Wednesday, 14 June 2017

ON1 Photo Raw - a quick test

Adobe is trying to gain more money by selling software only bundled with subscription. That is not really my cup of tea. They also don't speed up the whole software and it runs not that great on my up to date Mac mini. I love my LR workflow, but I made the switch from Aperture (bye bye you great outdated piece of software) and it wasn't that hard. And having a look at some demo software is not that difficult. I installed the latest ON1 raw software (2017.5) on my mac and fed it with some sample images.

I only want to share my first experiences with that software. So bear in mind that this is not a detailed review. There are great reviews on YouTube if you want to see this software in motion.


The first thing I wanted to know was the handling of Fuji files. So I took a photo with my old XPRO1 at 6400 ISO with some patterns (carpet) and a colorful thing in the middle.

The image above was edited and exported with ON1. First I was quite surprised how nice the image was looking without any optimization straight out of the camera. The photo was taken in low light and I was expecting a lot more noise etc, but there was nearly zero color noise in the photo and I just applied a minor degree of luminance noise reduction.

This is a 100% view of the center. Look at the amount of details and the nice color rendition of the image made with a camera that was manufactured in 2012. ON1 did a good job in rendering the details and colors of the raw file. I don't apply much noise reduction to my Fuji images (most of the times I apply zero NR) because the grain looks very natural and brings a great level of detail to the image. I will dive a bit deeper into processing real world Fuji images in the future, but my first test looks very good.

Bring the noise?

With my Fuji the noise reduction was working properly, but a friend gave me a raw file out of his Panasonic G81 taken at ISO 12800. He also gave me a JPG file straight out of Lightroom to show me the problem he had with ON1s noise reduction at high ISO.

Above you can see that ON1 has some problem with strong grain. The back of the jacket on the left (LR) looks smooth and clean and on the image on the right ON1 was not able to detect the grain no matter how far you drag the slider to the right.

Export and background tasks

Another problem for me was the way ON1 Photo Raw is exporting images. If you want set some rules how images should be rendered for your full hd television set there are too less options to set it right. I also miss a way to export and update a second file tree outside of the software. I use this method in conjunction with google photos to export and backup my JPG files after I did all the edits I use the JFolder plugin with LR and it also tracks the updates I am making to older images. Maybe there is a direct google cloud option that comes with future updates to make cloud integration etc. easier.

The second thing that will easily catch your attention is how slow the export of images is compared to LR. It takes forever and it does not run as a background task so your interface gets blocked til the whole thing is finished and that can take a long time as stated above ;-)

A little conclusion?

I wouldn't do that after using ON1 Photo Raw just for a couple of hours. I think this tool is very sophisticated in such an early state and it will be an alternative to LR in the future after the developers catch up (or overtake like they did with their layer-concept) with the competition. At this stage I would not do the switch, but my eyes are steadily focused on this product and there might be the day when it feels right.

I will do some further testing and will also report quirks and bugs to the developers to help them creating the perfect photo companion.

What are your experiences with ON1 Photo Raw? Let me know in the comment section.



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