It’s time to throttle-up to Capture One Pro 11 people! As you probably already know from reading my article about switching to Capture One Pro, I love this photo editing software. Phase One has some pretty remarkable updates included with their latest release of Capture One Pro 11. So let’s start this off with a little heavy metal blast from the past – Spinal Tap. 

because this is in fact 11.

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

New Filled Layer © Jay Goodrich
When creating a new layer in Capture One Pro 11, you can instantly choose to fill that layer. (click to enlarge)

Local Adjustments are Now Layers

Capture One Pro used to sport a Local Adjustment Tool Tab. This was where all of your local adjustments would be created in a layer format. Phase One has done away with this tool tab in Capture One Pro 11, but they have given us something better. A Layers Tool that is available in many of the Tool Tabs. In addition, they have added Levels and Color Balance into Layers which gives you precise control over those adjustments via masking.

Within the Layer Tool you can now create an empty, but completely masked layer too. This allows you to quickly see a full adjustment across your entire photo. And if you want to remove or lessen that adjustment in any area, you can paint over the area with the Erase Brush.

Capture One Pro 11 Layer Mask © Jay Goodrich
A typical layer mask as seen in Capture One Pro 11. (click to enlarge)

Masking in Capture One Pro 11

If you are a Photoshop user, you are going to feel right at home with Capture One Pro’s new Layers Tool and masking tweaks.

Remember that all of the layers adjustments inside of Capture One Pro 11 are non-destructive to your ORIGINAL RAW file. This is a significant difference to the layers adjustments within Photoshop. Photoshop does not allow you to work directly on your RAW files. It first must covert those files into an editable file format like PSD or TIF. Capture One Pro 11 does not do this, it works just like Lightroom, but with a greater level of refinement available to the photographer.

So how did Phase One tweak the masking?

Capture One Pro 11 Applying a Layer Mask © Jay Goodrich
Quickly brushing on a mask. (click to enlarge)

They gave us the ability to adjust a Layer’s master opacity now. This means if you apply a layered adjustment to one of your RAW files you can lessen the effect by dragging back that layer’s opacity. Just like Photoshop! It doesn’t end here.

Capture One Pro 11 Mask Greyscale © Jay Goodrich
Then right clicking to bring up the Refine Mask slider allows refinement. Masked turned to new Greyscale option for better visibility - read on for more info! (click to enlarge)

After applying a mask you can refine that mask edge. If you look at the bunny portrait above, I have refined the mask by simply dragging the slider of the Refine Mask overlay window.

Phase One didn’t quit there. They gave us the ability to feather a mask after the fact too. If you decide that your edge is too hard, you just open the Feather Mask window and drag the slider accordingly.

Capture One Pro 11 Greyscale conversion © Jay Goodrich
Holding down your Option & 'M' keys turn the mask to Greyscale in Capture One Pro 11. (click to enlarge)

Mask Preview

In Lightroom you have the ability to change your mask color from the standard bright red to any color you want. Capture One Pro 11 now allows you to change your mask to a greyscale preview just like Photoshop. While the Lightroom mask color change requires some Lightroom knowledge, the Capture One Greyscale Mask Preview is a simple Option and click.

This feature is pretty important for a photographer because it allows you to see any bits of mask left out or on your photo. Remember, White reveals the adjustment and black conceals it.

Annotations allow you to create notations directly on a RAW file, again without any destruction to the original file. (click to enlarge)

Import Duplicate Checker

Finally, Capture One Pro 11 automatically checks for files that you have already imported into the platform. This works even if you change your original file names.


I don’t think I will ever really use this new feature, but I am sure many commercial photographers will welcome it. It is the perfect addition to a photo editing platform. If you send your files out to a retoucher or even for print, you can now graphically communicate with that person. Annotations allow you to draw and erase using your mouse, stylus, or touch pad on your photo. You can change the color or your notes. Then export your annotations on a separate layer to a Photoshop file.

This is perfect for a retoucher or print company because they can turn the layer off and on as they work your final file. Phase One has also added the ability to export other features to layers into Photoshop.

Export with Assets

Export in Capture One Pro 11 is a significantly different than Lightroom. In Capture One you have the ability to export multiple file types to multiple destinations at the click of a single button. If you send your work to multiple online destinations, where different file sizes are needed, Capture One Pro 11 can send all of the files at once. In Lightroom you have to go back to the original file and choose another export scenario. Phase One has now added more features within the Export Tool Tab too.

Like mentioned previously you can export your Annotations as a separate layer to Photoshop. You can now also export your crop as a path into Photoshop. This allows the original crop to be easily viewed by anyone accessing the file.

In addition, you can export your watermark on its own separate layer and any overlay files that are associated with your original RAW. An overlay in Capture One Pro allows you include a company logo or even a magazine cover graphic over your photo for proofing capabilities.

Auto Adjust

I call it the “BIG A”. The BIG A is the Auto Adjust Tool Tab. With a single click the BIG A can adjust White Balance, Exposure, High Dynamic Range, Levels, Rotation, and Keystone. Phase One has also moved Brightness and Contrast out of Exposure and into its own check box so they can now be included or excluded while clicking the BIG A.

The Auto Adjustment tool in Capture One Pro 11 is definitely more subtle than its equivalent in Lightroom. This makes it the perfect beginning to any photo mastering session.


With this latest release of Capture One Pro we see performance improvements too. Catalog load times have been drastically reduced, which will be a great addition for those of you who have thousands of photos like me. Phase One has also updated slider drag performance and how your masks are rendered.

This is a biggie though, I personally don’t feel like these performance upgrades are any faster than Adobe’s latest release of Lightroom Classic CC. So unlike when I began using Capture One Pro, speed is much less of feature comparison now.

There are dozens of upgrades included with the latest release of Capture One Pro 11. You can download a PDF that highlights them all or watch one of the latest webinars from David Grover. This is where Phase One has taken their software to 11. Remember 11 is one more than 10.

Who is this For?

Capture One Pro 11 is for any photographer who wants professional editing software outside of an Adobe product. The platform was developed by Phase One to give the owners of their 100MP camera a leg up on photo mastering. It functions similar, yet different to Adobe Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. I think the biggest question I receive from most photographers is why use Capture One over something like Lightroom or Photoshop.

My response is not that simple. There are dozens of features in play here that make Capture One Pro 11 an upgrade over Lightroom or even now Photoshop. I would say the number one positive is that your photos look significantly better upon import. Next up is that the software appears and functions as if it were designed by Apple, not retrofitted from a Windows 98 platform like Adobe has done with Lightroom Classic CC. In addition, Phase One is only looking at the basics of what the pro photographer would need to work on their files. You master and catalog, no other extraneous bullshit is included here. For me this a welcome study in simplicity and functionality.

Capture One Pro 11 – Positives

Phase One updates their Capture One Pro software significantly more than Adobe updates Lightroom.

The new masking features in Capture One are as powerful as those found within Photoshop.

You image files look stunning in Capture One Pro.

You have the ability to customize your user experience in Capture One Pro.

ALL edits are non-destructive.

Capture One Pro 11 – Negatives

Speed upgrades don’t really give you anything more than Lightroom Classic CC at this point, but masking does.

You will pay $15 per month to run this software. More than Adobe’s Creative Cloud pricing for Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop combined.

If you switch there is a learning curve, especially if you aren’t a Lightroom Ninja at this point.

Even though this is release 11 for Capture One, the sliders don’t go to 11!

Get You Some of This!

Capture One Pro 11

Purchase your very own Capture One Pro 11 license from B&H Photo.

Capture One Pro 11

Purchase your very own Capture One Pro 11 UPGRADE license from B&H Photo.

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