PSD files in Capture One – now what?

From version 10.1, Capture One supports reading of PSD files. You have always had the option to export to this widely popular file format, but if you wanted to see your work file inside of Capture One after some external editing, you were required to save your layered file as a TIFF. Those days are gone.

Whatever layers you might add on top of your images, Capture One will now recognize and show PSD files as any other supported file type. It is important to mention that processing layered files from Capture One always flattens the image, and the layers in your PSD or TIFF files are not individually visible or editable in Capture One. The files are always treated as non-layered files within Capture One.

Now, what does this mean for your workflow? Depending on how you edit your images, this provides two overall game changing additions if you are a regular user of Capture One and Photoshop (or a similar editing software): asset management and full round-trip workflows.

1. Asset Management

If you are one of the many photographers who finalize their work in Photoshop after having processed the images in Capture One, you might have been missing the ability to see your final work within Capture One, next to your RAW files. Upgrading to Capture One 10.1 now makes this possible.

One way is to use the round-trip functionality within Capture One when sending processed images to their final steps in Photoshop (or other external editors). This ensures that the PSD-file is instantly placed next to the RAW file and will show in whatever Album or Folder you are working from – both in a Catalog and a Session. This is achieved by right clicking the thumbnail of the image and selecting Edit With…, which will open a dialog with processing options for format, ICC profile, size etc. You will notice that PSD is now included in the Format list as well as JPG and TIFF. Open With should be set to your preferred external editor for example Photoshop. This effectively processes your RAW file with the adjustments made to it, and opens it in your selected external editor.

N.B.: Open With, which is placed next to Edit With…in the right click menu, might be slightly confusing without an explanation. The direct Open With option will effectively open your RAW file in an external editor without processing it through Capture One. To summarize:

  •  Edit With… -> processes file with adjustments -> opens in external editor
  • Open With -> RAW file opens directly in external editor

It is recommended to process to 16 bit to maintain as much information in the file as possible. Any changes to this newly added PSD file, from any external editor, will instantly show in Capture One once it is saved, making it possible to use Capture One as your preferred asset management software for all your work. N.B.: Saving with Maximum Compatibility in Photoshop is required for Capture One to support the PSD file.

You can of course also import PSD files as any other supported file types into your Catalog or Session.

2. Full round-trip workflows

The second addition to a PSD workflow is the full round-trip functionality: You have finalized your external work to your PSD file and might need a final touch of color grading, Film Grain, or other Capture One specific tools to take your image to the highest level.

With the Edit With-procedure described in the previous section, it’s easy to send a processed PSD file directly to Photoshop for further retouching. A good tip is to keep the processed image relatively neutral before retouching, and processed to 16 bit. This will give you the option to make different variants of color grading to the retouched image once it is back in Capture One. A huge benefit of this is, that if you need to do additional external retouching to the image, all variants within Capture One will automatically be updated with the changes. It is also possible to ignore the crop you have applied in Capture One from within Edit With… > Adjustments, which gives you the option to crop differently at a later point.

Imagine the following scenario:

  • You have shot an image for a client, and want to show them a couple of different versions to choose from. The image needs external retouching and is processed as a PSD file using the Edit With procedure.
  • External retouching is done and the PSD file is saved with layers.
  • Back within Capture One, the PSD file now shows the retouching. You create two new variants of the PSD file, effectively having three variants of the image ready.
  • Using Color Balance, Film Grain, Curves and other tools in Capture One, you finalize three versions of the image to prepare for your client.
  • With a process recipe, a small JPG of each version is processed and sent to your client.
  • They notice a flaw in the retouching that needs to be taken care of. You therefore open the PSD using your external editor and fix the flaw.
  • Back in Capture One, all three versions are now updated and can be processed again with a single click.
  • The client now receives and chooses one of the versions as their final pick.

All in all, support for PSD files provides full control to your workflow when using Capture One with external editors.

What impact will PSD support have on your workflow? Download a 30-day trial of Capture One and see for yourself.

Read more about using an external editor in our User Guide.

May 4 2017

By Alexander Flemming

Category: Tech Talk Tags:
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  • Alexander Flemming
    Alexander Flemming

    Alexander works as a Photographer and Marketing Specialist in Software Marketing of Phase One. Previous experience as a Test Engineer along with 10 years of photography have provided Alexander with a broad understanding of the many technical advantages of Capture One Pro.

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    Comments (25)

    Bhavik Solanki

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. This information helpful and useful for many people and in this post give good explanation in detail that helps people.

    Thanks Alexander, I was hoping for just such a write up for this useful new feature. Will definitely help in my workflow.

    Michal Krause

    Nice addition. I use Affinity Photo instead of Photoshop, so I’ll stay with the TIFF with layers stored inside. But it seems, that Capture One doesn’t like some TIFFs including these with layers stored – it becomes really slow in folders with TIFF files, rendering preview takes a very long time and it crashes offten on them. It’s a pity because TIFF with layers is ideal choice for me otherwise.

