Lightroom vs Capture One (bloodsport)

UPDATED: 5th December 2016

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I recently participated in an online conversion (it was in no way an argument, it was all very civil and the dudes were super nice), which among other things contained the following claims (it was in Fuji Facebook closed group called Fuji X Photography):

“…the LR processing of (Fuji) raw files is absolutely horrible. Muddy, degrades how it should be.”

“Try Capture One with Fuji raw files and you will never use LR again.”

“…when you do pro work.. and for the final best results especially prints.. you cant beat Capture one Pro.”

(talking about Capture One custom profiles that attempt to match Fuji Jpeg colours) “they are very accurate.. lucky i got them some how..”

(I asked for these profiles and the guy very generously sent them to me, those profiles I used in my tests below)

I PREVIOUSLY compared Lightroom to a bunch of editing programs and found that LR wasn’t that bad (at base settings) and I wasn’t very impressed with Capture One.  However since the above claims made it seem so good, I thought I’d give Capture One another try.  So armed with my new presets and some knowledge of Capture One Processing, I set out to see if Capture One would be worth buying.

Funny story, I went to download Capture One 9.6 and immediately the website went into maintenance mode.  When it came back Capture One 10 was out.

Methodology

I used Lightroom 6.7 with Camera RAW 9.7

Capture One 10 (JUST released)

Settings were left as standard apart from for the sharpening test.  I just added profiles and compared them to in-camera processed Jpegs with different film presets applied.  The camera was set to factory default for sharpening, NR etc.

Right click (or whatever you do on your device) and open in new tab to see larger size.

Camera is the X-Pro 2, lens is the 23mm f1.4

 

Article Updated with new results and conclusions

NOTE: I was informed that there is now new profiles that include Acros (for Capture One) they can be found here: http://www.fuji-x-forum.com/topic/3772-capture-one-pro-9-film-simulations-incl-acros/

Therefore I have redone the test and (where appropriate) redone my conclusions based on these newer profiles.

 

 

Provia

Capture One Generic vs Provia Jpeg

Capture One Generic Left / Provia Jpeg Right

Capture One Generic Left / Provia Jpeg Right

Honestly this isn’t a terrible base profile.  It looks a bit like Provia.  It’s not too bad of an effort on Capture One’s behalf.

Capture One Provia Profile (custom) vs Provia Jpeg

New Provia Profile (top) Provia Jpeg (bottom)

New Provia Profile (top) Provia Jpeg (bottom)

This new profile looks more off than the generic profile, the reds and oranges aren’t quite right but the yellows and blues are fine.

 

Lightroom Provia vs Provia Jpeg

Lightroom built in Provia Profile on the left / Fuji Jpeg on the Right

Lightroom built in Provia Profile on the left / Fuji Jpeg on the Right

I find the Adobe Provia profile to be the least accurate of all of them (the Lightroom profiles).  It’s actually quite good, just like the Generic profile from Capture one, but again the red comes out slightly orange.

WINNER: Capture one Generic

They all did a good job here, I think Lightroom/C1 Provia Profile both do an almost perfect job except for the slight colour difference in reds.  In most normal every day shots the differences would be minimal.

 

Velvia

Capture One Velvia Profile (custom) vs Velvia Jpeg

Feels a bit like they pushed saturation slightly too hard here.

Velvia Profile (RAW) top, Velvia Jpeg (bottom)

Velvia Profile (RAW) top, Velvia Jpeg (bottom)

This profile has better colours than the old profile I had up, the seemingly darker/more contrasty look is pretty easy to overcome. I had other than there’s no more blotchy weirdness (so I’ve deleted that part of the article).   Overall there seems to be a bit more saturation and contrast in the RAW profile.  It’s OK overall.

Lightroom Velvia vs Velvia Jpeg

RAW left / Jpeg right

RAW left / Jpeg right

Very close. I think the reds on the LR file are slightly off (they’re slightly too orange), but overall the look is slightly more close to the jpeg.

WINNER: Capture One (only just)

(I couldn’t decide what’s more important,  slightly off reds (LR) or overall too much contrast.  Both are fixable if you feel like it fixing them, however contrast/exposure is slightly easier to fix than the slightly too orange reds of the LR file, so I gave the win to Capture One).

 

 

Classic Chrome

Capture One CC Profile (custom) vs CC Jpeg

Classic Chrome: RAW (top), Jpeg (bottom)

Classic Chrome: RAW (top), Jpeg (bottom)

Very well matched now, there’s some slight difference in the saturation of some of the colours, but overall it’s close enough that you’re hard pressed to tell the difference. The orange on the book is slightly off as is the aqua colour (lower left).  Also the reds are a bit dark.

Lightroom CC vs CC Jpeg

RAW Left / Jpeg Right

RAW Left / Jpeg Right

Previously I thought Lightroom did a better job here, but now I’m not too sure. The yellows are a bit too light as is the orange, the blues are pretty much perfect though and red red is only ever so slightly off.

