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New License Model: Changes to the way licensing, updates, and upgrades work



  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter

    Hmmm my last post is pending approval. How interesting...

    This usually happens when you include a link.

  • Olaf Pokorny

    They said there will be no CaptureOne 24 so I guess, they will change their version numbering perhaps away from a 3-digit to only a 2-digit one: The major version for new feature releases (v17.x, v18.x...) and the minor version for bug-fixes. So yes, if you buy a perpetual license for v17.x your support ends with the release of v18.0., even if it is just two weeks after your purchase. Will there be an upgrade-offer like before, if you purchased within a certain timeframe? Unknown!

    One interesting part is, if one will get bug- (and security?) fixes for "older" versions like you get from apple, for example, for the previous macOS. I really don't believe that. Another interesting part is, how often new features will be released and what kind of features that will be? Twice a year? Every quarter? Every other week???

    Focus stacking is one of the things, I believe to be realized, but I have few ideas, what else is really missing? Maybe some more Photoshop-like editing possibilities (blur, composing,...?). Everything else could end in just some improvements of existing features, support for new equipment, new camera profiles, UI improvements (or just some changes to justify the release of a new major version...), etc.

    As a result of all the things said and the price tag of the different "alternatives", the only conclusion is, that buying a perpetual license really doesn't make any sense at all, unless your name is Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook... If you don't like the idea of "hiring" software, CaptureOne is out.

    I have no idea what I will do in October, when v23 is on it's way to Walhalla. I really like C1 and after years of using it (and giving a lot of feedback for further development), I have established a fast and effective workflow to get my customer projects done in less time than ever before. All my pictures since 2010 are wrapped in C1 sessions and I don't have the slightest urge to re-import, re-configure and re-edit them in a different program. But that had to be done on the long run, because one day the old perpetual version won't run anymore on a future operating system on a future machine. (Does anyone remember the PowerMac G5 and Mac OSX 10.4 Tiger? It's just about 20 years ago... My first digital photos are still a few years older.)

  • Peter Klein

    I will not subscribe. I will not have my work held hostage to whatever scheme the finance boys come up with, this year or next. I am not a high-volume professional. I do recognize that software development has to be paid for. I am happy to pay a reasonable price for innovation that actually benefits me. But not “pay me forever, no matter what.” I will not trust my work and my time to a company that has shown that its business ethics are limited only by what it can get away with. 

    Unfortunately, rental schemes are the future. The ability to impose them has been baked into the licensing agreements we’ve been signing since at least the 1980s. This is why I am exploring open source software like Raw Therapee and Darktable. I’m already using Picture Window Pro 8 for the few things Capture One can’t do for me. I suspect that one of the open source Raw developers could reasonably replace Capture One in this combo. I will continue to use my current Capture One version as long as I can. But I will be prepared to jump into an open source lifeboat if my perpetual license goes “poof” or won’t run after a Windows update. 

  • Guy Daudelin

    When you announced this, I was sure this was a move to screw the perpetual license owners and try to force them to subscription. But you talked about a "loyalty scheme" so I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

    When Adobe announced that everything was going to subscription, I dumped them without even thinking about it twice since I hate the model. Now, you are doing the same thing as them. Just be honest, it's clear that this move is to force us into subscription.

    You need to realize that there are 3 kind of customers that pay for your software :

    1. Subscription : I'll be honest, I just can't understand why people could prefer that option. I guess "you'll own nothing and you'll be happy" is popular with kids nowadays.

    2. Perpetual license owners who always buy the annual update : I'm in that crowd. I always bought the update each November not because I knew what features were coming, but because I like to be up to date and support the company that gave me a good choice to be a license owner.

    3. Perpetual license owners who only buy the update when it suits them : These people just want to get the features if it's useful to them.

    Now, you told us there would be a loyalty "scheme" for perpetual license owners but the loyalty scheme is really a lot more for subscribers : using the "free" perpetual license as a carrot at the end of a stick to get people to stay on subscription.

    For the second kind of customer, people who have a perpetual license and always upgrade each year, it's a real slap in the face. I used to pay approximatively the same as a subscriber each year and got one year of update (like subscribers). I was OK and still am OK with that. This is not about the money to me. I would gladly continue to do that like I've been doing for years. But we are the kind of customers that are getting screwed hard. Now, if we just want to be up to date always, we might have to pay 2x or 3x per year a similar amount that I paid before 1 time per year. You know damn well that this is a bad deal compared to the subscription now.

