Please note. This is review has been superseded. Click the button below to read my review of the 'full' release.
Today (24/11/2016) On1 made available the pre-release version of On1 PhotoRaw. This article is a first look at the Windows version running on Win7 with 32GB Ram and 2TB’s of images stored on an external USB3 drive.
First and foremost, we have to remember this is a pre-release version and not fully functional. There are major components missing such as a Crop tool, Navigator/Loupe/Histogram panes and a few others that will be included with the full release. There may also be a few bugs and hiccups.
According to the On1 website features that will be improved with the general release are:
• More supported cameras
• Improved Shadows and Highlights ranges
• Brushing quality
• Transitions between modules and photos will be smoother
• Additional bug fixes and performance enhancements
Down load and installation
Downloading and installation went smoothly. The pre-release file size being around 718MB.
After clicking on the PhotoRaw icon we are presented with a pretty self-explanatory screen with a file navigation column on the left and selected image information column on the right. After selecting my image drive H: a few seconds later my folders appeared with image icons. This was of course far faster than Lightroom. In Lightroom’s defence it is doing considerably more work by importing images into a catalogue file. Comparing this version of PhotoRaw to Adobe Bridge CC I would have to say Bridge wins hands down for speed. I'm guessing there will be a performance increase in the final release.
Selecting an image to view larger appears to give not a flat Raw view, but a sharpened and more saturated image. This is hopefully down to the pre-release version again and a flat Raw will be displayed in the full release.
For comparison, here is the same Raw displayed in Lightroom.
Jumping into the Develop module we find a Presets Column on the left and all of the adjustment settings you would expect on the right.
I’m not a fan of Presets and as in Lightroom it is easy to collapse the column to give a larger image view.
I do find the overall user interface of PhotoRaw is in my opinion superior to Lightrooms in that it has a less cluttered feel. All of the controls work as you would expect. I did find that the Highlights and Shadows sliders did not appear to be as precise as Lightroom. This will be improved in the final release.
My conclusion is not as black and white as I would have liked. The fact that this is most definitely a prerelease version and it shows muddies the waters a lot. Until we have our hands on the full version comparisons are meaningless. Comparing PhotoRaw to Lightroom is in my opinion like comparing chalk with cheese. They are different programs for different types of workflow.
While I wait for the full release of PhotoRaw I will continue to play with the prerelease version and do my bit to report any findings to On1. PhotoRaw fills a big gap in the market and any competition in the image editing market only means photographers everywhere will benefit.