The world of photo editing is changing and as more people are picking up cameras to take photos, it also means those same people are looking to process them. ON1 is one of the leaders in that change. They have been developing their software for a few years and pride themselves on having the only editing program that has been designed by photographers for photographers – ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1
A sunrise processed with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.
You may know ON1 as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. While it is still available as such, it also comes as a stand-alone product. You can purchase the program and use it on your computer without a subscription to Adobe to use the plugins. This makes it far more accessible to most people. You can also buy it outright, so there are no monthly payments and you have options to upgrade as it is updated over time. It is only available as a perpetual license.
ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is available for both Windows and Macs.
There is a community around ON1 and if you love being a part of one then you are going to feel at home. They encourage you to tell them what you like about the software and what you don’t like. They like to listen to the ideas submitted and if they are feasible will implement them in future updates. The community can submit their feature requests through the ON1 Photo RAW Project.
There are tons of free training videos available to help you learn how to use ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1. The videos are not too long and are made so they are easy to follow.
A macro flower image, processed with ON1 Photo Raw 2018.
When you open up ON1 Photo RAW you will go straight to the Browse mode. This is where you will find your photos.
When ON1 opens you are automatically taken to the Browse Mode. From here you will find the folders and files for your images on the left. In the center are the images. On the right is all the metadata information about your images. You will also see on the far right all the different modules in which you can work.
If you want to see the image on its own, just click the tab key.
By clicking the tab key all the windows around the image disappear so you can get a clearer view.
The Browse module is where you can view your photos and all your folders. There are four different ways of viewing your images.
- The first, which seems to be the default, is a set of thumbnails of which you can adjust the size.
- You can view just one image on its own without the distraction of the others.
- There is the filmstrip method, with your photo blown up and the thumbnails below.
- The last method is like the previous one, but you can click on more than one image using Ctrl/Cmd which allows you to compare them side by side.
While you can see all the images that are on your computer, you can also import photos from your camera, phone, or wherever they are currently stored. The Import function allows you to rename your photos, decide where they will go, and you can also opt to change the metadata at the same time.
The Browse section where you can view all your photos.
Once you have decided which image you want to work on you are ready for the Develop module.
Here you can make all your basic adjustments like exposure, highlights, and shadows. You can adjust the white balance and look at adding sharpening or noise reduction. There are quite a few options in this section.
If you go to the top of where the adjustments are located you will see a button called Show More. From there, you will see more adjustments that you can use. They appear as more panes underneath the default ones that are available when you go to Develop.
Above the Show More button are two tabs. The first is Overall settings, and the other is Local Adjustments.
The first one, Overall Settings, will make any changes to your entire image. On the other hand, Local Adjustments is there to make changes to only small sections of your image. The tools you can use to do this are on the left-side panel. There are two, an Adjustment Brush and a Gradient. With these, you can work on only parts of the image where you want the desired effect.
Working on your image in the Develop module.
Local adjustment tools
With the brush tool, you can make changes to the size of the brush, amount of feathering, opacity and other things from the menu along the top of the window.
You will also see another option there, the Perfect Brush, which allows you to make selections or correction to parts based on the color on which the cross-hairs of the brush is placed. If you keep the brush over the color or tones you want to adjust, then nothing else outside those tones will be affected. It is a great tool to use when you want to remove or replace a sky.
There are other tools in the Local Adjustments tab as well. You can crop your images here if need be. The crop tool also allows you to straighten any wonky horizons.
Retouching tools are also on that panel. These will allow you to remove sensor dust spots, which is very important. You can clone, heal and use the content-aware Perfect Eraser with them as well. There are a lot of choices.
Adding a split tone to the image in the Develop area.
In the Effects module, you have even more adjustments, though they are referred to as filters here (some of the most popular include Dynamic Contrast, Textures, Borders, Lens Blur, Skin Retouching, etc.). You can add as many as you like and then stack them on top of each over. The effect will be applied to the whole image, however, you can add a mask so it will be more local to the areas of your image that you want to affect.
You will notice in the panel on the left that there are more tools available, including two that are very important.
There is another brush tool, along with a gradient and they both have masks attached. As soon as you start working on the image with one of them a mask is created automatically. This is valuable because it means you can fix what you are trying to do if you make a mistake. Masks are a great way to work non-destructively.
Looking at the filters and presets you can add in the Effects module.
When you get to the Layers module, you can start using the workspace which is designed to be easy and help take your photos further. It is here that you can start editing your photos. It also gives you more choices so if you want you can add layers, or start compositing. You can also do specific edits to particular layers.
One thing that is amazing in this section is replacing skies. Using the masking brush you can switch it to the Perfect Brush so you select just the sky, then reveal the image underneath. To help with the edges of the subjects you can switch to the masking refine tool, or the chisel masking one. They work really well together to help you get clearer edges.
