Fstoppers First Look At ON1 Photo (RAW) 2017.5

Fstoppers First Look At ON1 Photo (RAW) 2017.5

ON1's relatively new to market Photo (RAW) 2017 has pushed their first major update into beta which Fstoppers managed to get our hands on for an early review. In December, we took a look at the original launch of Photo (RAW) 2017 and were impressed by many of the features but ultimately felt that it did not offer enough benefit to recommend switching to over existing raw editors. With this latest iteration ON1 has promised a series of impressive new features that it feels will launch it into contention as a top tier raw editing tool. 

Compare Mode

The first new feature offered in Photo (RAW) 2017.5 is a tool designed to help compare images and make selections from within a library. For those familiar with Lightroom's survey mode will find Photo (RAW) 2017.5's compare mode quite familiar. ON1, however, has taken their compare mode feature a step beyond what Lightroom offers by including a feature that makes it easy to zoom in on each image and pan them all at once to easily compare at 100% zoom. This feature makes comparing aspects of a photo such as focus accuracy much easier and is certainly a welcome addition to a culling workflow and is often something I have wished was present within Lightroom. An even more welcome, addition, however, would be a tool that can automatically detect eye sharpness and reject soft images as I find that one of the biggest time drains while culling is often zooming into each and every image to ensure that I don't accidently send a soft shot to the client for review. (As we all know, if I do, that will be the one the client selects for editing)

Lens Correction

One of the most commonly bemoaned missing features lacking in the original release of Photo (RAW) 2017 was the lack of a lens correction tool. Many photographers consider such a feature to be critical, for good reason, and often would cite its omission from Photo (RAW) 2017 as a reason to cast it aside. In Photo (RAW) 2017.5, ON1 has added a standard lens correction tool that will feel very familiar to any photographer who uses other raw editors on the market. Other than some slightly different naming conventions Photo (RAW) 2017.5's lens correction tool is almost identical to other lens correction tools on the market. In my tests it seemed to work great but offered nothing new to the table. For me, it is a checkbox that needed to be filled but not a wheel that needed reinventing. 

Stackable Presets

Presets are a fantastic, quick way to apply a series of adjustments to an image in order to achieve a specific look. Photo (RAW) 2017 enjoyed this feature from day one by offering an improved workflow beyond the traditional Lightroom style preset system. Photo (RAW) 2017's presets offer a thumbnail grid view that lets the user preview the impact of each preset before applying them to the image. One of the major weaknesses that most preset systems suffer from, however, is that only one preset can be used at a time and selecting it overwrites any existing settings already applied to the image. In Photo (RAW) 2017.5 ON1 has added the functionality to layer multiple presets on one another to craft a new look. 

Details Pane

In Photo (RAW) 2017 ON1 adds another new pane to the develop module designed to help photographers manage detail within their images. Detail is defined as the balance between sharpening and noise reduction. Each individual slider, like the lens correction panel, does not appear to be breaking any new ground. Each does as you'd expect and at first glance appears to do a fairly good job. ON1, though, is expanding the functionality of the standard detail pane that we have come to expect by including tabs along the top of the pane that allow the editor to specify different levels of adjustment depending on the output medium when the image is exported. This nifty feature allows photographers to set different sharpening levels depending on if the image is exported for print or web which is incredibly useful for those who often find themselves constantly re-adjusting sharpening depending on what they intend to use the image for. 

Clone Stamp

Another often bemoaned missing feature within Photo (RAW) 2017 was a lack of a cloning tool that can be used to manually make clone based adjustments to an image. In previous versions of Photo (RAW) 2017 retouchers were limited to only the more "intelligent" healing tools which make attempts to interpret what the user wants. The addition of a clone stamp tool which specifically is responsible for making an exact copy of what the user specifies can be a big help in situations that the intelligent, interpretive healing tools simply are not getting the job done. As a whole the clone stamp tool worked as expected offering a similar experience to the Lightroom clone tool. Unfortunately, like the Lightroom clone tool, the Photo (RAW) 2017 clone tool also feels very sluggish compared to cloning in Photoshop.   

Overall Impressions

In the previous Photo (RAW) 2017 review I was not overly impressed by the speed of the software often finding that its sluggishness felt like a burden while editing. In this latest version of (RAW) Raw 2017.5 overall speed appears to have increased moderately which certainly helps improve the workflow. It, however, is certainly not fast which continues to make it a tough sell over Capture One which offers far faster performance throughout the workflow. As a whole, Photo (RAW) 2017.5 feels about on par with Lightroom in terms of software speed which certainly brings it into the viable category but I'd prefer to see a further significant boost in performance, personally. 

As a whole, I would consider Photo (RAW) 2017.5 a strong update that adds maturity to the software by shoring up several of its largest weaknesses. As a raw editor Photo (RAW) 2017.5 offers a complete workflow that is more than capable of providing end to end photo editing for all but the most complex of edits. For those who wish to free themselves of Adobe subscription plans Photo (RAW) 2017.5 enjoys a reasonably competitive one-time fee of $119.99 which allows users to own their software license instead of renting it. Comparatively Photo (RAW) 2017.5 is priced at almost exactly the same price point as an annual subscription to Creative Cloud for Photographers. For users who wish to always be on the cutting edge the Photo (RAW) 2017.5 upgrade pricing does feel a bit high at $99.00 which presumably would become an annual fee to anyone looking to stay up to date. 

