Is the New Capture One for iPad Enough to Win Over Lightroom Users?

Capture One for iPad is finally making its debut eight years after competitor Adobe Lightroom came to the platform. This is the future CEO Rafael Orta spoke about with us last year. And while this is a new beginning for Capture One’s mobile future, we’re not yet seeing the AI features he hinted at. Maybe that will come in future releases. At the moment, Capture One for iPad is most likely going to change how so many photographers use the program. Here’s what you need to know about Capture One for iPad.

The Biggest Features

The biggest features are exciting if you’re an iPad owner. Earlier this year, I bought an iPad Pro 12.9 inch variant and I’ve felt right at home. With it, I can do nearly everything I need to run the site. But now, I’ll be able to do a whole lot more.

  • Cloud sync: You can hook your camera up to your iPad’s USB-C port and then import images into Capture One for iPad. Then you can edit and cull accordingly. If you want to continue working on the desktop, you can do so via Cloud Sync. From the language Capture One is using, this is how it seems different from Adobe. With Adobe, the edits you make on your computer will sync across to mobile devices. With Capture One for iPad, you can start working there, then sync it to the cloud and continue working there. From Capture One’s verbiage, I don’t think the edits and work completely sync back and forth. That’s to say that if you’re editing on the computer, it won’t necessarily sync back to the iPad.
  • Editing: According to the press release there are features like, “batch editing, Dehaze, film grain and Basic Color Editor, to Styles (presets) import and other advanced workflows.” The company adds that Star Rating, Color Tagging, Crop and Rotation, White Balance, Exposure, Dynamic Range, Clarity, and more are also available.
  • Controls: Capture One for iPad has gesture controls and a two-handed UI. 
  • More features are coming: Capture One purposely decided to launch with a reduced set of features. 

Are You Going to Leave Lightroom?

It has to be said, from the outside looking in, this doesn’t seem drastically different from Adobe Lightroom. I say that as a journalist who swore off Adobe years ago because I genuinely felt they’re doing the bare minimum to help photographers. Adobe and the Japanese manufacturers believe content creators are the biggest market. But they also don’t acknowledge how many of us are burnt out on social media. Staff and I often message each other about how annoying all the apps are these days. I’ve almost totally switched over from Instagram to VSCO.

All that aside, I’m hoping the editing quality Capture One has on the desktop will be reflected on the iPad. How could it do that? Well, I think it could start with a slew of other features various photographers would demand. Landscape photographers are bound to want to do panoramic stitches. Conceptual photographers will seriously want to combine photos into layers for multiple exposures. Portrait photographers will truly wish they could mask out blemishes and do minor healing in addition to the masking coming soon. Photojournalists will probably be most happy with the app’s feature sets though, and that’s a major win for them.

Besides Capture One’s superior RAW editing abilities due to them working with the manufacturers, I’m curious to see how things work out for them. Adobe is the giant in the room, appealing to content creators, journalists, and a whole lot more. But Capture One is focusing on photographers; and that’s what we care about. 

What’s working against Capture One for iPad is that Capture One is a “brand new program” to so many photographers who don’t want to learn a new one. With that said, I think Capture One should incentivize an EDU program for the next generation of photographers in schools right now. But they’d need to win over the faculty and provide programs for colleges, universities, and high schools. The Phoblographer is a resource that’s actively used in classrooms around the world. Teachers all over send me questions and ask permission for things like printouts. Truly, I think millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha might be the best folks to reach. With my fellow millennials though, this could be more difficult.

All Capture One for iPad Launch Features

OrganizeImport from camera roll, files, a plugged-in camera or an SD card – Create albums – Sort and filter
CullStar rate – Color tag
Quick editsApply styles and presets – Create styles and presets – Import styles and presets
GeometryCrop – Rotation
Editing toolsWhite balance (wb & tint) – Exposure (exposure, contrast, brightness, saturation) – Dynamic Range (highlights, shadows, whites, blacks) – Clarity and structure – Dehaze (auto and manual) – Basic color editor, with color picker – HSL – B&W conversion – Vignetting – Sharpening (amount, radius, threshold, halo) – Noise reduction (luminance, details, color, single pixel) – Film grain (modes, impact, granularity) – Moiré – Histogram
Workflow efficiencyBefore/After – Undo/Redo/Reset – Display basic metadata – Copy and apply (selective adjustments)
Send to desktop and exportAdd album to the cloud, to be imported into CO Pro desktop – Export jpgs (predefined recipes) – Export EIPs – Watermark (text-only) – Share to any relevant app, including cloud storage ones, or save to files – Airdrop
SettingsSwitch UI left or right

Upcoming Capture One for iPad Features

Masks and Layers
Cloud improvements for file transfer and ultimately, synchronization

Capture One for iPad is $4.99/month. We’re working on our review, so please stay tuned.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.