ON1 Announced Photo RAW 2018 Today. And It's Awesome.

ON1 was not kidding about big news today. The veil has been pulled off of ON1 Photo RAW 2018. And it's awesome. ON1 reports the public beta is available now. The full release is slated for the end of October. What about pricing? I have the details from the press release at the bottom of this post, along with the full list of features.

ON1 has packed a lot into this release. There are big features like panoramic merge and HDR tone mapping. There are welcomed additions like photo versions and Local Adjustment improvements. There are nuanced changes to the user interface for a better editing experience. There are tremendous masking improvements! 

ON1 was gracious enough to let me play with a build for the last few. I really wanted to share with you more than just the list of features. I want to share some hands-on first impressions of Photo RAW 2018. So... I'm going to focus on the three features I'm the most excited about. 

1. Masking Is Better

Amazing new masking controls for Effects and Local Adjustments

Amazing new masking controls for Effects and Local Adjustments

Complex luminosity masks made easy with the Levels and Window sliders.

Complex luminosity masks made easy with the Levels and Window sliders.

Photo RAW 2018 takes its already great masking tools up a notch. The masking improvements alone are worth the upgrade to me. First is the return of old favorites, the Blur and Chisel tools. Long time ON1 users know these tools from the Layers module. Now they are full members of non-destructive workflow in Develop & Effects. What do these tools do? The Chisel Tool shaves pixels at the edges of masks, which is excellent for fine tuning the mask at hard edges. The Blur Tool softens the edge transition of a mask.

What's even better is improved masking controls. Luminosity masks are easier to create now - there is a Lumen button in the masking area of Effects filters and Local Adjustments. The knockout punch are the new slider controls to fine tune masks:

  • Density: The overall strength of the mask. If you want to mask a complex area at partial strength, do it at 100% with the Perfect Brush. Then, dial back the density.
  • Feather: Soften the transition of all your masking brush strokes with a single slider.
  • Levels: Like an old school levels control, but for the mask. You can define what's considered deep shadows, bright highlights, and the transition between them. It's great for fine tuning luminosity masks.
  • Window: Fine tune the tonal range of a mask by shrinking the tonal "window" the mask effects. This is another control perfect for luminosity masks. If you've been waiting for controls to home in on very specific tonal zones, here ya go.

The Levels and Window sliders give results similar to the blending options - and those still work, too, by the way! I think the Window control makes it easier because you can visualize the adjusted luminosity mask with the mask overlays.

Oh... and if that wasn't enough, filters and local adjustments also now have a color picker so you can quickly generate tone-based masks. I know I will be enjoying these features a lot. 

If you have been enjoying my Mastering Light & Shadow In ON1 Photo course, you can bet there will be an update to the course. Once Photo RAW 2018 is released, I plan to add several videos to the course. And yes, the additional videos will be FREE updates to you. In fact, I've already added one bonus video since I released the course.

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2. Panoramic Merge

Panoramic merge, Scott? Really? Don't you have this in Lightroom? I do. However, Lightroom isn't the fastest runner on the track. I'm shooting many more panoramas since investing in a leveling base. Previewing a pano quickly saves time. The screen shot here is a 7 panel merge of 36MP frames from an A7R. The preview took about 3 seconds to appear. That lets me quickly decide whether or not to proceed with stitching. After all, stitching together monster panos will take time.

The merge preview offers controls to crop or warp fill the edges (or do nothing). I like the option of sending the resulting merge to Develop or Effects for further processing. You can also use the Add Panoramic Metadata so shared to sites like Facebook let a user pan around the scene.

3. One Photo, Many Versions

Quickly make alternate versions of photos

Quickly make alternate versions of photos

I think we all try out various treatments and styles on our photos. Versions make this easier - and it saves space. Versions in ON1 work like virtual copies in Lightroom or Versions in Aperture. In a non-destructive workflow, changes to your photo are tracked as instructions against your original image. When you view a photo in Browse, Photo RAW replays those instructions against your unmodified original photo and displays the results.

Versions allow you to have multiple sets of instructions for the same, single original photo. Creating versions is very fast - you are only copying the settings, not duplicating the original photo. That also means you're not eating up megabytes of disk space with each variation of your photo. As a photo educator, I find this especially useful. When teaching in workshops and private lessons, it is much easier to play "what-if" games and explore ideas with a minimal impact to workflow.

So again, the Photo RAW 2018 beta is available to download now. I encourage you to try it out. 

Excerpts from the press release:

New Features & Improvements in ON1 Photo RAW 2018

  • ON1 HDR – Create stunning HDR photos that merge all tonality from a bracket of photos in a fraction of the time (test results have shown up to seven times faster than other HDR apps). Automatically aligns photos and removes ghosting from motion between exposures. Includes full non-destructive editing with natural results and can be turned up to 11 for a surreal look.
  • Pano Stitching – Combine multiple photos into a single panoramic or matrix photo. Automatically aligns photos, even if they are not shot on a tripod, and blends them together seamlessly. An option to embed panoramic metadata for Facebook panning is also available.
  • Global Mask Editing Tools – These include new mask Density and Feather sliders to allow for changing the density or opacity of masks as well as blur masks for softening.
  • Luminosity Mask Updates – Adjust the levels of a mask to increase the contrast or brightness as well as set a tonal window to only affect a certain zone. These updates allow users to target just the area they want, based on the photo.
  • Color Range Masks – Create a mask from a color range selection.
  • Blur and Chisel Mask Tools – In ON1 Effects, the Blur and Chisel mask tools are now included. The blur tool is perfect for softening or feathering a mask selectively. The Chisel tool lets the user push or pull the edge selectively, to remove halos. All of these new masking options are re-editable and non- destructive.
  • Versions — Versions are virtual copies of the same photo. Each version created can include non-destructive settings, including crop, retouching and adjustments. Versions work just like any other photo without taking up more space on your computer.
  • Updated UI — Clean and modern UI where your photo is the center of attention. Custom name filters and layers to easier keep track of work. Also select your own UI accent color.
  • Paint with Color Brush — Painting with color can be a solid color, perfect for skin smoothing and making annotation layers, or paint with just the color and leave the underlying luminosity in place to change the color of objects like eyes.
  • Selectively Add or Remove Noise — Brush away noise in areas like skies or add noise for an artistic effect.
  • ON1 Photo for Mobile — Take the best shots with you on the go with the free ON1 Photo for Mobile app. It’s a great way to share portfolios. It can also sync new photos taken on phones back to the desktop so those photos are ready for editing.
  • Additional Camera & Lens Support — Added support for the Nikon D850, Olympus EM-10 III and Panasonic DMC-G85, plus a ton of new lenses. 

Pricing & Availability

ON1 Photo RAW 2018 will be available for download as a free public beta on October 6th from the ON1 website. Previous owners of any ON1 app (or ON1 plug-in) can upgrade for just $79.99, regularly $99.99. Those who don’t own an ON1 app can pre-order for $119.99.

For a limited time, ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is bundled with some excellent bonus materials which will include: Three ON1 Photo RAW 2018 Courses by Product Director Dan Harlacher, and all of their 2017 and 2018 Loyalty Rewards. A single purchase of ON1 Photo RAW 2018 works with both Mac and Windows and includes activation on up to five computers. The full release of ON1 Photo RAW 2018 is currently scheduled for the end of October. ON1 will also be releasing another update to the previous version, ON1 Photo RAW 2017, later this year. This update will include support for new cameras, lenses, and bug fixes.