Capture One 20 – What’s New

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What happened with Capture One 13?

Not so long ago we all noticed Capture One started promoting a free upgrade to Capture One 20 if you buy a license for the then C1 12 version. Capture One 20? Wait a second. 

Nobody knew exactly what is happening because there was no official news of a new version coming out what-so-ever. A little bit later in the FAQ section of their website, there was a statement that the new version will be called 20, because they wanted to mark the new decade and a new chapter of the RAW converting software. This sounded really exciting.

A few days ago, after a six staged beta, which I participated in, the Capture One 20 was released officially. With all that said I’d like to invite you to a quick tour around and discuss the new features, the software has to offer. Some of them are completely new, some of them we know from other RAW processing applications and some of them are re-engineered and simply – better.

Table of content:

  • New basic color editor
  • Improved Noise reduction
  • High Dynamic Range
  • New Crop tool
  • Improved copy/paste between layers
  • Scrolling tools + Pinned tools
  • Select next when
  • Shortcuts, Icons and more

The Most Exciting News in Capture One 20

Basic Color Editor in Capture One 20
The reworked Basic Color Editor in Capture One 20. Two new additional colors and a swatches-like color blocks.

Basic Color Editor

Starting with the most exciting one (at least for me) – they have re-vamped the basic color editor tool. Instead of the usual color wheel we’ve been used to for some years now, we now get a compact color swatches-like tool. 

Previously, in our LR vs. Capture One article, we’ve mentioned the difference between the color editing options in both applications. Capture One used to have fewer direct options in the basic color editor, while now it has all the main colors – just like Lightroom. It’s almost as if it was designed to look a bit more like the conventional RAW converting software, just so it makes it easier for one to migrate. 

Edit Color Ranges tool / the "old" Basic Color Editor in Capture One 20
You can still access the “old” color wheel. Just press the “…” button next to the swatches.

As for the “old” color wheel – fear not, you can still access it by pressing the three dots next to the swatches (“…”). You’ll notice that it’s a little upgraded as well, as it now has two more separations to mirror the swatches. You can now choose to edit directly Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Aqua, Purple and Magenta. From here you can also choose to adjust the color ranges if you want your selections to affect broader hues. With the slider, you can adjust the smoothness of the selection just like you can with the Advanced Color Editor. 

Part of the new basic color editor is the Direct Color Editor tool. It resides on the bottom right part of the window and It’s basically a color picker through which you can manipulate color hue, saturation, and luminosity. It operates much like the one that Lightroom has in the HSL tab, however, the really cool thing about it is that you can actually manipulate all three at the same time! Let me explain. By choosing the color with the direct color editor, you can click and hold and move your mouse up or down to change the saturation. By moving sideways you can adjust the hue, and by holding alt/option you can control the luminosity. You’ll notice that the tool may affect more than one color depending on your image, something we’ve seen before in LR. 

Direct Color Editor Tool in Capture One 20
Here you can see the Direct Color Editor tool in orange. You can access it either by pressing the color picker or by pressing “D” on your keyboard.

Direct Color Editor Settings dialog box
By pressing the right mouse button you can swap any of the Direct Color Editor settings.

What is even better is that if you don’t like the default controls you can just click the right button and modify the settings to best suit your workflow. Additionally, you will also find the sensitivity slider there, which helps you set exactly how much you need to drag your mouse to achieve the desired effect. 

Re-engineered Noise Reduction

The next big thing Capture One 20 is bringing on the table is the re-engineered noise reduction. They say they made it so it applies custom noise reduction based on your camera ISO. That way they guarantee better retention of detail, color, and edges. 

The whole algorithm inside has been changed, as well as the slider, which now allows you to dial in anything between -100 and +100 as opposed to the old one which gave you values between 0 and +100. 

High Dynamic Range

Another impressive upgrade is the new HDR tool. Again, like with the Noise Reduction tool, the slider has been reworked to allow you to set negative values, giving you more control over the highlights, the shadows and, respectfully, the overall contrast of the image. 

