Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom

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    Topic: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom Read 2729 Times
  • Dan Donovan
    Dan Donovan
    Participant
    Posts: 10
    Adobe Lightroom & Adobe Camera Raw
    on: November 2, 2023 at 8:26 pm

    I see Kevin is moving from Capture One to Lightroom.  Here are some thoughts on that topic.  When Apple pulled the plug on development of their Aperture program in 2014, I tested Lightroom and Capture One.  At the time, I felt Capture One had a superior image and I went that route.  In August of this year (2023) I tried switching from Capture One to Lightroom Classic.  The draw for me was the AI masking in Lightroom.  My initial test was a head and shoulder portrait shoot and the image quality looked very good from Lightroom.  I opened the same files in Capture One and the results were similar.  I was very surprised that Lightroom had come so far!

    However, when I had my first shoot with high ISO images, I was shocked.  The photos looked like they were shot in a sandstorm!  So much noise!  For my documentary work, I shoot in the ISO 6400 – 10,000 range.  Lightroom’s image quality at high ISO is SO BAD!!!  Those photos in Lightroom were unusable and had to be run through Topaz Denoise.  Lightroom’s new denoise tool does a good job, but it is not feasible when delivering hundreds of images per assignment.  After a month of shooting assignments almost every day in August and processing them with Lightroom Classic, I ended-up going back to Capture One.  The high ISO images out of Capture One are truly stunning.  Hardly any noise at 6400 and 8000, with just a little at 10,000.  And luckily, Capture One has now added quite impressive AI masking tools!

    But wait, there is more.  Believe it or not, for the past several years I have exported my files from Capture One and imported them into the Lightroom system.  That gives me all of my final, edited photos on all of my devices AND backed-up in the cloud.  I have it set for those same files to flow into Lightroom Classic, where I deliver photos to my clients using Lightroom Classic’s Publish Services.  So, I feel I have superior images inside the flexible Adobe ecosystem.

    The bottom line for me is that both Capture One and Adobe continue to be an important part of my workflow.

    Follow-Up: Mark asked below what type of file I am importing into Lightroom and it is a high-quality JPG.  I should have been more clear in my original post above.  So, I am doing all of the heavy editing on the raw file in Capture One, then after importing the JPG into Lightroom cloud, I can make minor adjustments anywhere in the Lightroom ecosystem, including Lightroom Classic.

    • This topic was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Dan Donovan.
    • This topic was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Dan Donovan.
    • This topic was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Dan Donovan.
    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
    Silver Member
    Posts: 948
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #1 on: November 2, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    When the files move from Capture One to Lightroom, do they remain as raw files, or are they rendered into, say, TIFF format?

    Dan Donovan
    Dan Donovan
    Participant
    Posts: 10
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #2 on: November 2, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    I export high quality JPGs.  I am dealing with a lot of files per shoot and that works well for me.  Once the JPG is in Lightroom, the quality is locked in and does not degrade.  And with the large JPGs, they are still able to easily go into Adobe’s cloud.

    P.S. Really enjoy your articles, Mark!

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
    Silver Member
    Posts: 948
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #3 on: November 2, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks Dan.

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Silver Member
    Posts: 1296
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #4 on: November 2, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    We all need to work with a workflow that works for us.  Yes, I made the switch to LRC and haven’t looked back.  LRC has changed my whole way of editing and for the kind of photography I do it is fantastic.  The newest version has so many excellent tools that post processing is something I look forward to.  I left C1 because of their new pricing – loyalty program.  I was a VP at Phase One for 13 years and swore by C1 and it still is an amazing program.

    I will say though for me now that LRC provides a robust catalog system that I now have 510,000 images catloged.  It works great and I feel I can turst it.  I couldn’t say that about C1 as I never felt comfortable with the catalog and did most of my work in sessions.  Lightroom allows me to work on special projects.  I am currently working on projects that include Zines, folios, tins and books.  For the next few weeks I’ll be prepping a new program on Rust.  LRC allows me to find all my rust iamges and put them in a collection.  I have done the same things for a numbe rof my on going projects.

    I find the noise reduction part or LRC to be very close to what I am acustomed to in Topaz.  I didn’t like the noise processing in C1.

    There is now right or wrong.  One must find a workflow that works for them.  I teach a worksflow in my printing workshops that is flexible and delivers images the way I like working for them.  When I have time I’ll do a video and article on my workflow.  Dan if you have a method that works for you then that is what counts.

    BTW, there is a program called Avalance (google it) and it converts my C1 sessions into LR catlags and brings most of the setting over to the LRC catalog.  REally a cool program but the conversion can be a multi hour process.  Do it before bed and it will be there in the morning.  More on this too in the near future.

    Just mny 10 cents.

    Kevin Raber
    Owner and Publisher of photoPXL

    Dan Donovan
    Dan Donovan
    Participant
    Posts: 10
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #5 on: November 2, 2023 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks for your reply, Kevin!  You are so right when you say people need to do what works best for them.  And it is great when photographers can get various viewpoints to help them make their decisions.  Here are a few follow-up comments:

    1) Ever since I started with Capture One in 2014, I have used a single Catalog and not Sessions.  I just checked and I have 461,000 photos in my C1 Catalog.  It has worked flawlessly.  And just so everyone understands, Capture One gives you the option for Sessions or Catalogs.  Sessions are operating system folder based, like the Folder section in Lightroom Classic.  Catalogs in Capture One have both a Folder and Collection section, just like in Lightroom Classic.  Like Lightroom Classic, it is ideal to have one Capture One Catalog on your computer’s hard drive and then store your original photos externally.

