Have you been teased enough this year? It has been quite the revelatory and shifting year for gear and software; we’ve had the introduction of Fuji medium format, Hassy went the way of humanizing their medium format presence; Nikon finally followed up the D300s with the remarkable D500, and Canon’s 5D IV was released to a public with tongues out. It was also a year, in my experience, where the palpable discontent with Lightroom by its user base became significant, and likely in no short part to the rising of competition from current software, or at least the promise of it. One such? ON1 Photo RAW, and now it’s ready to be thrust out like a lamb amidst the wolf-like public.
Earlier this year ON1 made some rather bold claims about a new software they were releasing, ON1 RAW, claiming it would be the first ‘all new’ raw processor in a decade. Now, if you’re not one for context or insinuation, you may not see that those words and the initial details shared was ON1’s way of 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). But now it’s really time to put their money where their mouth is.
ON1 Photo RAW 2017 is tuned for today’s sensors and graphics chips. It opens 50-megapixel images in a fraction of a second on a standard PC or Mac, and performs edits in real-time, without slider lag or frustrating waits for redraw.
That’s a snippet from the press release and those are bold claims, if also exciting ones. They’ve also gone on to say and demonstrate that the program won’t function like LR when it comes to catalogues and libraries, but instead will integrate ON1 Browse, which should allow rapid culling, tagging, and the rest of organizational functions. This would certainly help to explain the touted speed, but it’s not new ground here. Capture One Pro (COP) users are used to files opening in a blink, and ON1 Browse appears to be what Media Pro SE is to COP. Further similarities between it and COP are the prevalence of layers and masks. They’ve really seemed to take a leaf, of a chapter out of COP’s playbook, and frankly, who could begrudge them that?
But alas it IS different as it appears to be adaptable to a workflow you may already have, since there’s a level of integration that can be had through plugins for Lightroom and Photoshop, and it works Google Nik (sorry, but is that still even relevant?), and Apple Photos. That Adobe integration is interesting and may helps to assuage the transition from Adobe’s titans to this. Given that you can buy the program outright for $100 (soon to be $120) is also sure to get some excited who don’t like the idea of a subscription plan from Adobe, which, by the way, isn’t going anywhere given that Adobe’s just released their year end numbers which saw $5.85 billion come in, a whopping $1 billion, with a capital B over 2015.
But here’s the thing, a jack of all trades is good, but is it enough to get you to switch? To real users the price is less costly than the time it takes to learn something new, generate a new workflow, and maybe find out it wasn’t that great to begin with. Of course it could be, and we intend to find out. Stay tuned.
You can get it here.