Capture One 21 is released today! We're very happy to be affiliated with Capture One for the very good reason that we've been using their software for five years now, for all our studio work and some location work too. Basically for anything that requires tethered shooting we use Capture One. We think it's the best software for our studio requirements bar none.

Before I get into why I like Capture One so much, I should say that anything I write about software is as objective as I can make it, but it is still my opinion. Here's the official disclaimer.

​This page is owned by Helter Skelter Media Ltd and is not an official Capture One website. Content on this page may contain affiliate links meaning that I earn a commission on sales generated by you using the link.

Our history with Capture One goes back to the day we opened our studio in Birmingham, we had been using Lightroom for tethered shooting and found it unsatisfactory. I downloaded a trial copy of Capture One and it worked beautifully. I particularly liked composition mode where I could "build" the shot, adding lights, flags, diffusers etc until it looked perfect, without cluttering my drive with unusable images.

The second revelation was how well the RAW converter works. It produces a fantastic image with great detail, giving me exactly what I needed to work with on high end product shoots.

The third revelation was the way I could inherit settings from my last photograph. This facility allows me to set the lights until the photograph looks good as a RAW, then add the basic edits until it looks ready to export. So White balance, Exposure compensation, Contrast, HDR, Clarity etc. I can set the framing and apply all of these settings or a subset to my next shot automatically. In a controlled studio environment this can take hours off the time I take processing.

The fourth revelation, though it probably should have dawned earlier was the beauty of the automatic file structure. When I create a new session Capture One generates a new set of directories including Capture, Selects, Output and Trash. All my shots begin in Capture, I typically shoot, tweaking the arrangement until I'm confident I've nailed the shot, then I move that one shot to the Selects and anything that's unusable to Trash.

After the shoot, I typically carry out further processing and move the chosen shot to Output. Once I'm satisfied I've got all the photos my client is expecting I'll empty the Trash. This one step saves me gigabytes of space over the year as I'm typically 100% focused on delivering for my client. The clean up is something I get round to, well, never in some cases!

Anyway, enough about me and my workflow, here is a summary of the new features from the Release Notes.

Feature walkthrough

Speed Edit
Speed Edit allows you to edit images without having to click the sliders in the interface. The available for Speed Edit tools have the assigned keyboard shortcuts. This enables a workflow where the adjustments can be made in a matter of seconds without having to locate the editing tools in the interface or taking the eyes away from the image.

Eliminate haze and improve saturation in flat-contrast images. The new Dehaze tool will automatically analyze the image and detect where the changes in contrast and saturation are needed. An automatic Shadow Tone is detected. If the result differs from your expectations, use the picker to select another area. For optimal results, pick a shadow tone in the dark and hazy area.

HEIF support
Capture One now supports 8-bit HEIF files. This format can be imported, edited, and exported to other supported formats. Exporting to HEIC as a format is not supported. Support covers Apple HEIC and other photos converted to 8-bit HEIF.

ProStandard camera profiles

Capture One 21 introduces a new type of camera profiles that render colors more naturally. The profiles have multiple purposes:

  • Better preservation of color across contrast gradients, resulting in more natural colors from shadows to highlights.
  • Better transition between colors of different hues.
  • More standardized colors across different camera models.

The new profiles are particularly suitable for portrait photography and product photography of products with saturated or otherwise challenging colors, such as orange and neon colors.

Capture One 21 provides ProStandard camera profiles for the following cameras:

  • Sony: a7 III, a7R II, a7R III, a7R IV, a7C, a6000, a6300
  • Nikon: D810, D850, Z6, Z7
  • Canon: 5D II, 5D III, 5D IV, 5DS R, R5, R6
  • Phase One: IQ3 100MP, IQ4 150MP
  • Leica: S3, SL2

Additional ProStandard camera profiles will be added in future releases.

Leica tethering
Besides regular support for Leica S3, basic tethering* for Leica S3 and Leica SL2 is now supported in Capture One.

*Live-view is currently not supported.


Improved Importer
The Importer in Capture One 21 has several different improvements:

  • Picker functionality to easily make the import selection
  • Bigger import window with high-resolution thumbnails
  • Improved terminology and descriptions of import destinations in Catalogs
  • Option to select multiple folders to import from at the same time
  • Option to select images directly in the Folder Browser
  • First-time import requires fewer clicks


Easy brush adjusting
It is now possible to easily change the size, hardness, opacity, and flow of any brush by using modifier keys and a mouse / trackpad / pen. Hold down the modifier key(s) and click-drag to change the parameters of the brush.

Improved performance
Capture One 21 brings improved performance to different asset management tasks.*


  • Faster opening of Catalogs and Sessions
  • Faster importing of images
  • Locating offline images in Catalogs up to 4x faster
  • Faster general browsing in Catalogs and Sessions


  • Faster general browsing in Catalogs and Sessions
  • Searching in collections now supports multi-core (up to 7x faster search on an 8-core CPU)
  • Trashing images and emptying trash up to 10x faster

*Performance improvements depend on the individual setup of the operating system, hardware, and other running processes.


Enhanced tooltips
The learning curve of Capture One has been flattened with enhanced graphical tooltips. Hover cursor tools and tool names to see a description. If applicable to the tool, an image example, shortcut, and links to mini introduction videos and more educational material is shown in the tooltip as well. Optionally, these tooltips can be disabled in Preferences > General.

Easy access to Tutorials
It is now easier to find the best tutorials directly in Capture One. A new ‘Learn’ button has been added to the toolbar, opening a new section with curated tutorials for the best learning experience.


So, Capture One 21 is released! If any of this is new to you and you'd like to investigate further you can download a trial version here. Look out for the review I'll be posting soon and there will also be video tutorials appearing on my YouTube account. Links will be posted as soon as they're ready.