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ON1 Photo RAW vs Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

With so many digital asset management and post-processing software in the market, it can be tough to decide which one is best and which one is not. The licensing changes introduced by Adobe in 2018 has caused so many photographers and photography enthusiasts to shy away from Adobe. On top of this, some of the competitors are offering really cool features trying to capture the whole digital post-processing market. In this post, we will talk about another Adobe Lightroom Classic CC competitor, called ON1 Photo Raw. It can serve as both photo editor and photo organizer just like Lightroom Classic CC. Let's see where it stands as compared to Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.

About ON1 Photo RAW
ON1 is a US-based company and recently released Photo RAW 2020 in October 2019. For the below comparisons, I installed both Lightroom Classic CC and ON1 Photo RAW 2019.2 on the same machine. To avoid inconsistency issues, the exact same raw photo was used for editing and manipulation purposed. The whole idea is to talk about things I liked about ON1  Photo RAW and things I wish could have been better. Starting with the positives first, here are a few things I really liked about the software:
  1. The healing brush is far more smooth as compared to Lightroom Classic CC. Three repetitive tests were performed while trying to remove a minor distraction from a given raw photo. ON1 did perform a lot better, I found Lightroom's performance to be very sluggish. 
  2. Nice skin adjustment tool which doesn't require deep extensive brushing, it works by itself to hide blemishes. I totally love this feature, makes portrait editing a lot more efficient. 
  3. ON1 photo raw has no complicated cataloging process, unlike Lightroom. You can browse and edit photographs on the fly easily. 
  4. ON1 2019 version actually has a tool that allows you to retain Lightroom photo edits in ON1 photo RAW. Few things missing in this regard are camera profiles, stacking and image transform edits. 

Adobe Lightroom Classic vs ON1 photo raw
Same image Lightroom Classic CC vs ON1 Photo RAW 2019

Now that we have gone over the bright and shiny aspects of ON1 Photo RAW 2019, let's talk about the things that are still lacking and could see some definite improvements.
  1. My first and foremost peeve with ON1 Photo RAW is about the clone tool. The clone tool doesn't let you clone between two layers. Even if you pick another layer as source, it still doesn't allow you to clone.
  2. Tool for straightening and perspective correction leaves opaque  a white area in the image corners, all the software I have used so far leave a transparent mask. This threw me off a little bit while editing photographs using ON1 Photo RAW first couple of times. 
  3. Portrait mode struggles a lot to find faces in group shots say weddings or family photos as an example. This renders a lot of additional portrait mode functionalities meaningless.
  4. No detail mentioned in undoing a change or even redoing. How do I know what change just got removed because I clicked the undo button? 
  5. No change history tracking for edits. This makes editing photographs using ON1 Photo RAW a harder and trickier. 
  6. Lastly, the ON1 support forums are behind an additional paywall. I am not sure what's the agenda behind this but I think every trial user should be given access to forums for asking questions and take help. It feels like ON1 indirectly wants to force all the trial unpaid users away. 
Hope this post helped you learn both positive and not so positive sides of ON1 Photo Raw software as compared to Adobe Lightroom Classic CC. If you want me to try another photo editing software and do a side by side comparison with Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, please let me know in the comments below. 
As the year 2019 is coming to an end, I want to take a moment to thank all my blog readers for taking the time to visit my blog and for your endless support. I wish all of you happy holidays and hope the coming year 2020 will bring a lot of new photo adventures in your life. Happy Photography! 


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