Moving on, here is the second group of things that I like about ON1 Photo RAW 2018, specifically numbers 10-18, which will finish off the list. In case you missed the first nine, consider reading Part 1 of this post first.
10. Catalog Organization: Or more specifically, the lack of a catalog in RAW 2018. There is no need to determine ahead of time how you want to organize your photos or go through a lengthy import process. Simply drag and drop your images into any folder and RAW 2018 can see them. Changed your mind about your system for organizing the shots? No problem, just move them! RAW 2018 will see your pics no matter where they are stored – on a local hard drive, and external drive, or even the cloud. Changing your mind about your file structure is as easy as dragging and dropping.
11. Layers: There may be times when you want to combine photos and create a composite. Lightroom doesn’t offer support for Layers, but RAW 2018 does. Once combined, you can create a new “Stamped Layer” which merges the information on all layers together so you can edit just like a single photograph. Make that a Smart Photo and you can preserve any edits made in the Develop and Effects modules. Talk about taking non-destructive editing to the next level!
12. Opacity & Blending Modes: There may be times when a filter applied in Effects comes across a little too strong. No problem for RAW 2018, just dial back the opacity! Layers can be set to any opacity or blending mode. You have access to all the typical blending modes (lighten, darken, screen, overlay… You know the list!) so the control over the post-processing is unlimited. Many of these same blending modes are also available through the Effects module when the finishing touches can really make or break the photograph.
13. Monthly Loyalty Rewards: As a registered user, ON1 offers rewards each and every month. These include items such as presets or textures to help expand your creativity and capabilities. Oh, and they all come as a free download!
14. Community: There is a very active community of users for RAW 2018 so if you need a question answered all you need to do is ask. Not only does the ON1.com web site have an active forum for Plus Members, but there is also a Facebook group. You might be surprised at the helpfulness and knowledge of many users who are using this program.
15. Effects Module: So, this is just one huge, overall “like” for me… I don’t think any other program offers the same capabilities to add the artistic finishing touches to a photo. You can choose from a selection of 23 different filers which range from tone and color adjustments to blurs, BW conversions, and antique stylization. You can even stack effects and rearrange the order they are applied.
16. Stand-Alone Program or Plug-in: RAW 2018 works how you want it to work. You can use it as a perfectly capable stand-alone program and browse, rate and develop your images from start to finish. Or, if you prefer, it also works as a plug-in to Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and Apple Photos. It fits into your workflow, not defines how your workflow will be.
17. Updated User Interface: Admittedly, this is a small thing, but a very important one. It’s a clean and modern design and you can even choose your own accent color (or none at all) for highlighted items. Personally, I like the default orange but there are seven other colors you can use to personalize your copy.
18. Panoramas: As a landscape photographer, I should probably shoot more panorama images than I do. Now RAW 2018 will take your images and blend them together automatically. There are different cropping options when compiling, including a “Warp to Fill” option. You can even choose to embed the panoramic metadata so sites like Facebook will allow viewers to scroll and pan around the image.
So there you have it, 18 things I like about ON1 Photo RAW 2018. And while it has many great features and come a long way in the year or so it has been on the market, it is not a perfect program. There are some things I don’t like about it.
In the interest of fairness, here are 8 things I am not too fond of (did you catch the theme, yet?):
1. No Stacking/Grouping Capability: As I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog, I bracket a lot of my shots. Lightroom allows me to Group these images together so that I see only one shot, not the full sequence. Currently RAW 2018 does not allow grouping so when looking through a folder of images you see each one - all the normal exposures and all the over and under exposures. With many shots being very similar, for example during a sunset with subtle changes in the colors, it can be a little more challenging to find that one perfect series to process.
2. No Full Screen View: One thing I use a lot in Lightroom is the “F” keyboard shortcut that opens the image in a 100% full screen view with nothing else. It’s often quite helpful to be able to see the processing changes large and determine if they work or not. Currently in RAW 2018 the “F” key shortcut changes to the Filmstrip view in the Browse module; you can also hit TAB and that will remove the two side panels making the screen cleaner but the image remains the same size. Please, give me a full screen option and let it work in the Browse, Develop and Effects modules!
3. The “Liked” Icon is Hard to See: In RAW 2018 when you “pick,” or “like,” a photo the icon is a small heart (it’s the white flag in Lightroom). With the new minimalistic UI, this is an outlined heart when not selected, and fills in white on a grey background if the photo is chosen. Personally, I find it a little hard to see, and would like to see the option to fill in the heart with a color that stands out better. As mentioned earlier, in the RAW 2018 preferences the user can select the accent color for highlighted menu items; it seems like it might be an easy change to add the heart fill to be one of the things that also is changed to this accent color.
4. No Text Layer: Although Layers are a wonderful part of RAW 2018, currently there is no ability to add text to a photograph. True, you cannot do this directly in Lightroom either, but those who opt into the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan do have the option to also download Photoshop and that program offers text layers. For some users of RAW 2018 as a standalone program, this would be a helpful addition so that they could create holiday cards and other end uses that require a text overlay.
5. GPS Coordinates Not Transferring Over for Olympus: This one is specific to the small fraction of users who shoot Olympus cameras, but that does include me so it makes my list. This might be due to the fact that to add GPS coordinates to my Olympus images I must create a log using the Olympus OI.Share app on my mobile phone. Once done shooting, I pair my phone to the camera and the GPS log with coordinates is transferred over and embedded in the EXIF data. Lightroom will see these GPS coordinates, but for some reason RAW 2018 does not, though it will recognize the GPS data from photos taken with my iPhone.
6. Adding a Watermark is Clunky: Many photographers add a watermark to their exported images, and of course you can do that in RAW 2018 as well. However, you can only add a graphical file and it must be either in a PSD or PNG format to allow for transparency. Currently, you cannot add a simple text line (such as “© John G Clark”) without creating this in some other program and exporting that text. I have also found that including a watermark in a preset does not always seem to “remember” the location of the file I want to overlay so occasionally I will have to find the path again for RAW 2018.
7. Adding EXIF Data is Clunky: Many people will populate the EXIF data fields with things like a copyright, contact information, personal web site and more. RAW 2018 does not offer an easy way to add this data; you either need to add in manually to each photo before exporting or select a batch of photos and add all together. Either way, errors can easily be introduced via a typo or missing a field since it always has to be added manually each and every time. It would be great to have some type of pre-populated data set that could be added to a photo (or group) with a click of the button.
8. Titling Photos is Clunky: Full admission, maybe this one is on me but I have yet to find a simple way to add a title to a photo. In Lightroom, there are fields in the Metadata drop down box for “Copy Name” and “Title” and these are used to change the file name of my photo on exporting. I don’t see this same functionality in RAW 2018; my current workaround is to right click and choose “Rename” (but only in the Browse module). It’s not intuitive, so if I missed the obvious solution please let me know! The other drawback is by using this Rename procedure, the original file name is lost unless you include it as part of the rename process.
I fully expect that some, or all, of the items on my "not fond of" list will, in fact, be implemented by the ON1 development team with some future update to RAW 2018 or future version of the program, so they are not “deal-breakers” for my workflow. As with any software, there are specific quirks and workarounds that you recognize and learn to live with!
And, in fact, ON1 does a excellent job listening to the needs of their users and created a page specifically requesting feedback on the features and functions that people want them to add. Users can they up vote their favorite ideas to give the development team an idea on what the masses want, and they even give updates on the status. For more on this, check out the ON1 Photo RAW Project.
If this list has piqued your interest in learning more and 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.
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