Why I’m not switching to Capture One

So, I spent all this time & effort evaluating Capture One for its editing capabilities – deeming them the best out there right now, at least amongst the popular candidates – and yet I’m sadly not going to start using it.  Why?  Well, because it’s not finished.  Which I say with some sense of irony, knowing it’s been around longer than any of its competitors.  By “not finished”, I mean that while it’s got the raw rendering and image editing aspects going pretty well for it, it seems pretty clear the actual photo management half of the story has been given very little thought nor necessary care.

In the spirit of not merely voting with my feet, but actually providing actionable feedback, I submitted the following to PhaseOne, and am publishing it here for posterity and to provide some insight into my decision not to use it.

I just want to encourage you to work hard on the photo management aspects of Phase One. I’ve been trying out Capture One 9, and I really like its raw rendering – I tested it against Aperture, DxO Optics & Lightroom, and strongly preferred it (e.g. https://wadetregaskis.com/raw-converter-comparison/. It also seems to have a solid suite of editing tools.

Alas, I won’t be adopting it as-is because it’s rather undermined by the photo management half of the story. You have a lot of work to do there to bring it up to Aperture’s level, or even Lightroom’s, but please do, because I’d be very happy to switch to Capture One once it does, and enjoy its best-of-breed editing tools.

A few obvious things to help get you started (honestly meant as constructive criticism – I mean no offence):

  • Deleting photos is far too hard. Command-delete apparently just removes them from whatever album they’re in, leaving them orphaned within the catalog. *And* there’s no apparent way to find all such orphans. There’s this ‘Trash’ folder in the sidebar, but nothing I do seems to send photos there (short of dragging them there manually), so I’m not sure what it’s for?
  • Photo management is *very* buggy. In ten minutes of just trying to import *once* from *one* SD card, I hit at least half a dozen serious bugs. e.g. I told it to import into a folder. It added a bunch of subfolders (which *weren’t* set in the ‘Subfolder’ option in the Import window). So I moved, in Capture One via drag-and-drop, the files from that erroneous subfolder and into the originally intended destination, the parent folder a few levels up. I then told it to delete the now-empty child folders. It *didn’t* delete them, but *did* remove all the photos from the catalog! Luckily it at least left them on disk!
  • Managing metadata is far too difficult – the meek Metadata pane is cramped, disorganised, and not customisable. Go use Aperture for a little bit and then implement your metadata editing (i.e. the ‘Info’ tab) the same. Also, it’s really obviously and obnoxiously buggy – e.g. changes to fields are only saved if you explicitly tab out of the field before doing *anything* else, like switching to another photo. Also, if you do switch to another photo (e.g. command-arrows), it shows the prior photo’s content for the current photo, in whatever field the cursor is in. But it doesn’t save that there either!

I’m happy to be contacted if you want more details, or whatever other assistance I can provide to improve Capture One.

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