This November, ON1 released the latest version of their standalone-editing platform, Photo RAW 2019. It is a sophisticated program aimed toward all levels of photographers from the absolute beginner to the professional. The program is there to help photographers edit their photos to achieve the best possible images.
Many features in the previous version still exist. However, some obvious changes are in the user interface — specifically, the removal of the different modes you had to switch to as you processed your images. They are now much easier to use, and access to each is all done in the same window.
Some of the significant aspects of Photo RAW are still available but have been improved to make them more efficient to use. ON1 have always listened to their users. They find out what their users want the most from the software and use that feedback to make product improvements, via the ON1 Photo RAW Project.
One of the biggest changes with Photo RAW 2019 is the basic layout. The Browse section is much the same, except for a few minor changes. However, some of the most significant changes are when you proceed to the photo editing section.
In the past, you have had to go to different modules to make particular changes. In the latest release, you the Develop, Effects and Layers features are all integrated in the same place. You can now move between each of them easily, and more importantly, quickly.
You no longer have to wait for changes to get saved when moving from one module to another. In previous versions, when you moved to the Layers module, you lost all of the non-destructive settings used to create your image. However, now you have access to them all the way through the editing process of your image.
When you open your image in Edit Mode, you can see on the right side that it still looks similar to the previous version with Tone & Color windows opened first. However, above it, are now tabs for Develop, Effects, Portrait, and Local. When you want to use aspects that are in a specific tab, you click on it and you are taken to it straight away. You can move around them very quickly.
Above those tabs, is a larger one that has Layers written on it. You can now add layers at any stage of your editing and go back and forth between the other tabs as well.
The new Layers tab is a bonus because you don’t lose any of the previous edits you have done. As you go back to the other tabs everything you have done previously is still there. You can change adjustments and filters at any stage of the process too. This ability is new to Photo RAW and was not available in previous versions.
Effects and Filters
Nearly all the adjustments are now under the Effects Tab. When you click on Add Filter, a new window pops up with a range of filters available for use. While this isn’t new, in the previous version they were split between the Develop and Effects Modules, and you had to keep swapping between them, depending on how you used them.
In the 2019 release, the filters are all in one place under the Effects tab. Along with the existing filters, ON1 have also included some new ones.
These filters include Curves, Color Adjustments, and Film Grains. Curves is a very welcome addition as it is something that many people use in other editing programs. This filter is addictive. Once you start using it, you want to use it on everything.
Some people enjoy the Film Grain option. It is excellent for imitating the effects of analog film. If you had a favorite film type, you could make your digital images have a similar feel to them.
Color Adjustments give you more options for individual colors in your image. You can saturate or desaturate them. You can also change the hue tones or change the color entirely. If you like that sort of control in your editing, then this filter is perfect for you.
One of the things I have noticed is the tools are now in the left sidebar. In the previous version there were many of them, and as you moved through the modes more appeared.
At first glance with Photo RAW 2019, it appears that there are not as many tools. There aren’t many sitting in the sidebar, but when you click on one, you should also look at the top of the window. There, you can find the settings for each one, and you find other similar tools. You can click on them to use the ones that you like.
If you have used previous versions and can’t find tools that you previously used, go through each one along the top to see what is available. It looks as though all the original tools are still available. They are merely in a new location.
One of the really exciting additions to the latest release is the Text Tool. You can now add text to images. You can make memes or other designs.
This new feature is excellent for watermarking your image too. Love them or hate them, many people want to put watermarks on their work. It allows them to prove they own the copyright if their image is stolen or used without their permission.
The Text Tool also features a range of font options, and you can choose the size and placement. Like most adjustments, you can change the opacity as well, which is perfect for watermarking.
The Text Tool is a welcome addition to Photo RAW and something that many people are going to like.
Processing RAW images
Some programs are not capable of processing your RAW files; however, ON1 can process these files with Photo RAW. It can process them quickly, and the file sizes are not an issue.
