Q&A with Dan: ON1 Photo RAW & Lightroom®

I’m amazed after all these years there is so much diversity in workflows. All the variable ways people download, organize and edit means if you talk to another photographer about their workflow, chances are it is different than yours. It’s not just in the software or equipment we use. Some of us organize by date, others by client or subject. Some shoot RAW, some JPG, some both. Some of us rename, others don’t.

Some of us use Photoshop® as our main tool, some Lightroom, some others. Some of us store our photos in the cloud, etc. Our workflows develop and change organically as we learn, or our tools change. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s you can’t tell someone how their workflow should be.

At ON1, our goal has always been to fit into and improve your workflow, without dictating how you do it. That’s why we work as plug-ins to Adobe® Photoshop and Lightroom as well as Apple® Photos. That’s also why we work as a standalone application for those who don’t use these tools. It’s also why we can send photos from Browse to any other application. Finally, it’s also why we support several cloud storage services. We add value to your workflow where you want it.

This goal doesn’t change with Photo RAW. It will still work as a plug-in to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom just like it does today. You will gain all of the performance and quality improvements, plus take advantage of the new features and tools. It will be faster and more flexible than ever before.

One of the big changes in ON1 Photo RAW is it can be used as a non-destructive editor too. That means the original photo on disk doesn’t change when you make edits to it in the application. This makes editing faster, takes up less hard drive space and makes it easier to re-edit or apply the same settings to many photos. When you use ON1 Photo RAW as a standalone application, any photos you edit in Browse, Develop or Effects, will be stored non-destructively.

This raises a questions on how you can integrate ON1 Photo RAW into your workflow. Let’s try to answer them.

Q: I’m a Lightroom user, how will I use ON1 Photo RAW?

A: Lightroom is a wonderful application and is the heart of many workflows. ON1 Photo RAW will be the perfect companion to Lightroom. By using it as a plug-in you can extend your Lightroom workflow with a range of new tools and effects Lightroom doesn’t offer. You will continue to use Lightroom for your organizing, raw processing and basic adjustments. When you want to do special effects, portrait retouching, compositing or advanced masking you will send you photos from Lightroom to Photo RAW seamlessly with the included plug-ins. When you finish your work, it will return to Lightroom and show your finished results. Using ON1’s unique Smart Photo technology you can re-edit your results down the road if you want.

Q: I’d like to use ON1 Photo RAW for sorting and culling upfront, but keep using Lightroom, how does that work?

A: At it’s core, Photo RAW is a super-fast browser. You can simply point it at a folder of photos and view them instantly. There is no need to import or catalog them before you can get to work. Some high-volume photographers use the Browse module to sort, cull and rename their photos before they import them into Lightroom. Any metadata you add in Browse, from star ratings to keywords to IPTC core fields are stored in Adobe xmp sidecar files. When you catalog your photos with Lightroom it reads these sidecar files and adds your metadata to Lightroom automatically. In fact, now with ON1 Photo RAW metadata may be exchanged and kept up-to-date between Lightroom, Photoshop and ON1 Photo RAW automatically.

Q: I’m primarily a Photoshop user, what changes for me?

A: In short, nothing… but everything. :) You will continue to use Photo RAW as a plug-in to Photoshop. If you use Smart Objects, ON1 Photo RAW will be used as a re-editable Smart Filter. Everything you can do today in ON1 Photo 10 will continue to work. What will be different is the performance. ON1 Photo RAW is light-speed faster compared to the past. You will get to bounce seamlessly from Develop and Effects and create presets that use both. You will get to take advantage of new tools and improved filter results.

Q: I want to use ON1 Photo RAW as my main workflow tool, how do I get started?

A: If you keep your photos organized in folders like most people, you can simply add your highest level folder, like My Pictures, as an Indexed Folder. You will be able to browse your folders and photos right away. In the background, Photo RAW will scan all of them so you can search and view them faster. That’s really all there is to it.

Q: I want to switch from Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW, how do I get started?

A: That depends on how you use Lightroom. Some Lightroom users just use it for organizing their photos. In that case you will want to use Lightroom’s “Save Metadata to File” command which will embed any metadata (like keywords) you have added to your photos. Then add your highest level folder of photos, like your My Pictures folder, as an Indexed Folder in ON1 Photo RAW. If you really put Lightroom to work and use features like Albums, presets or have edited many of your photos with the Develop module, you may want to wait until early 2017 to make a full migration when we will provide our migration tool. This migration tool will make it a seamless process to import your presets, albums and photo settings. There is nothing preventing you from experimenting with ON1 Photo RAW in the meantime. Remember, both Photo RAW and Lightroom are non-destructive so you can have completely different edits for the same photo in each application without interfering or changing the photo file on disk.

Q: I use a handful of apps, can I use ON1 Photo RAW as the center of my workflow?

A: You bet. Using ON1 Photo RAW’s Browse module you can organize, view, cull and add metadata to your photos. You can do your normal RAW processing and effects in the Develop and Effects modules. When you need to use a special application, you can then configure any application as an external editor. This could be Photoshop, Google/NIK plug-ins, and others. Just keep in mind that photos sent to external applications are rendered copies.

Q: What about DNG files?

A: ON1 Photo RAW can read and write metadata from DNG raw photos as well as process them like any other raw photo. We use the official Adobe DNG library for reading and writing metadata. Any processing settings saved in Lightroom or other applications are not used, but are safe and not modified. We use our own proprietary raw engine for decoding and processing them.

Q: Can I see my non-destructive edits from Lightroom in ON1 Photo RAW or vice versa?

A: Not really. Each non-destructive editor is a walled garden, you can only view your edits to a photo while you are in the application that made them. In order to see those edits in other applications you must export or save a copy of the photo with the edits applied, which is not re-editable.

So, is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.