From Aperture to Capture One

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This is a follow up post to my earlier post which discussed my decision to migrate my photo image system from Aperture to Capture One and gives some details and recommendations about the process of this migration.

During the last two weeks I have been busy transferring all my photo images from Aperture to Capture One and during this process I have learned a few important steps that need to be considered for anyone embarking on the same adventure.

Firstly I would say do not rush into doing an import of your Aperture library into Capture One until you have reduced your Aperture library or libraries to smaller sub libraries and cleaned up the database up very carefully. Capture One has a great import facility but if you try and import your entire Aperture library in one go, particularly if it is sizeable, you will end up choking Capture One.

For all of Capture One’s strengths it unfortunately cannot handle large catalogs unlike Aperture which for me has performed flawlessly with all of my images in one consolidated library of around 150,000+ images and videos. So it is prudent to maintain your Capture One catalogs to a reasonable size. Decide on the best way you need to split your Aperture library into subsets or smaller libraries.

This is also and ideal time to make sure you have all your images properly catalogued or referenced, have all the keywords, IPTC data and ratings in place so they will be transferred over to the new Capture One catalog. Capture One does not read smart albums from Aperture so this will require you to convert all of your smart albums to normal albums. This is by far the most labour intensive and time consuming process.

So spend the significant part of your time on cleaning up and preparing the Aperture library – only then can you hopefully experience a smooth conversion. Check thoroughly that the library and images are all in order and this will save you time in the long run ….. trust me I learnt from hard experience!

In the following two sections I summarise some important factors to consider carefully as you go through this process. As always make sure you have everything backed up and work on separate sub libraries or copies of libraries so you don’t end up damaging your original Aperture library.


You will need significant time to carry out all of this process and procedures such as exporting Aperture libraries, referencing images to an external disk system, and ingesting the Aperture libraries into Capture One plus the time all the regeneration of previews take, which in some cases will be many hours so be prepared and allocate a large chunk of time to dedicate to this process. Be meticulous in your approach and keep notes so you can keep track of the file systems and maintain order. Have plenty of coffee at hand!


Hardware Setup


  1. Ensure you have sufficient disk space available for creating your new Capture One database over and above what you are already using for the Aperture library and images. I recommend setting up a new disk system to host your new Capture One database and images. For me I purchased a new Western Digital MyBook Pro 12 Tb RAID disk system which gave me a fast data transfer and redundancy of the dual disk system.
  2. Do a disk checks/repairs to ensure your disks are in good order.
  3. Have a backup strategy in place so you can back up your Capture One database, e.g. additional back up disk, RAID disk, etc.

Aperture Library Cleanup

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  1. Split your main Aperture library into manageable sized sub libraries. Capture One tends to choke on large libraries so it is recommended that these sub-libraries have a maximum of around 20-30k images. I tried setting up a Capture One catalog by adding in year by year libraries from Aperture but by the time I reached about 90k images or so the system started to freeze and became unmanageable. Hence the decision then was to create Capture One catalogs by year, or in the case of older images where the sizes were considerable less, grouped years of images.
  2. My main Aperture library comprised around 150,000 images and was catalogued by year. I simply split this main library into a number of smaller libraries by year which is the way I have my images catalogued, or multiple years where there were fewer images. I used the file/export as new library command within Aperture to create an Aperture library for each year or group of years. The largest split library for one of the years was approximately 22k images which was almost 1 Tb in size and with an Aperture library size of 23 Gb.
  3. Check all smart albums and convert these to normal albums
  4. Check that all images are referenced and in the final disk location you want the Capture One library to be located. If you keep the images as managed images within the Aperture library then you will need to maintain that Aperture library on your file system for access by Capture One – better to setup a referenced file system. This keeps the Aperture library and Capture One catalog file to a reasonable size.
  5. Check that there are no offline, missing images or odd managed files.
  6. Check that RAW files are being used as the primary image for the case of RAW/jpeg combinations.
  7. Take this opportunity to ensure you have all locations, IPTC data, keywords and ratings in place for all images to ensure these are then captured by Capture One during the import.
  8. Delete all photobooks, audio files and .pdf files as Capture One will not recognise these files.
  9. Delete all trash from Aperture library

Import to Capture One

  1. Align the naming convention for Capture One Catalogs to match the sub-libraries as setup from the Aperture library
  2. For each Capture One Catalog import the appropriate Aperture library
  3. Allow Capture One to import all the images and create previews for all images.
  4. Cross-check that all files have been picked up by Capture One by referencing against the original Aperture sub-library.
  5. Some files such as .psd files, audio files and .m4v video files are not migrated during the import. You can go through the .psd files in your Aperture library and export these manually as .jpeg or .tiff files and then import manually into Capture One.

As I write this post I am still importing my Aperture libraries into Capture One so as I move forward to start using the Capture One system in anger on a daily basis with all my image files I will write up any important findings and present a review of the performance of this image management system.


Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia

Stuart Taylor of HighlanderImages Photography has been making images for over 25 years and can offer a diverse range of photo imaging services with a focus on Asia and a documentary/photojournalistic style. These services include planning and executing a photo shoot on location but importantly all the post-processing and image preparation needed for the specific finished media format required by the customer. Stuart’s experience and knowledge in all of these aspects makes HighlanderImages Photography a one-stop-shop for a comprehensive and professional image production service.

Stuart can be available for a variety individual assignments or projects and he specialises in areas such as photojournalism, commercial, architectural, real estate, industrial, interior design, corporate, urbex, adventure, wilderness and travel photography. Stuart can also offer some innovative and advanced techniques such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Panoramic Photography.

Final image products can be delivered as high resolution images, prints, books, multimedia slideshows, videos and DVDs. Images from this website can be purchased as prints in a variety of sizes and media, as gift items or as digital downloads.

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