On1 made available the full-release version of PhotoRaw on 19/12/2016. 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 I would like to make clear that I am looking at this release through the eyes of a professional photographer. My opinion is probably going to be very different from the beginner or advanced amateur. We also have to remember that this is the first release version of the software. There are still some, in my opinion, major components missing such as loupe and auto lens correction.
A full list of features not yet in the full version can be found on the On1 site HERE
Here are what I believe are the most important missing features that will appear in the next four updates planned in 2017.
Due for the first 2017 update is: QUICK MASK in Develop and Effects modules - 'Brush over an area to automatically create a great mask'. Not an important feature for everyone but to the Pro where editing time is of the utmost importance.
The second 2017 update will include, and this is a big one for me: AUTOMATIC LENS CORRECTION - 'Automatically fix distortion and chromatic aberration'. Not an issue for the beginner but the advanced amateur will probably miss this one too.
In the third 2017 update we will get: VERSIONS or 'virtual copies' each with their own edits and adjustments. To do this in PhotoRAW until the third update it looks like we will have to copy the image file to a differently named file using our computers operating system. Not a deal breaker for most but I personally create different crops of the same image on a regular basis. In Lightroom we click on an image and select virtual copy, we can then create two or more virtual copies of images for different edits within seconds.
The forth 2017 update will include: BACKGROUND PROCESSING - 'Keep working on photos while you export a batch'. Now if I read this right, while you are exporting a batch of edits you have been working on, you will not be able to carry on working. Again this is probably not an issue for anyone apart from the professional. I often have 'two' sets of edits exporting while editing my next job in Lightroom. One set of web size JPG's and full size TIFF's.
Moving on from the coming updates, as in the prerelease selecting an image to view in the develop module appears to give not a flat Raw view, but a sharpened and more saturated image. I had hoped that a non tweaked image would be displayed in the full version.
As in the pre release I find the overall user interface of PhotoRaw in my opinion superior to Lightroom's. It has a less cluttered feel. All of the controls work as you would expect. I do however still find that the Highlights and Shadows sliders do not appear to give the range that Lightroom does.
My conclusion for the prerelease was not as black and white as I would have liked. The fact that it was most definitely a prerelease version and showed muddied the waters Now we have the full release I have to say as a pro I can't begin to think about replacing Lightroom, Bridge and Photoshop with PhotoRaw until at least the fourth update of 2017. There are just features missing that I use on a daily basis.
Comparing PhotoRaw to Lightroom is still, in my opinion, like comparing chalk with cheese. They are different programs for different types of workflow. For a start Lightroom has years of development over PhotoRaw and it's cataloguing is second to none in my eyes. It's not fair to compare the two. On1 are doing a great job of bringing us a new editor. They are listening to photographers of all levels and incorporating many new features. Something that other companies do at a snails pace.
While I wait for update four I will continue to play with PhotoRAW and do my bit to report my findings to On1.
As a Professional Photographer I'll not be replacing my current software with PhotoRAW anytime soon. If you are relatively new to, are an occasional or amateur photographer PhotoRAW is a great package for you now. PhotoRaw fills a big gap in the market and any competition means photographers everywhere will benefit.
To download a trial version of PhotoRaw head over to On1's website by clicking the button below.