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First Impressions with ON1 Photo RAW 2017

This week, ON1 Software released their much-hyped solution for RAW processing called ON1 Photo RAW 2017. Well, the software is much more than a RAW photo processor. It can also be incorporated into the overall photo editing workflow as a plugin with other editors like Lightroom and Photoshop. As an architectural photographer or a photographer in general, it’s important to me that I keep my eye on ways that could improve my post-processing techniques or bring efficiency to my overall workflow.  Right now, I want to share just a few of my initial impressions after 1 day of the 30 day free trial.

My main reason to try ON1 Photo RAW

I haven’t explored all of the modules within Photo RAW yet. My main motivation centred around efficiency and the ease of accessing my photos. See, the only frustration I’ve got with Lightroom stems from the requirement to import photos into catalogues. There are a number of times when I want to modify a photo within Lightroom but I don’t want to go find and open the catalogue for it or add it to whatever catalogue I am currently working on.

BROWSE your photos

ON1 Photo RAW has a different approach to file management. The “BROWSE” module makes it simple for you to access and manage your files just as if you are accessing them through your own computer system. No importing required. This is much easier for me to wrap my head around; however, I probably simply need to be more intentional with my Lightroom setup and organization. Regardless, on first impression, I like the “BROWSE” module and think ON1 Software is on to something here.

Other positive impressions

Other positive first impressions from using ON1 Photo Raw dealt with innovation and creativity. I love seeing the innovation ON1 is bringing to a photographers workflow. We can easily hop between other editing software, like Photoshop and Lightroom, and back to ON1 Photo Raw. We are also supposed to be able to import presets from Lightroom as well; however, I haven’t had time to look into this yet.

I also enjoy that I get a good sense of creative freedom with ON1 Photo RAW. A lot of presets are already there in the “DEVELOP” module and I know ON1 Software loves to provide more from using their software a number of years ago. As well, the “EFFECTS” module can let you do some interesting fine-tuning. It’s pretty powerful on some effects and it will be important not to go overboard. I might have taken this photo overboard?

Looking over Cape Town - Edited with ON1 Photo RAW

Where I felt frustration in ON1 Photo RAW

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. ON1 Photo RAW is not perfect at this point in the game. Just remember, it was just released. The workflow and design are great and I believe ON1 Photo RAW will become great software for photography.

Need for speed

I struggled with the speed and it’s usage. I don’t remember my 2013 Macbook Pro being so loud or requiring the fan like it has while using Photo RAW. There was a lot of lag for me when masking local adjustments too. I already deal with the slowest internet speed possible and it drives me nuts. I hope ON1 Software puts a lot of focus on speed.

Not all edits applied on export

With the 30 day trial of ON1 Photo RAW everything is supposed to work—no restrictions. With one edit, I tried using the Lens Blur effect and spent a bit of time masking too. When I exported, the actual blur of the lens blur was not there. I spend more time trying to export again and restarting the program. No matter what the photo wouldn’t export with that part of the effect. This would be more frustrating if I was working on photos for my architectural photography clients. Not sure what’s happening here.

Even without the blur, I still enjoy the output:

Absolute Tower edited with ON1 Photo RAW
Absolute Tower edited with ON1 Photo RAW

What’s up with Transform?

For the life of me, I couldn’t get the transform adjustments to work out with anything usable. Rotate helped me rotate the image, but when I tried to crop, the image was not properly cropped. Transform adjustments are my jam within Lightroom while I don’t have a Tilt-Shift lens…yet.

Final Thoughts

This was my first impression after opening up the software. I hope a lot of the frustrations are simply because I don’t have any experience.

Right now, ON1 Photo RAW 2017 will be primarily for creatively exploring some photos. I don’t know if I could process photos from my commercial architectural photography shoots at this point.

I am positive ON1 is going to become a really powerful tool for photographers though. I plan to continue exploring the software over the next 30 days because it’s free and there is a lot to investigate.

At this point, I don’t know if I could totally transition to ON1 Photo RAW from Lightroom. I should spend quality time planning out my import process and cataloging. But, you never know.

With ON1 Photo RAW available as a 30 day free trial, I would recommend anyone to go download and try it out. Everyone has a uniqueness to their workflow and maybe it will revolutionize yours.

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