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ON1 Photo Raw | A Closer Look At ON1’s Lightroom & Capture One Competitor

By Kishore Sawh on September 28th 2016

It is generally accepted that when it comes to post processing, it’s an ‘old boys club’, and the members are Adobe’s Lightroom, ACR, Photoshop, and then Capture One. Like any other old boys club, you can’t just buy into it because the doors are locked, so you’ve got to steal the key or force it. This is what ON1 is trying to do with ON1 Photo RAW, and it looks extremely promising.

In April, ON1 teased the photo community with the new software, claiming it to be the first all-new raw processor in a decade, and showed a few features that told the story that ON1 wasn’t trying to compete with one of the staples, but integrate or compete on some level with them all, and their new video and release looks to confirm that.



In a way, ON1 was saying, and IS saying that the other post processing programs were built in the early days of digital photography and have, for the most part, stayed there. Essentially that the programs were built when files and demands were much smaller and they’ve struggled to keep up. When we objectively look at the current spread of options, it’s hard to argue against that, especially with Lightroom (for all its merits).

From the new video it appears to be a mix between Capture One and Lightroom; both in terms of aesthetics and behavior. That’s not a bad thing at all really, because it keeps a level of familiarity which should make transitioning easier. Immediately recognizable will be the develop panels and effects, but ON1 allows for layers and blending in a way you just can’t get from Lightroom, and with a filing approach that seems more along Capture One’s style. It also uses the video card which means speed.



You are able to combine photos, combine layers, combine effects, and that means you can do things like create HDR photos, swap skies, and even swap heads, and even save and open saved Photoshop files which you can re-edit and share. It also has built in social media sharing capability. Furthermore, you can sync rather easily between multiple computers, but if by chance you didn’t want to live entirely within the ON1 ecosystem, it integrates as a plug-in fro Apple Photos, Photoshop, and Lightroom.

[REWIND: Mac OS Sierra Might Break Compatibility With Lightroom & Photoshop]

This looks like it could be a real contender, and Adobe should take note, and perhaps be worried. I’ll likely be giving this a proper run through upon its release, but if you’re interested in securing a major discount on the software, you can pre-order it now on site. ON1 Photo Raw drops this Fall.


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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Gareth Roughley

    Do you think the colour grading will be able to match capture one?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hey Gareth, honestly it’s impossible to say at this point without having touched the software. My intuition says no, given just how good Capture One is for that, and I mean, how well Capture One renders raw files right out of the gate.

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  2. William Carter

    I’ve been an avid OnOne user for years and still use the latest version, but the yearly upgrade costs have turned me off. They’re worse than Adobe in this department. It seems like they roll out a new upgrade every 9 months you have to pay for. 10.5 still locks up my computer once a week, and even using the video card, still runs too slow for my liking.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      That’s interesting. When I do some sort of review on it, I will likely speak to them about this and see what answers they have.

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    • barbara farley

      Kishore, could you also ask them why they don’t offer a trial version? Thanks.

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    • Jean-Francois Perreault

      They don’t? That would be a bummer as I would have no idea how it performs on my current PC.
      I was hoping to try it out before purchasing. And I’m not going to buy it unless I’m sure it’ll run smoothly on my PC.

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    • Gregory Davidson

      I can only assume that there is no trial version because it has not been released yet. There are trial versions of everything else they offer. Wait till it is actually released for the trial.

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    • Jean-Francois Perreault

      Ok, I see a trial version available for version 10.5 so I guess it’s safe to say there will be one for the new version.

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  3. Jean-Francois Perreault

    I’m very interested in how this turns out. If they can manage not to screw it up, they could seriously hurt Adobe.

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  4. Ron Fya

    Waouh ! Seems like what Lightroom was meant to be. We’ll see if it is really as promising as it looks.

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