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Phase One Capture One 20: Serious Pain Points for Organizing Large Shoots (Updated with Reader Comments)

Negligible CPU core utilization is minor point compared to multiple usability pain paints in Capture One 20. And the image quality that comes out of Capture One 20 is outstanding, and a key reason to consider it.

But... I have 2500 images from my December trip to organize and deal with. Capture One 20 is a productivity nightmare compared to Photoshop ACR. There are several badly done key basic operations in C1_20 that I must use over and over, and they are costing me dearly in wasted time (5 steps and longer ones instead of 1, with much higher risk of mistakes!). Session mode is better but it still requires 3 steps and Sessions such for hundreds of folders and scatter CaptureOne crap folders in every folder. Simple things should be simple, not multi-step make-work teeth-grinding tedium. Along with broken default settings for key image processing parameters (no way to set defaults for key things I want to set)—that layers on yet more work and risk of error. The tedium adds up.

I can’t see how any pro can stomach wasting as many hours as I did yesterday with enervating busy work all stemming from bad design that could be easily rectified with no downside to existing users. But my feedback seems unwanted indeed not even understood nor do I see any desire to understand it (usually that entails asking a question, or asking for clarification, and that has not happened, not once, which is exceedingly poor communication and no mindfulness at all). What I encounter is NIH, with no interest in the pain points, just (literally) an argument that their way is better—without ever even understanding my pain point. Well—5 tedious error prone steps is NOT better than 1 risk-free step. Tomorrow I have to waste more time and the pain points won’t change. I want to process my images, but first I want them organized, and C1_20 is costing me big time, needlessly! The idea of switching to C1 Pro as so many readers have suggested to me over the years... maybe their workflow is well suited to it, but it’s a total freaking disaster for me.

Anti-functional file layout for Sessions, thousands of useless crap files

In addition to the multiple time-wasting usability problems referred to above, a MAJOR gripe I have is the anti-functional file structure with Sessions. With Adobe Camera Raw, I get processing settings adjacent to the files via sidecar XMP files, making it easy to organize things right in the Finder (MUCH faster than any other way).

With C1 Sessions, I get useless and identical boilerplate sidecar files for metadata—thousands of useless crap files, all while the processing parameters are squirreled away in a sub-sub-folder “CaptureOne/Settings130” (WTH?), which are XMP data containing the processing settings. Why is this data not in the sidecar files alongside the image? Why invent a second file structure that disassociates the key processing data from the image? It is an anti-functional and risky organizational strategy that works well for nothing, with the alternative Adobe style sidecar XMP processing setting files having no downside and making it super easy to group files into subfolders.

This ass-backwards file structure in Capture One makes it error-prone to move a group of images into a new sub folder, because one has to manually go find the corresponding ".COS" files in CaptureOne/Settings130, then move create a new CaptureOne/Settings130 folder inside the new subfolder, then move the ".COS" files over. JFK!!! This is how I lost meticulously crafted exposure settings for a particularly difficult group of images—I had to spend half un hour fixing it from a backup.

Don’t get me started on cleaning up the mess of leftover files this disassociated-data design ends up creating. But at least if you move everything to a C1 Catalog, this following will clean up the mess left there by Sessions, which C1 does not clean up:

cd <directory-of-interest>
find . -name CaptureOne -print0 | xargs rm -r

Catalogs have their own problems

With a C1 Catalog (not Session), I can create subfolders (thus avoiding the data-disassociation risks of subfolderizing), but I get a tedious make-work 5-step error-prone process that takes literally 10 times as long as I could do it were it done right (a single risk-free command eg “Create new folder with selected files”). Organizing my files into folders is a god-damned time-wasting nightmare due to this design. Thus, whether Sessions or Catalog, Capture One is a time-wasting teeth-clenching make-work headache for organizing files. Already I have lost processing data due to reorganizing my files into subfolders with Sessions—I spent half an hour recovering my processing settings yesterday, and that was just for four focus stacks—I had to go figure out the behavior and placement of files... OMG what a horribly anti-functional design when it could all be beautifully straightforward, as with Adobe sidecar files.

Capture One 20: no way to easily create a subfolder with selected files

It doesn’t have to be bad or even mediocre

I know how some people start using a product and quickly just don’t think about the things that could be easier or faster—I see it all the time—but I have fresh eyes on it and boy does it SUCK. I am talking about things I have to do hundreds of times. Were I to use C1_20, I’d have this nightmare every trip of the year.

No professional in his/her right mind experiencing the pain points I am experiencing would go with Capture One 20. They would use C1 for for image quality or color rendering or tethering or just because IQ4 files are not supported by Adobe (yet), etcetera. But for organizing thousands of files from a shoot many times a year? Shoot me already.

