In this ON1 Photo RAW 2022 review, I go over the pros and cons of this brand new version of the popular photo editing software. However, in doing the review, I approached things a little differently.
The first thing I wanted to do was to see if they have fixed or added any of the features I gave a thumbs down to three years ago. Then I will give you my first impressions and a full list of all the PROS and CONS of the software, from my perspective.
Finally, in the end, you’ll get a quick summary and my recommendations of who I think this program is good for, and who should avoid it.
So if you want a no-holds-barred, straight-up talk, and a slightly brutal review of ON1 Photo RAW 2022 – this is it!
About my perspective
Please keep in mind that I approach this with all my years of experience not just in photography, but doing photo editing as well – both the old analog way and digitally. I wanted to see how intuitive the program was, and whether or not I could figure things out without resorting to looking things up in the user manual or finding a video about it on YouTube.
My editing and software experience includes:
- Photoshop since 1995 (version 3, NOT CS3!)
- Corel’s Paint shop pro prior to that
- Lightroom since beta 1 in 2006
- Skylum (then MacPhun) products since 2008
So I’ve approached this from where I left off in the previous review.
- Did they fix the things I mentioned as CONS?
- Did they add any features I thought it was missing?
- Overall how has it improved?
As well – I have NOT read all 248 pages of the user guide nor have I watched any tutorials on it (with a few exceptions). I wanted to approach it with new eyes to see if it was intuitive for someone like me.
If it’s not easy to use and to figure out for me (with all my experience) – how will a beginner, or someone like you with less experience manage? Likely it will mean a fairly steep and lengthy learning curve for you.
Based on those criteria I will then give you my list of PROS and CONS as well as who I could recommend this for, and who I would NOT
ON1 Photo RAW 2022 Review
First impressions – what did I think upon first look?
- I still don’t find the overall interface very intuitive
- The interface is really busy and has very small fonts that are hard to read in places
- It does have some advanced tools and has the potential to be a well-rounded complete editing solution (with a few suggested improvements and fixes)
Previous reviewed CONS
This is a list of things I wasn’t impressed with the first time around when I initially tested ON1 Photo RAW in 2018. Watch the video to see if I give them an improved rating now. Are they a thumbs up or still a con?
- History – previously there was no way to see a history of your edits to an image.
- Clunky interface – I found it clunky and not intuitive in 2018.
- Confusing – develop, layers and effects modules were not at all intuitive or clear.
- Presets – I wasn’t impressed the first time around.
- HSL – I found it really lacking back then.
- Chromatic aberration correction – is it better now? Find out.
Instead of reading more about what I think about it – watch the video now. It’s fairly long but I will show you a few of the tools and how they work, as well as a few snags and issues I ran into along the way (all listed below in the pros and cons as well).
PROS of ON1 Photo RAW 2022
In this ON1 Photo RAW 2022 review, you’ll see that the program does also have a lot of really good features including some advanced options. Here is my list of the things I give a thumbs up to:
- The HDR tool works pretty well
- The pano stitching tool also works well
- You can use an installed version of any other PS plugins you currently own inside ON1 Photo RAW
- The new NoNoise AI tool is actually quite impressive (I’d almost buy it just for that)
- Effects Filters for adding a texture overlay or photo edge borders are cool if you want that look
- Metadata editing and batch file renaming are possible
- Their new Sky Swap AI – this is a pro and a con. Pro that they’ve added this feature, see the cons listed below)
- Two pricing options are available
- Buy outright and own it forever
- Annual subscription (save a bit off the upgrade price) and if you quit you still own the software
- The export panel allows you to export multiple formats simultaneously (I haven’t tested it for speed)
- You can make and use custom brushes
- It has really good luminosity masking with the click of a button
- You can add a watermark to your image upon export
- It can also do focus stacking of multiple images
- It can make timelapse videos as well
Overall, there is a lot to like and the program has a lot of potential, especially if you’re looking for an Adobe replacement. See more on that in my summary below.
CONS of ON1 Photo RAW 2022
Okay, I promised the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here it is all laid out for you.
- I still find the program very unintuitive and confusing, and in some instances quite annoying. I had to search the user manual and find videos on Youtube just to figure out how to:
- Find the history panel.
- Find the side panels that I didn’t even know existed and weren’t showing.
- Find the search section to find all LIKED images, or recently edited images, etc.
- Figure out how to get back to a folder I was just in quickly.
- Navigation around the program is clunky and there are too many options and panels and tabs all at once, some of which go to the same place (albums, cataloged folders, etc.)
- Portrait AI (putting this one in the CON list because there are way too many issues with it for my liking)
- There are no body or bokeh AI tools (Luminar AI has both)
- You have to do some manual placement to find the face, eyes, and mouth so a bit more time-consuming and not full AI. In the images I tried it on, it didn’t find the eyes and mouth accurately so I had to adjust the placements. Adds time to my workflow – Luminar finds them automatically almost without a mistake every time.
