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The Long Goodbye to Aperture and the Start of a New Adventure with Capture One Pro 8

Lee Harris's picture
March 9, 2015 - 9:48pm

​This article originally appeared on Lee’s Photography Blog.

Well, we finally got the confirmation recently that from Apple would not be any kind of new Aperture; it’s aimed squarely at iPhoto users and a lot of them might be unsure if it’s even fit for purpose for some of their workflows.

Apple, it would seem, is no longer interested in real pro software, and prefers to cater for a kind of “beige” demographic.

Quite a few apologists/optimists argue that it's still early days, and maybe with upgrades more features will be added. All well and good, but I for one do not want to dedicate more time than I have to learning new software, and I don’t want to start using several things, incorporating a bunch of temporary workarounds, with the hopes that I can ditch them later.

I have been trying Lightroom but I just don’t want to go there; the interface seems wrong and perhaps a little out of date, furthermore I don’t want to aid Adobe in its monopolising of all things creative.

So I have started playing with Capture One Pro 8 and after an initial “whoah! That looks complicated!” I am starting to really like it; aesthetically (to a degree it follows Apple’s new “flat” GUI, in terms of looks), but more importantly it just is so capable… it seems to surpass Lightroom in so many ways; seen from my experimenting, and also from reading what other people say. And when I look at Aperture now, it looks like a relic—a sketched-out beta!

One issue is Capture One is way over-priced, especially these days, and they are certainly missing out on a lot of possible clients because most will just blindly go to Lightroom once they compare prices.

Right now I will keep using Aperture because it is easy to have Capture use its library, so I can experiment and learn on the same images in Capture one that I have to process quickly for clients in Aperture.

Editor's note: This final statement about letting Capture One use Aperture's library prompted me to reach out to Lee to expand on this option. He's written a post about it, which will go live later this week!

Experimenting with Capture One Pro 8 (photo by Lee Harris)

About the author, Lee Harris:

Pro photographer for about 20 years, from the UK, but I left London in 2002 to go live in Argentina. In 2007 I moved to Barcelona.

Primarily  a photographer of people, I also love doing architecture/interiors, but living in BCN is not the easiest place to get work, so I will turn my hand to anything if needs be.

Apple Aperture Capture One Pro
macOS Windows
Lee Harris

C1 is a great option for moving on from Aperture. It handles managed and referenced. It'll import and read the folders of an Aperture library. It approaches workflow in many ways similar to Aperture. Plus they do have a $10 a month introductory subscription model that helps keep the price down for at least a year of putting it through its paces. So if the relationship sours later, you can slide over to another solution for no more than the cost of the year. Phase One has an Aperture migration video up on their YouTube channel.

I’m waiting for Lr6 to drop before I download the trial. But, in the meantime I’ve been testing C1P 8 and DXO OP 10. At this stage, I’m mainly interested in noise reduction and detail extraction, as I shoot m43 for events (low light / high ISO) and landscapes. On both counts, I’ve been able to get better results from DXO. At first I thought C1P achieved better skin tones and highlight recovery, but once I discovered DXO’s “color rendering” and combined negative exposure with Smart Lighting for highlight recovery, I found it to be just as capable. The lack of a highlights tool, and the use of “color rendering” profiles for managing color make for a somewhat unfamiliar and unintuitive interface in DXO. By comparison, C1P’s UI seems much more familiar. That said, DXO gets all the tools I need into one adjustment palette. With C1P, one has to move through several palettes to hit all the basic tools, which makes for a somewhat slower and more cumbersome adjustment process. OTOH, C1P has a wealth of tools, many of which are not available in DXO.

I still don’t know which way I’ll go, but DXO has impressed me with what looks to be unrivaled NR and detail extraction, and that may be enough to make me overlook a few interface quirks and look for a standalone DAM.

Re. moving through the palettes with C1: I had the same concerns about this when I started my C1 trial. but then I discovered a lovely little menu item under “Windows” called “Create Floating Window”.

With that, you can put C1 in full screen mode with two monitors and have your picture full screen on one monitor and NOTHING BUT ADJUSTMENT PALETTES on your second screen. You can create a floating window for every single one of the items in C1’s panels and save the whole setup as a workspace (you can save multiple workspaces and switch around, depending on the task).

Therefore it is even more customisable than Aperture (where there’s just the Inspector panel and then you had to switch between Adjustments/Metadata/Library, where in C1 you can create a floating window for every one of them and place them whereever you like).

Jacques: in C1, there is no need to move between the palettes to hit the basic tools. You can create your own customized “tab” containing the tools you most often use. I’ve found the customized “tab” feature to streamline and speed up the adjustment process.


Good point. Gotta say, with its extensive tools and built-in DAM, C1P does look great. Given that I deal with a lot of noisy images, though, it’s pretty hard to look past DXO’s PRIME noise reduction.

DXO is impressive. What kills it for me is no local tools. At all.

OTOH, DXO can export a linear DNG into Lr. One could use Lr for DAM, round-trip to DXO for RAW processing, and do selective adjustments back in Lr. At least in theory. I haven’t had time to try this out, and in any case I’m waiting to see how good Lr6’s NR will be. If it’s not as good as DXO PRIME, I’ll look deeper into this hybrid workflow.


I’ll add that another draw to Lr is the ability to use ShutterSnitch and Photosmith on my iPad as a triage front-end in my location workflow. Shooting RAW+JPEG, I can transfer the small JPEGs from my cameras to my iPad via built-in wifi, select and keyword on the road, then download the RAWs from my cards to Lr on my Mac when I get home and sync my iPad edits to them. Then I can immediately start processing my selects.

