First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Image Processing Software


Lightroom and Photoshop are by far the two most well-known processing software for photographers, but they aren’t the only options. Several photographers have recently started using CaptureOne or ON1 but recently a new and lesser known software was released called Picktorial (designed for Mac only). I’ve had the opportunity to test this raw editor for a while now and I believe that it is definitely an interesting software that has several features that I miss in Adobe Lightroom.

Picktorial is also a more affordable option than several of the other software available and unlike Adobe’s products, it isn’t set up as a monthly subscription model.

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Processing Software

Before I begin sharing my experiences with Picktorial, I want to point out that I was originally testing the Beta version and a few of the bugs I’ll mention in this article have now been resolved. I also want to say that the Picktorial team has been incredibly helpful and they have worked hard and efficiently in fixing any bugs I experienced while using the Beta.

What is Picktorial?

Picktorial is in many ways similar to Adobe Lightroom as it’s a raw editor (meaning you’re not working with layers such as in Photoshop). However, even though it’s a raw editor it has several interesting features that you would need Photoshop to do if you’re an Adobe user. By including advanced tools such as luminosity masks and blending modes, Picktorial has opened the eyes of both professional and amateur photographers.

Picktorial is a non-destructive editor which means that you at any point can go back and readjust any setting (your original image is untouched). This is something I really value in modern editors as you don’t have to redo the last 30 minute of adjustments just to fix one minor mistake you made when you started.

You can also store images in Picktorial so it’s easy to find the picture you’re looking for when you want to process something. In other words, you don’t have to open the folders on your computer to open the file. They are available inside the software as long as you’ve added the particular folder to be visible inside Picktorial.

First Impressions – The Good

In their own words, Picktorial claims that they made Picktorial the ultimate tool for every photographer to intuitively organize and enhance photos. I can’t say that I disagree. When opening the software for the first time it didn’t take me many minutes until I felt comfortable navigating through and I found it easy to understand how the layout was built. Unlike Lightroom, Picktorial only has one window/module (Lightroom has several such as Library and Develop). While this isn’t a winning factor, I did find it convenient to have everything located at one place instead of switching between windows.

Upon opening the software for the first time it didn’t take me very long until I felt comfortable navigating through and I found it easy to understand how the layout was built. Unlike Lightroom, Picktorial only has one window/module (Lightroom has several such as Library and Develop). While this isn’t a winning factor, I did find it convenient to have everything located at one place instead of switching between windows.

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Processing Software

Since I’ve been an Adobe user for the past 10-or-so years, I found it natural to compare this software with Lightroom which is my go-to editor and library. Initially, I was a little skeptical of this new software and I noted to myself that it would take a lot to convince me that this was a better option than Lightroom. But I’m happy to say that I’ve been quite impressed.

The layout is clean and relatively minimalistic, they’ve “cut the crap” so you don’t need to be confused about features you don’t need and as I said, Picktorial has several features I now realize that I miss in Lightroom.

Browser Panel

The browser panel shows all the images and folders you’ve imported into Picktorial. On the left side, you have the Library Panel which shows the hierarchy of the folders you’ve imported, while the bottom panel shows the image thumbnails (see screenshot above). In this panel, you can both rate and flag images, as well as open them into other software such as Adobe Photoshop, Color Efex Pro or any of your preferred tools.

Inspector Panel

The Inspector Panel can be compared with Lightroom’s Develop module as it’s here where most of the magic happens. As the image below shows, the Inspector Panel lets you adjust the following:

  • Crop & Rotate
  • Light
  • Color
  • Curves
  • Retouch
  • Overlay
  • Frame
  • Watermark
  • Develop

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Processing Software

The Inspector Panel is also where you can view the metadata of the image and add keywords (which I find useful in order to easily locate images). I won’t go too much into detail about the various adjustments in this article but there are some things I want to point out.

Blacks and Shadows

Blacks and Shadow adjustments are much more sensitive than in Lightroom. This is not a bad thing, it just takes some getting used to. In my photography, I play a lot with the blacks and whites to increase the contrast, but this needs to be done with a bit more care in Picktorial.


Clarity is also much more powerful than what I’ve seen in other software. I rarely use this slider myself but I know many prefer to drag it pretty far to get a specific look.

Blending Modes

Blending Modes is by far my favorite feature in Picktorial. This opens the door to create several more advanced techniques such as an Orton Effect. Before this was something I had to do in Photoshop, but now I don’t have to leave the software at all. You can also adjust the Opacity so the effects aren’t too strong.

