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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The programs in MacPhun's Creative Kit 2016 started out as inexpensive individual apps focused on a specific image-editing need. You can still buy them in this form on the Mac App Store, but it makes more sense to get them all at once direct from MacPhun in the Creative Kit – all six apps are useful and worth having, and it the Creative Kit offers a substantial cost saving over the individual prices.

Some software bundles are a bit of a mixed bag, but here the standard is consistently high. Snapheal, Noiseless and Focus are quick and simple tools for carrying out a specialised job that's often quite complicated. They don't do much, but they do it well and in an appealing direct and simple way.

FX Photo Studio CK is a bit of a surprise. Its photo effects look rather crude and obvious compared to the subtler effects in Intensify and Tonality, but it does have some depth to it and can give you ideas for image effects you might never have thought of.

The two most powerful apps are Intensify and Tonality. Intensify can be hard going, but Tonality is the opposite – it offers creative scope far beyond its apparently straightforward purpose.

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

Tonality is the most powerful app in this collection and is especially good at creating vintage/retro effects.

But what do you compare it with? The MacPhun Creative Kit 2016 offers far more inspiration than a regular image-editor like Elements or Photoshop, and it's closer to plug-in suites like On1 Photos 10 and Google Nik Collection. (In, fact, Photos 10 now works as a standalone suite too and has browsing/organising tools that Creative Kit 2016 lacks.)

It has advantages over both. Creative Kit 2016 is a lot cheaper and more flexible than the Google Nik Collection, and it feels slicker and simpler than On1 Photos 10.

MacPhun Creative Kit 2016

FX Photo Studio might initially look like a bunch of low-tech novelty effects, but it deserves a closer look because it includes some interesting artistic and graphic effects.

We like

All six apps are attractive, easy to use and responsive. Visually, they don't tie in completely, but they clearly share the same DNA. Highlights are Snapheal and Noiseless for their simple effectiveness and Tonality for its power and subtlety.

We dislike

Differences in the interface design and user level mean the six programs still need time to absorb individually. Intensify is perhaps the weakest, not because it lacks power – far from it – but because takes the interesting concept of localised contrast adjustment and dissects it almost to the point of dullness.

Final verdict

If you've got a Mac and you're looking for software that can inspire you with new ideas and doesn't bog you down with jargon and dreary workarounds, you really should try out the free trial. The MacPhun Creative Kit apps feel fast and responsive, as you'd expect for software built for the Mac platform, and they deliver the maximum Mac fun (we see what they did now) with the minimum of technical effort.

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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.