    For the third kind of user, perpetual licence owner who only upgrade when they feel they need it, it doesn't change much. They will only pay an upgrade amount whenever they feel like it.

    I find it funny that you call that a "loyalty program" when the most loyal perpetual owners to you, like me, are the ones getting the worst deal in all of this.

    I suggested to you when you announced the changes that all you had to do was to say that each year, you can buy one year worth of upgrades for the same amount as subscribers, but keep our perpetual licence with upgrades until the next year (being pretty much what it is and was right now). I am happy to give you money. I feel like the amount you ask for upgrades each year is reasonable.

    What I am not happy about is having the feel that a company doesn't respect my intelligence.

    Oh, and last thing, for all you people who think it's all good going with the subscription because after five year, they give you a perpetual license if you stop subscribing... what makes you think that they won't remove any perpetual license option between now and in 5 years?

    At least, be honest about your intentions : it's clear to anyone with half a brain that this is a move to force us into subscription.

  • Mark Hopgood

    Guy Daudelin

    Not sure what happened to my post but here it is again.

    The sometimes updaters have been compromised.  You have 24 months to update your perpetual licence at 20% discount, previous was 30% discount.  Beyond 24 months you just get a discount on a subscription, if you want an updated perpetual licence you have to pay full price.  With the promise of more frequent feature updates they have made the perpetual Licence model untenable.

    I have been using Capture One since version 6.  Did not update version 7 and 23 but all others.  The price increases over the last few years has certainly been hard now that I'm retired.  I certainly have doubts that it will play out as described over the next few years.

    It is a real shame as Capture One has certainly added the tools required for me to do the vast majority of my editing within it.  The last couple of updates not so much but one always had hope that there would be a welcome addition coming.  The alternative now for me is to find a good RAW converter, DXO, Iridient Developer and then take it into Affinity Photo and process from there like I used to do with PS CS6.  I can use Photo Mechanic Plus as my DAM.  Will miss variants but on those few that I do I will just duplicate the file.

    Never say Never but Capture One will have to produce a compelling piece of software at a competitive price for me to start to drink the Kool-Aid again.

  • Class A

    @Guy Daudelin

    You wrote you belong to the category "Perpetual license owners who always buy the annual update".

    I don't see why that group should be unhappy. If you buy the latest version no matter what anyhow, you are better off subscribing as it is the cheaper option.

    Capture One just removed the big downside of subscriptions, as they turned the model from "renting" to "leasing". If you ever want to quit, you can without penalty (provided you have been leasing five years up to that point) because you get a free perpetual C1 license as a parting gift. In other words, you get your perpetual licence at the end without having to pay for permanent ownership all along the way.

    I think the deal got worse for those who want to upgrade once in a while for features they find compelling enough, but for people in your category, the conditions became better.

  • Weldon Thomson

    Even at the annual price of $179 per year, Capture One is still about $5.00 a month more expensive than Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I am not sure that Capture one is $5.00 a month better than lightroom, anymore, to begin with. Further, even if I decided to subscribe to Capture One, I would most likely still subscribe to Adobe to have Photoshop. That then means having Capture One would add just under $15.00 a month to my bottom line costs, as opposed to not having it and using Lightroom. This does not sound, to me and for my needs, like a good deal at all. I definitely do not think Capture One $14.00+ a month ($179 a year) better than the Adobe photography package.

  • Jeffrey Kogler


  • Jiri Skorepa

    Pip  Same with me. I hope that the AFFINITY software collection will continue to evolve as it has done so far. Maybe in the future they will buy and incorporate the good stuff left over from the former C1.

  • Jack W

    Edwardsson Mariusz Janosz I haven't deleted anything from this post, nor have I removed any comments throughout this entire communication (unless they were abusive). Personally, I have nothing to hide and I'm only too happy to facilitate an open discussion.

    However, please bear in mind that although my name is on this article, it doesn't mean I'm the one making decisions. Nor does it mean I can reveal business plans, pricing, release schedules etc. 

    What we are doing is taking every comment into consideration, hence why we produced comprehensive articles on how the loyalty program works, what the cost of ownership will be and advice on whether to keep your perpetual license or to take out a subscription.

