For the past 6 months, I’ve been using Capture One Pro by Phase One as my RAW converter and image editing software. In this article, I am going to share How I switch from Lightroom to Capture One Pro. I won’t cover Why as many others have already covered this topic (see resource links at end).
With a long career in IT as my background, I put together a transition plan to assist me in moving to Capture One Pro. I’ve simplified the transition plan down to 4 Transition Stages and 2 Post-Transition Activities to help others interested in switching to Capture One Pro.
Disclosure: Since I am a Windows PC user (Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Studio computers), all my workspaces, keyboards shortcuts, etc. reference the Windows version of Capture One Pro.
Stage 1 – Mapping Out Workflow
My process began by reviewing my existing workflow (Figure 1) with the workflow pipeline Sascha Erni covers in his book: Capture One Pro 9: Mastering Raw Development, Image Processing, and Asset Management (Figure 2).
Figure 1 – My high-level view workflow mapped to Lightroom Modules
Figure 2 – Overview of Sascha Erni’s workflow pipeline using Capture One
With a high-level alignment of workflows, I decided to follow Sascha’s detailed workflow pipeline as my Capture One Pro workflow.
Before setting up the Capture One Pro catalog, importing images, and beginning to process the images, I wanted to make sure my Lightroom catalog was in order. I didn’t have to do anything with my raw images because I was going to use my established raw file structure and location.
Stage 2 – Clean Up (Catalog Images, Keywords, Collections, and Metadata)
With almost 10 years of Lightroom usage and significant development in my photographic knowledge, I took advantage of this change to revisit my Lightroom image catalog and clean it up before switching.
I separated out 9 years’ worth of my family and son’s soccer photos to their own Lightroom catalogs and chose not to bring them into COP. Instead I would only bring over to Capture One Pro my fine art landscape, travel and street photographs.
They have never been a strength of mine and my keyword list showed it. There wasn’t any structure to my keywords, inconsistency in keywords usage, redundant words, and misspelled keywords. Within Lightroom, I eliminated all unused keywords, fixed spelling errors, removed duplicates, and set up a hierarchical keyword structure based on Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. I exported the resultant keywords to a text file. With a text editor, I separated it into individual Keyword Library files to be imported into Capture One Pro (Figure 3) during Stage 3.
Figure 3 – My Keyword Libraries
I cleaned up my Lightroom collections – rearranging and putting in place a simpler organization that I’d carry forward within Capture One Pro. I arranged my collections in these groupings: Trips, Workshops, Deerfield Beach, Copyright, Portfolio, Prints, and Misc.
The last clean-up activity within Lightroom was to make sure all metadata had been saved to xmp files (Ctrl+S). Using Lightroom’s Metadata Status Library Filter, I kept saving metadata to the sidecar files until the status ‘has been changed’ showed zero.
With my Lightroom catalog in order, it was time to configure and customize Capture One Pro.
Stage 3 – Configure and Customize Capture One Pro
Because I had been using Lightroom and its catalog structure, I decided Capture One Pro’s catalog would be my primary file organization structure. I set up a catalog, created user collections to match those established during Stage 2, and imported my keyword libraries. With a common foundation configured in Capture One Pro, it was time to customize Capture One Pro to help me easily transition.
Like learning a second language, you initially translate between the two languages. The same happened for me as I moved from Lightroom to Capture One Pro – I needed to learn the new Capture One Pro “language” compared to Lightroom’s “language”. Capture One Pro’s flexible user interface facilitated the translation by allowing me to create my own workspace. I set up a workspace that enabled me to mimic my Lightroom workflow as much as possible (Figure 4).
Figure 4 – My Lightroom-like workspace and workflow map
I arranged the Tool Tabs (columns depicted a Tab) with the Tools listed within each Tab/column. I color-coded them to show their equivalent Lightroom Module – assisting my transition. My workflow went from left to right column and from top to bottom within each column. I moved Tool Tabs to the right side as most of Lightroom’s tools are located on the right side (Figure 5).
Figure 5 – My Lightroom workspace
Since keyboard shortcuts are completely customizable within Capture One Pro, I printed out both Lightroom’s and Capture One Pro’s default keyboard shortcuts, created a tabular cheat sheet and began customizing Capture One Pro’s shortcuts to mimic Lightroom’s shortcuts. Testing them along the way, I settled on my own custom keyboards shortcuts for Windows (Figure 6).
