RAW editors, a fashion photographers thoughts

There are many RAW editors on the market but the two powerhouse applications, and most popular among photographers, are Capture One Pro from Phase One, and Adobe Lightroom. Depending on to whom you speak you will get different answers as to which is the best. Here’s my preference and reasons why.

Rather than drag out the explanation until the end, I will say right now that I use Capture One Pro and it’s my preferred RAW editor with a caveat that I would much prefer to use Lightroom instead. The simple reason I prefer Capture One PRO (COP) is it’s base colour profiles, I tend to photograph people as part of my fashion photography life and the way COP renders skin tones, straight out of the gate, is head and shoulders above Adobe Lightroom (AL).

I have tested the two applications and the main difference in the colour profiles is that COP converts the RAW file with slightly punchier looks and the areas of shadow have more vibrancy compared with the slightly grey and flat looking RAW files produced by AL. This may seem like a small issue but as I tend to photograph people, the rendering of skin colours is a ‘make or break’ for me.

Capture One Pro is King

I mentioned earlier that I would prefer to prefer Adobe Lightroom, which means there’s definitely no confirmation bias in my choice. The reason I would prefer to be an AL user is that I already subscribe to the Creative Cloud for Adobe Photoshop and the other applications I use and AL comes as part of that, so having to purchase another RAW converter outside the Adobe ecosystem is an inconvenience as well as the fact that AL has a, feature rich, IOS app that compliments the desktop version wonderfully and as a travelling photographer it would be nice to sometimes be able to travel light and just bring an iPad instead of a laptop.

Moving forward I may have found a solution and could possibly be swung back to being a Lightroom user. Although there are other reasons I like COP, like the use of layers, the token system and the color editor, the main reason is the profiles and this can be mitigated by using proper colour calibration. I recent purchased a Color Checker Passport II from X-rite, by using this tool you can ensure ‘real life’ colours in your images rather than relying on the RAW editors standard profiles, so using this in conjunction with Adobe Lightroom I can, in theory, ditch Capture One Pro.

Below is a, beauty photography, image I shot and converted the RAW file three times. The One on the left is Adobe Lightroom default profile, the Middle is Adobe Lightroom corrected using the Color Checker Passport and the one on the right is Capture One Pro. There is quite a difference.