    Michal Krause

    Alexander Flemming

    Hi Michal,

    That sounds weird. You have updated to 10.1, right? It should be pretty fast and stable. Are your TIFF files located on a network drive?


    Michal Krause

    Hello Alexander,

    I have 10.1 and these issues with TIFF files are still here. My catalog is located on local SSD drive, but image files are on network drive (Synology NAS connected via gigabit wired network). I have no issues with RAF files, problems are related to TIFFs. Even during writing this response, I was able to made Capture One to crash using folder with TIFF – first, it really slowly rendered TIFF file, but when I moved to another files (RAFs), it stops render them (they stays pixelated). UI was responsive otherwise. When I tried to quit Capture One from menu, it crashed (report sent). This behavior is quite common in my setup :( I use iMac 5K (Late 2015) with SSD and 32 GB RAM.

    Best regards
    Michal Krause

    Alexander Flemming

    Hi Michal,

    There is your issue. Working on large files on a network drive like a NAS is at risk of introducing problems. It can even come down to your router. I know, since I have one myself. A secondary issue could be your 5k iMac. In 2015, the hardware couldn’t even come close to performe as well as a 5k resolution requires. Apple simply made a resolution too big for its hardware specifications to follow.

    TIFFs are much larger than RAW files (six times larger if 16 bit) and introducing layers will make them even bigger. This will naturally decrease performance. We don’t recommend working with files located on a network drive. If you move them to an internal drive or a mounted harddrive, you will see a very different performance.


    Thank you Alexander, this explanation is very helpful!

    Now, I can use PS to do some last minute retouching and keep that final image along side the RAW file in Capture One. This allows for final output processing with C1’s powerful recipes. This is exactly what I was hoping for. Great job!


    Very nice :)

    This is a very useful new feature. It would be even better if the Edit With… settings for PSD files could be saved for repeated use.

    Alexander Flemming

    Hi Graham,

    Thank you for your input! We have noted it since you’re not alone with that request.


    I am contemplating the leap from Lightroom to CO. I guess I’m not understanding. You say “External retouching is done and the PSD file is saved with layers.” And other commenters talk about TIFF layers. When I edit in PS and save (with layers) and then want to re-open the PS file (or TIFF), it has been flattened. In Lightroom the roundtrip allows me to save with layers and re-open with layers. Is this how CO works or am I missing something?


    Not possible to add PSD or PSB files to C1P?

    David Grover

    You might need to expand on your comment a little for anyone to help you?

    In a Lightroom there is an option to open multiple edited files as layers in one photoshop file.
    Currently I open multiple files and use a script to add all open files. It’s a major PIA. Is there any way to speed it up?

    Alexander Flemming

    Hi Inessa,

    Currently there is no automatic way to do that from Capture One. You will need to use the script in Photoshop.


    Are there plans to support PSB files?

    Alexander Flemming

    Thank you for the input! Unfortunately, we cannot comment on future development of Capture One.


    One new feature request is to have option to export several images in C1 at once to a single layered PSD (or PSB) document containing all images.

    Alexander Flemming

    That would indeed be useful, thank you for your input!


    I just did the Edit With Photoshop: I had completed the majority of work in COP10 (latest version), went to PS for a simple and minor liquify, no other changes. When the PSD appeared in COP10, the exposure was off, color balance was off, contrast was off, and I had spend a bunch of time trying to manually tweak the Psd to look like the COP10 file that went to PS. I realize that the file is no longer raw, but the file that comes back should not have different white balance, exposure, contrast if none of those things were changed in PS.

    Alexander Flemming

    Hi Bret,

    That doesn’t sound right! If you didn’t accidentally use ‘Open With’ instead of ‘Edit With’, this seems like a task for our Technical Support to investigate. You can contact them here:


    Thanks! Yes, it was definitely “Edit With” as I had first tried Open With and saw that it was only sending the RAW file to PS, without any of the COP adjustments. So I then used Edit With, and got very strange results. I am now thinking maybe there was a color space issue coming back from PS, as it looked fine while in PS. I’ll look into that and get back to you, put in a ticket if that was not the issue.

    Mauro Mayer

    Hi Alexander,

    I opened 3 pictures edit .psd format in PS 2015, then made a HDR. save it as .psd. Could not find it in the Capture one 10 catalog. Tried to save it as tiff file 32 bits, same issue. Please note that with no HDR pictures I do not have problems editing pictures from capture one 10 in psd format and save them after editing. I can find them in the catalog.

    Any solution?

    Thank you in advance for your answer
    Kind regards

    Alexander Flemming

    Hi Mauro,

    Did you save your HDR as 32 bit PSD? In that case, that’s why it’s not showing up in Capture One. Try saving it in 16 bit.


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