ON1 Effects 2022 verdict
ON1 Effects is the Effects module of ON1 Photo RAW extracted and repackaged as a cheaper standalone tool and plug-in to be used in your existing workflow. ON1’s effects filters and presets are powerful, wide-ranging and extremely effective. The tools can be used individually or in combination, alongside powerful masking tools – and even layers – which make this a brilliant creative add-on for programs like Lightroom and Capture One.
+ Huge, varied and inspiring range of presets
+ In-depth control of each filter
+ Powerful masking tools both at a filter level and overall
+ You get ON1’s excellent effects but in your existing workflow
– The layers feature is terrific and unexpected, but lacks blend modes
– The Effects plug-in used to be free with ON1 Photo RAW but not now
ON1 Effects 2022 is a creative effects plug-in that offers a wide range of photo effects filters that can be used individually or combined for practically endless creative permutations. Better still, it comes with an extensive collection of very good one-click presets that can provide both inspiration, consistency and a lot of manual adjustments.
ON1 Software publishes the all in one ON1 Photo RAW editor that combines image organizing, editing, effects, layers and more. But ON1 has recently decided to split out key components in this software into individual pro plugins.
These include ON1 Resize AI 2022 (coming soon), ON1 NoNoise AI 2022, ON1 Effects 2022 (reviewed here), ON1 Portrait AI 2022 and ON1 HDR 2022. These plug-ins are available individually, but also as a 5-in-1 Pro Bundle.
It’s a smart move. ON1 recognises that people who already use another program aren’t always going to want to swap their whole imaging workflow over to ON1 Photo RAW. By making some of its core components available separately, ON1 makes them individually cheaper and compatible with your existing workflow.
Actually, although ON1 calls them plug-ins, they do also work as standalone apps (like the DxO Nik Collection plug-ins), so this makes them compatible with a wider range of programs, including not just Photoshop and Lightroom Classic, but Affinity Photo, Apple Photos and Capture One too.
I’m reviewing ON1 Effects 2022 first because I think the Effects module is right at the heart of ON1 Photo RAW’s great feature set, and this makes a powerful creative companion for other program.
What can it do?
ON1 Effects offers no fewer than 31 individual filters. These can be used for regular adjustments like Color Balance, Curves and Sharpening, creative processes like Bleach Bypass, HDR and Vintage looks, special effects like Weather and Sun Flare, and analog film looks using Vintage, Antique, Film Grain filters and Borders.
If you’ve ever used the DxO Nik Collection, you can think of ON1 Effects as rolling together the kind of tools you would find in Color Efex Pro, Analog Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro.
You can work in one of two ways. One is to start with a clean slate and choose your filters manually, combining and adjusting them as you go along. The other is to start from a preset effect and then make any manual adjustments you need to.
The presets are great, but no preset will immediately suit every image it’s applied to (in general, not just here), so the ability to make adjustments is both useful and in fact essential.
And if you create your own ‘look’ that you want to use again in the future, you can save that as a custom preset of your own, whether it’s one you made from scratch or an adaptation of an existing preset.
There’s a lot more. ON1 Effects also offers local adjustments for the whole image, plus individual masks for each filter if required. It has a spot removal tool which is effective on sensor dust and blemishes and unwanted objects, and it even supports layers – you can add another image as a new layer and blend it with the first.
What’s it like to use?
Outwardly, ON1 Effects is very straightforward to use. The image you’re working on takes up largest area in the center of the screen. The preset effects and masking and retouching tools are on the left, while on the right you have the filter adjustment tools, information displays (Navigator, Histogram) and the Local (adjustments) and Layers panel.
ON1 Effects can be as simple or as deep as you want it to be. If you just want an instant ‘look’, you can choose one from the Preset library, and with just a few clicks you’ve got a whole new treatment. ON1 Effects presets cover a lot of creative ground, and delivery some spectacular treatments that you might not even have thought of.
But if you decide you need to add extra effects, like a border, that’s easy to do in the right sidebar with the Add Filter button. This right sidebar shows all the filters applied in a concertina display where you can expand each panel to make adjustments.
Some of these adjustments are very deep. Not only that, each filter can have its own mask applied via a small icon. You do have to pay attention to where you are applying the mask, though. It’s easy to mistake the mask for the whole filter stack for those in the individual filters.
The masking tools are, like so much of this program, unexpectedly deep and powerful. You can create linear masks, radial masks, manual brush masks, polygon line masks and AI Quick Masks.
The layers support is equally impressive, though if you want to add another image you will have to locate and load it yourself from within the program, so it doesn’t quite dovetail with the usual round-tripping process from your host program.
What are the results like?
I spend a lot of time in the DxO Nik Collection and Exposure X, but every time I turn to ON1 Effects (or Photo RAW instead) I’m surprised all over again at what it can do.
ON1 Effects has its own quirky, sometimes complex way of doing things, largely perhaps because of its depth ad scope. It’s worth the effort, though, because the results are – to use the old cliché – genuinely limited by your own imagination.
And if your own imagination is feeling a bit tired and jaded, ON1 Effects can fix that too, with its pretty spectacular catalog of presets. You won’t like them all, but that’s the same with any preset collection. The key here is that there are so many, and they are so varied, that you won’t have to look far for fresh inspiration.
ON1 Effects 2022 is a great solution for anyone who wants the creative effects and inspiration it provides but doesn’t want to swap to the full ON1 Photo RAW workflow.
It’s true that with previous versions of ON1 Photo RAW you got a plug-in version of Effects thrown in. You don’t get that with ON1 Photo RAW 2022. That complicates things for those who have both Lightroom (say) and ON1 Photo RAW and relied on the plug-in option.
However, this is a much better solution for those thinking of ON1 software but not ready to swap to the ON1 workflow. ON1 Effects 2022 reaches a potentially far wider audience at a much lower cost than ON1 Photo RAW itself.
What does it cost, where do you get it?
ON1 Photo RAW is available now from the ON1 website. At the time of writing, the price is $49.99, reduced from $69.99, but ON1 regularly updates its offers so do check for the latest pricing.
ON1 software – Save 20%
Trial versions available
ON1 Photo RAW 2023: $99.99
ON1 Photo RAW subscription (200GB): $7.99/month
ON1 Photo RAW subscription (1TB): $15.99/month
ON1 Effects plug-ins: $69.99
ON1 Resize AI 2023: $99.99
ON1 Professional Plugin Bundle: $149.99
ON1 Sky Swap AI: $29.99
• Save 20% at the checkout with this discount code: LAPON120
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