    I can't reveal any more information other than what has been provided. But we will look to update the articles' content, should anything remain particularly unclear.

  • Martin Hammer

    Wenn ich ein Abomodell nehmen muss, dann ganz sicher das Original und nicht einen Nachahmer. 
    Die 23 wird sicher die nächsten zwei, drei Jahre gut funktionieren. Diese Zeit ist in der Software-Welt doch recht lange. Mal sehen, wie sich der Markt dann entwickelt hat. Was hat Affinity am Start, was die Opensource-Projekte wie Darktable oder auch ganz andere neue Anbieter. 
    Vielleicht ist ja C1 bis dahin auch ganz anders aufgestellt und bietet plötzlich dauerhafte, upgradefähige Lizenzen zum Einmalpreis als den letzten heißen Scheiß an. Wer weiß das schon.

    Ich habe die 23 zu Bedingungen gekauft, die für ein Upgrade auf eine neuere Version mindestens 30 Prozent Rabatt vorsehen. So stand es auf der Shopseite. Diese Bedingung muss C1 selbstverständlich erfüllen. 

    Wir werden sehen, ob mir eine zukünftige Version dann nach Abzug von 30 Prozent tatsächlich genug Anreiz bietet, upzugraden. Einem Abomodell wie C1 sich das derzeit vorstellt, werde ich aber ganz sicher nicht  beitreten. 

  • Edwardsson

    Jack-W My bad, I did not look carefully enough and assumed, wrongly, that the text had been removed. I apologies. 

  • Jack W

    @Edwardsson Absolutely no problem. I was also making a more general point. :)

  • Mariusz Janosz

    @Jack Williams
    Could you ask decisions makers if is possible to share roadmap to 30 of September to make our decisions easier?

  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter

    @Jack Williams

    If you buy a perpetual license under the new programme, can you get technical support beyond the next .x release?

  • Thomas Pietsch

    Unfortunately, my loyalty is not appreciated at all with the new model. My current version is version 21, since then there has been no new feature that would have helped me and justify the investment in a new version. However, I have always recommended Capture One when I have been asked. That's what I mean by a loyal customer, and that's what justifies the good reputation. I am not loyal just because I buy a new version 5 times a year.

  • Martin Stricker

    I must admit that neither DxO Photolab nor LR are a real alternative to C1 for me. I use PhotoLab 4 for high iso images, but not for my daily work. I'm much faster there with C1. I really like Camera Raw's new masking options, but the rest just doesn't work as smoothly as it does in C1. So I have to decide whether to put my money into an upgrade to C1 23 now or just wait and see what the next version brings.  


  • Antonio Scribano
    I love CP1 but, objectively, the current commercial proposal puts it totally off the market.
    Even if you want to evaluate the subscription formula only, the direct competitor offers much more at a lower cost. For me it's crazy to think about spending more to get less... even considering that the direct competitor is practically the standard of the photographic industry.

  • Jeffrey Kogler

    Martin Stricker tricky choice.  I guess it depends what v23 features you think are worth the money and the timing of purchasing to minimise future cost.


  • Randy Becker

    As I no longer shoot professionally, having the latest and greatest isn't really a big concern for me.  Having said that however is the question of bug fixes.  I've read everything in the announcements from C1 and I haven't found anything about how long they will continue to fix bugs.  From their lack of comments about this very real issue I can only deduce they will only fix bugs on any given version until the next version is released.  

    From their explanations this tells me that if I were to buy a perpetual license for a new version on say, Oct. 1, 2023 and they release a new version in Feb. of 2024, I've only had 5 months of potential bug fixes and if I want more time of covered bug fixes I must buy another perpetual license.

    That just doesn't seem fair, or even legal for that matter.

  • J M Smith


    The “given” is that Axcel will indeed exit from the CO investment. Of course timing is unknown, but an exit usually occurs in the 3 to 5 year time frame.

    So CO can go public, be acquired by another company, or merge with another company. The outcome is rarely optimal…

  • Weldon Thomson
  • Class A

    @Randy Becker

    You wrote "I haven't found anything about how long they will continue to fix bugs."

    Capture One has explicitly said that bug fixes will be supplied until a new version (beyond minor dot updates) is released. The original announcement contained the following:

        "New perpetual licenses will include updates with bug fixes until the next version, but new features released after purchase will not be included." 

