Product Review: Macphun Tonality Black and White Photo Editor

Product Review: Macphun Tonality Black and White Photo Editor


Macphun Software announces new program

Macphun Software, a photography app developer with over 20 million users worldwide just recently released their latest photo editing software program, called Tonality. This is a program dedicated entirely to editing your photos in black and white, and it is so much fun to use!

NOTE: this is a Mac only software and there is not a version for Windows currently.

You may already be using a Macphun program – they have produced a whole suite of useful consumer photography editing tools, such as Intensify Pro, Snapheal Pro, and Focus Pro. This latest addition to their software collection is really a powerful one, for professionals and hobbyists alike.

I played around with the software a bit and there are quite a few things I liked about it, and just a couple of things that I found non-intuitive. Read on to discover more about this program.

Macphun Tonality

From my recent trip to Mongolia

Overview of Macphun Tonality

Macphun TonalityTonality is easy to pick up right away if you are familiar with Lightroom or Photoshop RAW editing tools. The designers intentionally created an editing panel on the right hand side of your viewing window that looks almost exactly like Lightroom’s editing panel. It includes familiar tools like Exposure, Tone Curve, Split Toning, and Vignetting.

There are some other effects here that are not so familiar, and do interesting things when you play with the sliders. Clarity & Structure is a section unto itself that provides the user with highly controlled clarity effects. In the Exposure section there is an ingenious slider titled Adaptive which allows you to adjust the exposure while preserving the highlights, something Lightroom should have had in place a long time ago. There is a section called Glow which does exactly what you think it would do; add glow to your images, like a balloon lit from the inside casting a nice glow over everything. You can add Grain, adjust the overall Opacity of the changes you are creating, and there are options for Texture Overlay and Frames, which are pretty fun with black and white images.

Macphun Tonality


One thing that is really fantastic is that ability to edit with layers. This is something that I found (and still find), rather non-intuitive, but allows for huge possibilities in editing, especially with textured layers.  When you add on a new layer and insert a texture via the Texture Overlay panel, you can brush through via masking and only texturize parts of the image, like the background in this image:

Macphun Tonality

Editing with the Textures Overlay panel. I added a metal texture in one layer and a paper texture in another layer, and painted through on the girl’s face using the layer mask so the texture didn’t affect the smoothness of her skin.

Here I added a metal texture in one layer and a paper texture in another layer and painted through on the face using the layer mask so the texture didn’t affect the smoothness of the girl’s skin.

The non-intuitive part for me is in actually using the layers and brushes to mask out parts of the image. If you have grown up on Adobe Photoshop then you might not find this familiar at all. It’s not impossible, it just requires a different way of thinking about how layers work and how the masking works. It will simply slow down your workflow slightly, but as with anything new, there is always a learning curve.

Some thoughts

When I first saw the software I thought to myself; “I can edit in black and white just fine with Lightroom. Why would I need another program to do such a simple thing?”. But just as Photomatix is brilliantly designed to do just one thing (tone-map HDR images), Tonality is designed to do just one thing perfectly: create black and white images like you could never do in Lightroom or Photoshop. I took a couple of black and white images from Lightroom that I was satisfied with, and tried them out in Tonality. Just using the presets alone as a jumping board for editing in Tonality shows an astounding difference in quality, sharpness, and texture.

See these two images side-by-side and notice what Tonality can do to really make a photo pop:

Digital Photography School Review

Edited in Lightroom for a simple black and white look

Macphun Tonality

Edited in Tonality for some movie poster “pop”

Perhaps some won’t like that HDR look, but I happen to love it. It makes an otherwise bland black and white photo cause me to pause and take a second look. Which is what we are always trying to accomplish with our photos, aren’t we?

Macphun Tonality Pro features:

  • Professional image quality with proprietary 16-bit RAW processing engine
  • Advanced algorithms and a streamlined user experience for superior results
  • Scores of inspiring professional presets provide a wide range of one-click image styles
  • Built-in organic-style overlay textures, plus user-loadable textures, for incredible creativity
  • Unique adaptive exposure and smart contrast tools for advanced tone control
  • Multiple effect layers, each with separate opacity controls, blending modes and preservation of color data offer true advancements in creative toolsetsTonalityPro
  • Adjustable, pressure-sensitive brushes and masking tools for precise selective edits
  • Advanced clarity and structure detail controls yield dramatic results
  • Proprietary grain engine with over 20 emulated film types
  • Selective color using color channel sliders for unique stylistic expressions
  • Glow, lens blur, vignette, photo frame and opacity controls for finishing touches
  • Easy image sharing to popular social networks, and via email, instant messaging, AirDrop and SmugMug
  • Macphun Print Lab services, powered by MILK
  • Runs as either a standalone app or, in the Pro version, as a plug-in to popular image editing software like Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom®, Adobe Photoshop Elements® or Apple® Aperture®.

Find Tonality Pro and Tonality here on the Macphun website.

NOTE: this is a Mac only software and there is not a version for Windows currently.


In summary, I give this software product 5 stars. I can actually see myself using this in the future, and I think it will be a welcome addition to my limited number of tools that I use for editing photos. It’s fun, super easy, and I can use it to edit a lot of my future travel photos. Like these:

Macphun TonalityPro

Macphun TonalityPro

Macphun TonalityPro

You can also add in some coloring for sepia tints or different metallic effects

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Macphun Tonality
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Phillip Van Nostrand built his photography business in Santa Barbara, CA and New York City, where he has shot over 140 weddings, countless head shots, and events for the past 9 years. Currently living in NY, he manages to travel abroad at least once a year and is up to 30 countries traveled. Published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, New York Times Magazine, featured in Santa Barbara Dining and Destinations Magazine, Cretus Mag, and San Diego Style Weddings magazine. You can connect with him on his blog and on instagram.

  • ColYoung

    Unless I’m missing something, you don’t mention anywhere in your review that it for Mac only! A shame. It looks like a good piece of software and I clicked through to buy it. Only on their website did I see it was Mac only. It’s a shame that they are limiting themselves to less than 7% of PC users.

  • Alex @ Macphun Software

    Thanks for the great review Philip. Inspired and amazed – to say at least.

    ColYoung, yep we are Mac only. I know it sounds strange to PC users, but we’ve decided to focus on one platform for now and deliver the best possible user experience and image processing powers. Mac is our focus for now.

  • ColYoung – sorry about that I’ve added a note at the top and bottom about it. I’m sorry that leaves you out, I guess it works both ways there are many others for PC only and not for us Mac users. As for the percentage I’ve looked at the stats for our site and the split is a lot closer than you might think. 40% (15% mac 25% iOS) Mac of some kind, and 42% PC (the rest are mostly Android OS)

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    Yes, I didn’t realize that, @colyoung:disqus ! Apologies.

  • Phillip Van Nostrand

    @alexmacphunsoftware:disqus yes it’s been fun playing with the software!

  • Itsatushy

    Beautiful, but bummer. Left my Mac behind at the g4 model and I will never look back.

  • Ronald Hammer

    When I save and tranfer the tiff to a jpg, the jpg comes up really pixilated, why and how do I fix this. I have LR 5, PS CS6. I didn’t use these programs to covert to JPG.

  • Juswinn

    Shame that there has to be so much only for this or that group in the world.

  • bradley strong

    Honestly, I very much prefer the Lightroom versions on here. However, the ability to edit in layers is very nice. I

  • Really beautiful, It is awesome your light-room versions. Thank you so much for your share.

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