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01-02-2020, 04:12 AM   #1
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Switching from Lightroom... but where to? (CaptureOne or DxO Photolab?)

So, I have been using Lightroom for years, but I stopped updating my version back when they went cloud based.

Recently, people around the forums have been promoting various newer software for RAW editing. I see a lot of you seem to be happy with CaptureOne and DxO Photolab.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I hate having to rebuild my entire workflow: Right now I use LR for importing RAW files and basic editing, and I add adjustments in Topaz Clarity and Topaz Adjust. My catalogue has more than 100,000 photos.

I read the thread here about the new version of CaptureOne, googled around and found some very reassuring pages about switching from LR to CaptureOne (this one for instance: Photo Editing Tutorials, Tips & Tricks – Capture One Blog Ľ Blog Archive 11 Killer Tips for Switching from Lightroom to Capture One)

But I REALLY only want to switch once! I know I can download free trial versions, etc, but the more I could qualify my choice before making the effort of getting to know new software the better! So - I turn to you, my trusted external pentaxforumbrain, for advice:

Assuming I gather the courage to switch, which will give me the most of an upgrade in post processing? And will one of them be less painful than the other? (OK, that last one is hard to answer, I know!)

01-02-2020, 04:45 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Capture One will probably be as difficult to wrap your head around as standalone LR was. In all honesty it's really geared more around a professional workflow. I have it, dedicated myself to it for a week, and now ? Not my liking. Pentax is also pretty well ignored by them so you'd be using the general version rather than one optimized for the brand and your lenses.

I also have On 1 which I would really like to see succeed but gosh it can be dog-slow at times. It's also another you'd have to dedicate time to in order to understand the workflow. The interface has greatly improved over the past three years, but still some issues here and there. I guess another (!) "next year" for the not-quite-there-yet suite.

DxO Photolab (2)? Yup that as well but it's not really positioned as a LR replacement anyway as it's not as full-featured and cataloging is weak. You'd almost certainly want other software to augment it.

For now I still rely on LR6 (like you no fan of subscription) for my initial RAW processing and cataloging. I use Topaz Studio for some special process looks as well as employing a couple of the Topaz AI plugins for special needs, and DxO for cleaning up noisy images and certain lens distortions.

Luminar 4 is also a very worthy and speedy addition for some particular tasks. Some of the processes are impressive for minimal effort. That's one you might consider, using it alongside LR via their plugin and it is not at all expensive for what it does.

Last edited by gatorguy; 01-02-2020 at 05:33 AM.
01-02-2020, 04:57 AM   #3
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I'm in the same boat. In addition to being stuck with an old version (not necessarily a problem in itself) I'm getting tired of it being slow as molasses.

The reason I'm not too thrilled about moving to open source tools like Darktable/DCRAW/The GIMP etc is the lack of a good (non-destructive) catalogue.

The catalogue of Capture One looks to be a good replacement of that in LR, but I still haven't found out whether C1 has the same import capabilities. In LR I have defined import presets that are automatically applied based on camera and ISO (so that e.g. default NR and sharpening will be different for a K-3 ISO 3200 shot than for a K-1 ISO 3200 shot). I find that to be very time saving.

I'll keep an eye on this thread
01-02-2020, 05:34 AM   #4
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I'm also thinking of dropping LR and PS for something else, as i think the monthly fee is to high for me, considering how much I use it.
So I just found this artikel, maybe you already saw it but here it is : Best Lightroom Alternatives | UPDATED: Jan 2020
I will also follow this thread and see what it brings.

01-02-2020, 05:55 AM - 1 Like   #5
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I use Luminar, not as an extension, but as a standalone application...

love it, can't imagine using anything else...
01-02-2020, 06:34 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pelto Quote
I'm also thinking of dropping LR and PS for something else, as i think the monthly fee is to high for me, considering how much I use it.
So I just found this artikel, maybe you already saw it but here it is : Best Lightroom Alternatives | UPDATED: Jan 2020
I will also follow this thread and see what it brings.
LOL... I have all of those except the free Darktable.

I've been looking for awhile and still not found anything as a total replacement for LR. I'm not a heavy shooter, but not just occasional either, processing maybe 300-600 shots a month on average tho lately triple that. On 1 is too often too slow yet it's the only package I've come across that might potentially replace both Lightroom and Photoshop. For whatever reason each year the promised performance just never quite gets there even if the new features seem worthwhile. Still too slow for me but I wish them all the luck in figuring out how to speed things up. I'd love to be able to rely on it for the majority of my PP needs and ditch all the Adobe stuff. One can hope, right? IMHO they should use one update cycle just for addressing the efficiency of their package and making better use of available computer resources. Forget new features, just give me more speed and they'll have a winner IMO.

