Capture One Pro 20: What’s New

I moved from using Lightroom as my RAW converter to Capture One Pro about 9 months ago and haven’t looked back since. Phase One have just released the latest version of their software: Capture One Pro 20. This article will run you through what’s new. <callout>Well, this is awkward… since writing this article I have […]

November 26, 2023

I moved from using Lightroom as my RAW converter to Capture One Pro about 9 months ago and haven’t looked back since. Phase One have just released the latest version of their software: Capture One Pro 20. This article will run you through what’s new.

<callout>Well, this is awkward… since writing this article I have indeed moved back to Lightroom Classic 🙂

New Version naming scheme

For anyone following the development of Capture One Pro you may have noticed that they have jumped from version 12 straight to version 20. What happened to versions 13 through to 19? Well it appears that they have just updated their Product name to match the year of software

Unfortunately the large jump in version numbers does not indicate a heap of new and/or improved features. (This updates is quite lacklustre in terms of improved functionality in my opinion!)

Basic Colour Editor

The basic colour editor has had a re-design. The colour spectrum has been split into 8 parts instead of 6 in the previous version, allowing for finer selection of colours. Selecting the affected colour is now done via clicking on a coloured patch instead of the colour wheel previously. Not only does this take up less space in the interface, it is also more intuitive to use.

You can also adjust the range of colours each patch represents if you wish to refine things further.

Also new to the basic colour editor is that you can now apply the changes to layers. This wasn’t possible in previous iterations and is a very welcome addition. There haven’t been any changes to the Advanced Colour editor or Skin Tone tools (check if these can be used on layers)

Improved Noise Reduction Algorithm

The algorithm that Capture One uses for noise reduction has been greatly improved. It now not only reduces more visible noise, it is also better at retaining fine details and patterns. Time will tell if the new algorithm is good enough to replace third-party applications such as Topaz Denoise AI – but it will certainly raise the bar for when the more specialised software needs to be called upon.

The tool has also been updated to intelligently adjust the amount of noise reduction that is applied to your image at default settings based on the ISO of the photo. This means that the default setting will be closer to the desired result without ever having to adjust the slider.

Sticky Tools

Capture One Pro 20 now allows you to ‘stick’ a tool (or multiple tools) to the top of the stack. When you scroll down the tools list the ‘stuck’ tools will stay visible at the top of the screen. This is a very welcome addition. It will mean that you can have the image navigator at the top of the screen at all times instead of having to scroll back to it if you want to navigation around your image without using the keyboard shortcuts.

Check out the 16 second video below to show the ‘Levels’ tool working in both ‘unstuck’ and ’stuck’ mode.

High Dynamic Range Tools

The dynamic range sliders now allow for both positive and negative adjustments and as a consequence the default ‘zero’ setting now sits in the middle of each slider. This tool now works in a similar way to Lightroom’s ‘Shadow/Highlights’ sliders and is more intuitive to use.

Along with the familiar Shadow and Highlights option, there are now also sliders for ‘Whites’ and ‘Blacks’. This allows for adjustments of only the very brightest and darkest parts of the image. It is important to note these two sliders do not adjust the white/black points of an image (as they do in Lightroom) – the simply adjust the tones in the very darkest and very brightest areas of an image.

When using all four sliders together you have much more control over just the two. It will allow getting closer to the desired results without touching the more powerful, but tedious Levels and Curves tools.

New Cropping Tool

Phase One have added some very welcome cropping handles to the cropping tool. This is an issue that has bugged me since I started using Capture One – the new changes make the cropping handles much easier to ‘grab’ and manipulate. A small, but nice improvement.

They have also added a couple of keyboard shortcuts to the tool as well. Holding the ALT key will now centre the crop to the image. SHIFT will lock the crop aspect ratio and freehand rotation mode can be entered by holding the CTRL key.

Improved copy/paste of layers

Layers have been improved for Capture One 20. Now instead of only being able to copy/paste all layers between two images, it is possible to choose which layers to copy/paste.

In addition to this, the pasted layers will no longer overwrite any existing layers applied to an image, they will simply be added to whatever layers have already been created.

Improved DNG Support

Sometimes when opening a .dng file from an unsupported camera could result in some strange colour shifts. The number of .dng files supported by Capture One Pro has now gone up, helping with this issue.

Select Next When

This feature will be a boon for high volume shooters. Now there is an option to move straight to the next image in the current folder as soon as you apply a star or colour rating to an image. This allows for quicker image culling as you will no longer have to manually move to the next image.

I love this feature when going through and applying initial ratings to a newly imported set of images and have found it speeds up the process a fair bit.

Toolbar text and icons by default

Capture One Pro has always had the option to display both icons and text for the toolbars. The default is now to show both instead of just icons in the past. This will make it easier for beginner users of this software to navigate around the interface. The text labels can still be turned off for a cleaner look once you know what all of the different buttons do.

Masking Cursor Tools Layout

The masking tools (brush, eraser and two gradient tools) have been added to the layers sidebar for easier access. They are still available in the toolbar at the top of the interface as in v12. I always use the keyboard shortcuts for these tools, but this is a nice addition for those who prefer clicking on icons.

Viewer Background Colour

In the past, to change the background colour of the viewer window you had to do so via the software options. Now you can simply right-click on the background and choose a new colour.

Browser Thumbnail Resolution

Thumbnail resolution has been increased by 50% for more detailed thumbnails on high resolution displays.

White Balance Picker

The white balance colour picker could previously be fooled by noise in an image. Improvements have been made to the sampling of this tool which should help reduce unexpected results.

Process Button Moved

The button for activating Process Recipes (export templates) has been moved from the Process Summary tool into the Process Recipes tool. This makes much more sense from a workflow perspective.

Keyboard Shortcut Changes

There have been some changes and addition to keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier.

Action Shortcut
Toggle Proof Margin X
Direct Colour Editor D
Toggle Viewer G
Linear Gradient L
Zoom to 100% . (period)
Zoom to Fit , (comma)
Toggle Focus Mask Q
Full Screen Mode F
Viewer Background Colour Shift + 1,2,3… 6