HDR tool sliders in Capture One 20
The HDR tool gives you better control over the Highlights and Shadows by allowing you to dial in negative values and also control Whites and Blacks on top of that!

In addition to the highlights and the shadows sliders, you’ll now also find a slider for whites, which gives you control over the uttermost bright parts of the image and a blacks slider which helps you adjust the darkest parts. 

New Crop Tool in Capture One 20

Crop tool in Capture One 20
In the corners of the crop tool you will now see highlighted corners to help you control better your edit.

For our convenience, and I guess based on a lot of customer feedback, Capture One 20 brings us an updated crop tool, as well. A lot of us were dissatisfied by how the old one operated and how it handled rotation. All this is now a thing of the past. When you crop now you’ll see handles in every corner which you can easily click and use. If you’re looking to rotate the image to adjust the horizon, for example, you can hover beyond the corners and you’ll see the cursor become a rotation arrow. Something even better is that you can actually rotate from anywhere if you hold down the ctrl/cmd button down. As easy as that. 

If you now hold Shift when adjusting the cropped area you can make it smaller or bigger and preserve the ratio. By holding option/alt and dragging the crop you can choose to crop from the center. Much like the Photoshop version of the crop tool. 

Improved copy and apply between layers in Capture One 20
This is how the copy and apply adjustments menu looks like. You will find it under the Adjustments tab.

Improved copy/apply between layers

This is a really big deal right here. Lightroom might have not had layers, but you always have had the opportunity to sync different settings of your choosing between multiple images. A great frustration with Capture One was that when you make your adjustments in layers and try and copy them to other images, not only you HAD to copy all the layers at once, but it also overrides any already existing layers there. 

With the updated feature to copy/apply between layers, this all fixed. By going to the Adjustments tab and selecting copy and apply adjustments you get a dialog box that allows you to check everything you want copied from the selected image. Including which layers, if any. 

Copy/apply dialog box in Capture One 20
This is the Copy/Apply adjustments dialog box. Here you can choose what to copy over to your other images.

On top of that, now that you paste them to other image/images they don’t override the existing layers. For example, if you already have created a layer with a radial filter and now you paste one or two layers copied from a different photo over – they just stack on top of each other. 

Minor but important improvements in Capture One 20

Scrolling Tools + Pinned Tools

You can now pin tools in Capture One 20
You can put any tool you like in the pin area above. Then send it back to the scrollable area if you wish.

Capture One 20 now offers you the customization of pinning tools on top of the toolbar. You can pin more than one tool and each pinned area will be separate for each tool tab. Additionally, the rest of the tools in each tab are now scrollable. You can pin whichever tool you like on the top of the toolbar and choose to scroll the rest underneath. That offers great versatility when customizing the toolbars and supports elegantly the customizable interface Capture One always offered. Personally, I’d still preferred if they gave you the option of auto-collapsing tool menus, instead of a pinned and a scrollable area, but we can still push for this and who knows, it may come in a later update!

Something you have to have in mind with this is that you cannot use the scroll wheel to adjust the sliders as it was by default. Before you could do that with every slider. Now, by default, the scroll wheel scrolls the tools instead. However, if you combine it with pressing and holding alt/option you can scroll the slider just like before. You can also reverse this by going to Capture One Preferences, General Tab and then just tick “Scroll wheel changes slider value”.

Select when feature in Capture One 20
Once you rate an image, it automatically goes to the next one.

Select next when

This is a relatively small addition to the new features, however, it definitely boosts the workflow speed by just a notch. Especially when going through a massive amount of photographs from weddings, events, etc. By going to the Select menu on the menu bar, then Select Next When you can choose to jump on the next photo automatically when you either rate it or color tag it. That way you can quickly go through a batch of photos and arrange them accordingly. You can also choose to rate/color tag more than one photo at a time by selecting multiple images, then you automatically jump to the first photo which is after the already made selection.

Under the hood: Shortcuts, DNG Support, Revamped Icons, Viewer Previews

Everything else that C1 announced coming with the new Capture One 20 can be found here. From the new icons on the interface to the updated shortcuts:

Auto-Adjust button

  • You will quickly notice they have added a new icon for the Auto-Adjust on the top-most bar. The tool operates just like before, it just has an updated look. On every tool that has the auto-adjust option instead of “A”, we’ll now click a magic wand icon. 