    Therefore, it could indeed only be a few months in which a perpetual licence owner will be able to benefit from bug fixes.

    It is not clear to me how that is thought to be compatible with European warranty laws.

  • Guy Daudelin

    Class A

    It's not the same thing at all. If it was, they wouldn't have to change anything.

    Why change the way they do things now when I am (almost) paying the same as a subscriber each year?

    Let's see that another way : if I stay on a perpetual license and want to upgrade as soon as a new feature come out, I have to pay, let's say, 2 or 3 times per year for the update which would be almost 2 to 3 times what I pay annually right now. Of course, I could just wait out 1 years and upgrade at that time, pay about the same as I am paying now when I do upgrade and get all the features that came out in the year before. But then, why penalize a loyal client like me? Let's say I pay almost the same as a subscription, the difference now will be that I don't get all the updates at the same time as the subscribers. Why change that? It's easy and clear to see that they just want to convert the perpetual license owners into subscribing.

    If it was about money to me, I would have never left Adobe. My problem is with the term "subscribing". Of course, right now, I could switch to subscription and think that I will pay almost the same. They promise that they will give you a perpetual licence after 5 years of subscription. Who really believes that they can't change that on a whim in the near future? They could just destroy the perpetual licence altogether, which is what I am pretty sure they will do and change the terms again.

    Of course, I said I always upgrade and that's true. One of the reason I do is that I loved that they were giving me the option to do so or not and respected the people who prefer to buy and own than to "rent".

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, all they had to do was to say that you pay X amount for the software and always get one year of updates from the date you paid and you keep the last version if you don't pay again after one year.

    Now what they are doing is using the perpetual option as a carrot on a stick to keep the subscribers (and convert perpetual owners to subscribers.)

  • e

    The reason companies are pushing subscriptions is because they give predictable metrics and revenue. I would like to recommend this podcast episode by indie iOS developers David Smith and Marco Arment where they give a clear insight on how subscriptions work from the developers point of view.

    Under the radar: #260: Subscription school. — Understanding subscription metrics and the inherent limits they impose. 

    Fellow photographers, we must understand that there is no « loyalty » program or anything else than metrics in the mind of a CEO who is not a photographer and who is basically running and optimizing a company. He could be selling games or adult movies, it would be the same. Our indignation and us quitting their app has already be planned and accounted for and we are, sadly, only numbers. Yes, it’s disgusting and saddening, but that is unfortunately how software works today.

    The probable reason why marketing came up with « offering » a perpetual license after five years of subscription is simply because metrics tell that if you have been subscribing for that long, you probably won’t cancel. There is no free beer here, so don’t be trapped in believing anything a software company will « offer » you. You’re their product and all efforts are put into retaining you. All. Period. When a friendly « ambassador » tells you he is free of his speech, it’s like water trying to convince you it’s not wet. Smile politely and move on.

    This said, your eye and your photography will survive any tool or rogue company. Let’s put our eggs in the basket of designing and perfecting our workflows to be efficient and future proof. Beautiful photography comes from the eye and the heart, not from a Danish raw converter no matter how good you find it is.

    In my humble opinion, the day that C1 subscribers realize that their edits are being retained by a rent, the company’s churn rate might seriously increase. Only, that too must have been already planned for.

    Lets get back to photography, shall we? There was a life before Capture One and there will be one after. Mine has most probably begun. Cheers and love to all.

  • Douglas Lucock

    Enthusiast / amateur here (~60,000 catalog images and moved to C1 when Apple Aperture announced its demise. I use C1 22 teamed with Pixelmator Pro as a Lr/Photoshop alternative. I have been upgrading C1 every 12-15 months) and I just can't afford or justify C1 anymore. I skipped C1 23 as I am now retired and was going to a 2 year perpetual license upgrade cycle....well not likely now. BTW - C1 also points out that their pricing is "Indicative" which effectively means it is not a "firm" price and is subject to change. Watch out for inflation, local currency conversion/foreign exchange rates, local country taxes etc etc.

    IMHO they could have solved this whole kufuffle by just offering 12 month Subscription at Price say "X" (and you get bug fixes, camera updates and progressive release of new features) OR Perpetual License at say Price "X + say 10%" (and you get bug fixes and camera updates for say 24 or 36 months but no new features from the date of the Perpetual License). Also state in your T&Cs that "X" price will be pegged against inflation in home country of majority of C1 employees (e.g. if inflation is 2% in the home country then "X" will increase by 2% from 1st Jan that year) and only foreign currency exchange will change the price elsewhere in the world.

