adobe was selling a subscription to the whole suite. Eventually, within a short time, there was such an outpour of unhappy users that Adobe changed their model to have a photographer package only for $10 a month for Lightroom and Photoshop. That calmed things down, and eventually, we are still with that model. No price change for all this time.

Capture One initial edit screen, designed for my workflow. This a screen I was able to design in the workflows section of Capture One to do initial ratings and edits, much like Lightroom's grid screen.
Capture One initial edit screen, designed for my workflow. This a screen I was able to design in the workflows section of Capture One to do initial ratings and edits, much like Lightroom’s grid screen.

Not many people know, however, that the most prominent advocate for changing the subscription model to $10 was Thomas Knoll, the inventor of photoshop. I was with Thomas and a few other notable photographers when this was happening. Adobe realized its error and corrected it. Lightroom is now the defacto RAW processor of most photographers. They should never have released the subscription model the way they did. You would have thought that maybe Capture One would have learned from that.

However, for pros and many serious enthusiasts, as well as myself, Capture One was our RAW processor of choice. There are several reasons I went with Capture One. First and foremost, I was an employee of Phase One in upper management for 13 years and, as such, helped influence many things in Capture One. I liked that you could work with sessions or a catalog and that the user interface was customizable. It was also fast and had some outstanding features to make your images look their best. Many photographers would claim that Capture One produced better image quality. It was also the software of choice for those wishing to shoot tethered. Not a thing about Capture One’s benefits was mentioned in this sloppy introduction. Shame on you, Capture One.  

In today’s world, with so many options, complete ignorance and arrogance drive Capture One. The chart in the email (as a link) is shown below. I hope you can make better sense than most readers have.  

 

So, what this is saying from what I can read is that a yearly subscription is USD 179. That comes out to around $14.90 a month. That’s how they should have sold it. Simply put, for 14.90 a month, you will get the latest in new features as they are released. I can’t tell here if there is a monthly payment option. Their silly chart throws all sorts of math into the picture and does more to unsell the product than sell it. Nothing highlights Capture One’s features and what can be expected moving forward. This is complete BS. Here is a company that has forgotten who its core customer is. Photographers!

If I am reading this right, the subscription model costs less than the perpetual plan in the long run. Well, why not say that? They included an even more confusing chart with all sorts of numbers. This chart shows what happens if you have a subscription and want to move to the perpetual license. What? Why? Take a look for yourself. With this kind of crap, they aren’t going to have anyone be in the loyalty program. Maybe you are smarter than I am when you read this, but who wants to even look at charts like this?  Give me the facts!

Then at the bottom of the email, they have the nerve to put this . . . MY ANSWER = NO

And There Is More

This is how they show you what is best for you.

Which option is best for me?

I want new features and updates as soon as they’re ready

An annual subscription is always the cheapest option for you.

I want new features and updates as soon as they’re ready and have access to my catalog after I stop my subscription

The cheapest option for you is to get an annual subscription and then get a perpetual license through our Loyalty Program when you want to stop the subscription.

I don’t need new features right away, and I don’t buy new camera gear often

  • If you would like to get new features and updates more than once a year, it will always be cheaper for you to have an annual subscription and then buy a perpetual license through our loyalty program when you stop your subscription.
  • If you would like to get new features and updates once a year and plan to use Capture One Pro for at least three years, it will be cheaper for you to have an annual subscription and then buy a perpetual license through our loyalty program when you stop your subscription.
  • If you would like to get new features and updates once every 2 or more years, a perpetual license is the cheapest option for you.

I don’t want a subscription.

A perpetual license is the best option for you.

What are the differences in the cost of ownership?

For those of you that want to dive into the details, we’ve done the work for you. Here is a breakdown of how much it will cost you over 6 years, including the difference after changes to our perpetual licenses coming on February 14th, 2023.

Then there is this . . .

A subscription is for you if:

You always want to have the latest version of Capture One Pro and get all new features and updates as soon as we release them. If you choose our annual payment option, it will be the cheapest option for you.