DxO lacks necessary features and is less adaptable. I really like their lens corrections and basic RAW processing is pretty darn good but it's not going to be an end-to-end workflow package for demanding photographers.

Capture One seems to like Sony and Canon owners and tailors the interface accordingly. They are certainly not Pentax fans. IMO the software is difficult to learn, and if not using daily probably impossible to master. It is NOT casual shooter friendly. Heck even some of my sony A7x friends who got the Sony-specific version tell me they use it for common tasks and adjustments but otherwise they don't truly understand the most efficient workflow or what some of the options and settings mean and how they operate. If you're not a pro or prosumer it's a spendy package that has little benefit over less expensive software.

I think I used both Darktable and RAWTherapee a few years back but obviously wasn't impressed enough to pursue them and have zero comment otherwise.

Luminar 4 is probably the most impressive of the lot considering bang-for-buck, but if you're trying to finish up a couple hundred images in an evening it probably ain't happening.... It can be dog-slow at times too if you use their AI features which is really it's calling card and makes them stand out from other relatively inexpensive software. For those needing a software package a few times a month I'd say it might be the best choice right now and deserves consideration. It's good for those who lack any real photo processing software and not sure how to start along with those who already have something but want to make things easier for certain tasks. For the minimal effort required on your part you can get some impressive results, and I have friends who absolutely love it. As with any PP software just resist the urge to overdo it. Some photos are just great as they came out of your camera and post-processing can ruin them.

Last edited by gatorguy; 01-02-2020 at 09:43 AM.
01-02-2020, 06:35 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
but I still haven't found out whether C1 has the same import capabilities
The import dialog of Capture One offers a lot of actions that can be applied: choose source directory of images, choose target of images (os file references or CO session directory / catalog), backup, renaming, apply image adjustments based on styles (user defined or CO delivered) and / or automatic adjustments, add metadata. Can't imagine there's something missing.

The problem changing from one system to another with a lot of images (organized in a catalog) is that only a few of the initial image adjustments will be simulated in the new system. Capture One simulates some image adjustments of a Lightroom or Aperture catalog but not all you might have applied initially to get the best out of your raw files. So if you want to get similar image representations you had in your old system you'll have to do a lot of rework in the new system. If you have some really nice image representations in your old system that you want to exactly preserve, I'd recommend creating 16 bit tiff files with maybe PhotoPro RGB icc-profiles of them.
01-02-2020, 06:38 AM - 1 Like   #8
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01-02-2020, 06:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by acoufap Quote
The import dialog of Capture One offers a lot of actions that can be applied: choose source directory of images, choose target of images (os file references or CO session directory / catalog), backup, renaming, apply image adjustments based on styles (user defined or CO delivered) and / or automatic adjustments, add metadata. Can't imagine there's something missing.
What I'm looking for is the unattended "adaptive" import functionality, but it's not a dealbreaker. It's the learning old dogs new tricks part that will hurt the most I guess I should just download the thing and try it out.

QuoteOriginally posted by acoufap Quote
The problem changing from one system to another with a lot of images (organized in a catalog) is that only a few of the initial image adjustments will be simulated in the new system. Capture One simulates some image adjustments of a Lightroom or Aperture catalog but not all you might have applied initially to get the best out of your raw files. So if you want to get similar image representations you had in your old system you'll have to do a lot of rework in the new system. If you have some really nice image representations in your old system that you want to exactly preserve, I'd recommend creating 16 bit tiff files with maybe PhotoPro RGB icc-profiles of them.
Some might see this as an obstacle, but I'm not too worried about it. I can keep the LR catalogue intact to have access to old edits if I need them. And, really, most of my old edits aren't worth much anyway Looking at anything edited more than a couple of years ago mostly makes me cringe
01-02-2020, 07:03 AM - 4 Likes   #10
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Difficult decision, a call only you yourself can make, and I will neither pretend I have the answer to it nor will I act as a self-appointed brand ambassador here.

Just for perspective, however, the main personal takeaways from my switch from LR5 to DxO OpticsPro 10 (back in 2015, which, several iterations later, is now PhotoLab 3):
  • I thought I would miss LR's extensive cataloguing functions, which I found not to be a great issue. My DNGs live in a simple Pictures/yyyy/yyyy-mm-dd structure on my hard drive, and since I usually remember which year I took a particular image, that has never been much of a problem. The latest version of PhotoLab does have improved indexing and search functions.
  • I wasn't sure if DxO wouldn't be lacking essential features of LR's editing capabilities, and there may well be some of them, but at least for my workflow that has not been an issue either. I should perhaps add that I do all my editing in PhotoLab and the Nik Collection and don't need super-sleak integration with PhotoShop (which I don't use).
  • While this is clearly subjective and dependent on personal taste, I've been much happier with my editing and the resulting output since the switch, and I haven't come across a single case where LR, as used by imperfect me, would have created a better final image.

