LUTs are The Next Big Thing in photo editing. They’ve been used in cinematography and video editing for some time, but now they’re hitting mainstream photo editors too, and they are a really exciting innovation. That’s why it’s such great news that there’s now a LUTs filter in ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5.
Update: On1 Photo RAW 2019 review
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LUT stands for Look Up Table. It’s a kind of conversion profile that takes the luminance and colour values from the source image and remaps them on to new tone and colour values. It’s the opposite of a correction profile – it’s designed not to correct a fault but to create a particular ‘look’.
To find out more about LUTS, read my Q&A with Goran Ljubuncic at Lutify.me (more on this shortly).
The disadvantage with LUTs is that you have to take them or leave them. You can’t go in and change any of the colour conversion parameters (though you can use the regular editing tools on top of the LUT effect).
The advantage is that LUTs are software-independent – as long as the software supports LUTs, you can use your favourite LUTs anywhere.
ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 comes with its own selection of LUTs to get you started, but LUTs are widely available online as free downloads or commercial LUT packages. In this brief tutorial I’ll take a look at both.
01 Add the LUT filter
First, you need to be in the Effects module. Don’t choose a preset just yet; instead, start with no filters applied at click the Add Filter button to see a list of available filters – you’ll find the new LUTs filter over on the right hand side near the top.
02 Choose a LUT
The last few LUTs you used are shown as a row of buttons at the top of the filter panel to make it easier to find and re-use your favourites – this one is called Blues. At the bottom of the panel you’ll see sliders for Contrast and Saturation to tone down or boost the effect if the strength is not quite right.
03 LUT categories
In between you’ll see drop-down menus which display a selection of LUT categories and, once you’ve selected a category, the individual LUTs within that group. This is the Aachen LUT from the Color Grading category.
04 Finding new LUTs
But I have some favourite LUTs from Lutify.me which I already use in Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW, Capture One Pro and Luminar. That’s the beauty of LUTs – you can apply exactly the same ‘look’ in many different programs (as long as the support LUTs). So all I need to do is log into my account and download some LUTs – ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 uses the standard .cube format for LUT files.
05 Importing LUTs
The ON1 Photo RAW LUTs filter has an Import button. I can now navigate to the folder where I’ve stored my downloaded LUT files, create a new category to store them in and import them into ON1 Photo RAW.
06 New LUT categories
So now, when I open the LUT filter Category menu, my new category is displayed at the bottom of the list under a new My LUTs sub-heading.
07 Choosing an imported LUT
I can now select an imported LUT in just the same way as those built in – this one is called Albireo, and it creates a high-contrast, warm-toned image. LUT effects can be pretty strong, but in case you haven’t spotted it already, there’s an Opacity slider at the top of the LUTs panel.