Now I was ready to begin importing images and using Capture One Pro to process my photos.
Figure 6 – My keyboard shortcut list for Windows
Stage 4 – Importing and Processing Images
I had decided early on not to move all my existing images to Capture One Pro but instead (a) all new images would go directly into Capture One Pro catalog and (b) over time I would move existing Lightroom images into the Capture One Pro catalog when I worked on them. While this might not be a clean-cut shift away from Lightroom, I felt it was the right approach for me. I wanted to really focus using Capture One Pro on my new photos and not risk previous processing work.
With new images, I followed my workflow for import, selection, process, and output.
When transferring existing Lightroom images to Capture One Pro, I performed the following tasks:
- Create a new collection of images to be moved into Capture One Pro
- Confirm Keywords and Metadata are correct
- Export all Lightroom virtual copies and processed images as a TIFF appending ‘Lightroom’ to its filename, then import into the new collection
- Export the new collection as a ‘new’ Lightroom catalog that I’ll use for importing into Capture One Pro (I don’t include the negative files since I’ve kept the same raw file structure and location)
- Backup ‘old’ Lightroom catalog and open ‘new’ Lightroom catalog
- Verify images I want to import into Capture One Pro are part of the ‘new’ Lightroom catalog
- Backup up the ‘new’ Lightroom catalogs while existing Lightroom
Within Capture One Pro:
- Open Capture One Pro and import the ‘new’ Lightroom catalog into it
- Verify all images were imported into the Capture One Pro catalog
- Confirm and cleanup keyword and/or metadata that might not have transferred correctly
- Align images to appropriate Capture One Pro user collections
- Backup Capture One Pro catalog
Once I confirmed the images were in Capture One Pro and backed up, I’d remove them from my ‘old’ Lightroom catalog and delete the ‘new’ Lightroom catalog and collection created for importing to Capture One Pro. Sometimes I have to reset the image adjustments in Capture One Pro if all of my Lightroom adjustments didn’t transfer adequately or the image doesn’t look good.
Now that I’m using Capture One Pro for all new photos, I continue to do the following two activities:
While using Capture One Pro, I continue to attend Phase One Webinars, re-watch older tutorials and webinars, monitor the Phase One Blog, re-visit Sascha Enri’s book, and seek out other Capture One Pro users for more tips, tricks, and insights. At the bottom of the article, I have links to resources I found helpful in my education and transition to Capture One Pro.
Working on images and continuously learning about Capture One Pro, helps me identify ways to refine and update my workflow.
Refine and Update Workflow
As I become comfortable with Capture One Pro, I make minor tweaks to my workflow and enhancements to my workspace. In January, after upgrading to Capture One Pro 10 and attending the new Webinars, I updated my workflow map and tool tab layout to reflect my Capture One Pro workflow.
Figure 7 and 8 show my latest workflow and workspace.
Figure 7 – My Capture One Pro 10 workflow
Figure 8 – My Capture One Pro workspace
I am very pleased that I switched to Capture One Pro. I did not find Capture One hard to learn – the Webinar and Tutorials put out by the Phase One team are brilliant and extremely helpful. These webinars were the tipping point for me – enabling me to transition to Capture One Pro. Sascha Enri’s book has been invaluable. My copy is filled with highlights, scribbles, and tab markers while sitting next to my computer.
You can download:
- The workspace overview PDF [here] and workspace (for Windows) [here]
- The windows keyboard shortcut overview PDF [here] and keyboard shortcut list (for Windows) [here]
For windows users: copy workspace xml file to:
and copy the keyboard xml file to:
Before you switch over to Capture One, I highly recommend you check out these resource links.
Cameron Davidson Blog has a big list of links relative to Capture One
My Playlist of Capture One videos worth watching
Capture One Training and Support:
Capture One Pro Learning Hub
Phase One Support Forum
Blogs, Podcasts, and other Tips
Phase One Blog
Cameron Davidson (http://camerondavidson.com)
Presets & Styles:
Kent is a fine art photographer based in Florida, USA. After a successful career in IT that took him and his family around the world Kent left it to tap into a need for more creativity and pursue his photography passion. Kent focuses on fine art photography involving landscapes while incorporating his love for international travel and cultures. You can learn more about Kent by visiting his website: www.kjbimages.com, follow on Instagram @kjbimages or read his blog: https://kjbimages.blog/