From Lightroom to Capture One Pro

Learn Capture One Pro in 3 days

Note: this page is released 1 December 2017 and I am still working to improve it. I welcome your comments to make it better.

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I am not a Adobe Lightroom specialist but I now a lot about Capture One! I offer you here some quick learning tools to become familiar with Capture One Pro in 3 days.

This way you can really enjoy your 30-day trial period of Capture One Pro. When your trial ends, you can buy Capture One Pro in the Webshop.

To reward your courage use voucher code lightroom on checkout and save 10%!

Day 1

Installation And Startup

When you get the free trial from the Webshop, you get the download links for Windows and macOS in your mailbox, plus the Release Notes.

In the Release Notes you check whether your camera model raw file is supported (99% chance it is), your lenses and tethered support. It is good to check the system requirements as well.

capture one 11, macOS installer

Install the program with the installer onto your computer’s hard drive. Do not attempt to run the program from the installer.

When you start Capture One, choose Pro. If you have a Sony camera and no other camera brands, choose Pro (for Sony). The features are identical but the Sony version is limited in camera support, and much cheaper!

capture one 11, select your product

After your confirmation, the 30-day trial starts. You just learned that from a single download you can run Capture One in four different modes. If you are interested read Capture One Modes for all the details.


As soon as you start working with Capture One, you learn new concepts like Session and Catalog, different types of Variants and tethering.

Sessions And Catalogs

There are two ways to organise images in Capture One Pro, Sessions and Catalogs. Because you are a Lightroom user, you probably are most interested in Catalogs because they are similar to the Lightroom Library.

In Capture One a Catalog (and a Session) is like a document. You can have as many Catalogs as you like. You even can import one Catalog into the other.

I suggest you take a look at the post Catalogs Explained, which is the first of a serie of four, and continue depending on your needs.

In case your curiosity drives you to Sessions, there is a similar serie of posts starting with Sessions Explained to cover your needs.


Variants in general, the Primary Variant and the Compare Variant are the different uses of the term Variant. Understanding what they mean helps a lot in working with Capture One Pro.

In the program there is a toggle Edit All Selected Variants and this unique feature is where starters have the most questions about.

You read it all in the post Capture One Variants. Easy to understand, highly recommended.


Also known as tethered shooting, tethering is one of Capture One Pro’s key selling points. It is fast, flexible and includes pro-like features like Live View and Remote Control.

On tethering with Capture One I have a series of posts that start with Capture One Tethering Explained.

But is does not end there. Remote viewing and control via Capture Pilot on your mobile device is another gem of Capture One. You find it fully covered in Using Capture Pilot with Capture One.

Importing Images

I suggest you start working with Capture One Pro on a try-and-learn basis. Make a Catalog on your internal drive, and start importing some existing images.

I wrote a comprehensive post named Importing Images Into Capture One. I am sure that once you covered that you will make no mistakes.

Important is that you leave the existing images in their Current Location as it is called in the import dialog.

In case you like to import images from a memory card, follow the instruction in the post I just mentioned.

Lightroom Library Import

You can import a Lightroom Library into a Capture One Catalog. There is a special import option for that. Image adjustments are estimates, rating and tagging are transferred, as Albums but not Smart Albums.

If you like to try that, export a smaller Library from Lightroom and import it in your trial Catalog. Review the images, their edits, metadata, and collections.

Day 2

Rating, Tagging And Selecting

After import I always first browse through the thumbnails. Those I like most I give a star rating. The number keys 1-5 are easy shortcuts. Others prefer color tagging, which is possible as well.

You can rate and tag via the Adjustments menu, just below the thumbnail and below the preview in the Viewer and by using keyboard shortcuts.

To exclude other images and look only to the rated or tagged images, use the Filters tool in the Library tool tab.

You can also create User Collections. I discussed that in Catalogs Continued.

Edit Images

Now that you have selected the best images, you want to adjust them to make them even better. You most used options for adjusting your images are the tools on the Exposure and the Color tool tab.

The order in which the tools are listed on the tool tabs have a logic behind them. Use them in that order and you automatically go from easy to advanced.

For more details on what these tools do, I have a comprehensive list of posts for you.

Edit With…

Capture One has the capability to export/process an image and open the result in an external editor (Photoshop and others) while saving the export in the catalog as well. After changes are saved in the external editor the thumbnail and preview of the image are updated in the catalog.

This option is the Edit with… command that you find by right-clicking on your thumbnail.

Day 3

Export And Process

Initially Capture One Pro could only Process images according to what you define in Process Recipes. A very powerful workflow with all the bells and whistles you can think off.

Over the years, Capture One Pro offered the simpler Export option. It gives the same image (quality), almost all options but no Process Recipes and no Batch Queue. And what a coincidence: Lightroom uses Export as well!

So look at the Export feature that I unfolded in Capture One Export.

Local Adjustments with Layers

Capture One has extensive capabilities for local adjustments via layers with masks. Almost all relevant tools work on layers. There are several mask and brush options.

After Day 3

Migration Scenarios

There are three potential migration scenarios

  1. totally move over from Lr to CO first before you continue now or in the long run (see next scenario)
  2. keep Lr with your current images as is, start with CO for new images (you can always decide later to import old images from your Lr libraries if you please, see previous scenario)
  3. work out a coexistence scenario of Lr and CO were you keep using both for old and new images
    all your future steps depend on the migration scenario

Other Resources

There are a few great posts at the Phase One blog site that can help too.

Do you know some more? Please let me know, thank you!

Buying And Activating

Was this helpful and would you like to support Image Alchemist? Consider buying your license in the Webshop.

Once you have a license key for Capture One Pro, you need to activate your installed copy with the key. You find a clear description of this rather straightforward process in Activating Capture One Pro.

Enjoy Capturing, enjoy Capture One, enjoy Image Alchemist

Paul Steunebrink / Image Alchemist

backyard photographer, writer, Capture One beta tester, Phase One Certified Professional, Phase One Ambassador