One of the best Lightroom alternatives is coming to iPad

Capture One Pro
(Image credit: Capture One)

One of the best photo editors and Adobe Lightroom alternatives, Capture One, is officially coming to the iPad – although not until "early 2022".

The photo editing software has become increasingly popular with professional photographers thanks to its powerful raw processing tools, but it's lacked the mobile  apps to compete with the likes of Lightroom Mobile.

Well, that's going to change (relatively) soon, with Capture One announcing that "an iPad app is in the works" for the start of next year. Specific details are, though, a little scarce right now and it's not yet clear which iPads will support it. 

Capture One recently added support for Apple M1 computers like the latest Apple MacBook Air, but hasn't said whether or not its iPad app will only work on M1-based tablets like the new Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021).

Either way, Capture One for iPad is likely to be another powerful tool that will increasingly see Apple's tablet sit at the heart of many photographers' workflow, rather than simply as a helpful accessory.

Early field tests with the new M1-based iPad Pro from pro photographers have shown its blazing speed at sorting through raw files, which is hugely processor intensive. Landscape photographer Austin Mann, for example, called it "the fastest tool I’ve ever used for culling and sorting images, bar none."

Combine this power with Capture One's impressive raw conversions and high-level control over things like layers and sharpening, and you have a potentially exciting combination.

Apple MacBook Air M1

(Image credit: Apple)

Price of progress

We're big fans of Capture One, which sits in the number two spot in our guide to the best photo editors around. But one thing we are intrigued to hear about its incoming iPad app is its price tag and whether or not it'll be available as a one-time purchase.

Capture One's desktop software currently lets you decide between a monthly subscription, like Adobe's apps, or a "perpetual license", which allows you to avoid those sometimes unpopular monthly charges for a one-time fee.

Adobe apps like Lightroom and Photoshop are currently only available as monthly or annual subscriptions, but our current pick for the title of best photo editing app is Affinity Photo, which is available as a one-time purchase. 

Affinity Photo is more of an all-in-one editor in the vein of Photoshop, though, so hopefully Capture One will retain a one-off, in-app purchase option in its iPad app for those who aren't keen on death by a thousand digital subscriptions.

Capture One already offers its Capture Pilot app for remotely reviewing and rating your images during a photo shoot, so we're looking forward to seeing the full editing process join it on the iPad soon.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.