18 Things I Like About ON1 Photo RAW 2018 – Part 1 / by John Clark

This photo from San Diego, Calif., started as a HDR image blended inside ON1 Photo RAW 2018. From there various Develop and Effects adjustments were made, including the addition the Dynamic Contrast and a Big Softy Vignette asdescribed below.

This photo from San Diego, Calif., started as a HDR image blended inside ON1 Photo RAW 2018. From there various Develop and Effects adjustments were made, including the addition the Dynamic Contrast and a Big Softy Vignette asdescribed below.

In a previous blog post I outlined my plan to migrate from Adobe Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW 2018. Now that I have had more time to play with the final release of RAW 2018 (previously I had been using the Beta versions) I wanted to share 18 things that I like about the program (see what I did there?).

Due to the length of this post, it will be broken down into two parts. So, in no particular order, here are the first 9 things that I like about ON1 Photo RAW 2018:

1. Dynamic Contrast: This is a filter found in the Effects module, and in my mind worth the price of admission all by itself. I apply this to virtually 100% of my images, and while there are several presets you can start with the program allows infinite control over the small, medium and large contrast areas so you can adjust the clarity, or tonal contrast, perfectly to suite your taste.

2. Luminosity Mask: A luminosity mask is created off a photograph’s light and dark values (basically the black or white tonal values). The mask feathers into each of these values seamlessly, rather than the hard edges of manual masking. In the “old days” luminosity masks could only be created using several complex steps in Photoshop, but in RAW 2018 they are as simple to create as clicking one button!

3. HDR Integration: Landscapes and cityscapes are among my favorite subjects, and while capturing these I always shoot a bracket of multiple exposures typically ranging from +2 to -2 stops. More often than not I blend them together forming a High Dynamic Range (or HDR) photo which allows for wider ranges of adjustments than a single image. Lately I had been using the Adobe Lightroom HDR function as I felt it offered a much more natural rendering of the image than many of the third-party, separate programs. New to ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is HDR functionality with a wide range of options to adjust the photo before rendering so you can make it as mild or as wild as your vision demands.

4. Vignette: Another Effects filter, and another one that I apply to virtually every photo I process. There are 12 different preset options, but I almost always choose the one called “Big Softy” which, as the name implies, creates a soft vignette around the center. One thing that RAW 2018 offers that Lightroom does not is the ability to move this vignette from the default center position around to anywhere you like in the photo, because as we all know, the focal point of a photograph does not always land in the center! One word of caution, however, is that I feel the Big Softy default setting is far too strong, so I always increase the Brightness of the vignette from -100 to somewhere around -70 to -40, depending on the image.

5.  Seamlessly Move Between Modules: RAW 2018 is built around several different modules (they call them apps), including Browse, Develop, Effects, Layers and Resize. You can easily bounce between these modules at any time, quickly making adjustments to your image. For example, if a filter added in Effects seems to make the image too dark, you can quickly go back into the Develop module for adjustment.

6. Color Range Masking: Found within the masking dropdown is a slider for Color Masking. Using this you can easily broaden or narrow the focus of the mask to make changes affect as large or as minute an area of the photo as you want. The technique is well worth learning, and is covered nicely in this short video by Brian Matiash.

7. Overall Masking Capabilities: While we are on the subject of masking, I think RAW 2018 offers users some of the best tools in the business. It can be as simple as using the Masking Brush and choosing the “Perfect Brush” option to make a clean selection, even on some very complex subjects like around a tree or hair. Refining the mask can be easy as well thanks to additional tools including the Blur Mask and Chisel Mask tools.

8. Versions: Sometimes you might want to try a few different techniques while processing an image, just to see which looks better. This is simple in Lightroom by making a virtual copy of your photo, which is a small duplicate file. For the first time, RAW 2018 also adds this same capability, but called Versions. You can create as many Versions of an image; this additional file is very tiny in size as it does not duplicate the original photo, but simply references it and only holds the data for the processing adjustments you make.What this means is you can go crazy in the Develop or Effects Module, or playing around with different presets. 

9. No Subscription Fees: For many people, this might be the number one reason to use RAW 2018. Once you buy the program, it is yours to keep and use forever (or at least as long as your computer and operating system will support it!). There are no monthly fees, and no additional fees ever unless you choose to upgrade when a new version is introduced.

Part 2, with “Likes 10-18”, will be posted in a couple of days. If you are interested in trying ON1 Photo RAW 2018 to see how the program works for your photo processing needs, click here for a free, fully-functional 30-day trial.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.