What I Liked

  • New features offer improved workflow without re-inventing the wheel.
  • Improved stability.
  • Several innovative additions to the expected photography workflow.

What I Didn't Like

  • Performance continues to be mediocre at best.

Log in or register to post comments


No Kelvin WB temp selector, no sale.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Interesting, that isn't something that I personally would even think to care about. As long as the WB slider works the units mean very little to me personally.

Coming in the next free update this summer

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Nothing to note regarding stability? I really wanted On1 to be my Lightroom replacement. I bought the new version for three years straight, as they added features, but did nothing to stop the software from crashing. I gave up when On1 RAW kept crashing during the install, so I couldn't even test it. For a while, I thought all the crashes were just me, but through the comments section of On1 reviews like this one, I found out it was happening to lots of other people. Seriously, I haven't seen software crash as routinely as On1 since the Windows 9x days. But nobody ever talks about it.

Did you go through a full review and it didn't crash on you once?

Ryan Cooper's picture

It didn't crash once while I was reviewing it but I wouldn't call that necessary conclusive as I only used it for a few hours.

J Michael Morelli's picture

Hey Lenzy, sorry you ran into the troubles. We will reset your trial status for this release, so you will be able to give it another go. You can PM me if you do run into troubles and I can have our team take a look at things right away.

Ironic, it was only a week ago I demanded my money back from on1 Raw as the latest update did something weird to the scaling on my laptop and rendered the program absolutely unusable with menus taking up 3/4 of my screen view and menu fonts at about 55 pt

This was after +6 months of dealing with buggy On1 RAW randomly crashing, freezing, opening some files but not others, taking two minutes to render in some cases, ten seconds in others, watching its poor raw development fry my highlights and give a strange greenish cast to my noisy areas. I *paid* for this program (thinking it would work) over nine months ago.

I can see the potential of On1 RAW, but they can't even get the basics right - and there is nothing exotic about my machine which has 8 gigs of ram and a Nvidia card, easily enough for 16mpx images.

It was about a year ago they started spruiking RAW, and I'm so disappointed that basic functionality still doesn't work, and it's not just me.

Affinity, on the other hand, crashed once for me in beta and then never again. I prefer on1 workflow for the work I do, but it's not worth the pain.

J Michael Morelli's picture

Hi Patrick, can you PM me your email address? I would like to make this right on our end and have one of our engineers take a look at what might be happening on your machine. The .5 release does have a lot of bug and performance fixes that could potentially resolve some of the problems you encountered, but I still would like to have one of our engineers dive in to see if they could find a root cause to anything.

I just have to jump back in here - Michael messaged me privately, and whilst I've not checked out the update to see if my issues have resolved, I've been really impressed by the prompt and responsive service I received from him.

I've got my fingers crossed this update will take care of my challenges, as the potential of on1 is high, especially for the faster workflow I prefer.

Overpromised, underdelivered. Slow, buggy. They've got my money once and will never get them again for any product. And the bunch of photographers who lied in their reviews about performance - as well.

If it didn't work out for you, we'll make it right. Email us here cs@on1.com

Have you guys used Exposure X2? https://www.alienskin.com/exposure/

Brian Johnson's picture

I'll be updating my version tonight when I get home...Hope it has improved performance wise because it's one of the reasons i didn't stick with it. I've always had a good rig and just updated to an R7 1700x w/ GTX 1080 so if it can utilize my system I'll deal with the learning curve. I like LR but Adobe doesn't seem to care about improving their product.

Hey Brian, it's still in pre-release so the official update is coming out next week. Just FYI

Brian Johnson's picture

I was just wondering why it said no update...Thanks.

Oz Photo's picture

While I am not that fond of LR as it is slow and buggy even on a powerful machine On1 still has a long way to go to make it a "real" competitor to LR. No soft proofing, dual monitor support, poor print layout options, lots of features missing that pros need. Seems to me this product is geared toward the consumer not the pro. If Adobe does not improve LR to compete with products like Photo Mechanic for culling, improve speed overall then Capture One and Qimage (although interface is dated) would be my go to.

How does this software work with existing LightRoom catalogs? What about location information and gps, etc.? I have significant time invested in organization of the media.

Ryan Cooper's picture

It doesn't work with existing LR catalogs at all. Photo RAW operates by just interacting with your computer's folder structure. There is no importing per say.

As for GPS, this video covers the GPS features, I haven't used any of them myself as I don't have any cameras that have GPS: https://www.on1.com/blog/on1-photo-10-accessing-your-gps-location/

I see I am way behind the times here but, I was looking into reviews for On1's newest product that is due out in December and can be pre-ordered for $99. I think I will skip this because I already have gone through the Capture 1 (9-11 w/pro versions where I stopped) and continue with my LR 6, Cap 1, Landscape (yes, Pro), Corel (uh huh, Graphics draw photo etc) and of course the Adobe CC for $10 month instead of the 2 x per year upgrade on another one. Especially one that is still lacking. Damn you Adobe!