The ON1 Photo RAW 2023.1 update is free to existing users and might just convince users of older versions that it’s time to upgrade. It also makes this software’s AI credentials that little bit more convincing for anyone weighing up ON1’s do-it-all photo editor against Skylum Luminar Neo.
So here’s how sky replacement works in ON1 Photo RAW 2023. Once you’ve opened your image for editing, select the ‘Sky’ tab in the tools panel in the right sidebar.
Here, you can choose the sky you want to add to your image and ON1’s sky masking AI process will identify and mask the sky in your subject automatically. You can choose a sky from the set of options near the top of the panel or use the drop-down menu a little lower to choose from a wide range of skies in different categories.
1. Standard Model A
So here’s a seaside shelter I captured at sunset, though in the original shot the sky was a rather bland blue. But ON1 Photo RAW has done a great job of blending in the new sky and even relighting the shelter itself to match the sky’s colors. So what’s wrong with this version?
2. Model A mask
If I swap the view to show the mask (click on the mask to show the options and then click ‘View’). I can see the mask is sharp in some places and quite soft and blurred in others. Where it’s blurred you can sometimes see a kind of ‘glow’ around object edges where the mask has been feathered. It doesn’t show much in my sample image, but it can be very obvious with darker skies. You can also see the sky showing through a window on the left side of the shelter. Sometimes you want that, sometimes you don’t.
3. Model B mask
So I can now switch the sky AI method from Model A to Model B, and straight away the mask looks a lot tighter against the horizon on the right. ON1 says this Method B can also be better at preventing the sky encroaching on brighter parts of buildings, like windows on skyscrapers, and here its blocked out more of the window on the left of the shelter.
4. The finished image
Here’s my shot with a sunset sky blended in with ON1’s new Model B mode. ON1 suggests starting with Model A then using Model B if you need to, but so far all the results I’ve seen look better with this new model.
I haven’t always found ON1 RAW’s sky AI to be 100% convincing, but it’s worked very well here, perhaps not just because of the new AI model but ongoing improvements in the AI. Luminar Neo is still perhaps the best at this, though Photoshop does a fair job too. Lightroom and Lightroom Classic perhaps have the best AI sky masking of all, but neither offers sky replacement, so they’re not really doing the same job.
Don’t look at this shot and imagine that the sky mask has ‘leaked’ into the shelter and the wall. The mask doesn’t include them, but the sky AI tool does automatically re-color the foreground to tone in with the sky. You can turn this off and alter the color if you want, but it works pretty well straight out of the box.
ON1 Photo RAW 2023.1 now offers adjustable interface font sizes!
That’s the good news. One of the enduring characteristics of ON1 Photo RAW (we won’t call it an ‘issue’) is that the interface elements and type are pretty small. With this update, though, you can now go into the preferences and choose ’Small’ (the default), ‘Medium’ or ‘Large’ text.
That was the good news. The bad news is that if you choose Medium like I did, the interface text is now a much more readable size – but the button text in the tabs in the right sidebar doesn’t fit any more. Oops!
- ON1 Photo RAW 2022 Sky Swap AI: is it any good?
- How to add a new sky to a landscape without selections
- Selections and masks: what do they do, what’s the difference?
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