ON1 Software has just released the latest version of their photo organizing, editing, processing and effects app, Photo RAW 2017.5. Besides already being completely reworked for greater performance, stability and ease of us (with up to 4x better performance with less RAM requirements over version 9.5), Photo RAW 2017.5 offers a number of new features.
With this release, ON1 is offering a powerful, end-to-end, standalone, cross-platform digital imaging workflow that can also be used as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. It can also support other imaging apps and various image formats.
When you first open Photo RAW 2017.5, you are greeted with choices of various video resources to help you get familiar with its functions. Be sure to spend some time with these links to get the most out of the new release.
Photo RAW’s built-in file browser is a great feature to have as you don’t need to run Adobe Bridge or some other means of accessing images separately, dragging photos around unnecessarily. In default mode, on the left side of the browser you will have access to any mounted Local Drives (your computer and any attached external hard drives) and even Cloud Storage (Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive). Albums can be created in this section of the interface, and filters (hearts, stars, colors) added to favorite images. There is also a Search field and access to Recent items.
In the center area are adjustable-size thumbnails of the particular drive or folder of images you have accessed. These thumbnails can be sorted and displayed by any of several common attributes. Double-click any thumbnail (or use the Spacebar) and the photo opens and fills the center area; hit Escape to dismiss it and return to standard view.
At right, useful metadata is displayed for any selected image. And there you have it! But wait: Along the extreme left and right edges of the interface are stacks small icons with huge functionality (visible below). They are the gateway to accessing all of the cool effects in Photo RAW.
The screenshot below shows the file browser in the new Compare mode, where you can specifically select and view up to 15 images out of larger groups. Zoom and pan functions are available in this mode.
The icons at left enable you to immediately access your Desktop, open your Pictures folder, see your Favorites, view your local drives or Cloud sources and see any Albums you have created.
The icons at right take you back at any time to Browse, to Develop, to Effects, to Layers or to Resize. In each mode you are given a choice to work on either the original or a copy of your source image and in what format (JPEG, TIFF or PSD layers), image mode and resolution or finally Layers (a Photoshop/GIMP or similar layered editing environment). I personally have the most fun shooting right into Effects, where there is a very deep well of Presets and Filters to wade through.
Let’s take an image into the Effects module and see what can be done with it there.
My image of the old Sonora Soundbox record player and 78 record (below) was begging for some old-time treatment. Starting with a Vintage preset (Tea Stained), I already had Tone Enhancer and Split Tone applied without having to touch anything else. When it comes to effects, enough is never enough (of course), so I continued on using the Add Filter button to apply Lens Blur, Glow and Borders. Nice!
Customizing these effects just so and applying them to multiple images is not something you want to do over and over. The filmstrip view icon near the lower left of the interface brings up multiple images which you can select in bulk, and to which you can quickly apply the current effect.
Speaking of doing things in multiple, a new Photo RAW feature is called Stacking Presets. Let’s say I did all of the work described above, then wanted to add one more overall effect that was to be applied on top of what was already there (instead of replacing everything). With the topmost preset effect chosen (as shown above at right), I would just hold down the Alt/Option key and select another preset from the categories at left. The preset thumbnails would then reflect the preset as applied to my existing totality of effects, not just the original image.
Sometimes you have to stop playing with artsy and get some grunt work done, such as removing noise from low-light images (below). Photo RAW does an exceptional job in this regard without sacrificing original subject detail.
Deleting unwanted elements is another of those “not fun but necessary” tasks. The new Clone (below) tool does the task without requiring that you use another image editor, which, after all, is the whole point of Photo RAW’s integrated, standalone approach.
Lens Correction is another new feature in Photo RAW 2017.5. In the image below, I am doing battle with the distortion introduced by using an iPhone, tilted strongly upwards, to capture the height of some office buildings in Los Angeles. Using both Lens Correction (which handles barrel and pincushion distortion) and Transform (which takes care of perceptive-type distortion, among other things), I was able to straighten things out. And yes, Photo RAW is not just for RAW images!
There’s a lot of potential in the new Photo RAW 2017.5 (which has already received several performance enhancing and bug-fix updates since its initial release). It’s a lot of fun digging through the various Presets and Filters to find which particular combinations work best on a chosen image, or doing corrective work on images that need it without leaving the application.