Newcomers to Capture One may be confused by its talk of ‘Sessions’, which are an alternative way of browsing, selecting and editing pictures that’s still available, even though Capture One Pro now offers Aperture and Lightroom style image catalogs.

‘Sessions’ exist because Capture One isn’t just another image cataloguing and editing tool. In fact, its roots lie in parent company Phase One’s medium format digital camera business. Most medium format cameras are used in a studio where they are ‘tethered’ to a computer. The computer is used to control the camera and review, select and edit the pictures. Now that digital SLRs produce such high levels of image quality, they’re often used ‘tethered’ in a studio too.

In these situations, it makes sense to use software that can go through your pictures as you shoot so that you can save only the best rather than every single frame. Not only that, you’ll need to process your RAW images into JPEGs or TIFFs for your clients, and with Capture One you can do that on the spot rather than having to do it as a separate job later.

Capture One Sessions create a set of folders designed for this particular way of working – but it can also be useful to work this way if you have a memory card full of RAW images shot elsewhere. You can import these into a new Session and go through them in the same way.

Here’s how it works…

01 Create a new Session

Capture One Sessions

You can do this with the File > New Session command. This opens a dialog where you choose the Session settings…

02 New Session dialog

Capture One Sessions

Starting from the top, you need to choose a name for your new Session and the location on your computer where you want to store it. In the Type menu, choose ‘Untethered’, because you’ll be importing shots you’ve already taken.

Below, Capture One will automatically create three subfolders for ‘Selects’, ‘Output’ and ‘Trash’. You can change the names in this dialog, but I’m going to leave them as they are.

The Selects subfolder is for your best images, the Output folder is where Capture One will store your converted TIFFs or JPEGs, and the Trash folder is where it puts any images you reject.

At the bottom is an ‘Open in new window’ checkbox. Normally, Capture One will close the current catalog or Session when you create a new Session, but if you check this box it will create a new window instead and keep the old one open.

03 Import your images…

Capture One Sessions

Now click the Import button at the top left of the Capture One window to import your photos. These might be on a memory card or in a folder on your hard disk. Capture One will copy your files to its Session folder.

04 …and wait

Capture One Sessions

This could take a few minutes, depending on how many files you’re importing. Capture One doesn’t just copy the files, it’s creating previews too.