Tonality: A bright solution | Bangkok Post: tech

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Tonality: A bright solution

If you like working in monochrome and want a rich set of tools and options, this new app is for you

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I use Aperture on my Macs for several tasks connected with photography, but with the announced end of development for the application, many users are expected to move to Adobe's Lightroom, another workflow application popular among photographers. Like Aperture, it helps organise images as they are imported and allows a certain amount of editing. 

Editing an image in Tonality with Zoom applied to image.

Last week, Adobe released a document (PDF) that indicated a future application that will help Aperture users migrate to Lightroom and outlined how the process could be started now before that migration tool is available. Reading this through a few times, it is clear that Adobe has good knowledge of how Mac users work. Those with more than one image library (or libraries on external media) may need some extra care, but this is a good start and Adobe needs to be congratulated.

As I have so much invested in Aperture, I will hold off on such a move for the time being. I want to see how Apple's new Photo works first. When it arrives next year, it will replace iPhone and Aperture, with basic controls available by default, but with more sophisticated ones (such as sliders) available for those who want them. In the meantime, I am hunting for other software to help me edit images.

As I often work in black and white, I would have really liked the Silver Efex Pro Niks plug-in for Aperture, but users have to buy the full package at US$149 (4,800 baht). There is also understandably no news going forward about compatibility with the new Photo application. I am holding off on that too.

Recently, a new application appeared that produces excellent monochrome output from images — Tonality. It is available as a Pro application at $69.99 (2,250 baht), but the developers also have a version "for hobbyists and enthusiasts" normally at $39.99 but currently on offer for $19.99 (640 baht). There is a free trial version from the developer, Macphun.

When first opened, a small panel appears centre-screen with "Load Image", below it is text that tells users images may also be dragged onto that panel. Once opened, it is possible to drag an image onto the icon in the Dock. With iPhoto and Aperture, a photograph can be dragged from either application directly into Tonality.

The image appears in the main panel with versions below. The default set of versions is "Basic". There are nine more, each with its own set of output variations. Users may also save a favourite, or create style templates by adding adjustments to the sets available.

Above the main image are icons for saving, sharing and viewing as well as tools for adjustments. A Crop tool works like the one in iPhoto, placing an adjustable grid over the image. Also shown are some metadata, including ISO, lens used, aperture setting and time.

To the right is a panel with editing tools, including those Presets. A good set of sliders is available. The basic version does not allow much colour editing, although some of the presets do allow certain colours, either in an overall tint style (e.g. Cyanotype) or in a leaking of colour, such as with Old Red in the HDR set.

As it is, the user has an unusually wide set of sliders and other selectors to make really fine adjustments to photographs. An Undo button gives the insurance that any changes can be reversed and allows experimentation.

Export and Sharing are available with a number of options, including a basic "Export to Image". This allows several formats (JPEG, PNG, GIF, JPEG 2000, TIFF, Photoshop, PDF, Microsoft BMP and others, depending on the computer used), showing how flexible Tonality is. When saving, other options are available depending on the format selected. Sharing is available for a number of popular social networking sites. Users may also open images in other applications, depending on what is installed. I already have MacPhun's Focus 2 installed, so that was listed, as were iPhoto, Aperture, Mail and Messages.

It was surprising to find a new application such as Tonality with such a rich set of tools and options available just for monochrome output. The basic version, which I looked at, is available from Macphun or from the MacApp Store at $19.99.

The Pro version, with plug-in support for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture as well as other powerful features, can be downloaded from the Macphun site. The standard version can be upgraded for an additional $34.99 (1,120 baht) which was quite easily done with the online links.

The upgrade to the Pro version was not simply a question of unlocking features with a passcode. I linked to an Upgrade download of almost 100MB that took a while to appear on my Mac. When installed and activated, the Pro version was alongside the standard version.

Most users would be quite happy with the various options that the standard version allows and at the current price it is really good value.

Editing an image in Tonality with Output options panel shown to the right.

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