Working in Layers doing a sky replacement.
If you look at the menu on the left near the tool panels you will see a section called Files. From here you can add extra images if you want. It is a great place to choose a new sky or find textures to add to your image. It even comes with a collection of skies you can use on your photos.
Once you make that selection you can also blend the images or layers. There are many different blending modes. You can try them all out to see which ones will work for your image.
You do have to be prepared to take layers back into Effects or Develop to make adjustments or add filters to them to get the desired results that you are after.
Looking at the different options for replacing the sky and applying it.
As the name states, it is where you can resize your images, though ON1 has packed it with far more. You can crop, level, sharpen, add film grain, add gallery wrap wings for canvases, plus many more things. It is a great place to finish off your images ready for printing.
There are also a lot of resizing presets that you can use to help you get the printed results and size that you are looking for.
Resizing an image ready for posting on the web.
In Develop and Effects, you will find a series of presets you can use to enhance your image. Unlike other programs you have options with them and can adjust them to suit the purpose of your image. You can also add a mask so that it is only applied to part of the image.
If you do your own enhancements and think you will want to use the same settings again then you can also save them as a preset. You can use the filters in Effects to get the image you want, then make a preset that can then be applied to your other images. This is really good if you like all your images to have a similar look and feel.
Adding presets and layers in Effects.
ON1 Photo for Mobile
There is also an app available for your phone, so you can process your images there. The advantage of this app is that you can send your photos straight to social media. Most of us do not like images straight from the camera and like to be able to edit them in some way.
The downside to this app is that it is only available for iPhones, so if you have an Android, you can’t use it. Unfortunately, I have a Samsung (Android) phone, so, therefore, have no idea how the app works. Though I am sure it is good if it is anything like the Desktop program.
Some of the improvements that have been made
With every new version that is released, there are always new features or some of the old ones are improved. Let’s look at what you will find with the latest release of Photo Raw 2018.1.
Doing High Dynamic Range (HDR) images in ON1 is incredibly easy and the results are fantastic. Aligning the images, along with deghosting have all been improved to help you get the best image. You are now able to mark which frame you want to use to help with the deghosting process, as well as decide how much movement you get with motion instead of the program doing it for you.
An HDR image that was done with ON1 and then processed further.
If you’ve used an older version of ON1 Photo RAW, when you go to Browse mode, you should notice how much faster it is to look through your images in this new updated version. You don’t have to wait for eons while your photos all load. As soon as the folder is open you can view the images. They have improved the catalog searching tool as well so it also loads faster.
Noise Reduction and Sharpening
You can now sharpen your images to enhance the details on a micro level that will give you better results.
With so much people doing long exposure photography, one of the major problems is hot pixels. ON1 Photo RAW 2018 now will remove them automatically, along with the ability to remove high levels of noise from your images which all make your workload easier.
Chromatic Aberrations are caused by your lens and there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent them. But ON1 has worked on improving how to get rid of them, which is now much easier in this updated version of the software.
Many people like to do panoramas and you will find that ON1 has improved this feature so it will stitch your vertical images together far better. You can stitch together over 25 images at once. You also don’t need to worry about different exposures as it will compensate for them.
A composite of two images where the sky was replaced.
With the latest release, some features were also added.
If you choose to use the import function you can decide where those images will go on your computer. As they are importing you can also assign metadata that you think is important, like copyright information.
The ability to soft proof has been added so you can simulate what your image will look like when it is printed. It should stop the surprises that you get sometimes when an image comes back from your printer.
While a lot of people don’t worry about this, it is a great feature if you have to send a bunch of photos somewhere. The ability to select the images and then rename them all at once is a fantastic feature that has been added to ON1 Photo RAW 2018.
Edit Capture Date
This was added so if you want to change the date and time that a photo was taken you can do so. This is a good feature if you’re like me and are too lazy (or you forget) to change the time and date on your camera when you are traveling. You can now fix it with ON1 Photo RAW.
When you are going through your photos picking your faves, once you have culled one image the program will automatically move to the next image. This makes moving through them much faster.
The final image of the cloudy sky.
When you purchase ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 it also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with it, no questions asked. Though if you want to try it out first you can use the full program for a free 30-day trial. It doesn’t stamp a watermark on your images making them ineligible to use, so it’s fully functional.
Converting an image to black and white.
ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 is a good alternative for you if you wish to edit your photos, but don’t want to be locked into a subscription.
It is also suitable if you want to learn about image processing as the community that surrounds ON1 is welcoming. There is a lot of help available if you are just learning. In some ways, it is perfect for beginners, but also for others who want to get the best possible images they can.
Disclaimer: ON1 is a paid partner of dPS.