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Processing Software

Luminosity Masks

Luminosity Masks are another great feature in Picktorial. Use one of these masks to apply the adjustments to only specific areas of your image. It takes some time to understand how they work, but once you understand the basics this can be an extremely useful tool.

Second Impressions – Less Than Good

So far I’ve only talked about the benefits and what I enjoyed about Picktorial. Despite my first impression being extremely positive, there are a few less convenient aspects I want to mention as well.

Since I originally tested the Beta version I won’t talk much about the bugs I experienced then, as they seem to all be fixed as I’m writing this. I’m not using the Beta version currently and I haven’t experienced any of the bugs I did at the beginning. I also noticed that the staff were extremely quick in fixing any issue I had – so thank you for that!

The Speed

Unfortunately, Picktorial hasn’t run as smoothly as I hoped. This might be due to my old Mac but other software such as Photoshop and Lightroom are able to run smooth even when working on large files. In Picktorial, I’ve noticed that it frequently takes 10 or more seconds before the adjustment becomes visible, which is slightly annoying. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it appears at least once or twice on each image when only adjusting basic settings such as Color and Light.

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Processing Software


The other slightly disappointing thing is the complexity of the process for sharpening the image. To sharpen the image you first need to add a fill layer and then apply the sharpening. This is not very intuitive for someone who’s just getting into processing. It would be better to have this as a stand-alone adjustment where you only need to adjust the sliders in order to apply the sharpening.

The Verdict

While I’m still using Adobe Lightroom as my main processing software I do enjoy opening Picktorial every now and then. I believe it is a powerful raw editor and with the extra features it has, it’s definitely a worthy opponent of the more known software.

Had the speed been slightly quicker (again, this might be due to my computer), I would probably use this software more frequently than I do now.

First Impressions of Picktorial Raw Processing Software

Picktorial is a great and affordable option (only $69.99 USD) for those who are getting started with basic processing and I can recommend it. You don’t need much prior image processing experience to use it and as soon as you open the software you’ll notice how well laid out all the steps are – it will soon feel natural.

Picktorial is a good option for those who are getting into post-processing but are able to understand different software without help. More popular software such as Lightroom has tons of tutorials teaching you to make even the most niche techniques, which is something Picktorial still lacks. It’s also a good choice if you’re interested in using Luminosity Masks but you’re not yet ready to learn how to manually do this in Photoshop. It might not be the best choice if you have large image libraries that aren’t neatly organized, as its library module is still rather limited.

Have you given Picktorial a try? What are your thoughts? Is it a good alternative to Lightroom and Photoshop? Or perhaps another tool to add to your arsenal? Please share your comments below.

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Christian Hoiberg Christian Hoiberg is a full-time landscape photographer who helps aspiring photographers develop the skills needed to capture beautiful and impactful images. Visit his website to get a free download of his eBook 30 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography.

  • e_stern

    excellent review. I am only using Pictorial 3.0 as my go to processor for jpeg and raw images that come out of my Fuji X cameras. They have really nailed the sharpening for Fuji which has been a problem with most other software.

    Unlike you I have dumped everything Adobe off my computer because Pictorial really handles post processing so extremely well. To be sure I own On1 Photo Raw, Alien Skin x2, and have had the subscription for Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One. So I am pretty familiar with post processing over all.

    I have not really noticed things being slow with the software and as a matter of fact it is faster than all the other software I own. I am using a MacBook Pro 15 inch 2012 build and a Mini Mac of the same year.

    As for the sharpening I do agree that I would like to see it as a stand alone function in the software but I have actually gotten used to doing it in the retouch area by selecting the provision that allows for sharpening the whole image as opposed to using the brushes or gradients for more localized work but I have to admit that applying sharpening selectively is a real bonus. The overall functions in the retouch menu are far better than anything else I have used.

    I would like to see a full rotation tool and a perspective correction tool in future releases.

    As for the library. I really hate the Adobe Lightroom library. I have yet to understand why folks think it is the ultimate solution to organizing their files. I find the Mac files system with folders and sub folders to be perfect tools for organization and I do not have to worry about or rely upon a special Adobe system.

    You are correct when you mention how cooperative the folks are at Pictorial and I have to day that I have never had such a great experience when it comes to getting their help.

    I can only strongly recommend everyone who has a Mac who want to process their images in the easiest software and precise software give Picktorial a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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