- Skin smoothing is not very good, and the blemish removal slider just adds even more blur. It makes a big mess of the skin. Luminar AI does a MUCH better job of this.
- If offers nothing to adjust the iris to brighten it, add more color, or change the color.
- Slim face pulls in the image way too much. This tool is NOT at all good.
- It has a really hard time with small faces or ones that are in profile. So it doesn’t work well on group or full-length portraits.
- You can make a BIG mess with it as you will see in the video!
Overall, I was not really impressed with the portrait AI tools inside ON1 Photo RAW, as you can see. Even when I dialed the sliders way back (image directly above) it’s not great, and then the blemishes are back again and there’s a weird outline around her lips that doesn’t even match her actual lips.
Just as a quick comparison, I edited the same image in Luminar AI. Look at the difference. I used one of my Fabulous Faces templates that I made for the Skylum Marketplace first. So one click and I was already 75% done, then I just adjusted a few of the sliders, and voila.
- How to do a vignette (it’s an “effect” filter) – I could NOT find it myself. In my opinion a vignette is not a “filter” it’s a basic editing tool.
- The Histogram is called “Levels” so use of terminology isn’t consistent.
- The file structure is hidden – it seems to be making thumbnails for cataloged folders but I’m not sure where it is putting them. The main ON1 application support folder gets bigger and bigger, but there is no single file that size.
- It’s not clear how the program is set up – is it a single image editor or database/catalog based program? It seems to do both because if you don’t save an image you lose your edits. It also make a lot of duplicate or copies of your files and applies edits to those. So hard drive space could become an issue. Speed issues (it is SLOW)
- When you click on a folder the first time it takes a really long time just to see any images – sometimes it even crashed the program or I had to force quit it.
- Learning curve – While I feel this program has a lot of tools and potential – it also has a steep learning curve. In order to really use it I think you’d require a course or a few days or weeks to read the manual and watch videos on YouTube
- Education isn’t free – while you do get the user manual, not much else is available for free. ON1’s own YouTube channel has no tutorials (just 1-2 minute clips) and you have to pay for ON1 plus to get teachable videos or buy a course by someone else. There is not nearly as much free education for ON1 Photo RAW (a quick YouTube search and I found about 3 or 4 educators) as there are for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Luminar.
Luminar Neo: Read my review here
Note: Skylum is about to release their newest image editing software Luminar Neo, with a release date of early 2022, possibly even January. Read my review of Luminar Neo here, and keep up to date with all the details. Is Luminar AI dead? Do you need both Luminar AI and the new Luminar Neo? Is it a replacement for Photoshop? Watch my initial run-through of the latest “technical build” and my thoughts on who Luminar Neo is FOR and who it’s NOT for.
If you want to cut right to the chase, here are my final recommendations of whether or not ON1 Photo RAW 2022 is for you. Which of the following lists resonates with you the most?
If you are looking for photo editing software and are still not sure which to get – add a comment below and tell me about your editing experience, and what you want from your editing software and I’ll give you some suggestions.
ON1 Photo RAW is for you if . . .
- You are currently using Adobe products (LR or PS) and you do not want to pay the monthly subscription so you need a replacement.
- You like working with layers and you want all the bells and whistles of an advanced photo editing software.
- You enjoy the photo editing process.
- You enjoy learning new editing techniques and how to use software.
- You jumped off the Skylum bandwagon after they announced Luminar AI (perhaps you have an older version like Luminar 4 or Luminar Flex that you still enjoy using, but want more features and refuse to give any more money to Skylum).
If any of the things sound like you – then go check out the new ON1 Photo RAW 2022. Use this discount code to get $10 off – DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR.
ON1 Photo RAW is NOT for you if . . .
- You are a total beginner to photography and/or photo editing (this program is way too advanced and not easy to use out of the box, I would recommend you have a look at Luminar Neo instead which is much beginner friendly)
- You use Lightroom for most of your editing and know how to use it and/or Photoshop fairly proficiently. For you, I’d recommend that you just keep doing that.
- You currently use and love Luminar AI. I recommend you stick with it, or look into getting the new Luminar NEo.
- You want to get in out of your photo editing software as quickly and painlessly as possible. If so – I’d recommend Luminar Neo for you as well.
If this list resonates more with you and you want to check out Luminar NEO. Use this discount code to get $10 off (not applicable on sale or pre-order prices) – DPM-NEO.
I hope that this ON1 Photo RAW 2022 review gives you a good idea of whether or not the editing software is right for you.
If you have any questions about ON1 Photo RAW or Luminar (AI or NEO) please put them in the comment area below and I’ll try and answer them for you the best I can.