WINNER: TIE

 

Acros

Acros RAW top, Jpeg Bottom

Acros RAW top, Jpeg Bottom

At first glance it’s very close.  Overall things a a little too dark and the controller is the wrong tone.  It’s so close it hardly matters though.

Lightroom Acros vs Acros Jpeg

I think LR does an excellent job here.

I think LR does an excellent job here.

You’d have to look really hard to see the differences here.  Perhaps the yellow pouch is a little too light… but overall I think Adobe win this one.

WINNER: Lightroom

 

OVERALL WINNER FOR COLOUR ACCURANCY:

Capture One

Only by a little bit, in fact I previously thought Lightroom won, it wasn’t until Capture one’s new velvia profile (much better than the old one I had) that C1 could slip in past LR.

 

But don’t take my word for it, what do YOU guys think?

 

This was a close one, very close, it was slightly off reds on the Adobe side of things that pushed it in favour of Capture One.  So, for colour matching the BOTH do a very good job.  Certainly they’re close enough that when you compare them it doesn’t make much sense to shoot jpeg (apart from if you don’t know how to sharpen the files properly, because at default settings Fuji Jpegs look a lot better than what Adobe gives you).

One issue however.  Lightroom will give you these profiles out of the box.   They’re built into the program.  With capture one you have to install custom profiles in a semi-convoluted process that may have you scratching your head for a while.

 

So the choice is yours.  C1 has great colour profiles IF you download and install custom ones.  Lightroom is very close and can do it all out of the box.  Which do you prefer?

So then it comes down perhaps to…

 

SHARPENING AND DETAILS

Now, I’ll admit, I may have messed up something with Capture One, I’m not the most experienced with Capture One.  I did however get some recommended settings from various sources and below is the absolute best I could pull out of both Capture One and Lightroom (I could sharpen them harder, but it would bring out artifacts…)

I tried to make them look as good as I could, so here’s MY settings:

Capture One:

Maybe these aren't the best overall, but I tried hard to get it to look as good as possible without artifacts coming in.

Maybe these aren’t the best overall, but I tried hard to get it to look as good as possible without artifacts coming in.

 

Lightroom:

new-presets

Good settings for man made things, which is why I chose this, but I have alternative default settings now.

THE COMPARISON:

lr-left-capture-one-right-sharpening

Note: No contrast/clarity/dehaze was added, I only adjusted sharpening/NR to get the best results I could from both programs.

ALTERNATIVE VERSION:

This is a more "safe" sharpening setting for LR and "recommended" settings for C1

In this version I did recommended Capture One settings and my more generic/safe Lightroom sharpening.

With this alternative version I have the following settings for C1 (as recommended in the comments):

Alternative Capture One Settings:

Sharpening: Amount – 180, Radius – 1.1, Threshold – 0.9

Noise Reduction: Luminance – 30, Detail – 70, Color – 50

Alternative Lightroom settings:

Sharpening: Amount – 20, Radius – 1.5, Detail –80

 

 

Which one looks better to you?

I want people to judge for themselves which one has more details etc. without knowing which is which…

However I’m not a sadist, so here’s which one is which (click or touch to reveal):

Lightroom on the Left, Capture One on the Right.

I’m going to say, it took more messing about with Lightroom to get the sharpening/NR settings right and Capture One does great job overall without much need for experimentation, however, with good setting LR can hold its own IMHO

For this part I’m going to let you guy decide which is better.  I have my opinion, but that’s just me.

 

For your convenience here’s the settings I used on LR and on C1 (for the first one where I tried my best to make THIS image as good as possible for both).

 

Why is my details set at zero?

In my opinion the details slider on Lightroom has a nasty habit of introducing artifacts.  Here’s a dramatic example (100% crop, from a XT2)

Sharpening Amount: 70 Details: 80

Sharpening Amount: 70 Details: 80

Sure you’re not going to push that hard with sharpening and details, but it shows what it can produce.  I found that this artifact introducing means I couldn’t get a sharp image.  However, turning off details got me pretty good results:

Sharpening Amount: 70 | Details: ZERO

Sharpening Amount: 70 | Details: ZERO

I HAVE TO POINT OUT… this method can easily introduce a paint like effect, especially in foilage (grass/trees etc.) it’ especially bad if you photograph slightly out of focus grass ha ha.  So it’s only really any good for man made and some other situations, it really depends.

MY TWO SHARPENING SETTINGS:

Please go here: http://www.aevansphoto.com/my-default-lightroom-sharpening-and-nr-settings/ 

There’s you’ll see where I’ve explained how I have TWO different sharpening systems now depending on WHAT I’m sharpening.