The sad thing is that Phase One could fix my pain points with a few days (at most) of development work, but my attempts to relate the problems have been met with argument instead of consideration. I find this literally painful to experience as I want to see the product improved, and it saddens me to see anyone stolidly working against their own interests. The suggestions I have made would make no change to workflow for existing users. Of course, changing the sidecar file approach would be different, but that could just be a setting along with a fallback location to the old one—complete compatibility.


Don’t get me started on bugs—many.

Capture One 20 QLICProcessor crash
Process:               QLICProcessor [85940]
Path:                  /Applications/Capture One
Identifier:            QLICProcessor
Version:      (
Code Type:             X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process:        ExternalQuickLookSatellite [85939]
Responsible:           quicklookd [85938]
User ID:               501
Date/Time:             2020-01-11 10:03:42.961 -0800
OS Version:            Mac OS X 10.15.2 (19C57)
Report Version:        12
Bridge OS Version:     4.2 (17P2551)
Anonymous UUID:        92EC0B7D-523B-46C5-BD40-7F7057FBB657
Time Awake Since Boot: 81000 seconds
System Integrity Protection: enabled
Crashed Thread:        0  Dispatch queue:
Exception Type:        EXC_CRASH (SIGABRT)
Exception Codes:       0x0000000000000000, 0x0000000000000000
Exception Note:        EXC_CORPSE_NOTIFY
Application Specific Information:
*** Terminating app due to uncaught exception 'NSInvalidArgumentException',
reason: '+[MOVariant styleLayerFromPath:]: unrecognized selector sent to class 0x1035ed0d0'
terminating with uncaught exception of type NSException
abort() called

Reader comments

Emphasis added.

Christian S writes:


No surprise this whole release is a disaster, it broke basic functionality of the layers tool, layers with the same name are now added instead of replaced when copied.

LCC corrections don’t work when you don´t turn off hardware acceleration.

It is also full of other bugs and glitches and crashes from time to time even when idle. Phase One has done a very poor job and user reporting issues are ignored by support for weeks now.

DIGLLOYD: lots of work is needed on performance and bugs and usability.

Joseph O Holmes writes “Capture One, Deeply Flawed”:

I used Capture One for about two years (after my new Nikon D850 files were not recognized by Apple Aperture), and the frustrations finally became so intolerable that I switched to Lightroom over the last three weeks.

I have about 200,000 images occupying about 4TB of a hard drive, which both Aperture's and Lightroom’s catalogs opened within about 10 or 15 seconds. Capture One took three to five MINUTES to open a catalog of the same size. And every time I’d try to scroll through images, I’d face a spinning beachball lasting a half minute.

I finally resorted to dividing the catalog into smaller catalogs just so I could use the application. That was the worst of many issues

I made a detailed list of interface lacking and had it sent to Capture One engineers, but the next revision fixed none of them. I gave up. Lightroom is no Aperture, but it’s way better than Capture One at cataloging my images.

DIGLLOYD: See Joe’s web site at and his blog at

James M writes:

I’m glad to learn that I’m not the only one who is confused and frustrated by Capture 1’s catalog structure.

I finally gave up despite the image quality. Life’s too short to figure all this out.  I can use my time in more effective ways to take better photos.

DIGLLOYD: ditto, except that I’m stuck with Capture One 20 for the 2545 Phase One IQ4 files I took on my December trip—not supported by Adobe Camera Raw (yet).

Staale A writes:

Unfortunately C1 is a total nightmare.

I have tried to love it over the years, but software wise and integration wise, with regards to any Apple update it just gets worse and worse.

Picture by picture edits, fantastic if you take 365 pictures on total during the whole year. Great regret, should have been easy if they had really taken the users/paying clients seriously— great concept / zero execution —Danish «Hygge»...

DIGLLOYD: this is sort of a theme I’ve heard—great for a handful of images and that’s that.

Emil V writes:

Contents of your blog and subsequent reader comments struck me regarding the (non) usability of C1 and its most recent incarnation, the C1 20

I tried several times to "like" this software after all the hype I was reading especially in Medium Format forums saying that this was the ultimate tool for ectracting even the last bit of information from complex files.

Since I swapped to Medium Format from Nikon a year ago, I watched C1 tutorials, but always bogged down when they explained how they think I should catalogue my files and the incomprehesible maze of C1's sidecar files simply drove me nuts. I though I was stupid and could not comprehend some higher level of logics

So what I read on your pages came as great relief, I was not alone with my problem.

After all this I will probably not abandon C1 20 in hope that I will will be able to make use of it processing more delicate files. The reason for this is that I noticed a year or two ago that as I advance in photography the number of images where I am working at the very thin borderline between technically possible and impossible is growing. This same goes for the large and detailed prints that I make with my printmaster, He also confirmed that he has to try his best to print the images I bring to him that I later sucessfully sell.

DIGLLOYD: output quality is superb with Capture One 20, so for that purpose, it's great.

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