How do you choose a Capture One RAW file storage location? Capture One is flexible. That’s one of the things that makes it superior to the alternatives (also, it produces better results and is faster, but I digress). That flexibility can be a little confusing to new photographers and those converting from Lightroom to Capture One.
Choosing a Capture One RAW File Storage Location
There are three approaches to storing your RAW files:
- Choose Location
- Current Location
- Inside Catalog
Each has it’s use case, strengths and weaknesses.
Choose Location: Like Lightroom
At first Choose Location seems to simple to be useful. You pick a folder and your images go there. You can manually create a folder for each import, but that isn’t very efficient. It’s easy to be inconsistent too, which is a disaster in the long run.
The real power of “Choose Location” comes with the “Subfolder” text box and the button next to it. Anywhere you see the button next to a field in Capture One you can create a “format” using image and catalog metadata.
It’s possible to simulate Lightroom’s inflexible system. It’s also possible to do so much more. “Choose Location” along with a user preset for the sub folder can be a good option for semi-monolithic and monolithic (don’t use monolithic!) catalogs.
For those coming from Lightroom, this is called “Add” there. Instead of copying the RAW file from one location to another, it simple adds a point to it. There are two main use cases for “current location” as a storage location for your RAW files.
- You have a long lived well maintained structure for your RAW files that you manage yourself, copying images from your camera to their permanent storage location by hand.
- You want to re-edit a few images from another RAW editor (e.g. Lightroom) but don’t want to create a second copy of the RAW files.
Capture One will not let you use “Current Location” for images stored on memory cards, and for good reason. It would be very easy to do by accident, then clear a card loosing RAW files.
When using current location, the sub folder and sample lines go away. Space Left is specified as “–” because it doesn’t matter. The import will use no additional space.
Inside catalog is where things get really interesting for me. Capture One copies the image from the source (e.g. your memory card) inside the Capture One catalog directory. It manages the folder structure and makes sure there are no naming collisions or other problems. Catalogs are now self contained which makes a project based workflow a breeze to use.
Normally, I shy away from letting programs do things “under the hood” with my RAW files. Luckily, Capture One makes it straight forward to retrieve your RAW files independently of it should you ever need to. They live under the “original” subfolder of the catalogs folder. On Mac, ctrl – click and select “show package contents” to see this. It’s just a glorified directory.
If you use a project based workflow, or a semi-monolithic workflow with a moderate number of RAW files (less than 50k) per catalog, “inside catalog” is a great choice.
Changing Your Mind
You can change your mind about the Capture One RAW file storage location, and mix and match strategies within a single catalog. Moving images from “Inside Catalog” to a specific folder on your hard drive, or the other direction, from a folder on your hard drive to “Inside Catalog” is as simple as dragging the image from one location to another in the Library tool panel.
You can easily add a folder using the “+” button in the “Folders” section of the Library tool panel.
He is a self taught experiential learner who is addicted to the possibilities that new (to him) gear open up. He loves to share the things he has worked out. Andrew started with a passion for landscape and night photography and quickly branched out to work in just about every form of photography. He is an ex-software developer with extensive experience in the IT realm.