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Capture One: focus on the evolution of image processing software

Today, Capture One is a benchmark in the photo editing market. The main competitor of Adobe Lightroom, the Danish company Phase One has shown, since its inception and through the various versions of its software, its potential in terms of innovation in its sector.

Capture One’s story helps us understand how it managed to make a place for itself. The image-processing software distinguishes itself thanks to its focus on collaboration and its willingness to push the limits of color control. In this guide, we will focus on those versions of Capture One that have shown real breakthroughs; those that have allowed it to stand out.

Table of contents

Capture One: from the RAW image conversion application to image processing software

Capture One is a leading photo editing software program that has come a long way. Since its inception in 1993, Capture One has been the RAW image converter for Phase One cameras. Therefore, it did not support other cameras. In 2003, the independent brand Capture One was created to distinguish between the manufacturer Phase One and Capture One software. In this way, the image processing software could evolve as such. Following the creation of the brand, the new versions of the software enabled support for new SLR cameras (Canon, Sony, etc.). Capture One is now compatible with 600 cameras and lenses. 

Capture One 8: extraordinary demosaicing

While the first versions of the photo editing software brought some improvements in quality, those of version 8 are the most notable. Indeed, users very quickly testified to the higher level of rendering of their photos. The texture is better and highlights the portraits and faces thanks to the details provided by the demosaicing. This new version introduced new tools, such as dressing and duplication layers and adjustment tools. It became easier to target white balance editing and noise reduction. The tool for adding grain has also been developed and is becoming more intelligent: it allows you to choose the type of grain and its intensity.

All in all, the Capture One 8 update provides users with a remarkable improvement in quality, allowing it to prove itself against the competition and even become the leading solution of the time.

Capture One 12: the modernization of photo editing software

With Capture One 12, the software has been completely revised and modernized. This redesign was carried out with the aim of making the software accessible to a wider audience. It presents itself with a new graphic interface that is more pleasant and accessible: the sliders and icons have a fresh design, customization is more convenient, and the font becomes larger. The menu has also been revised in order to obtain a more logical organization of features. 

Phase One is introducing other modifications, such as an overhaul of the plug-in system and improved AppelScript integration, but also the launch of two lighter versions specific to Fujifilm and Sony cameras, which both brands offer with their cameras. All Fuji and GFX film simulations have integrated the software.

Capture One Studio: a version for photo studios

Capture 12.1 brings some improvements, but nothing revolutionary. Nevertheless, Phase One launches Capture One Studio, a version created for photo studios. The main objective of this release is to make managing large amounts of images easier for businesses. To do this, Capture One Studio makes it possible to automate certain tasks and introduces:

  • the ability to create own scripts;
  • the programming of the series of actions;
  • automatic renaming of files using a barcode;
  • the integration of metadata into images as soon as the capture operation is connected;
  • the automatic creation of backups. 


A new user management tool and predefined workspaces have also been introduced in this new version, to make life even easier for businesses. Its connected mode is very fast and allows you to see the result of your work on your computer screen right after taking the picture. This live display represents huge workload time savings. 

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Capture One 20: a redesigned color editor

Launched in 2019, Capture One 20 offers a redesigned color editor, introducing two additional color ranges, for a total of eight color ranges. In addition to the color wheel, it is then possible to select the color to correct and adjust it with a movement of the mouse. The tool has become simpler and more accurate. In addition, it is now possible to individually adjust the colors of a DNG file with a custom profile depending on the camera. Thanks to these constant improvements, Capture One’s color processing remains state-of-the-art. The image processing software does not simply edit the files of supported cameras: it manually calibrates the camera’s colors to produce colors that are as authentic as possible and up to par with the hardware. 

Beyond the color editor, Capture One 20 introduces:

  • an improvement of the noise reduction tool, allowing excellent color preservation;
  • copy and paste layers and masks between different photos, which is totally new;
  • the movement of tools between the different sections of the interface according to the needs of the user and the features that they must have at hand;
  • the creation of labels to identify the tools. 


Overall, the tools have become increasingly precise. 

Capture One 22 and its Live version: a testament to collaboration

What really sets Capture One apart is its tools for collaborating with anyone in the world, at any time. Capture One 11 introduced annotation tools to allow you to annotate photos, mark places that need editing, etc., for better communication between users.

With Capture One 22, Phase One returns with a major new feature: Capture One Live, making remote collaboration easier. Available as an add-on to Capture One Pro – for the most recent versions – Capture One Live makes sharing between photographers and their colleagues easier and faster. Employees who cannot be on-site can receive even the largest images live, no matter where they are, and can comment on and bookmark the photos for up to a month.

In order to adapt to each user, Capture One continues to develop its ecosystem and to diversify its offer so that everyone can find what they need. Capture One Pro, Capture One Live, Capture One Styles, Capture One iPad… the product has adapted to all types of use. 

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