Here’s the 100% crop of the bird with alternative sharpening (a more general/landscape/foliage acceptable setting)

Amount 20, Radius 1.5, Details 80

Amount 20, Radius 1.5, Details 80

I suggest you try both of my settings and then fiddle with them to choose one you like for yourself.  One things for sure.  The “Detail” module in LR is one of the most annoying to work with.

(for the lazy, here’s my settings so you don’t have to follow the link above)

General use, landscape and no nonsense setting.

General use, landscape and no nonsense setting.

 

Man Made setting that can pull out a lot of detail at the expense of a possible paint effect and sometimes worse bokeh.

Man Made setting that can pull out a lot of detail at the expense of a possible paint effect and sometimes worse bokeh.

 

Details slider on Capture One?

It was brought to my attention that apparently the details slider (found under Noise Reduction) in Capture One is really good at bringing out details and should be set to 100.  Despite playing with this previously, I found all it does is introduce unwanted artifacts (especially around edges).  Which is why I turned it off.    I really didn’t want to present Capture One looking all over-sharpened.  So I did my best to sharpen C1 without introducing sharpening artifacts so I could present it in it’s best light.  However, here’s a 100% crop so you can see for yourself what the details slider will do:

Details slider put to 100 in Capture One

Details slider put to 100 in Capture One

 

I did, however, give you guys an alternative above, using some recommended settings with increased details slider.  Personally I think (for this image at least) my settings gave a better image.  But I have both for you to choose from now.

 

Conclusion

Actually Capture One is a nice program and does quite well.  I found the user interface a bit confusing, but that’s because I’m not used to it.  I’m sure people using Lightroom for the first time will feel confused too.

Both do great with colour but Lightroom takes a lot less much messing about (the profiles are built into Lightroom). The new Capture One profiles are actually really good and overall JUST beat Lightroom now.  Of course this comes at the expense of convenience, but I suppose once it’s set up in C1 it isn’t too hard to sort out.  For colour I’d not worry which one you chose, just make sure you get some decent ICC profiles if you choose C1.

For sharpness/details… I personally can get more out of Lightroom each time, even (I think) with my more safe settings.  HOWEVER, Capture One gets good details easier and without much experimenting overall, though in my opinion Lightroom does a better job with sharpening and details IF you happen to stumble across some good setting (which I believe I have after a lot of messing about).  My next test/blog post will compare how well they deal with foliage/leaves/grass and whatnot. Something Lightroom has traditionally struggled with. Also, I think an experience C1 user will be able to squeeze as many details out of C1 as I can out of LR, I just couldn’t do it despite following advice from multiple sources.

There’s a problem with C1 though, a major issue which is the main reason I can’t use Capture One, that’s because I have shot most of my shots with Xpro2/XT2 using compressed RAW.  Compressed RAW on Fuji isn’t lossy, so you’re not losing a lick of quality using it.  However, since Capture One hasn’t worked out how to unpack them yet, it’s a bit of a non-starter for many people.

So which one is better?  Well that depends.  I think LR is easier to use overall, but perhaps isn’t as powerful.  Capture One certainly has a lot of things you can use to tweak an image, so if you like playing about with your image a lot, perhaps C1 is best for you.  Lightroom is the better image organiser, however there’s no real reason you couldn’t use C1 for that purpose.

So I’d say try both out for yourself.  They’re BOTH excellent and if you find one you prefer, then use it and be happy.

Thanks for reading friendo(s),

Regards,

signature

 

 

ADDENDUM

A reader called “Donatas UFO” asks:

“What about catalogs, marking photos with flag, editing in PS then save, and going back to lightroom with edited image? is it possible in CO?”

Catalogs

Capture One can arrange files into “Catalogues” and “Sessions” according to them…

cataloguesession

Flags etc.

I don’t think you can mark them with a flag, however it is possible to mark them according to a “Color Tag”.  Then you can arrange them according to Color Tag.  You can also give them a star rating and arrange them according to Rating.  Or you can click on a category in the “Filter” panel.   As shown below:

Edited to show all options.

Edited to show all options. In reality the box is smaller and it scrolls.

Lightroom can do this too (organised my different categories, colour tags and star ratings) however it also has the flagging option which can make quick selections easier (just hit P to flag a file, X to reject the file).  If there’s such an option for Capture one it’s not obvious how to do it, my quick research online told me Capture One doesn’t have a flagging option.  If I’m wrong, please can a reader let me know.

 

Editing in Photoshop.

This works in a very similar way to Lightroom.  You right click on the image (assuming in Capture One you have the selection tool selected, it won’t work when using some of the other tools) and choose edit with:

editwith

That then brings up this dialogue box where you can choose the file type, program you want to open it with etc.

Editing Options

You then edit as usual, save the file and in Capture One it saves the edited file next to the original.edited-saved-in-catalogue

So the file system and external export system is similar to Lightroom.  No flag system though, but that maybe OK depending on the user.