Capture One Tips: Three Beginner Tips for a Faster and More Efficient Workflow

Capture One is one of those programs that, once learned, is hard to do without, but due to the common experience of learning post-processing software within an Adobe ecosystem, anything different like Capture One can appear less intuitive or more challenging, even if it isn’t. 

If you’re reading this, the likelihood is that you’re a new Capture One user or someone who is considering becoming one and like most people are perhaps a little intimidated or overwhelmed at learning new software. No worries, we’re here to help. 

Certainly, there are advantages to be had through the rigor of some kind of highly structured curriculum, but getting through such a syllabus isn’t always practical. However, it is possible to feel much more familiar, comfortable, and effective in Capture One with just a few key tips that not only will have you using Capture One more fully, but significantly more efficiently as well.

Over the past few weeks and in the weeks to follow, we’ll continue creating Capture One content that is dedicated to provide just that, so check back often.

*For the power users out there, what you’ll read here may be nothing groundbreaking, but for the rest, the beginners, the intermediates, or those who just don’t quite wield Capture One like they invented it, here are three simple tips geared to utilizing Capture One better, and will speed up your workflow.

If you don’t have Capture One, this is the perfect time to try it, and you can click here for a 30-day full trial of Capture One Pro so you can follow along.

Toggle the “Viewer”

Perhaps one of the most pervasive myths about Capture One is that it doesn’t have a viewer mode akin to Lightroom’s Library Module where many images can be seen and scanned at a glance, but it does. 

For those familiar with Lightroom who are used to the “module” way of doing things, Capture One operates quite differently, but instead of constantly switching modules as in Lightroom, you can either go to View>Viewer or hit Alt/Opt+Command+V to toggle the “viewer” on and off.

See the image below for a view of the viewer off and then on.

Crop Tool: Defining the Aspect Ratio and Applying the Crop

The Crop tool can be found in the Lens Tool tab or the Cursor Tool Bar, and the identifying icon will be familiar to anyone who has used post-processing software before. However, where other software will let you drag the crop parameters and then hit “enter” to apply the crop, this is not how it’s done in Capture One. 

To apply a crop after you’ve made your selection, you need to select another cursor tool, and as soon as you do this, the crop will be executed. I typically just hit the “V” key, after which selects the pointer selector tool and applies the crop. If you make a selection and would like to cancel it, just click anywhere outside of the selection, and you’ll see it vanish.

Set Preview Image Size 

Out of the three tips we’re dealing with today, this is the one that will be least obvious, and thus requires a little background, but the point of changing this setting is to make Capture One run as fast as possible.

It must be understood that Capture One will generate preview images for every image in a catalog or session, and the larger the preview image size, the more space it takes and vice versa. One might be tempted to think then that the smaller preview size is best, but it’s not so simple. If you’re working on a large and high-resolution monitor, the size of the image displayed needs to be appropriate for your display, and if the preview file is too small to display correctly, then Capture One will need to read the original raw file, and that is taxing on a system and hinders performance. This is what we want to avoid. 

So, since the preview size can regulate how often Capture One would need to read the original files during editing, it’s considered best practice to set the preview image size to the size of your display area or slightly larger. While the larger previews sizes mean larger preview files, it also means less chance of the software needing to read the raw file, and so things will be much snappier. 

Luckily, the preview file sizes can be determined by the user, and you just need to go into Capture One Preferences > Image Tab > Preview Image Size and choose the appropriate setting for your monitor. If you have a 4K monitor, go with 3,840 or above.


Hopefully, this will make your C1 journey that much more pleasant and productive. Of course, there is a lot more to Capture One than is listed here, and hopefully, this has piqued your interest. Over the next few weeks, we are going to teach you how to use Capture One from the ground up, right to the edge of the envelope, so check back often.

And if you want to jump-start and learn immediately, there is already a bevy of tutorials on Capture One’s YouTube channel, and you can download Capture One here with a 30-day free trial.


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