Capture One for iPad Is Finally Here, but You Almost Certainly Don’t Want It

The iPad version is still playing catchup to Adobe’s Lightroom

  • Capture One has finally launched its iPad app and cloud sync service.
  • You can edit on the iPad, and your edits sync back to base. 
  • The software lacks features and requires an additional monthly subscription to use it.
Capture One on iPad—Sharpening and Noise Reduction

Capture One's photo-editing app is now out for the iPad, and it syncs with the desktop version. However, reports say it's barely finished, and you have to pay yet another subscription on top of the one you pay for the desktop version. 

For mobile photographers, which is pretty much all professional photographers, being able to cull, edit, and even publish shots on location is essential. One of the best tools for this job is the iPad Pro, with its amazing screen, fast Thunderbolt USB-C connector, and 5G cellular connection. And yet, until now, the only game in town for iPad-toting pros has been Lightroom. That just changed, with arch rival Capture One's debut on the iPad, but it's a total too-little-way-too-late situation. 

"The value proposition of the iPad app is not there as far as I'm concerned," writes photographer Patrick La Roque on his blog. "It would barely exist as an included add-on to paying customers, so asking for another [$60 per year], in light of what C1 already costs, and what the competition offers… it's somewhat stunning to me."

Cloudy Forecast

Like Adobe’s Lightroom, Capture One now syncs edits between iPad and laptop/desktop via the cloud, which means anything you do on the iPad will be reflected on your computer back at the studio or home. Unlike Lightroom, though, Capture One requires an extra $5 per month subscription in addition to the $24 per month subscription you already pay for the desktop app.

Capture One on iPad—Styles and Presets

However, Capture One does offer a $299 perpetual license option for the desktop version, which means you can buy it outright and keep using it until your ancient purchased version no longer runs on your new computer.

When Capture One for iPad is finally finished (see below), it will succeed or fail based on one thing—sync reliability. The new Capture One Cloud Transfer will sync your edits, and the RAW images you import from your camera, back to Capture One on your computer, although right now this seems to be a one-way sync. 


Price alone is not what has annoyed photographers like La Roque. After all, as he says on his blog, you have to pay this extra fee despite the fact that the iPad version is missing crucial features. In a way, it feels like you have to pay to become a beta tester. 

For example, DP Review's Gannon Burgett criticizes the image export interface for being somewhat primitive, and a reader of that article comments that "You can't sync changes back to the iPad. Photos get uploaded into the cloud and are then imported [into Capture One]. You can't send the edit-changes back to the iPad," which seems to negate the entire purpose of the cloud sync feature. 

Capture One on iPad—Color Editor for a photo of food

Above all else, pro photo apps like Lightroom and Capture One need to be reliable. It doesn't matter if they're too expensive for most people, or that they may be missing a few features. If you're a photographer shooting a wedding or on location on a shoot, and your tools don't work, then that's the last time you use those tools. Hardware and software must be close to 100 percent reliable, or you just won't trust them again in the future. 

Customers might not like paying a subscription for Photoshop, Lightroom, and so on, but Adobe has proven its cloud service to be almost absurdly robust. It syncs, your images and edits appear where they should, and it all just works. 

This might not seem particularly relevant for amateurs and enthusiasts, but it totally is. You probably keep your photos in Apple's iCloud Photo Library, or in Google Photos, depending on what kind of phone you use. Both are exemplary, time-tested services, which we have come to rely on and trust. 

Capture One's iPad version has taken way longer to appear than most would have liked, but part of that is almost certainly down to the work on getting the cloud service right. Because without that, photographers would leave immediately, and the rift could maybe never be healed. Better, then, to take it slow, even if it means you lag behind the competition.

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