ON1 Photo RAW 2018 and Video Cards


All software has some minimum hardware requirements, but I was reminded the other day in  a comment by respected photographer Brian Matiash, that since software no longer arrives in packaging, many users do not read the requirements.    I would add that this may have led makers to spend less time making this information well known, if few are bothering to read it.  And those together may contribute to a lot of the complaints with newer software.

I've spent a good portion of my life in software including time as CTO Americas for the networking innovator Novell, right up until the company was sold.  New releases of software are rarely smaller, less demanding of resources, more stringently tested or more efficient.  In the face of ongoing demands to off the newest latest widget at a lower price, the overall capability, backward compatibility and testing of today's software just isn't as good as it once was.  It's also true that today's software is richer in features than what came before it.

This leads me to ON1 Photo RAW 2018 specifically.  Recently, I found the ON1 Photo RAW 2018 was glacially slow on a client's MacBook Air.  That machine was horribly low on disk space, so I performed the same test on my own Air of the same vintage.  Like many laptops and even desktops, these machines came out of the factory with embedded video, and no option for a dedicated GPU.  Until recently, that was not a problem.

I also found that ON1 Photo RAW 2018 would not render in develop any RAW files from my Canon 5Ds.  Admittedly, these are very large files, and I could get ON1 Photo RAW 2018 to handle RAWs from older cameras with less than half the resolution of the 5Ds, but it was still very slow.

As I have a good relationship with the folks at ON1, I reached out and got a very rapid reply from Ryan, who provides excellent support to customers.  We exchanged information and I sent him some screenshots from the machine.  I know that the Air with only 4GB of RAM is nearly unusable for any kind of serious editing, but I was concerned that Lightroom Classic CC would run, although slowly and permit editing, whereas ON1 Photo RAW 2018 would not.

Ryan advised me that ON1 was aware that some computers that were older and had on board video controllers without independent GPUs were throwing a fit with rendering RAW files.  He did tell me the that the embedded Intel chipset in the MacBook Air was one example known to not work well.

Software companies build for today.  Backward compatibility counts, but not as much as being seen as an industry leader, and particularly when the perceived leader, in this case, Adobe Lightroom, is under attack from customers and competitors for being very slow.  The recent 7.2 update does improve things, but only on machines with multi-core CPUs and more than 12GB of RAM.  In fact, the update raises the minimum memory for Lightroom to 12GB.  it does launch on machines with less memory, but runs poorly.  Given that some machines are designed with a maximum memory limit of 16GB, such as any Apple laptop, this does not bode well for the future.

ON1 does place in the requirements, the ones that no one appears to read, that a GPU capable of handling OpenGL 3.3 at minimum is required and that OpenGL 4.2 support is recommended.  This does limit your video card choice to some extent.  For example, no virtual machine system exists that has this rich level of OpenGL support, and some stopped work on this function back before OpenGL 3.  A number of system board video processors, some less than three years old do not have this level of functionality either, and in the case of anything from Apple, and most any laptop, you cannot upgrade the video card after purchase.

While I would prefer the user flexibility of the old style Windows desktops or the Mac Pro that was a tower instead of a small trashcan, form is beating function all over the place these days with the designers no longer caring about true usability or product lifetime, instead focusing on fashion and prettiness.  

If you are an ON1 Photo RAW 2018 user and it is not rendering RAW properly, it's not you, it's the machine video card.  If you cannot upgrade your video card, and you still want to run the software it's new computer time.  As much as I like the ON1 people and their products, neither Skylum Luminar nor Adobe Lightroom are similarly afflicted, although you will not see stellar performance of either on older graphics chipsets.

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I'm Ross Chevalier, thanks for reading, watching and listening and until next time, peace.