I’m a hobbiest, so I’m looking to simplify my life, not complicate it. Capture One works for me, and seems to be heading in the right direction. I can pretty much now use the exact same workflow, file structure, etc I’ve used in Aperture for years, and end up with better image quality. 

With different priorities though, everyone will have different needs. I can’t stand Lr. 


That said, a new tool is hard to resist, and I am thinking about adding Photo Supreme ( to the mix as my DAM. I likely don’t need any more than C1 already has to be honest (keywords, rating, etc) but I do like the level of control it seems to have for keywording, face recognition, etc.

I fully agree that C1 seems to be “headed in the right direction”.

When I was working with a Lightroom trial the last couple of weeks, I was really disappointed that the whole GUI and workflow has basically not changed since the first version in 2007. They may have added some minor stuff here and there, but the basics are still the same and you can’t adapt LR to your workflow, YOU have to adapt to LR. Since 8 years have passed now, I don’t think Adobe will ever change anything major there.

I’m a hobbyist as well.  To be honest I have been running C1 in parallel to Aperture for several years, which makes the move from Aperture easier.  The DAM features in C1 first came in with C1 7, and the whole thing now runs far better in C1 8.

The shortcoming in C1 as a DAM for me is the handling of keywords - more specifically editing already applied keywords.  However, Phase One know how to do this - in Media Pro - so at some stage I hope this know-how will migrate to C1.

What I have done in the interim is to use Photo Supreme as a first order DAM.  It covers a wider range of file types than C1, it has very strong keywording capabilities, and it also reads Aperture libraries.  I then send selects to the Capture One catalogue (you can identify C1 - or LR, DXO, Perfect, Iridient Developer etc - as linked external apps.  I think that there is a way to synchronise keywords between the two apps (C1 will import any applied PS label/keywords), but I am working on that.  If you like PS is my parachute rather than getting locked into any app, and if PS goes away all my existing metadata is still accessible.

Andrew Macnaughton

No local tools. No DAM. Plus, I put DxO through its paces and was initially impressed. They've recently added a lot of lens and camera combinations that made it pretty attractive. You could see the difference in the image. But after I put the same images through C1, I didn't see as big of difference in sharpening and noise reduction as I expected. When I really pixel peeped, I found the C1 image held the image detail together a little bit better. So I'm sure that is one of those things that can vary based on your gear combo but I ended up holding off on purchasing DxO for now. 

I see the biggest advantage in DxO over C1P in m43 shots made in low light at ISO1600 and above. It’s here the PRIME noise reduction really stands out. In images made in good light at low ISO, I find the two apps to be much more comparable. DxO still has a slight edge in detail recovery, but I have to pixel peep to see it. So, for my landscape work, I could be very happy with C1P. But, my bread & butter is low-light event work, and for this, now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m not sure I could pass up PRIME. It makes my high-ISO m43 images look like they came from a full-frame camera, and that is just magic.

Maybe. Plus the price is better right now with the sale on until March 31. But I'm also a long time Oly FT/MFT shooter and the current noise reduction in C1 is pretty good. With an E-30 or E-M1 at 6400, I'd even give a slight edge to C1 vs DxO though it subjectively depends on what you're looking at in the image. I have one patch on a test image that DxO seemed cleaner on though C1 caught stars while Dx0 erased them for a better sky. There is something about C1's noise reduction that makes it seem more like natural grain with a touch less color craziness. But it sounds like you do more ISO work than I do and may see something that I don't. Both are very good. There is also something very satisfying with DxO really knowing your camera/lens combo. You can preset your C1 but DxO might work a volume batch a touch faster with a little less tweaking. 

I posted some samples here.

Yeah, you're getting a much more visible pop on your G3 images than I see on those from my E-M1. But where I do see DxO stronger than C1 is on edges coming from a dense black and going to skin tone. Though to get there with DxO, I had to push the PRIME settings because it was worse at the default. But you can't use a local control on DxO like you can C1. Not a huge issue if you're doing volume (who has the time) but of more interest if you are finessing an important image. 

Capture One Pro 8 looks great. Would it operate on my mid 2012 MacBook Air with a 1.8 GHz Intel i5 processor, and 4 Gig of RAM. Thanks, John.


I'm running it quite comfortably on a mid-2010 iMac but I have 16GB and I've converted the machine to internal SSD. Best I can say is download the free trial and live with it for 30 days. No CC required. Only your email and region. 

I made the move from Aperture to Capture One.  I originally was going the Lightroom route, but then tried C1.  I could not pass up the superior image quality of Capture One compared to Lightroom.  And C1 is very similar to Aperture when it comes to file management.  You can actually read about my decision on the Capture One website!…

I’m curious as to whether Capture One offers use of Plugins.

Steve Hadeen

Sort of. You can launch an image into almost anything that runs as stand alone. If you're managed, it might disappear on the way back though many plugins I tested will try to put the image back into the packaged folder structure. If it's a referenced catalog, it's easier to track down the results even if they don't appear immediately. But since many plugins change the name or might launch to PSD format (which C1 does not display) the results might not show back up again. Nik handles things as a TIFF and works pretty flawlessly. They'll come back from Viveza or other tools and show right in the catalog. Otherwise you call your plugins within the Photoshop TIFF roundtrip or save your results manually elsewhere.

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