Bottom line: Couldn't be happier, but as with so many things in life and certainly photography, your mileage may vary. Whatever decision you take, make it entirely your own, not one you "have been talked into". Hence the benefit of trial versions.

Processed to taste in PhotoLab 3, both taken with a K-3 at ISO 800, with DxO Prime noise-reduction settings at a mere 1/3 of the auto value (i.e. if you wanted to balance retention of detail and noise reduction in a different way, you could absolutely do that):




Last edited by Madaboutpix; 01-02-2020 at 07:08 AM. Reason: Spelling
01-02-2020, 07:34 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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First, the old LR6 standalone version is still a very good piece of software. You could still use it if it fits your need. Or, said otherwise, it might not worth the trouble to move to something else if you only do basic editing.

That said, there's no wasy answer that "what would be best". It depends on what you need to do and which feature you want (or don't care about). The ideal is still to give a look at the different trial versions and see for yourself if they work better for you and worth the trouble to move on. You may also find out that none is worth it compared to what you already have with LR.

FWIW, I have try On1, Aftershot and DXO and got to the same conclusions as the others. On1 is quite functionnal but somewhat clunky and not as streamlined as LR. Photolabs give really good results but only offer basic cataloging features. CaptureOne has limited support of Pentax gear. Aftershot give poor results compared to LR (and all the others), so not really an option. When I processed a raw file to compare between them, I could get more or less the same final results with any of them. But LR requires the less effort, followed closely by DXO. On1 was okay but wasn't as intuitive as the other two. Afterdark felt like I had to battle with the software. And CaptureOne was way too difficult to use for casual use. Although it might the best for a professionnal using it for hours everyday.
01-02-2020, 07:38 AM   #12
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I switched to CaptureOne last year and I am very happy. I get better results than with LR.

Another canditate could be Silkypix Developer Studio Pro 9. Silkypix also can handle Pentax Pixelshift RAWs. They are the makers of the Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5 software, but DSP9 has better userinterface.
01-02-2020, 09:29 AM   #13
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No one piece of PP software is ideal for everyone unfortunately, and itís a bit of a trawl to change after youíve been using something for a while. Fair enough if you donít like the Adobe subscription model, but thereís a lot to be said for using software that youíre familiar with. Iíve used ACR/Photoshop for the last few years and will likely stick with it. I tried DxO and really didnít get on with it; ditto RawTherapee.
01-02-2020, 11:45 AM   #14
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I switched last year from LR6, mainly to avoid Adobes subscription scheme and because of LR being slow (in particular zoom to 1:1). I tried various tools, in particular DxO, ON1, C1.

As some have already mentioned above, it really depends on what is important to you. For me, the program has to run also on a not so powerful Surface tablet and a local curve editing tool is a must. Cataloguing and Import, on the other hand, is not important to me as I like to keep a reasonable folder structure on my disk manually anyway Ė and I donít hundreds of images daily. I have been using C1 now for about half a year and I am very pleased, and I never imagined how slow LR was compared to others! I would confirm though that C1 is weak in supporting Pentax, e.g. lens profiles are virtually non-existent. But I would not agree that it is any more difficult to use than LR and there are plenty of good tutorials online.

I really liked DxO, considering price and functionality, but I thought to have a strange issue with rendering; full view of the photo seemed not to show the same details/sharpening as when zoomed in. Meanwhile Iíve been told thatís supposed to be so, but I still think thatís just really annoying (you can google for ďdxo sharpening zoom levelĒ to find some information).

It takes time, but Iíd say try at least two tools before you buy and make sure important features and results are pleasing. C1 seems to aim for professionals I just felt thatís the safest bet to not have to change again soon; and i bit the bullet regarding price.
01-02-2020, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by chochichaeschtli Quote
I really liked DxO, considering price and functionality, but I thought to have a strange issue with rendering; full view of the photo seemed not to show the same details/sharpening as when zoomed in. Meanwhile I’ve been told that’s supposed to be so, but I still think that’s just really annoying (you can google for “dxo sharpening zoom level” to find some information).

Er, I kindly invite you to my website to view some recently-shot images fullscreen (don't forget clicking on the double arrows or pressing F11) -- really not to show off but to make a point. All of them have been processed from DNGs in various iterations of DxO OpticsPro/PhotoLab. If you find the sharpness seriously lacking, I frankly doubt that any editing software on this planet will be able to satisfy you sustainably. Have you considered shooting MF with a PhaseOne?
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