If you are trying to make the switch from Lightroom to another software, this is the perfect place to be. Of course, Adobe products including Lightroom are industry standards but it does not mean that they are the only photo editing software. ON1 Photo Raw comes very close to Lightroom in performance and even surpasses it in certain aspects. Read along to understand the rivalry of Lightroom vs ON1 Photo Raw.

Non-Destructive Photo Editors

Before moving on to the heated debate of Lightroom vs ON1 Photo Raw, it is important to know that the fundamentals of both software are the same. For instance, they are both non-destructive in their editing processes. This point is significant because the edits are not applied directly to the original image. Instead, they are stored as instructions which are easily removed. Apart from this, many of the shortcut keys are also the same in both software which makes it easier to shift from one to other.

Browsing vs Catalogs

The first major difference that starts Lightroom vs ON1 Photo Raw conflict is how they access photos and then store edits applied on them. First of all, let us talk about Lightroom Catalogs. Lightroom stores every edit on a single file which can then be back up. However, to edit a photo, you need to first import it into the catalogs file. On the other hand, ON1 Photo Raw utilizes a Browsing process. It means that it automatically detects images in all your folders and makes them visible directly in the software. This feature makes it extremely useful for daily processing tasks as it cuts the importing time.

Backup of Photos

You know that Lightroom already creates a backup of the catalogs. However, ON1 Photo Raw does not support direct backups. To be safe, you will have to manually add a cloud backup to the photos edited by ON1. 

ON1 Sidecar Files

The backup aspect of Lightroom vs On1 Photo Raw debate looks to be in the favor of Lightroom. Although ON1 does not provide any direct backup, fortunately, it does provide an alternative method. You can enable ON1 Sidecar files for each of your photos. They take very little space; however, they do not store information such as presets or even preferences and only store the edits data. An important thing that you should remember is that in case of a total database failure, you would still lose hours of organizational work.

Presets - Lightroom vs On1

When talking about Lightroom vs ON1 Photo Raw, the major editing difference is in presets. ON1 comes loaded with more presets than Lightroom, but it should also be remembered that most photographers create presets for Lightroom. The next point is rendering. ON1 presets are more versatile as they also allow changes in textures, frames, film simulations, however, this extra functionality comes with more time consumption.
Photo editing with lightroom and ON1

Photo edited in Lightroom.


The principle of Effects is that they apply filters to your images. Although Photoshop contains many of the effects available in ON1 it does not include all of them in Lightroom. The pain point here is that they can be created in Lightroom but it is a very complex and time-consuming task. On the contrary, they can be applied by a single tap in ON1.

Layers - Lightroom vs On1

Another thing that must be covered in Lightroom vs On1 Photo Rawdebate is the use of layers and masks. It is quite simple and easy in Photoshop but even ON1 does not lack the basic functionality. Although it takes more time and steps once you get the hang of it, it is pretty simple to use.

Local Adjustments

Again, this tool is fundamentally similar to Lightroom’s adjustment brush. But the main advantage it provides is the added functionality of blend modes. It means that it cannot only select which areas to edit, but it can do so based on colors or even tones.

Speed and Performance - Lightroom vs On1

Now, let us talk about speed. If you have used Lightroom, you would know that it is not a very fast software itself. However, when selecting exclusively from Lightroom vs On1 Photo Raw, Lightroom is slightly faster. For instance, as discussed above, preview rendering is slower on ON1. It also takes more time in exporting images than Lightroom. 

If we talk about stability, well, both of the programs stand at a similar position meaning they sometimes crash. However, if the speed issue concerns you, a faster computer will pretty much solve it.

Exporting the Images

ON1 gives you many export options including resize. It is particularly useful if you want to print your images. Also, it allows you to save images in many formats even Photoshop PSD and PSB.

Lightroom vs On1 Photo Raw – Final Thoughts

Now that you know the major differences, it would be easier to choose between the two. If you are still not sure, understand that the majority of the functions of both programs are similar. There is that time issue, but as discussed above, it can be minimized using a faster machine. Otherwise, both are great photo editors and it just depends on you to choose from the two.

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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