A few years ago, Adobe took the decision to drop the sale of stand alone products, well drop isn’t quite right, they’re still there – you just have to look for them buried deep within their product catalogue.
The move was controversial amongst the photography community.
By ending support and updates for standalone, you were effectively forced to move onto the new subscription package that they had created. You were now paying, what started at £8.49, now £9.98, for Photoshop and Lightroom.
The pricing sounds very reasonable and god forbid you dare moan about the subscription model on the Adobe forums, you’ll be leapt on by zealot supporters of Adobe, however if I equate the subscription to how long I’ve been using Adobe, I would have paid for my Lightroom version 4 times over.
Since the introduction of the subscription model I’d tried several times to find a different product so I could get rid of it and not have to pay monthly.
Let me first say, Adobe have been refining Photoshop and Lightroom for many years and it is a mature product, there’s nothing particularly bad about it, nearly all the tutorials you see in Amateur Photographer refer to steps in Lightroom or Photoshop. Finding an alternative was always going to be difficult.
I’ve tried numerous products over the years and they’ve all failed to achieve a simple aim, provide a degree of Lightroom functionality but be simple to use and have good cataloguing facilities, the latter is essential if you do any type of serious photography, maintaining your catalogue is almost as important as any editing.
At the beginning of the year I came across ON1 Photo RAW 2019, after a quick install of a demonstration version, I was more than happy to purchase it and cancel my Adobe subscription.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things that ON1 does poorly and you can find many posts on their peer to peer forums about these issues, what I am aware of so far:
- Crashes, I’ve had a few, with no recovery nor information as to what has gone wrong
- Editing changes not being applied to exports, you have to flick to ‘Browse’ mode for the changes to be applied
- It’s not particularly fast, although I caution that the speed may be affected by the size of the images being edited, for example the majority of my pictures are in RAW format (Canon CR2 & Nikon NEF) the Canon files are around 22mb each and the Nikon 34mb.
- Exporting is very slow, JPG & PNG, with PNG being particularly painful. This is a known issue and ON1 are promising a fix later this year.
You may be thinking ‘Why on Earth did you change then?’ Well my priority requirements were:
- No subscription
- Flexible catalogue options, either catalogue or sidecar files
- A familiar and easy to use interface
- Non-destructive editing of RAW files
With Photo RAW 2019 you get all this, for example, here’s the browse interface:
And here’s Lightroom’s catalogue:
Although there are differences, they’re every similar – catalogue on the left, contact sheet in the middle and information on the right.
Similarly with developing a photo, press ‘Develop’ in Adobe’s catalogue or ‘Edit’ in ON1 and you’re good to go editing your photo, here’s ON1’s interface:
As you can see, the histogram and sliders are in the same place and the preset menu is on the left, Lightrooms is hidden in this picture, but they’re in the same place.
So generally, the interface for both the applications is familiar, it didn’t take me long to get to grips with where things were.
ON1’s gradient mask is a little tricky to get used to and it’s these sorts of quirks that will come over time.
Overall, I’m very happy with ON1 Photo RAW, I’m particularly happy not to be servicing a subscription every month, when I may not edit a photograph for weeks. Yes ON1 has issues, but it’s mine and, so far, ON1 have said they will continue to support free updates for the software.
Whilst writing this blog post ON1 dropped version 2019.5, there’s numerous updates in this patch and it’s too much to list here, you can read what was changed, added and fixed here.
Things I have noticed since installing, exporting, it’s not whizzy, but it is certainly faster than it was before, similarly browsing through the folders of my RAWs seems to be quicker and less stuttery.
Another Update 12/06/2019
People are wondering if this [ON1 Photo RAW] replaces Photoshop, the short answer is no, I’ll do a blog post about the replacement [Affinity Photo] soon but a word of caution before you jump to Affinity Photo, a potentially expensive restriction has come to light – Affinity Photo is only licensed for the operating system. So a few months ago when I was running with Windows and purchased Affinity Photo – I have found, unlike Adobe Photoshop, Affinity won’t transfer the licence to Mac.
Bit of a frustration. I now need to choose to buy another version of Affinity Photo, go without or subscribe back to Adobe Photographer Package and try and sell my Affinity Photo licence.