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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

Lightroom or Capture One for GFX files?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Lightroom or Capture One for GFX files, that is the question I am grappling with at the present time. But first a little bit of history. Way back when I first started using RAW digital files I did use Capture One for a while and I was impressed with the results. I also used Adobe Photoshop at the time and both products could be purchased and used without any subscription tie ins. This applied to Lightroom as well in the early versions until eventually Adobe chose the subscription model and I have stayed with them on a monthly subscription charge for both Lightroom and Photoshop, plus their mobile applications which do vary in usefulness. Lightroom mobile being the best of the bunch for me from Adobe on IOS.

I have been using Lightroom since the very first early versions were released in 2006. I started photographing weddings professionally in 2004 initially using just Adobe Photoshop to prepare the image files for clients. With the release of Lightroom I could keep everything together and add keywords etc. This was useful for the day to day database capabilities that it offered alongside the ability to read RAW data and make basic adjustments before exporting images in bulk etc.. Initially I would keep all of my weddings for a whole year in one catalog in date order. For any image that required further work, a dip into Photoshop and back again would do the job. As Lightroom progressed the addition of more development tools such as brushes, gradients and clone capabilities made the use of Photoshop less of a need when editing up to one thousand images from a day's wedding shoot. However I would still load up Photoshop when needed for a more complex image that required work at a local level. I even managed to integrate wedding album design in the print module of Lightroom plus various plugins allowed me to connect and transfer images to third party online applications such as smugmug for client access to images. Back in the day when I first started photographing weddings I was shooting with Canon equipment. My move over to Fujifilm was gradual until around six years ago when I switched to the Fujifilm X system completely. Lightroom was never very smooth with handling the X Trans sensor and it seemed to slow processing down. Now I have given up my X system cameras and I am using the GFX 50R as my sole camera. This of course has a bayer colour filter array which Lightroom seems happier with on the face of it.

So to bring things up to date. I no longer shoot weddings so I do not now rely on all of the database functionality of Lightroom although I do still enjoy using the application and it handles the GFX files well despite the larger file sizes. More importantly I have used it for so long I am really comfortable with it.

At the end of last week we had some respite from the wet weather here in the UK and were blessed with some early autumn sunshine. I set off to a local wood with my 50R and 32-64mm lens. Here are the results of that brief visit. All of my processing was achieved in Lightroom. I also took the opportunity to download the free Fujifilm version of Capture One Express. The interface has certainly changed somewhat since I last used it. Because of the learning curve involved I resorted back to what I knew in Lightroom. However when I have more time I intend to return to Capture One.

From what I can gather so far, here are the main differences between Lightroom and Capture One and my thoughts on the pros and cons of the two packages. It's probably not entirely fair to compare Capture One Express as it is a cut down version from the full Pro version. Most reviewers seem to state that there is better colour control in Capture One with better tools for the fine tuning of colours. I also understand that you can use layers in Capture One which brings it into Photoshop territory. I had always thought that Lightroom was the obvious choice for organising images and as previously stated I had made good use of that facility. However Capture One has catalogs and also something called "sessions" which sounds interesting and could well be better for dealing with individual shoots. One big drawback for me now that I am not shooting professionally is cost. It appears that the subscription cost for Capture One Pro is double the cost of the Lightroom / Photoshop option. You can buy the software outright but what happens if you want to upgrade to the latest version? So maybe I ought to stay with Adobe and explore the functionality of the more limited Capture One Express if only for the colour controls. Its probably also worth mentioning that I have dabbled with Affinity Photo, but only the mobile IOS version. It is remarkably capable for the cost and I know many people are happy with the desktop version too.

Whnen I get my head around the Express version of Capture One I will post some comparisons, possibly using some of the same images shown here.

Anyone else has thoughts on Capture One v Lightroom or any other useful software? Please feel free to comment.

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