ON1 Photo Raw 2017 Review

April 3, 2017 | Amy Davies | Software Reviews | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


ON1 Photo Raw 2017 is an all-in one photo organiser, editor, raw processor and effects app. You can buy it outright, and it features a range of modules which you can use for the various functions the app offers.

You can use ON1 Photo Raw 2017 as a standalone app, or it also works as a plugin for lots of different software programs, including Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop.

The ON1 Photo Raw 2017 software is available for both Windows and Mac and currently costs $99.


You can download ON1 Photo Raw 2017 directly from the ON1 website, where you’ll see that there’s a free trial period available to allow you to evaluate whether you want to pay the full price for the product.

Once you’ve downloaded the software - just go through the on-screen instructions depending on which operating system you use. After installation, when you open the software for the first time, you’ll be asked if you want to start a trial or you want to purchase the software.

There is also a range of options displayed to show you how to get started with ON1 Photo Raw 2017, including tips, tricks and video tutorials. You can also see what the company has planned for the software in “coming soon” as well as submitting ideas for features and feedback. You can choose to show this window on startup, or switch it off, perhaps once you’ve got everything you need from it.

Ease of Use

When you open ON1 Photo Raw 2017 fully, you’ll see that is divided into several “modules”, depending on what you need to do.


The first thing you’re likely to want to use is the “Browse” module, which allows you to look through your image. It’s important to know that if you’re looking through your files, it’s literally as they appear on your hard drive or memory card, and there is no back up made through the software automatically.

You can “index” certain folders however, which will give you instant access to certain photos rather than having to browse through. This could be useful if you have a particular folder that you need to access often. To index, you can drag and drop the photos, or folders of photos, you need to - if you’re indexing a large amount of photos it can take a long time to do that, so you may want to leave it indexing overnight if you plan on dropping a whole hard drive here.

In the browse module, you also have the option of looking at any photos stored in cloud storage, and you can search through the folder you’re looking in, or, indexed folders using the “search” functionality, which allows you to search by keyword, star rating and so on. You’ll also see a list of recent files you’ve been working on to give you quick access.


From the browse module it’s also possible to add presets without leaving the browser - this is a good way of quickly seeing how something will look without opening it fully. Presets can be found on the left hand side of the software window, and you’ll see they are divided into several subsets, including Cinematic, Black & White, Urban and so on.


If you apply a preset to an image, you’ll see it will appear on the thumbnail in the browse window, but you can undo this at any time.

If you need to see a photo larger, you can double click it and you’ll be taken to the “Nav” section of Browse. From here you can view the photo at 100%, fit it to screen, or view it at 50% or 25%. To the right you’ll see the whole picture displayed in a smaller window, and you can also click on tabs to show you info about the picture (such as the camera and lens used), while another tab displays a histogram.

In both the Browse and the Develop module, you can choose to display a film strip on the bottom of the screen which will show you photos which appear in the same folder. This is an easy way to dip in and out of the different photos you might want to work on at the same time. A new feature for this version of the software is that you can edit multiple photos at the same time with non-destructive editing.


When you’re ready to do some proper editing, you can head to the develop tab. Once you click develop you’ll see that the presets still appear on the left hand side of the window, but now on the right hand side there’s a range of settings you can change.


There’s options such as exposure, contrast, blacks, saturation and so on. If you click on Show More, you’ll be able to choose from a wide range of other options, including Curves, Vignette, Noise Reduction and so on. In the first part of this tab, any settings changes you make will be applied to the whole picture.


If you change to “Local Adjustments”, you can add layers, or adjust parts of the image using the brush tools.

Those brush tools are found on the left, just beyond the preset options. Here you’ll also find a crop tool, an eraser, a healing brush and options to change the view (i.e. fitting the whole image in the window, or zooming in).


The Develop Module is just one area which you might want to use to edit your shots. There’s also the Effects module, which allows you to stack together different filters - of which there are 20 different ones to choose from. To get started, first you click “Add Filter”, where you’ll see the different ones which are available, including options such as “Cross Process”, “Grunge”, “Vignette” and “Vintage”. Within each filter is the option to adjust it to your preferred settings, for example, within the Vintage filter you can choose saturation, the colour cast, the amount of film grain and so on.


You can stack together the filters manually, or, you can choose from the presets again which are still available on the left hand side.


If you create your own stack of filters, you can create your own presets. Not only that, but you can brush in (and out) the filter to specific areas of the photo if you wish to.

The next module to talk about is the Layers module. This name will be familiar to anybody who is used to using Photoshop, but it’s not exactly the same. In this module, you can combine two photos together for a composite effect - for example if you wanted to replace a sky with a sky from another image. You can also add textures here, too, several of which are available for you to use within the program. On the left hand side of the screen head to “Extras” and you’ll see “ON1 Extras” - in this folder you’ll find a range of Backgrounds, Borders and Textures which you can use in your images. Again, each of these are broken down into different categories, such as Fabric, Metal, Natural and so on.


If you add a texture, you can use Blending to merge the two layers together. If you click the drop down Blending menu on the right hand side of the screen, you’ll see the different options available - and as you hover over each, it will show you how that effect will be rendered in the main window. In this area, you can also adjust the layer Opacity to give a more subtle effect if you wish.


The last module is “Resize”, which is a little inaccurately named as there’s more to it than that. It’s a good place to head when you’re ready to finish your image. You can resize it, as you’d expect, but you can also add sharpening, film grain, or you can even create a gallery wrap if you’re planning on printing your image.

Whenever you’ve done any editing, you can press “Done”, in the bottom right hand corner. This means that the edit will be applied ready for you to save it - once you’ve clicked Done, the button will be replaced with a  Save button. Unless you export (File > Export) the image, the edits made won’t appear on the file itself, but, edits will appear in the browse window and you’ll be able to come back to them unless you choose to reset your settings at any time.


If you want to apply the same settings to more than one photo, you can use a couple of different techniques. In this way, the software acts reasonably similarly to Lightroom. On the right hand side of the software you should see a “Sync” button. You can use this to apply the same settings that have been applied to the photo which is open to other photos. Select the photos you want to add the settings to and click the Sync button. Alternatively, another option is, with a photo open to head to the Settings menu and click “Copy Settings”. You can now open up any other photo, even from a different folder, then go to Settings, and “Paste Settings”. Again, if you have several photos selected in the film strip, you can paste the settings to all the photos which are selected at once.

Overall, ON1 Photo Raw 2017 is generally self-explanatory and easy to navigate and get used to. If you’re unsure about anything, there are some fantastic videos on the ON1 website which go over how to use the software  and it’s recommended you spend some time watching those as you start to use it to really familiarise yourself with it.

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