Like Aperture and Lightroom, Capture One Pro is one of the new wave of all-in-one image cataloguing, editing and RAW conversion programs that use completely non-destructive editing tools to enhance your images.

This means they all have a very special ability – they can create any number of ‘virtual’ versions of the same photo without actually having to create new files and save them to your hard disk. This isn’t just very space-efficient, it’s flexible too, because you can return to any of these virtual images at any time to change the settings.

Capture One Variants

Here’s a set of four different versions of the same image, all stored alongside each other in the Capture One library, and all fully-editable.

Capture One calls these virtual images ‘Variants’, and here’s a quick guide to how they work.  It’s also a good chance to introduce the idea of ‘stacking’ – another key feature in programs like this – and Capture One’s built-in image ‘Styles’.

01 Create a new Variant

Capture One Variants

You can create a new, virtual copy of your image by right-clicking and choosing either New Variant or Clone Variant from the drop-down menu. New Variant creates a copy with no adjustments applied, while Clone Variant creates a copy using any adjustments already applied to the original.

02 Choose a new Style

Capture One Variants

I could just make some manual adjustments to this new Variant, but instead I’m going to try out one of Capture One’s preset Styles. These have their own tool tab (you can also create and save your own Styles here), and when you hover over a Style in the drop-down menu, its effect is previewed on the image.

A tooltip appears alongside to list all the adjustments the Style has used to create the effect – Styles are, in effect, preset packages of image adjustments.