New set of masking tools icons

  • On the layers tool, instead of clicking and holding the brush icon for the drop-down menu (where we choose whether we want to use the brush tool, eraser brush tool, gradient mask or radial mask) we now have an icon directly on the bar for each of the options. For someone who’s already used to the keyboard shortcuts, this may feel redundant, but if you’re just starting out with the software this may prove productive.

Process button in Capture One 20
Process button is now at the bottom of the Process Recipes tool.

  • The Process button now appears in the Process Recipes tool, instead of the Process Summary like it did before. This truly makes a lot of sense. Because of the old way I actually had the process tool added to the top right corner of the menu bar, as I thought it doesn’t really make sense to be in the process summary. I created most of the recipes I use, I know exactly what I’m exporting. The Process Summary was rarely used. 

  • The viewer now has upped the thumbnail preview size up to 50% more than before. This will surely help you determine if the photo is of any interest to you faster than before. And while we’re on the topic of the Viewer, now you can change the background color to Black, Very Dark, Dark, Medium, Light and White just by right-clicking anywhere outside of the photo. 

  • There are also a lot of changes in the default shortcuts. As per the official Capture One website, they have changed the following:

  • Proof Margin: X
  • Direct Color Editor: D
  • Hide Viewer: G
  • Linear Gradient: L
  • Zoom to 100%: . (dot)
  • Zoom to fit: , (comma)
  • Toggle Focus Mask: Q
  • Full Screen: F (On Windows F11 works as a secondary shortcut)
  • Show/Hide Viewer: G
  • Viewer background color can be toggled using Shift + 1, 2, 3… 6

Don’t forget to change back to Default keyboard shortcuts If you’ve had custom made shortcut preset before. Otherwise, you won’t be able to test the new shortcuts that come with Capture One 20

I’ll need some time to get used to the new shortcuts, as they definitely improve the quality of life for me. I was used to using my own custom shortcut for toggling the viewer with “§”, as it was not part of the shortcuts up to this point. Now you can simply use “G” for that and if you’re wondering where the linear gradient went – you can find it under “L”. I really like how they made a shortcut for a 100% zoom and Zoom to fit. I also had a custom toggle focus mask shortcut which is now unnecessary. 

Something I should warn you about, though, is that if you had any saved custom made shortcuts enabled, just like I have my “Krassy’s shortcuts” this will be the selected preset even after the update. If you like to try the new default C1 20 shortcuts for yourself you’ll have to go to Edit -> Edit Keyboard Shortcuts -> then from the dropdown change it to “Default”. Just so you don’t wonder why the dot is not zooming at a 100% like I did for a good 15 minutes. 

Final Thoughts About the Release of Capture One 20

Capture One 20, but build number is 13
About Capture One menu.

That’s all that you’ll find in the new Capture One 20. Or build 13 if you click on the “About Capture One” menu. It doesn’t really matter how you call it, it comes equipped with some pretty handy things to help you take your editing even further.

Some of the concepts we have been already familiar with – like Direct Color Editor, Basic Color Editor swatches, HDR tool, and scrollable tools.

Some of the things they introduced in this build are truly innovative – like the Noise Reduction Tool and Copy/Apply between layers. 

It may seem like they did a lot of the changes in order to make it a smoother transition for those who have been wondering if it’s time to jump to C1, and whatever the case, everything that comes with the new C1 20 is better, smarter and easier to use. 

Author Details

Hey, my name is Krassy Dimitrov. I’m a commercial photographer based in Bulgaria. Among the things I like shooting you’ll see a lot of travel, product, wedding and portrait photography. I’m also an author and contributor to the ever-growing Photography-RAW website here. 

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Hey, my name is Krassy Dimitrov. I’m a commercial photographer based in Bulgaria. Among the things I like shooting you’ll see a lot of travel, product, wedding and portrait photography. I’m also an author and contributor to the ever-growing Photography-RAW website here. 

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