Layers and Blend Modes

Of course, I’m curious to see what PhotoLab 7 brings, too.

Hi Mark - Given your experience with ON1; what’s the answer to this question?

I reckon this is an important point to understand (for me, at least).

HI John,

I play with each new version of ON1 off and on (mostly off) for a few months before I am absolutely positive it is still crap and then I uninstall it. I am not going to waste my time and money on that any more. ON 1 uses sidecar files like PhotoLab, however since I use it so infrequently, I honestly don’t know whether the details are also stored in a database.


I would counter the order in which layers are applied can be specific and important. As already mentioned, adjustment layers are a thing in many apps and in many cases the order of these among themselves is not significant. The order of pixel layers is always important, and you could argue that PhotoLab does have pixel layers. In a sense. Have a think about how the Retouch tool works.

Yes - that’s the case with PL … We, as users, don’t get to specify the order in which Local Adjustments are applied … which is why I do not think of them as “layers”.

It’s true that the order in which different Retouch “masks” are applied is in the same order that we/users prescribe them … but, that order is specific only within a group of Retouch-es.

My point being “layers” versus “not layers” is a very nuanced discussion. The only “real” layers are in the stack of papers on your desk. Everything on the computer screen is open to interpretation.

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I have looked at ON1 on and off but never spent the time to really get to grips with it.

The new 2024 version looks really interesting and it is priced competitively. Feature wise ON1 have put plenty of effort into keeping up to date with AI editing whilst not ignoring basic tools like the Curves tool, and it looks like 2024 represents them pausing for breath and overhauling the Ui and performance. I think ON1 2024 will be a strong contender if they can deliver what their promises.

Until recently I wasn’t aware that ON1 could run plugins like Topaz Photo AI which is a further benefit/flexibility. An example of how I hadn’t really put any effort into ON1 :slight_smile:

Demosaicing in DXO and editing in ON1 could be a viable option. I guess we will see how the new versions of DXO PL7 and ON1 compare in a few weeks.

I have had the same experience with ON1, at that time with errors in the generation of masks. A year later it had not been fixed. Yes, ‘irritating’ is the right word. But it has its good sides. I left, because the support was really bad.

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I really liked the look of ON1 and almost abandoned PhotoLab 4 in favour of it. What stopped me was one simple thing… sharpness. I took a photo of an aircraft in moderately low light so it had a little noise in it. PhotoLab cleaned up the noise nicely and gave me a nice crisp image. ON1 couldn’t tame the noise without turning it into a flat, muddy mess.

I loved all the features, but also found them a little buggy (and at times confusing) but it was the basic decode-denoise step that sealed the deal to stay with PhotoLab. I’ll put up with a lot of weirdness from PhotoLab because of that superpower.

In which case, perhaps you can answer the question as where/how ON1 stores details of corrections applied to RAW files … I’m meaning, in the same way that PL creates ~.dop files.

Because, unless this is done in a transparent manner (such as via PL’s ~.dop files), there would be significant risk involved in potential for all such correction details to be lost/corrupted.

Sorry, no. I trialled it as a user, not a hacker. I was focused solely on what it could turn one of my RAW files into. The answer was nothing terribly great.

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No it is not.
Local adjutments are not what people are asking when they ask for layers.
Local adjustments miss lot of things to act as layers do in every other software.

They could maybe become layers, but they aren’t now. period.

Not layers.
They miss lot of features to act as layer do in other softwares.
They could become layers (with some added features), but they are not.

Everything in life is open to interpretation.
But layers, for people using graphic softwares means something which is not open to interpretation.
photolab does not have yet layers.

Then perhaps they should not be asking for layers. See below.

I agree, they are not called layers now.

I respectfully disagree. Both the words “layer” and “graphics” in your sentence are open to interpretation. If “graphic software” is software for creating graphics, then PhotoLab does not fit the bill. But it does work with pixels, which are arguably graphics. The trouble with both words is they are very generic.

It is open to interpretation even if you and others think it is not.

If you would like the ability to load multiple independent planes of pixel content into the viewer for individual manipulation and combination with a stated and non-commutative order, then that is what you should ask for. Even better, give examples of what you actually want to achieve.

“Layers” is far too generic a request. If only because some people here will argue you already have them.

Sorry for my not precise enough english. So some interpretation can be done because of it (no possible interpretation in my native langage when talking with someone working in digital imagery creation field).
I come from animated visual special effects and I manipulate digital images with LOT OF softwares (and yes, with lot of time (years) it is possible to master all of them precisely).
And what I call graphic softwares are about every softwares (serious and professionnal - not toys (a professionnal wants to have total control over what he is doing)) which allow to manipulate still or moving images of any kind.

Photolab is a demosaicer AND a pixel processing software.
Just load a jpg into it and see how many functions are active.
You’ll see that most photolab tools act at pixel level and not at demosaicing level.

Problem is, most of those pixel processing tools are not complete and don’t give user what a high quality sofware should provide. They are more toys than top professional tools.

Demosaicer part of photolab is top level.
But most pixel processing tools of it are just embrionic (limit toys for some of them).

Indeed. I think people who argue that either don’t really know how layers are implemented in “graphic softwares” which provide them (more powerfull possibilties than layers exists) and what they offer to user or they are not completely honest and neutral.

I would like to venture that you’re using the wrong software, then. Switch to PureRAW then use one of those many other applications you’ve learned.

I do that too.

Photolab is a RAW processor, not a pixel editor. The flexibility of local adjustments is sufficient for Photolab, in my opinion.