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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If you were buying the MacPhun Creative Kit applications separately, Tonality would be the most expensive. MacPhun describes it as the world's most advanced black and white photo editor, and it comes with a wide range of preset effects backed up, as ever, with manual adjustment tools.

The screen layout is quite similar to Intensify's, though here the presets are arranged in categories (Basic, Architecture, Portrait, Dramatic and more), and when you select a category its presets are displayed in a thumbnail strip along the bottom of the screen so that you can get a visual preview of the effects as you choose between them.

Tonality is billed as a black and white tool, but actually it can create some quite striking color effects too, thanks to the way effects can be blended and stacked using the software's inbuilt layers and masking tools and because of the colour controls offered by the manual adjustments.

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

Tonality is billed as a black and white tool but it actually offers quite subtle control over colors, too.

This might seem an odd place to start talking about a black and white tool, but it unlocks a lot of this program's potential. It lies in an unassuming Color Filter panel in the manual tools.

This has sliders for six different colour ranges: Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Violet – and you can adjust both Luminance and Saturation for each. The regular black and white presets will drop all these color values down to zero, but you can push them up manually to produce a black and white photo with the red tones pulled out – or the blues, or greens. Or you can give each colour a different strength to give images a retro, part-toned look. It's a simple tool with a lot of potential.

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

This wintry beach shot looked best as a brooding black and white but with just a hint of color dialled back in.

Mostly, though, you'll want to start with the presets, and these do offer a good choice of 'looks'. You can click a thumbnail to see that effect applied almost instantly to the your image and, if it looks a little strong, you can wind back the percentage with a slider at the base of the preset's thumbnail. Handily, this doesn't start re-introducing the color in the original image – instead, it works back to a neutral black and white conversion.

The presets are good, but sooner or later you'll want to start experimenting with the manual settings, which are displayed as a stack of expanding panels on the right of the screen. There is a lot of control here, including the ability to add texture overlays, grain and photo frames. There's not a massive selection of frames, but there is still a decent variety.

This is the most powerful program in the Creative Kit, and although it's designed as a black and white editor, you can 'switch the color back on' and use it as a pretty good all-round image-enhancement tool. It offers sophisticated exposure controls (Standard and Adaptive), selective contrast adjustments, clarity, structure and micro-structure controls and more. In some ways, MacPhun is underselling what this program can do.

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.