Many of the modern cameras produce images with enormous file sizes. I use a Nikon D850, and the RAW images are often over 50MB. Each image I have processed in Photo RAW 2019 has handled with no problems.
Many people who have used Lightroom for years have cataloged all their photos using the platform. Lightroom users may be hesitant to switch to Photo RAW 2019 for fear of losing access to all of these catalogs. However, there are now some new AI algorithms that power Photo RAW giving the user access to all their photos from Lightroom catalogs using the Lightroom Migration Assistant. The Migration Assistant adds the top-level folders in the Folders panel in Lightroom to Cataloged Folders in Photo RAW. All of the photos inside of these folders are cataloged automatically. Your collections and Metadata changes made in Lightroom are migrated and include keywords, descriptions, ratings, labels, orientation, etc.
Lastly, RAW processing and editing settings from Lightroom’s Develop module including crop, retouching, and local adjustments are migrated non-destructively so they can be re-edited in ON1 Photo RAW 2019.
You can also see the photos you have edited in the other program as well. This feature was an essential development for ON1 because it offers users an alternative to paid monthly subscriptions such as Lightroom.
Creating HDR images
While HDR Images editing is not new to Photo RAW, the 2019 release has seen some significant improvements to the programs ability to edit them faster. The workflow has improved significantly too.
The process starts the same way – select your images and click on the HDR icon. However, once the images are merged, the changes made to the overall image are not set in stone. Once the HDR is created and opened in the Develop tab, you can continue making other re-adjustments. This feature allows you to alter any mistakes you may have made the first time.
The most significant and best change is how fast your HDR images get processed. It is fantastic and makes them so much easier to do. While other programs make you wait (you can make coffee while it is doing the merging), Photo RAW completes the process before you know it. This feature is an excellent addition for time-poor photographers.
Many of the other features remain, and you can choose various options for how you want your HDR images to appear when the merging is complete. If you are familiar with how ON1 does HDR photos, the previous features remain, with the added bonus of new ones that are sure to impress.
If you love macro photography or are keen to get everything in your images in focus, the Focus Stacking feature is a great new feature for you. Photo RAW 2019 allows you to highlight all the images you want to Focus Stack via the Browse section, and you simply click on the Focus icon. The icon is located on the right side of the window.
Photo RAW aligns all your images together and displays a preview of your stacked image. It then blends all the selected images to make a final focus-stacked image. There is a reference panel to ensure you get the image you want.
Who is ON1 Photo RAW 2019 for?
The latest version has been designed to appeal to a wide range of photographers who want to edit their photos. Professional photographers can find everything they need to process their photos in Photo RAW 2019. If you have many photos to process, all the tools and adjustments that you used in Lightroom are available. Accessing all those images that you have previously processed with Lightroom is simple.
Hobbyist photographers who want more say on how their final images look may find Photo RAW 2019 brilliant. You can make all those basic adjustments, and more. It is an excellent program for learning layers too.
However, the best part is that many new photographers don’t want to sign up for monthly subscriptions set out by Adobe. The monthly expense can be expensive. With Photo RAW, you can purchase it outright and not have ongoing monthly costs. On top of that, with monthly subscriptions, you aren’t paying for many extras that you may not need.
ON1 have many tutorial videos on YouTube to help you learn how to use the Photo RAW 2019 software if you are new to it. There are also tutorials for the latest release.
If you want more from the program and the company, consider signing up for ON1 Plus. ON1 Plus provides in-depth monthly courses on using ON1 Photo RAW and courses from top photographers. It is something that I would highly recommend.
The latest addition of ON1 Photo RAW 2019 was thoughtfully developed with the use of current user feedback. One of the great things about ON1 is how much they care about their users and try to make sure their software delivers for their needs. This latest release is sure to impress their users.
If you are looking for an alternative to mainstream editing programs, you should consider ON1. It does everything you need and is a program you can continue to learn. No matter what level of photographer you are, Photo RAW 2019 can cater to your editing needs.
Disclaimer: ON1 is a paid partner of dPS