Capture One Pro

Setting Up Capture One

Basic Assumptions

Capture One is one of the top photo editing software programs for professional digital photographers. There are two basic workflows to consider: Catalogs, and Sessions. For self-contained projects, such as model photoshoots, or specific product shoots, you may prefer the Sessions route, where everything is contained on one package. For general photography, which may include images from a vacation, family outings, scenic shots etc., the Catalog setup has many benefits. The Capture One Website has plenty of tutorials discussing the differences and best practices.

From Shooting the Photograph to Building Your Catalog

Real Beginner with C1

If you are just thinking about C1, by all means, get the Trial version. It is fully functional and lasts for about one month. Make sure to set aside the necessary time to really check it out ( don't leave it unil you only have two days to evaluate the program). As to cost, yes it is expensive, but I feel it produces excellent results for your digital camera.

C1 does an excellent job of "Developing" your RAW files ... it does not provide pixel editing! For that, you can use Affinity Photo or Photoshop.

Import Settings

RAW files from Camera need to be Imported into C1. Most critical consideration is where are the RAW image files going to live? One option would be to copy the files from your camera disk into a folder on your PC, then have C1 Import from that folder. If you want to keep RAWs in date order, name them YYYYMMDD-subject for example (20211231-newYearsEve). The folders will then keep in date order. All the folders can be located in the Picture Folder.

The Import dialog has a number of critical settings.

Import From: the folder you copied RAW files to.
Import To: Select "Add to Catalog". As the note indicates, this will leave the files in the folder - not duplicating anything.

There are additional settings to allow adding Copyright etc.

The second way to Import is to choose Import From - then select the card reader directly. CAUTION: You need to also select where to put the RAW files. Simply allowing "Add to Catalog" will leave them on your Card which of course will be repurposed in the camera and eventually overwritten! (Been there, done that!). In any case, C1 gives a preview of the files to be imported so you don't have to clog things up with the definite losers. This method also allows renaming the files as you import.

DRY - "Don't Repeat Yourself"

If you have already set up your Catalog and have it running smoothly, you may wish to create a new catalog for 2022. It is easy to duplicate your settings for the 2022 Catalog, i.e. keep the various User Collections that help you stay organized and keep your sanity.

Open the 2021 Catalog, go to File/Save as Template. You will be prompted for a name and a location to save the Template.

Now back to File/New Catalog.. to create your 2022 Catalog.

In the Template window, select the Template you just made. Now you have an empty Catalog with the same setup as the past year.

Further to the "Been there, done that", some time ago, I failed to actually get my files onto the computer, then reformatted the card in my camera. My first clue was the little icon in C1 indicating the RAW files were Offline, even though the Previews were still available. OOPS! I eventually recovered the images from my card using Wondershar - some magic going on there.

Don't be in a rush to reformat your Camera Card!

File Structure Layout

Often when we use complex and sophisticated programs, we lose track of where the component files actually live. C1 is pretty straight forward. Using the Catalog setup on my MacBook Pro:

Location Content
Macintosh HD / Applications Capture One
Macintosh HD / Pictures 2021 Master Catalog.cocatolog
  • if you click on "Show Package Contents" in a Pictures/ xxx.caocatolog file you will see:
    • Adjustment Folder
    • Cache Folder
    • Originals Folder
    • 2021 Master Catalog.cocatalogdb - the database which keeps track of your files and adjustments.

You really DO NOT want to muck about in these files. They manage a very complex SQLite database that just takes care of business.

Once you have set up the structure, the C1 database holds all the cue cards, so if you need to make changes, such as renaming folders or moving image files, you must do it within the C1 program - Not the OS's Finder application. Do it their way and all will remain intact.

Need Space?

Should you want to move a bunch of images to an external hard drive, you can do it within C1.

Click on the Library button and down to Folders. It lists the structure of your hard drive. Connect your external drive. Clicking the + (plus) button will bring up the base system Finder where you can locate the external drive. You may want to add a folder on the external drive to hold the images to be moved. Click on Add. C1 now shows the structure of your external drive. To move the originals, just Drag and Drop from the local HD to the External HD - all within CaptureOne.

Should you disconnect the external HD C1 will continue to show your Preview images which can still be edited. When the External drive is reconnected, C1 will catch up and present the edited files correctly.

For more information on organization of your catalog, see my post entitled "C1 Catalogs".


Capture One not only has superior image editing prowess, but it also provides a solid structure to manage your portfolio. For in-depth tutorials, go to the Capture One Website

If you are new to C1 and have questions, give me buzz!