MacPhun Creative Kit 2016 review

Drama, beauty and bokeh are just a few mouse-clicks away. You can get rid of unwanted bystanders, too

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

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Intensify is altogether more powerful and more complex than the previous two applications. It follows a similar route – offering a range of single-click preset effects backed up by manual controls – but this time they're presented as a list down the right side of the screen, rather than as thumbnail images.

Intensify can really bring your images to life with enhanced clarity, crispness, detail, saturation and contrast. For all its complexity and sophistication, though, it really only does one thing – it takes the localised 'clarity' adjustments now offered by most programs for giving pictures more punch, but then makes them a whole lot more complex with Pro Contrast, Structure, Detail and Micro Detail adjustments that quickly get confusing.

It doesn't help that many of the preset effects look rather similar. They're organised into categories in the right sidebar according to function, such as Architecture, Creative and Image Tune, but these splits seem pretty arbitrary, and you're just as likely to find the effect you want in a category you wouldn't expect.

They also tend to exhibit a lot of 'bad HDR' artefacts, such as glow effects around object edges, heightened noise (and sensor spots!) and sometimes ugly posterisation in over-enhanced areas.

You can do a lot with this program. The manual controls offer a good deal of subtlety – if you have the patience to learn them – and it's also possible to 'stack' effects using Intensify's internal layers and masking system, and save your favourite effects as presets for re-use in future. It can deliver some really impressive results, but you may have to work a little to get the best from it.

Ultimately, Intensify feels too complicated for its relatively straightforward purpose. You can apply simpler localised contrast improvements in other programs and get a better HDR look with a dedicated HDR app like MacPhun Aurora (not in the Creative Kit, alas). Intensify feels like a worthwhile idea that's been taken a bit too far.

Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.