RAW Color: Adobe vs Capture One

Adobe just released a huge new update to Camera RAW, Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC in the form of “Profiles”. These profiles are how the software renders color when we do our initial RAW conversions. For the last couple of years now, Capture one has been touted as being king when it comes to color rendering. Is that still the case? Let’s compare the two. 

Adobe now has 6 profiles to choose from:

  • Adobe Color
  • Adobe Neutral
  • Adobe Vivid
  • Adobe Portrait
  •  Adobe Landscape
  • Adobe Standard (still in, but no longer the default)

It’s important however, to stop make a distinction, Adobe Profiles and Camera Matching are not the same thing. Profiles attempt to match the camera manufacturer’s color appearance under specific settings. While Adobe Profiles are how they interpret the color data.  

In Capture One, color rendering can be adjusted via the “Color Panel” using “Curves” found within the “Base Characteristics” pane’s submenue. C1 also has 6 variations to choose from as follows: 

  • Auto
  • FIlm Extra Shadow
  • Film High Contrat
  • Film Standard
  • LInear Response
  • Portrait

While the intent of this article is not to go into the science of how color is interpreted and rendered between Adobe and C1’s engines, more so to compare the aesthetic difference between the two.

Adobe Portrait Profile

Capture One Portrait Curve

Here you can preview the same image with all 6 of the C1 Curves renders. 

C1 Auto

C1 Film Extra Shadow

C1 Film High Contrast

C1 Film Standard

C1 Linear Response

C1 Portrait

Now compare to Adobe’s new Profiles. 

Adobe Color

Adobe Neutral

Adobe Portrait

Adobe Standard

Adobe Vivid

Adobe Landscape

Which do you find looks better? While I personally think the difference is pretty dramatic, I find that the Adobe profiles are much more accurate and true to reality, while C1 seems to just oversaturate the colors in a much more unnatural way. Working between ACR and C1, I find I always have work harder when color grading in C1, because I need to undo a lot of the unflattering saturation the C1 engines produces. The samples above had no other retouching done apart from changing the Adobe Profile or the C1 Curves. One thing to note however, C1 files were twice the size of Adobe’s after export.

Export settings were sRGB 2048 long edge resulted in the Adobe set being just shy of 1mb while C1 export was nearly 2mb in size. Whether or not that means anything apart from taking more space and possibly slower load times on web apps, remains to be seen. 

For more information check out my article on the Retouching Academy blog here

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