Tethered shooting is an integral part of my and most of the professional world’s workflow. There are many benefits to shooting tethered, but does Lightroom or Capture One provide the better experience? I use both programs to edit and have used both extensively for tethered shooting. This article will be a quick comparison between the two programs.

To give this comparison some structure, I’m going to judge the two programs under three headings; Speed and reliability, Controls, and Live view. Those three categories (speed and reliability clumped together) represent the three most important factors to tethered capture, for me at least.

crash warnings from lightroom and capture one. Comparing reliabilty between capture one and Lightroom

Tethered Shooting Comparison | Speed And Reliability

This is a boring one but nonetheless vitally important. When you’re shooting with a client or team (or both), and you’re all relying on the monitor, and you want the images to be appearing quickly. From my experience, Capture One is leaps and bounds ahead of Lightroom in terms of speed. However, I never like to rely solely on my own experience and hence did a little research as well. Sadly, no video I found was of good enough quality for me to add here (come on people, make better videos), but all confirmed my own findings. In some cases, people were reporting images appearing at double the speed compared with Lightroom and this matched my own experience.

Reliability though, is arguably the most important factor. After all, what’s the point of anything if it doesn’t work? Generally speaking, I haven’t had huge issues with Lightroom, however, I have experienced a few; images taking a LONG time to load (longer than usual), cameras disconnecting and Lightroom crashing. That sounds bad but, in all honesty, it’s not like that was happening constantly. Capture One, on the other hand, has been fantastic. Sure, I’ve experienced a couple of similar issues but I’d confidently say that Capture One has also been superior on the reliability front, and that is a feeling echoed by others.

screen grab of Lightroom tethered capture window

Tethered Shooting Comparison | Controls

What do I mean by controls? I’m talking about, how much control do you have over the camera, the files being ingested, the edits being applied, and any other specialist features. In Lightroom you can edit on the fly (choose “same as previous” in the develop section, see above) and those edits will be applied to your photos, or you can apply a pre-existing preset. You’re able to control the camera’s shutter speed, ISO, aperture and white balance. And, you can apply overlays to your photos which is extremely useful if you’re shooting for a magazine for example.

screen grab showing some of the many camera controls possible in capture one

Sadly for Lightroom, that’s where it ends. The list of things you can do in Capture One goes on and on. Firstly, it obviously does all the things that Lightroom can, BUT it does them better. There’s much more control when it comes to applying edits as you shoot, you can apply the same edits as the last image but you can also choose exactly what you’d like copied, for instance, you could select all but the color settings, which is very useful for color matching multiple items in the studio.


Capture One allows you to take control of almost every setting in your camera–just look at that list above. Some cameras will allow less to be controlled (make sure you check) but with the likes of something like a D750 you are able to do pretty much anything. In addition, if you do a lot of focus stacking work then the most recent update to Capture One has streamlined the process between Capture One and Helicon Focus. Unfortunately, this is mostly reserved for those lucky few shooting with Phase One cameras, but us mere mortals can still take advantage of the features to export to Helicon; better than nothing.

Side note – Helicon Focus is my favorite focus stacking software, check out my review here.

screen grab of the capture one tethered capture window

Tethered Shooting Comparison | Live View

For those of you that know Lightroom’s tethered capture features, you may say that this section is unfair. Why? Well, Lightroom doesn’t have this ability. Evidently Capture One, again, wins. I had to include this, however, as it is such a key part of my workflow and a feature which I absolutely love. You can read more about it, and why I love tethered shooting in general, here.


To briefly summarize, Live view in Capture One allows you to send your camera’s Live view to your computer. I use it constantly to help me see the effects of minute movements of lights within my product photography; it’s a massive aid for precision. Not only that, but capture one also provides focus controls and grids, as well as a few other useful features. This is a massive negative for Lightroom when it comes to tethered shooting.

behind the scenes photo used to demonstrate the benefits of shooting tethered
Photo by Square Mountain Photography


Shooting tethered has become part of my daily life as a photographer and I could never go back. It’s abundantly clear from this brief comparison that Lightroom has been obliterated by Capture One in regards to tethering. But does that mean that you should immediately switch? Only you can answer that question. I suppose it comes down to how much of your work is done while tethered. I actually use both programs, Capture One is exclusively used for my product photography whereas Lightroom is dedicated to jobs where I spend a little less time on each image.

If you’re already a Lightroom customer, why not give Capture One a go? You can use their 30-day free trial and see what you think, click here. I should interject here that many pros use both Capture One and Lightroom together, and for different reasons or in different ways, and if your workflow and favorite presets are all set-up in LR, and you’re a wedding photographer, clearly it’s Lightroom where you will want to remain primarily.

Have you seen all the great content that the SLR Lounge Team have been putting out lately? If not, head over to the SLR Lounge store and take a look. I’m always impressed by the quality of their videos and the structure of the education. It’s fantastic for any photographer wanting to advance their skillset. Click here to take a look.