Review / First Look At ON1 Photo 10

For reference, I've been running Photo 10 on a Late-2011 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and OS X 10.10.2 (Yosemite). In other words, a several year old laptop with modest processing and graphics power, tweaked with a little more RAM.

My friends at ON1 were kind enough to include me in the pre-release program for ON1 Photo 10. For the past 2 or 3 weeks I've been working with the new version and I now have the "green light" to share my thoughts on Photo 10 with you. So here we go!

Should I Buy ON1 Photo 10?

The big question to answer first. Is ON1 Photo 10 worth the upgrade from Suite 9? Yes. If you're not currently an owner of ON1's software, I definitely think it's worth the $89 USD.

Overall Thoughts On ON1 Photo 10

I view ON1 Photo 10 as a major streamlining and consolidation release. The product is more tightly integrated now and my workflow is faster. The Black & White module is gone and its functions are fully integrated into Effects. Resize as a separate module is gone, too. The Export panel incorporates ON1's flat-out awesome image enlargement features and is immediately accessible everywhere in ON1 Photo 10. Perfect Batch is also folded into the Export panel. The user interface is overhauled and has a sleeker, less obtrusive design. There are many under-the-hood improvements, too, most notably speed of slider adjustments. Overall, ON1 Photo 10 is snappier and more responsive than its predecessors.

ON1 Photo 10 brings new features as well, although they are more evolutionary than revolutionary. The Enhance and Effect sliders are much more responsive. The tools and filters are using more of the GPU power and that helps a bunch. Many of the sliders are bi-directional now (the range from -100 to 100 vs. 0 to 100). For Mac users, the Sharing option taps into OS X's features to directly Tweet, iMessage, AirDrop, etc. images right from within ON1. Layers is more or less the same. I can't speak to Portrait. I'm a landscape photographer and don't spend any time in Portrait.

Browse received several new features as well. The most notable is the Favorites area is now "watched" and that dovetails with the newly introduced Smart Albums. Smart Albums let you create collections of your photos by specifying search criteria like star ratings, EXIF specifics, and so on. Photos in your Favorites area are scanned and those that match the Smart Album criteria are added. If you're a big Browse user, you'll love this. Since I'm already using Lightroom CC to catalog my photos, this isn't a feature I'll use.

PhotoVia is an interesting new feature. It's a mobile syncing tool that uses existing cloud services like Dropbox or Google to sync photos between your desktop and mobile device. It's a wildcard for me because it wasn't active in the prerelease bits so I haven't played with it. I've read it supports a direct-to-Instagram posting feature which I'm interested in. For other syncing, since I use Lightroom CC, I'll probably continue with Lightroom mobile. 

Scott's Favorite Things In ON1 Photo 10

  1. Speed. Effects is much more responsive than Suite 9.5 was.
  2. Black & White in Effects. This is huge for workflow streamlining. I always used to bounce through Effects to do basic tone and contrast work, then go into the Black & White module. I've always liked the contrast and vignette tools in Effects more than in B&W. Now, they're all in once place.
  3. Filter Stack. Any filter in the stack can be individually enabled and disabled using the checkboxes. Curious if that Glow filter in the middle of your filter stack is helping or hurting your image? In Photo 10 you can toggle it on and off and see the before and after while still keeping all filters above it active. Nice.
  4. Lightroom Integration. Since moving to Lightroom I really miss Aperture's snappy import. Like many other photographers, I use Browse as my front end to to a pre-cull of photos before ever opening Lightroom. ON1 continues to do a great job with tight integration with Lightroom, especially around import.
  5. Social/Mobile Integration. I shuttle photos to my mobile often for social shares on-the-go. With the Share button, I don't need to export the photo first. I'd like to include PhotoVia in this bullet as well. But, like I said above, I need to play with it first. 

Room For Improvement

There is always room for improvement. There's a few things I think that fell short in ON1 Photo 10. I'd like auto alignment in Layers and a color picker in the Color Enhancer filter, akin to what is already in the Black & White filter. I'd also like luminosity masks to be saved with presets, and in general more control over the grayscale rendering of luminosity masks. 

Looking ahead, I would also like PhotoVia to extend to synchronizing ON1 presets, background and textures across systems. There are a bunch of UI tweaks I'd like seen done as well. Although, I am using prerelease software so I'll hold off on blurting those here since the UI may still change. I have shared my wish list with ON1.

Update: I've shared my Top 5 Wish List items for ON1 Photo 10 on the blog now. Jump there, have a read, and add a comment with the features you want most.