    For loyalty, make "X" above 10% cheaper everytime a user buys a new perpetual license or subscribes for a year up to a maximum of say 50% discount. So if a user upgraded their perpetual every year or subscribed every year for 5 years, then "X" would effectively be half (aka 50%). Because its a new pricing model and by way of apology for the angst, backdate this loyalty program to start from say the date of release of C1 20's pre-purchase availability for all new perpetual purchases, subscription rollovers etc.   

    The problem of course still remains that "X" based on your current pricing is bloody expensive compared to your competition regardless of the perception of whether your product is superior. 

    Unfortunately, I will need to start evaluating alternatives (hopefully C1 22 will work for a while yet on Apple MAC and I can take my time and watch how this new C1 business model plays out) BUT I am looking forward to seeing tutorials (or conversion/import programs) from vendors offering Perpetual Licenses wanting to seize on this opportunity on how to move from C1 to the various alternatives products whilst retaining as many as possible of my raw photo non destructive modifications, things such as catalogue structures/albums and parent/child keywords, tagging etc etc. Especially if they can achieve some of this without having to labourously save and convert/export to alternative formats such as TIFF or PSD etc.

    My humble opinion for what its worth...

  • BeO
    Top Commenter

    Hi e

    He could be selling games or adult movies, it would be the same

    If they bundled the movies into the package, maybe I would subscribe... :-)

    More seriously, I think there is no doubt that regular subscription income is a big advantage for a company. But as they said that about half the customers already are on the subscription model, which should already be plenty of recurrent and projectable cashflow, why antagonize the other half...  That's pure greed, and whether or not it plays off will have to be seen (though we probably will never get to know). 

    Apart from that, there is not enough progress, innovation or interesting new features (for myself) to justify a subscription or even a yearly upgrade. Nor is the stabilty improving much, a little bit sometines, but on the other hand regression bugs can be seen every so often with new releases. And the latter is a no-go for reduced bug fix periods!

    The editing is part of my creative photography too, but yes you're right, the part before importing any file to any software is more important.




  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter

    Well, regardless of the obvious shafting of perpetual license holders – making the cost of keeping an up-to-date perpetual license several times as expensive as a subscription – I'd have no qualms about moving to subscription if it wasn't for: 1) the company's poor customer support + lack of communication with users (apart from the superficial interaction revolving around the sharing of photos on social media) and 2) Capture One's poor handling of catalogues and the company's complete neglect of this part of the application. And then of course there's 3) the lack of optimization for Apple silicon.

  • mattspace

    For folks covered by statutory warranties, eg EU, the way forward would seem pretty clear:

    You buy a perpetual licence. If at any time in the next X years, depending on your warranty legislation, you encounter a reproducible bug on a supported operating system that can be shown to be a Capture One issue, you ask Capture One provide you with a no-cost fix.

    These regulations are usually pretty clear that rectifying a faulty product cannot be used as an inducement to pay more money for a higher specification product to replace it.

    Suffice to say, Capture One's statement that they will only provide bugfixes (flawed product remediation) until their next paid upgrade is not worth the paper it's written on. You are entitled to 100% of features, working 100% of the time, for the duration of the statutory warranty. That is the minimum standard for a merchantable product in most jurisdictions.

    If the only option they offer is "pay to upgrade", then you file a refund claim, and initiate a formal complaint with your relevant consumer protection authorities.

    You take that refund money, and buy a new Capture One perpetual licence, and begin the 2 year cycle anew.

  • bernhard sanders

    I have to admit that i misunderstood the DNG support of C1 in their FAQ - I have downloaded some RAW files from the new Fuji H2s (26mp), H2 (40mp), Canon R6 II and Sony A7R V - all not supported as RAW's in C1 15.0. But converted with the Adobe DNG Converter Version 15.1.1. (Compatibility setting 2.4 and newer, originals not embedded) the DNG's can be opened in C1 22 V15.0. Have not tried other ones, and i think they have to be uncompressed.

    Which are good news for us/me because i do not have to care about coming camera RAW support and can even be more happy with my V22.


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