ON1 Photo RAW 2017 Review
Part one: The Why
Full disclose per FTC. I am an affilate for ON1 Software
If you would like to see a quick video showing an overview of ON1 Photo RAW 2017 before proceeding, click this great video by ON1’s Dan Harlacher
I want to start this review of ON1 Photo RAW talking about… Adobe
Let me state this upfront, Personally (and of course arguably), I think the combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop is the most powerful photo editing combination you can use. Especially when you have to go beyond the norms that the average photographer needs and into some of the thing even few professionals may need. Other working spaces (CMYK), Graphics needs (integrating Bitmap with Vector) and a host of other things. It’s the best and most powerful. I’ve been user since Photoshop 2, and Lightroom before it was Lightroom (Raw Shooter). I know most of the ins and outs. I like using them.
Okay, wait. Why say that in a ON1 review? Are you saying it’s better? Then what is even the point of a review?
The Problems with using Lightroom and Photoshop
Here’s the problem(s). Not many people are are me (not saying that in a heady way) but the majority of photographers are not (i’ve been at this 50 years). Add into this the fact that when Adobe moved to a Subscription program, that turned off a lot of photographers – I actually think it is fine – but I’ve heard the complaints and the calls for something instead, I get it.
But going back to what I said about people not being me. Here is the real rub with using the LR/PS combo. And this comes in two important parts. Part One: The Learning Curve. I’ve been using them a long time. I know quite a bit but still learn new stuff all the time. Photoshop has a very steep and long learning curve to get past the basics and actually use ALL the power that it has. Lightroom on the other hand is pretty intuitive to use as an editor – it’s why it’s almost universally liked – but what throws people into a tizzy is the “Catalog” most people are used to file browsers and don’t really understand how a catalog differs from a browser and most people are even confused at where their images actually are.
So problem one is: The Learning Curve
But there is also another problem that isn’t talked about: Editing Vision. A lot of photographers may have good Photographic/Artistic vision. This enables them to Pre-visualize what they want from a photo. But there is a secondary step. Editing Vision. This is knowing where you want an image to go or be in the edit. A lot of people haven’t a clue about that (not saying it as a bad thing, just what is) So while they may understand a software product, they know what the sliders do. They don’t know where they want to go, so how do you know what to use to get there?
This is where enter, ON1 Photo RAW
Now of course, as with all things new to people, there is a learning curve. So you will need to learn some things and become familiar with ON1 Photo RAW. Luckily they have a ton of Training Videos on their site and also a lot by big time users of ON1. That helps you get off to a quick start. But using ON1 Photo RAW is more akin to using Lightroom, which most photographers like better because it’s more intuitive and easier to navigate than Photoshop.
Almost everything you need is in the right hand panel and it’s modules. So then why is ON1 Photo RAW easier to use than Lightroom. Well because it eliminates the one thing that confuses and confounds people in Lightroom: The Catalog. ON1 Photo RAW does not use a catalog to select images. It simply use a File Browser that more people are accustomed to. Know where you have those pictures of that fall trip? Navigate to that folder, open and begin working.
ON1 Photo RAW can be quicker to do that also, because it just uses the embeded thumbnails to generate previews. In Lightroom, First, you must import the images into the catalog, then Lightroom – depending on how you set it in preferences – will generate Thumbnails. Depending on the quality and quantity you choose, this can take some time for the full previews to be generated completely.
So, you start off with a file system you are more familiar with and it usually will load up a lot faster.
Then once you have an image to work on, like Lightroom, you have your Right Side panels and different modules to work with. But unlike Lightroom that only has Develop Modules, Photo RAW takes it beyond that and also has; Effects, Layers and Resize (plus Browse) All of which can be switched to at anytime without the need to export the file. So instead of like Lightroom, where you work on an image in Develop, but if you want to add an effect like those in ON1 Photo 10, or the Plug-in effects of your choice, you have to export that image as a Psd/tiff to that editor and then reimport that file to Lightroom. Photo RAW you can just click on effects, add effects and then jump back to the develop module and continue working there or any other module. ALL, in a non destructive workspace. Meaning at any time you can go back and modify those adjustments or even eliminate them. Nothing is baked into the image and un-doable
Within each Module you can add varying tabs for the develop or effect needs you want to use and not add those tabs if you never use them. Less clutter, less confusion to the user. Develop has 11 different Tab choices. Every one of them can be applied globally or locally (via brushes, gradients and luminocity masks ) and every one fully adjustable with adjustable opacity.
In the Effects Module there are 24 sets of Effects that are available and again all of which you can apply globally or locally AND in Layers. Which of course you can’t do in Lightroom but would instead need to export the RAW file to Photoshop to do.
So as you can see, On1 Photo RAW has the ease of using Lightroom with the added power of most of what Photoshop has. All in one place, all non-destructively.
This means that ON1 solves almost all of Problem One. Ease of use with a much shorter learning curve compared to the LR/PS combo
Solving Problem Two
Like I said earlier a lot of people have a problem pre-visualizing what they want out of their edits. It may just be simple corrections of exposure, contrast and saturation or, of course, it could be things far beyond that. But they are just not sure in their mind’s eye what they want. BUT, they may know it when they see it. This is why Plug-in are so popular….Presets
If a person can press a preset, they can have an ACTUAL visualization of what they want or an approximation of what they want. For most people preset are a starting point or even the end point. This is why Nik Silver Effects Pro was so popular. Most people didn’t even know what their B & W’s should look like. A preset gave them an idea.
This is where ON1 Photo RAW has it all over Lightroom and Photoshop: Presets and… some really good ones.
You can start by going though the presets till you find a look you want. And either just burn that in (on Export) or you can take it one or many steps further by customizing that preset and even adding more layers and tabs to it. What’s great is, when you select a preset, It opens all the Modules and Tabs that are used in that preset. And doesn’t show you the ones that aren’t. You can then go into each module and make further adjustments or even just turn on or off that tab/module/layer to see what it added to the image.
This is huge because it gives everyone equal footing. Whether you can per visualize or not you can use the software to get to your end game.
And, I’ll say it again. ALL non destructively. Everything is changeable and not baked in (until export)
So this segment answers the Why: Why would I want ON1 Photo 1 and not get Lightroom/ Photoshop?
Please note that ON1 Photo RAW is also completely integrate-able with Lightroom and Photoshop. So if you want the best of all world, that is possible too
Beyond the above. if you look at it from a price perspective, the regular price for SINGLE SEAT LR/PS would be $120 for a Year of the Photographer edition Creative Cloud subscription. ON1 Photo RAW Regular price is $119.99 ($99.99 Upgrade), but that is for a 5 Seat License but it’s an outright license, not a subscription so if you never want to upgrade and just use the software as long as you want, you can.
Remember you can “Try” ON1 Photo RAW 2017 with the free trial to see for yourself. Or you can buy it. As an added Bonus for my readers you can use coupon code HDRIG17 at checkout for 20% off your purchase