When you stop your subscription, you will lose access to the software. However, our subscriber Loyalty Program allows you to purchase a perpetual license with a 20% discount for each year you have been a subscriber (yes, that means after 5 years you can get it for free). That way even if you stop your subscription, you will always have a version of Capture One Pro to keep and that supports your catalogs and sessions.

Read more about how our Loyalty Program works here.

A perpetual license is for you if:

You don’t need new features and improvements and don’t plan to invest in new camera hardware any time soon. The copy of Capture One Pro you have will continue to work as long as your hardware and operating system support it. You are happy to buy a new copy of the software if you want to get the latest version.

You own the software outright and it will continue to work as long as your hardware and operating system support it. You are happy to buy a new copy of the software if you want to be on the latest version.

Please note that our Loyalty Program allows you to purchase a perpetual license at a discount if you stop a subscription. You’ll get 20% off for each year you have been a subscriber (yes, that means after 5 years you can get it for free). That way you will always have a version of Capture One Pro that you own and supports your catalog.    Read more about how our Loyalty Program works here.

Click on the links above for an even more interesting gobilty goop.  

This Part Takes The Cake

How do I get my discount?

On February 14th we’ll send you a code that you can use to claim your discounts in our store. If you ever misplace it, simply contact our friendly customer support team here and we’ll provide you with a new one. We’re working to make this a much simpler process so please bear with us in the meantime.

Have you ever tried contacting Capture One support? You’ll be lucky to get an email back, don’t even think about finding a way to call them.

What Am I Going To Do

I spent the good part of the day stewing about this. It makes me mad that they are doing this. The notification is very hard to understand, and I am not sure I can count on Capture One being around long enough to make a loyalty program work. Up to this point, I was loyal, but not so anymore. What happens if they change their minds again and start a new program or decide they need to raise prices?  

As loyal as I am, this sloppy introduction makes me feel something sneaky is going on. As I said, they should have just said the subscription price here. Pay monthly for X or save Y by buying a year at a time. Bam, short and sweet. They could also have shared a road map of what to expect in 2023 to entice me into the subscription model. To me, they are feeling a bit guilty about what they are offering so they are trying to justify it with numbers. They should have shared what is coming, so I would want to stick around. They should have talked to several users and gotten some feedback.  Frankly all those charts are BS.  I want to know the bottom line and what I will get feature-wise for sticking it out.  

Capture One was always about image quality and a flexible workflow. Capture One seems to have forgotten to mention that. 

Anyway, I need both C1 and LR for my teaching and consulting. I also have 23 years’ worth of sessions and many catalogs. So, I’ll take the subscription model reluctantly and only because I have to.  

My Lightroom Workspace, I'm excited to dig deeper
My Lightroom Workspace, I’m excited to dig deeper

As much as it pains me, I will move to Lightroom. Lightroom has added many new features, and I have been running in parallel for a few months now. I’m proficient with LR and will only improve with some time and help from friends like Jeff Schewe. Plus, 9 out of 10 people in my workshops are using Lightroom.

I exchanged some emails with Jeff Schewe today, and the two of us are thinking of doing a new Lightroom tutorial, especially for those moving over from Capture One. We will need to discuss this more over the next few days, but it might be fun, and there may be a good market for it based on what I have been reading in the comments on the Capture One site.

The Lightroom edit screen
The Lightroom edit screen

In closing, I can say I am looking forward to getting deeper into Lightroom. I will be converting sessions over to Lightroom as I need to. I am also looking forward to diving deeper into Lightroom’s print module. We have published videos on this in previous articles. The Lightroom mobile apps look pretty cool too. I am sorry to see Capture One fade away in my rearview mirror. Capture One could have done so much better.  

Please leave your feelings, thoughts, and plans regarding Capture One in the site’s ongoing Forum topic.

P.S. Capture One, are you listening and even paying attention?


Kevin Raber
January 2023
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 47 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of pictures taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through photoPXL.com, this site as well as Rockhopper Workshops and other projects as well as teaching at my Gallery in Indianapolis.

Article Type: News, Columns, MISC

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