Capture One 23 Review

We’re elated that Capture One 23 is finally here! And we’re amazed at how much better the changes make Capture One 23. It’s undoubtedly faster, and there are fun new tools to experiment with. Photographers will love everything possible here. And while lots of photographers will say they’re happy editing in Lightroom, Capture One is said to give you better photos. Thanks to the new features in Capture One 23, you will continue to get better images and get them even faster too!

New to Capture One 23 are a few big things. First off, there are smart adjustments. These are designed to help sync basic edits, such as skin tones, across images. And to our surprise, it also works with varying skin tones in the same frame. Then, if you’re a Sony shooter, you’re getting a significant speed and performance boost. Sony images will work 40% faster than they did before.

On top of this, you should be able to work even faster with the new culling tools Capture One 23 offers. The program can intelligently group images together from a sequence, and you can adjust how much of a grouping it does. Additionally, your clients can have direct input on images using Capture One Live by giving star ratings and comments.

Despite all the significant changes, there are still things I think Capture One can improve on. For me, it’s the cloning and healing tool. They both need improvement and have for a while now. I don’t want to edit in Capture One to then have to come into Photoshop and do anything else. If that’s the case, I prefer to stick with Lightroom, too. But Capture One, through and through, gives better image quality each and every time because the brand works with the manufacturers directly.

Last year, we talked with Capture One about the additions of AI in the software. And we see that and so much more.

The Big Picture

Capture One 23 is a bigger step forward than what it seems on paper. Smart adjustments will help wedding photographers and photojournalists who photograph events where there is clear diversity amongst the subjects. We’ve talked about photographing folks with darker skin many times. And we’ve also stated that the editing often can’t be the same. However, Capture One 23 finds a happy medium. In the name of diversity and inclusivity, which this website is based on, this is huge.

Combine this feature with the extra culling options, and things will become faster. I’m a former wedding photographer and working photojournalist. So I’ve always understood how arduous the culling process was for many photographers. Capture One 23 makes that process better with the smart grouping feature. Combined with better in-camera shooting methods, nailing your autofocus, and adding star ratings to your images in-camera, this shouldn’t be all that hard.

We’re giving Capture One 23 five out of five stars. It’s not perfect, or it would be an Editor’s Choice award product. But they’re getting a lot closer, and they’re still delivering the best image quality out there on top of making the culling process less painful for others. Our problems with the software can be fixed easily via software updates. And depending on what comes, we might change our rating in the future.

Editor’s Note: Phobographer subscribers get 10% discounts on their purchase of Capture One, along with various other things like being entered into monthly contests and much more. See our membership page for more info.


  • Smart adjustments are a fun way to begin editing your photos.
  • The grouping tool can make editing easier due to how much faster it makes the culling process.
  • Sony image performance is indeed enhanced.
  • Calling is now much faster. (For the record, I never had an issue with culling. Just, you know, don’t shoot as many frames?) You can also star the images in-camera and then import only those.
  • Capture One Live is a fun tool that enables people to do the same thing as proofing. This is great for folks who don’t have actual websites. Though it also enables that exact bad practice.


  • Their healing and cloning tool needs to improve quite a bit.
  • I wish smart adjustments let you have control over more parameters. Most of the time, I just ended up editing one photo and using the group feature to sync my edits to everything in that batch.

Gear Used

We tested Capture One 23 with various Canon, Fujifilm, and Sony cameras during our review periods of several other products. It’s being used on a 2019 iMac, and the images are being edited off a Drobo 8D.


The grouping and culling features have been around for a while via AI plugins and more. But for us, the most significant and welcome innovation arrives with Smart Adjustments. If you have a diverse amount of people around you with different skin tones and backgrounds, then this is one of the biggest lifesavers. It makes all skin look incredibly more realistic. When we were being briefed by Capture One, this was my biggest concern, as I didn’t want my skin to appear lighter than it really was. Capture One did a great job at leveling it out.

Ease of Use

Capture One 23 has a bunch of features photographers should check out. Luckily, they’re all pretty easy to spot. It starts with the import of photos. When doing this, you’ll find the new culling tools on the left side. You’ll be introduced to the new Group feature that lets you have the program literally group similar images together. You can adjust this yourself via a slider, however you can’t tell it which parameters you want it to look at. Capture One 23 is where this feature is being introduced, so perhaps in the future it might let you select things like grouping via white balancing, etc.

