This review is for you if you’re a Capture One Pro user and are wondering if the iPad version is worth adding to your workflow. It is also for those who don’t yet use Capture One but are looking for a budget-friendly introduction to it and already own an iPad. I will be looking at the application’s features, pros and cons, and comparing them to the desktop version.
I’ve been using Capture One Pro for more than 10 years. I mainly use it for tethered capture as well as doing adjustments and editing. As a disclaimer, I won’t be comparing it to Lightroom or any other mobile editing application. I’m testing Capture One on an iPad Pro, shooting tethered with the Canon 5D Mark III, doing the editing after as well as showing you how to export images or continue editing on a desktop using Capture One’s own cloud transfer.
The main menu shows all your images and then divides them into captured, imported, and deleted images. You can select and move them around as you like. Clicking on an image takes you to the editing view, which is also the same when shooting tethered.
Below the "Images" menus are the "Import," "Cameras," and "Albums" collapsible menus. The "Albums" refers to what the desktop version calls "Sessions" or "Catalogs." As someone who rarely uses "Catalogs" having just one option feels nice and simple.
Capture One is known for the ability to customize the layout the way you like to shoot and edit. The iPad version offers options to have tools on the right or left, to show histogram or not, and to show exposure warnings or not. What I really like about using the iPad for editing is the ability to easily move it around from landscape to portrait and therefore see your image filling the screen. You can hide the image browser and go full screen by double-tapping the image. I would love a view with more features, though, such as changing the background color from black to white, for example.
The "Import" menu brings up two options: "Photos" or "Files." Well, whatever you do, it’s most likely photos that you want. The "Photos" option is simply referring to the photos folder on your iPad. You’ll want to select "Files" to import from outside the iPad. You can import from a hard drive, a cloud storage provider, a memory card, or straight from your camera.
Tethering is compatible with most cameras; the full list can be found here. I found it to be reliable with my Canon 5D Mark III using a cable. Wireless tethering is available with many camera models too. I was shooting with natural light and made sure the exposure was near perfect in the camera. There is the option to use the eyedropper tool to set the white balance if you’re using a gray card at the beginning of your shoot.
The app doesn’t offer any camera control through the app. This is disappointing for someone who is used to being able to change camera settings on a computer. With the camera high up on a tripod, this feature is gold. I’d certainly hope this would be added in new versions. Another missing feature (compared to the desktop version) is the live view. Having said that, the tethering overall is reliable, and an iPad is easy to move around as you shoot.
I highly recommend setting a capture folder for your images instead of having them all in one place.
Just like in the desktop version, you can give your image a star rating and a color. This is great as the app also lets you sort your images by their rating and color. The editing menu heavily emphasizes "Styles" and "Presets" as they’re higher up on the menu than manual editing. They’re fun to play with, but I’d rather do it myself. The middle menu is all about composition: cropping, rotating, and keystoning. It is pretty intuitive, and using touch controls is great here.
The fourth menu down is where the manual editing happens. Here you can change the white balance, exposure, and add clarity. Then, adjust highlights and shadows with the HDR menu, dehaze, and add vignetting if you need to. My favorite tool in all of Capture One must be the Color editor. It offers the basic version here on the iPad, but usually, that is all you need.
Overall, the editing menus are much more basic than on the desktop version and feel more aimed at new Capture One users. A feature to drag these editing tools around would be great!
Keystone function being used to correct perspective.
Capture One has its own cloud transfer which is easy to set up. At anytime, you can back up your album to the cloud and access it from your desktop to continue editing. There is a catch, though. It only works in the latest two versions of Capture One Pro, which are at the time of writing, versions 22 and 23. I still run version 21, and for this review, I downloaded the trial of the latest version. I know quite a few photographers who are still paying a lump sum for the software (instead of the subscription) and therefore updating less regularly. I did try opening the capture album file on my version 21 and it was not possible to open it.
- The price of $4.99 seems reasonable
- It is great for quick edits and using presets
- Always full-screen shooting and editing in portrait or landscape
- iPad is really easy to move around when tethering
- You can take advantage of touchscreen
- Easy to copy edits from one image to another
- Continue editing between desktop and iPad if you’re using the latest versions on the desktop
- Capture One Pro 22 or 23 desktop version is needed in order to take advantage of cloud transfer
- No camera control from the iPad while tethering, only pressing the shutter
- Only basic color editor
- No layers or masking
- No setting an image as a compare variant (something I use a lot)
If a screen full of fingerprints bothers you, then iPad shooting is not for you.