    2) Capture One catalogs have Collections, which are virtual albums.  That is the main reason I use a Capture One Catalog instead of Sessions.

    3) For some photos, I need to do keywording.  I like Lightroom Classic’s keywording system better than what Capture One offers.  So, I do my keywording in LrC.  The beauty of my system is that I can also search my photos in Lightroom Cloud and have the benefit to Lr’s AI keywording.

    My system is not for everyone, but hopefully it gives some people something to consider.  Just my two cents!

    Dan Donovan
    Dan Donovan
    Participant
    Posts: 10
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #6 on: November 2, 2023 at 11:09 pm

    Thanks for the Avalanche tip.  I need to convert my old Aperture library before I don’t have a computer that can access it!

    Andrew Rodney
    Andrew Rodney
    Participant
    Posts: 407
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #7 on: November 3, 2023 at 12:35 am

    However, when I had my first shoot with high ISO images, I was shocked. The photos looked like they were shot in a sandstorm! So much noise!

    It is worth repeating because this idea is an urban legend: High ISO doesn’t cause noise (in fact, in some cases, it can reduce noise depending on sensor design). Noise is caused by underexposure.

    Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Silver Member
    Posts: 1296
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #8 on: November 3, 2023 at 7:28 am

    As Andrew says . . . ETTR – expose to the right.

    Kevin Raber
    Owner and Publisher of photoPXL

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
    Silver Member
    Posts: 948
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #9 on: November 3, 2023 at 8:52 am

    However, when I had my first shoot with high ISO images, I was shocked. The photos looked like they were shot in a sandstorm! So much noise!

    It is worth repeating because this idea is an urban legend: High ISO doesn’t cause noise (in fact, in some cases, it can reduce noise depending on sensor design). Noise is caused by underexposure.

    Hi Andrew, I think you know this, but just to unpack it a bit more for the benefit of others who may be less aware, every sensor has a noise floor. The noise simply becomes more or less amplified depending on signal strength (i.e. less or more light hitting it; amplification effect of higher vs lower ISO respectively), which partly explains the logic of ETTR. I think I got that right – if not I’m sure you’ll tell me! While the logic of ETTR generally makes sense, there are a couple of caveats to be aware of, but first one point of context in this discussion.

    I think the context of Dan’s comment is simply a comparative one for the same photo regardless of why the noise shows (in his case likely noise generated by high ISO amplification), he observes that C1 does a better job of noise suppression than does LR. I have no first-hand experience making such comparisons because I seldom need to shoot at such high ISO levels and don’t do C1/LR comps. So a question in my mind is whether Dan’s observation is generally valid or specific to some cases he’s observed – not questioning his observation, but only whether in this respect there is a real repeatable technical advantage to C1 in this specific aspect of its processing capability.

    Turning to the caveats on ETTR, there are essentially 2: (1) Our camera-generated histograms are generally not all that accurate, so it is important to know whether the histogram is biased to the right or the left in order to not clip highlights from excessive ETTR, because clipped highlights (all three channels) cannot be recovered. (2) Related to (1), it could be less risky to expose a bit to the left of a maximum ETTR positioning, because shadow detail recovery is often easier/ more feasible than highlight recovery, albeit perhaps with a bit more noise that can often be well-managed in post-processing. I would add a # (3): I just returned from Berlin photographing the Festival of Lights, and I can say with some confidence that setting the exposure compensation to a range of -0.7 to -1.0 was very helpful to preserve highlight detail which was quite important for a number of those sites around the city. So yes, ETTR in general, but with care and attention to worthy exceptions.

    Back to context: I’m curious about whether and why C1 would necessarily have better noise control than LrC. Not that it would have me enjoin a strategy of using both as Dan is doing. I’m satisfied with what LrC offers relative to my requirements, and it keeps life easier.

    Dan Donovan
    Dan Donovan
    Participant
    Posts: 10
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #10 on: November 3, 2023 at 11:00 am

    Wow, Andrew Rodney is in the house.  Such an iconic name in the world of digital imaging and color!  This is my first post on these forums, so it is nice to see you here 🙂

    As far as the noise goes, all I can offer is my real-world experience with these images.  The same high ISO images processed in Lightroom and Capture One have vastly different results when it comes to noise.  Lightroom’s files are very noisy and the Capture One results are very clean and still maintain the detail.  These results are without me making any adjustments to them.  That is one of the reasons I went with Capture One back in 2014: it gave me a better starting point, with less work to do.

    Thinking about the exposure, the histograms seem properly exposed to me.  But, maybe giving images processed in Lightroom more exposure when shooting might help.

    And just to be clear, my lower ISO images with Capture One and Lightroom have very similar results from the start.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
    Silver Member
    Posts: 948
    Re: Thoughts on Capture One and Lightroom
    Reply #11 on: November 3, 2023 at 11:45 am

    Dan, a thought occurred to me as I was reading this – as the photos contain the same information regardless of which raw processor one uses, and as it is conceivable that the raw processors read the same noise signatures in roughly the same manner and may have similar algorithms for mitigating the appearance of the noise, I’m wondering whether the difference you are seeing is more due to a difference in how C1 presents its initial conditions versus how LrC does it, but in the final analysis both applications can end-up in the same place. I.o.w., I’m wondering whether C1 reads the ISO data and immediately adjusts for noise under the hood, providing a more pleasing initial view of the photo than LrC does, but that once you adjust for noise in LrC you end-up in roughly the same place as C1 started with. Have you checked for that?

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