While grouping, you can do things like checking the focus. Applying grouping while Capture One is loading all the images for selection on the import screen will slow it down. I suggest letting the program load those images, then group them, and then select them.

Lots of modern AI will do stuff like checking the focus of images and base that on whether or not you should import the photos. But the truth is that modern cameras are so good that it’s hard not to get photos in focus most of the time anyway. If you’re using the exposure preview mode on your mirrorless camera, you’re not giving it the best advantage when autofocusing.

Personally, I tend to shoot less. It’s not unusual for me to come back with fewer photos of animals and birds on shoots than other testing cameras. Additionally, I go through my images in-camera and star rate them. To make the culling process faster, I’ll apply the grouping procedure and then only have the starred photos selected. The groups let me do quick batch edits and the stars let me know which ones I’ve already checked for focus and really liked to begin with. Then I’ll go through the images in Capture One to see what images have the best potential and what images reflect my creative vision.

During my tests of Capture One, I went through various portrait sessions because I’m testing a new light. Those photo shoots required me to use both natural light and an off-camera strobe. Syncing the most basic skin tone edits made the process faster. That’s truly the case when you’re photographing one individual. But in my mind, that’s also a waste of what Smart Adjustments really does well.

Take the photos above, for example. Smart adjustments fixed the exposure and fixed the white balance to create a happy medium between Darrell and I.

In the photo above, you’ll see the original shot. And the photo below is the Smart adjustment Capture One 23 made. He did a great job. Further, when I tried it with photos of various individuals with lighter and dark skin than mine, Capture One 23 still managed to strike a happy medium that seemed true to life.

Indeed, Capture One 23 confirmed what I knew for many years: photography was designed around folks with lighter skin. Now, if only they could teach film companies and camera manufacturers how to adjust based on various skin tones.

With more serious edits though, I tend to skip this feature and do everything manually for a multitude of reasons.

Then there are features such as Capture One Live, which lets people comment and rate images. It can be very useful. But most photographers who do this via their website might not use this feature. Instead, it’s great for when you’re shooting live and a client wants to provide commentary as the shoot is happening. Otherwise, it’s also good if you don’t have a photography website.

But seriously, get yourself a website. If what’s happening with TikTok and Twitter right now isn’t showing you that you should have control over your assets, then I’m not sure what will.

Image Quality

Capture One 23 delivers pretty much the same level of great image quality it always has. The photos above were shot using Canon gear and I’ve never been able to get the quality out of Lightroom that I get from Capture One as easily or methodically.

If you’re a Sony shooter, you’re probably also wondering about the enhancement you will now have. And yes, your images are now processed up to 40% faster than before. We tested this with Sony a7r IV, Sony a7r III, and Sony a1 RAW files. I also felt like I got much better colors out of Capture One 23 than I have in previous iterations of the software.

However, I also concede that this could be because of the Tamron glass I’m using. Sony glass feels sterile to me, where Tamron glass doesn’t.

Who Should Buy Capture One 23?

First off, photographers who have Capture One 22 and do portrait work will want to get Capture One 23. Wedding photographers and those who do a ton of photojournalistic work will also benefit. If you want better colors and are going to Capture One for the first time, this is arguably to best time to get in. All these cool features show a lot of promise of what’s to come from Capture One.

If you’re a Phoblographer member, you get 10% off on Capture One. Inquire with us for your discount.

Tech Specs and Main Features

Here are some of the new changes:

  • Smart adjustments: a better copy and apply adjustments in many ways. They sync only the exposure and white balance.
  • Smart adjustments can be saved as styles.
  • Smart adjustments can be applied on import and best used in combination with the grouping feature.
  • Smart adjustments don’t work for black and white photos.
  • Culling window: enable groups for group overview that analyzes similarity
  • Left, right up and down keys help with this. Tap space bar for import.
  • You can check for focus.
  • Cull button is available.
  • Style adjustments: the contrast and color can be adjusted. Or clarity or anything else can be adjusted.
  • Capture one Live lets you share sessions by email.
  • Sony image performance is boosted by up to 40%.
  • These features are not coming to the iPad version today, but we have reason to believe they will be in the future.

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