The Final Verdict
Some photographers may have switched to iPads for their workflow entirely. Especially with a keyboard added, I see it as a viable option to switch to over a MacBook. Would I buy an iPad just to get Capture on it? Probably not, but as I already had one, it does make sense to at least download it and keep it as a backup option. I’m interested to see what updates will come out in later versions.
It is best for someone who wants to capture on the go, do quick edits and continue editing on the full desktop version. I can also see it as a good option for a photographer who is regularly shooting out and about and only occasionally requires tethering and therefore is only using the iPad version of Capture One.
No layers or masking... does the Apple Pencil have any useful function in this app?
This is perhaps a more general question about the iPad - does importing require you to copy images to the iPad storage, or can you edit images on the SD card itself?
I'm replying to your comment by writing with the pen it translates notes written by hand into typed text. Also you end up touching the screen less when using the pen otherwise I haven’t found any specific use in C1. Although it is quite nice for picking a colour for the colour editing tool.
When you import images C1 will make a folder on the iPad and keep (copy) the originals there.
Although I like it and it works quite well and more stable than with the desktop version it still lacks some features:
- the above mentioned camera control
- live view mode
- and a a proper file naming system – the files just get named e.g. "Nikon_001" and so on
-> although you can rename the files when exporting to an external SSD (which is blazingly fast via Thunderbolt) the renaming options are seriously limited and then you have a "backup" on SSD which has different names – not very practical
Other than that it is very fast in capturing even with high mega pixel cameras and in my opinion – with a tether cable – more stable than the desktop version in terms of reliability of the connection. I can say that from frustrating experiences in the past.
I primarily use it for capturing. Editing I do in LR and Photoshop on a laptop. I hate the iPad OS filesystem and feel limited in the editing features of C1P for iPad.
Fun fact, you also can't rename files until you export, can't change your color profiles outside of ProStandard (or Generic, depending on camera), can't batch copy/paste adjustments, and best yet, it doesn't have curves!
It seems pretty pointless when you think why you would want to use it
Shooting tethered (think fashion shoot)
Shooting remotely (think real estate)
Off site editing (who realistically wants a tiny uncalibrated tablet)
I remember what Adobe promised with PhotoShop for iPad. Dismal outcome from my perspective. I sure hope some day in the next 20 yrs Adobe get it right. Adobe just upgraded once again for my iMac. Worse too. More crashes, AI sucks, Bridge crashed 3 times yesterday. I assume someone in Adobe world want me to go to Capture One. With a Chinese spy balloon over USA, Thinking a ballon type is in Adobe mega world. My rant for the day
I had an old iPad, so I purchased an M2 iPad Pro to try shooting tethered for my sports clients. I am shocked how well it works. I am able to shoot 50mp Sony a1 RAW files tethered (wired) at 30 frames per second in short bursts without any issues (at 30fps, I mainly shoot short bursts). Long bursts (over 1 second) may be fine, but I just have not tried it yet. For reference, I am shooting between 1500 to 3000 photos per sporting event.
Overall, it is a solid start and very capable. Additional features, such as layers and masks, are on the way and will be a big help. I only recommend the cloud service for a small numbers of files. For the heck of it I tried the cloud transfer with a shoot with 600 final images and it took a day. In the future, I will export to an SSD drive and move them to my computer that way. So, do not feel the cloud service is a necessity.
One more tip. I purchased an iPad case that includes a shoulder strap. I can freely move around shooting tethered to my iPad. Really a fantastic way to shoot tethered AND be able to quickly send photos for social media to clients
Sounds like it’s really working for you. Do you continue editing on a computer C1 later or just do the export?
I highly recommend to attach an external Thunderbolt 3/4 (USB 4) SSD to your iPad. That is what I do. And the backup is done in seconds. Even for a 1000 photos with 45MP.
For tethered outdoor shooting it works quite well because the iPad is highly portable.
And even for a studio shoot I used the M2 iPad Pro on a Seaport Digital iVisor case (on a tripod) together with the magic keyboard attached to an Anker Powerbank 737 for continuos power delivery on the USB-C port of the magic keyboard and tethered to a Nikon D850. It was almost faster than my fully speced M1 Max.
The only downside until now is that there is no live view mode. So for architecture photography it is not quite there yet...
nobody is talking about the fact that the library can't sync over cloud. that's really the main bummer for me.