Catalog in Capture One: Main Features and Import Images



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One of the main innovations of Capture One 7 is the ability to store all photos in a single catalog.

Catalog Capture One allows you to quickly and easily work with all the pictures from your archive, be it to allocate ratings, assign keywords or merge pictures into projects, folders or albums so that you easily locate the photos in your catalog at a later date.

This article is the first part of a series of posts on that will explore the possibilities that are open to you when you work with the catalog in Capture One 7.

Today we will talk about the main features of importing and cataloging images.

Main features of Catalog in Capture One

Before we start working with the catalog, let’s understand the basic capabilities of cataloging in Capture One 7.

1) RAW files or processing settings

In Capture One, the catalog can be imported as the photos themselves and only processing files, while physical RAW files can be stored anywhere.

This is useful if you have multi-terabyte photo archive and “duplicate” it is simply nowhere. In this case, the best solution is to import the processing files only into the catalog.
However, if you have recently started to collect your photo archive, it makes sense to upload the RAW files to the Capture One catalog. This will provide you with more opportunities to work with them in the future.

By the way, if you store RAW files out of the catalog without access to the physical files, you will still be able to view and even edit them (change exposure, white balance, shadow / highlights, edit metadata and much more).


For example, once you have imported new photos into the catalog, you can leave the RAW files on an external hard drive and store the additional files to take with you on a laptop. Once on the road, you can still select photos, assign ratings to them, prescribe keywords and perform any edits (with some restrictions) even though you don’t have access to the RAW files.

2) Work with multiple catalogs

In Capture One you can create and work with multiple catalogs.

When you create a new catalog, the file automatically appears on your computer.


You can transfer this file anywhere, or even open it on another computer. You can also run several different catalogs simultaneously in different windows.


3) Sharing the catalog

One of the best features of the Capture One catalog is that it allows several users to work jointly on a single catalog.

Sharing access to the catalog is easy. As mentioned above, the catalog is just a single file on your computer. To share this file, simply drag it to your own server or any external file storage service such as Dropbox. Any individuals who are granted access to this file will then be able to work with it.

Capture One incorporates two modes of catalog sharing:

1) Standard access
This mode is enabled by default and allows each user to edit photos in the catalog. The disadvantage of this mode is that multiple users cannot work with one catalog at the same time (it will cause problems with data sync).

If you need to open access to the catalog to multiple colleagues, then it has a second mode – Locked.

2) Locked
In Locked mode the pictures in the catalog cannot be edited, but several users can view the catalog simultaneously. Your catalog becomes “read only,” meaning that no one can make changes; however, you can browse together and discuss photos.

To enable the Locked mode, go to the menu File –> Lock Catalog.


Now let’s look at the import features that are available in the Capture One catalog.

Import images

Create a new catalog. If you would like to open the catalog in a new window, check “Open in new window”.


Click Import Images and you will see the standard images import window.


Main settings of image import

Import To


Here we choose where to store the RAW files:

Current Location. RAW files will remain where they are and only the processing settings will be stored in the catalog.

Inside Catalog. RAW files (and processing settings) will be stored within the catalog.

Choose Folder. Processing settings will be stored in the catalog and RAW files will be stored in a location of your choice.

Backup To


After creating the catalog it is worth thinking about backing it up.

Using the Capture One settings, you can specify the frequency of automatic backup and a place where the backup file will be stored. You can start the backup manually at any time by selecting File –> Backup Catalog.

Please note: the backup tool saves only the image processing settings, metadata and the catalog structure. However, the RAW files are not backed up – you will need to do this yourself.



Here you can change the file names. Capture One has its own “smart” system of naming.
You can set the parameters by which the filenames will be generated. For example, you can include the time and place where the pictures were taken or the exposure settings in the name.

In the Metadata you can change the description and the copyright for all images.


Through using the Adjustments Clipboard tool you can also change metadata for all pictures.

The most important option on offer in the adjustments section is Include Existing Adjustments.


If this is enabled, the image processing settings (as developed in Capture One) will be applied after the image is imported into the catalog.

You can also use the Adjustments Tool to immediately apply photo styles and presets.

The second article in this series will take a look at the catalog structure on offer in Capture One: “Catalog in Capture One: Groups, Projects and Albums.” (coming soon).

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About Author

Alexander Svet – Professional photographer and photography instructor. Phase One Certified Professional and Capture One beta tester.

  • Stefan Segers

    Hi Alexander, great article!! The only thing I still don’t know is what to do when you have sessions. I read it’s better to use sessions instead of catalogs. But as an Lightroom user I am used to use yearly catalogs. Store photo’s on server and catalog local/dropbox. Would C1 do that same now as Lightroom?
    If so what is the use to the sessions? And is it still possible to import the sessions? For now it looks like when I import the sessions I will get double files (original RAW and processed JPG).
    Sorry for all the questions, but I am a newbie on C1

    • Hi Stefan,

      Few days ago Capture One 8 was released and it has a lot of new features (for catalog too). I will update this article in near future.

      Sessions is very useful thing for studio/portrait/interior/advertise photographers, who prefer to teathered shooting (but it isn’t necessary) and work mostly with “projects”.

      Sessions is great for “complete” workflow: you create new session in C1, shoot one complete photo session and then you can work and store all images (RAW, JPG, TIFF) and settings for all the files in one “physical” folder. You can easily move this folder to another HDD, when your work is done.

      It is useful, because you have all files for certain “project” in one place.

      Another use case (I use it often) – create one session and work with it all the time. Witch sessions you can work with any file on your HDD without importing it. Thats why often after photo session I just copy RAW files to HDD, open this folder in C1 session and work with them. All settings will be stored inside this folder and for me it’s very useful.

      But if you need cataloging feature – Catalog in Capture One is the best way.

      • Stefan Segers

        Hi Alexander, great to hear your reply. Sessions would be great.

        I also tried to import sessions into a catalog for searching. But found out that when I change anything in a session and open up the catalog where the session is imported, no changes will be made. Looks like its really importing instead of linking to an session.
        But okay, for big catalog I will check out what to do next….

        Also am trying to do split toning like Lightroom, but can’t seem to find it. Is this even possible in C1?
        I did find HSL but nowhere the split toning.

        This is very handy for vintage/retro edits.

        • Hi Stefan, sorry for a long time without the reply. You can easily make split toning with RGB channels in Curve tool.

          • Stefan Segers

            Hi Alexander, no problem. I did manage to find this.

  • YAUNa

    Is there a way to add metadata, e.g. copyright info, after images have been imported?

    • Sure, you can edit all the metadata with Metadata tool.

  • Adam Kim

    Very late into the discussion, but had a question about transferring files from one computer to another.

    Say you were sent a batch of raw images(NEF.) and the following settings folder with the .nos files. During import the Include existing adjustments was checked but there is no change to the files, what could have been some possible errors?

    • In general, everything should be fine, but make sure that the folder with RAW files has the same name as it has at the original destination. Few times I’ve noticed that it may cause an error. Otherwise, try to transfer images in EIP format.