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Review / MacPhun Releases Tonality Pro

July 31st – MacPhun released Tonality Pro, a new app in their lineup for making black and white images.

Tonality Pro retails for $69.99. It is also included in an expanded Creative Kit Plus bundle for $149.99. The Creative Kit Plus bundle also includes Intensify Pro, Snapheal Pro, and Focus 2 Pro.

I downloaded the trial of Tonality Pro and gave it a test run.

 

The Preamble & Disclaimer Stuff

Just so we're all on the same page here... I don't write reviews for products I don't like. If I like a product and use it, I tell you about it. If I see value in a product, I'll tell you about it. I don't accept payment from a company to write a review. Product links on the site may be affiliate links. If you like what you read and use one of my links to purchase it, I'll make a dollar or two. That's it. Plain and simple. Now let's get to it.

Installation

Tonality Pro Plug-in Installer

Installation is very easy. Like any typical Mac Application, open or unpack the image you download and drag Tonality Pro into your Applications folder.

Tonality Pro can run as a plug-in for several image editing applications. It integrates with Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements. If you're like me, you centralize your photo editing around your DAM. So get Tonality Pro directly from MacPhun.

In addition to running with your DAM, the pro application has layers support and more controls to fine tune your image (vs the standalone Tonality, available from the Mac App store). Something you don't get when running as a plug-in is the crop button. Not a big deal since your DAM likely has cropping anyway.

It was a little unintuitive to install the plug-ins, at least for me. I needed to launch Tonality Pro as a standalone application and load an image (that was the unintuitive part). Once I had an image loaded, Tonality Pro prompted me to install the plug-ins.

Interface

The interface is similar to other MacPhun applications. I'm most familiar with Intensify Pro and had no trouble working in Tonality. One interface difference is the Presets aren't in a pane on the right side. Expanding the Presets presents a filmstrip at the bottom with previews of each preset for the loaded image.

There's a nice video from Dan Hughes from MacPhun walking you through the entire Tonality Pro interface.

A Quick Dry Run

Sutro Baths, Out of camera

Sutro Baths, Tonality Pro

Tonality Pro has all the types of controls you would expect and want in a black & white post-processing tool. Packed with 150 presets grouped into 10 categories (Basic, Architecture, Portrait, Dramatic, Outdoor, Street, Vintage, Film Emulation, Toning, HDR), it's easy to find a good starting point for your image. All of the presets modify a standard set of controls in the interface that you can further tweak to your liking.

A quick rundown of the adjustment options.

  • Tone, Clarity & Structure – The most interesting sliders are the Adaptive Exposure slider and the Smart Contrast slider. These are in addition to standard exposure and contrast sliders.

    I'm struggling to find the words to explain these. Adjusting a traditional exposure slider to darken or brighten an image basically shifts the histogram left or right, respectively. The adaptive slider has less of an overall shift, however also adjusts the peaks and valleys in the histogram. Similarly, a traditional contrast slider stretches out the histogram, whereas the smart contrast slider also amps the peaks and valleys, adding boosts of contrast in varying parts of your image.
     
  • Color Filter, Tone Curve, Split Toning – What you would expect. There are standard starting points for color filters with controls for both luminance and saturation. The tone curve is intuitive and allows you to set multiple control points on the curve. The split toning controls are also well thought out, with individual color pickers, tint, and saturation controls for the highlights and shadows.
     
  • Glow & Lens Blur – I quite liked the controls and effects the lens blur tools offered. A drawback is I could not find a way to visualize exactly where the lens blur was being applied to the image (such as showing a mask). This would be a nice edition.
     
  • Texture Overlay – There are 24 built in textures grouped into Paper, Metal, and Film categories. You can also select any image as a custom texture. I did not find any support for adding your own custom textures to be directly available in Tonality Pro. I also did not find any way to change the size or rotate a texture. I prefer that my textures don't look like everybody else using a post-processing tool. An easy way to do that while still using the built in textures is resizing and rotating. Perhaps that will come in a future release.

    There are 5 blending modes for textures – normal, multiply, screen, soft light, and overlay. To see how each mode changes your image, you must click on each mode. Hovering over a blending mode is not enough to render the effect.
     
  • Vignette – The vignette controls are very good, including my favorite types of adjustments... placing the center of the vignette and controlling the size, shape and feather.
     
  • Grain & Photo Frames – I'm not a big user of film grain or borders. If you are, the options are here. There are 12 frames built into Tonality Pro. I could not find any way to select a custom frame.
     
  • Opacity & Layers – Lastly, the overall opacity of the adjustments you've made is controllable. Tonality Pro also supports a maximum of 8 layers and has several masking and blending tools. Layered workflows are very powerful, allowing you to treat different layers with different effects and blend them together.

A Processing Workflow

As I found with Intensify Pro, I began working with a preset and tweaking the adjustments to get the image where I wanted. For the image shown above, I started with the Lost Shores preset in the Outdoor category. I further fine tuned the clarity, tweaked the tone curve slightly to make the shadows a little darker, and changed the default vignette to be darker and feather much more. 

Parting Thoughts

I think Tonality Pro is a good offering – 150 included presets is a boatload, too! If you own other MacPhun tools, the interface is consistent and you will feel right at home. I personally will not be purchasing Tonality Pro. My reasons have nothing to do with the very few shortcomings I found. My reasons:

  • I don't do a lot of black & white work
  • I already own two other black & white plug-ins
  • I'm not buying any other plug-ins until I know what my DAM will be after Aperture

Again, these reasons have nothing to do with Tonality Pro as a tool.