NOTE: I haven’t tried the less-expensive standard version of this application. The pro version includes blending modes, the ability to bring color from an original image, plugin support, shortcuts, more powerful vignetting, better histograms and more. Much of the functionality of the app (and presets) appears to be available in the standard version so if you want to save money, check out that version instead.
I started with black and white photography back in the early 1970s. It was easier (and less expensive) to develop black and white film than color film. Fast forward several decades and now any image can be made into a black and white image in a matter of seconds, no chemicals required.
For several years I relied on Nik’s Silver Efex Pro to convert my color images to B&W. Nik sold to Google and there were no further updates to Silver Efex Pro and it started to feel a bit sluggish so I started playing with similar programs from other companies. I still enjoy using Silver Efex Pro for certain looks, but I have moved to Tonality Pro as my go-to B&W image processor.
I recently started using Macs again (long story – not a slam on Windows in any way – things just worked out for me to switch back to Mac) and that means I can use Tonality Pro – it’s Mac only and there is no Windows version at the time of this writing.
There are two simple reasons for my move to Tonality Pro from Silver Efex Pro. First, Tonality Pro is simply easier to use. I am able to get more predictable results with the ability to use layers and a combination of presets and easy-to-change sliders. Second, Tonality Pro is faster. The processing time is significantly faster in Tonality Pro as compared with Silver Efex Pro.
Tonality Pro can be used as a plug-in or in stand alone mode. You can import and convert RAW files (most cameras supported) or work on any other standard photo file format.
You can manually convert to B&W using the traditional types of controls you would expect (such as brightness, exposure, contrast, etc.) Theres one powerful control called adaptive exposure that I have not seen in other image editing programs. It allows you to brighten only the shadows or darken the highlights more than the shadows. It gives you tonal control you can’t get nearly as quickly or easily as you would in Silver Efex Pro.
If you don’t want to manually convert your photo to B&W, you can use one of the more than 150 supplied presets. Tonality Pro allows you to use presets grouped by type of photo. For instance portrait, outdoor, architecture, street, etc. There are 10 categories in all.
Once you have selected a preset, you can infinitely edit it or control its opacity on a layer. And the layers function in Tonality really makes the program powerful. Using masks, it allows you to paint in a preset on top of another, on top of another, etc.
You can add effects like toning, lens blur, texture overlays, glow, vignetting, photo frames (Nik Silver Efex Pro has a larger selection of some of these effects but you can mix and match effects in Tonality Pro) and more.
Tonality Pros color filters module presents digital take on the film camera analogy: You use the programs color filters in the same manner as screwing on a filter to the end of your camera lens to block light at the opposite end of the color spectrum.
You can also try the Film Emulation module. It features 20 different grain emulations from various film stocks such as the Ilford Delta series, Agfa, Fuji, Kodak, and the ubiquitous Tri-X.
Lots of photographers I speak to tell me that they can use Lightroom/Photoshop to accomplish the same thing as the plugins or filters I review. Maybe so. But in my experience, it isn’t as easy or fast to do it that way. Youd have to be a fairly advanced Lightroom/Photoshop user to know how to dial in the precise level of control in your B&W conversions as you would in Tonality Pro and it would absolutely take more time.
For me, the ability to use features I haven’t even mentioned yet like the zone system reference to get a visual representation of all 10 tone zones, or the brilliant CLARITY & STRUCTURE sliders that give you the power to really make your B&W images pop, those things are well worth the price of $69.99. (MacPhun will give you 10% off that price if you give them your email address.)
You can try and/or buy the software directly from MacPhun – http://macphun.com/tonality
TonalityPro will appeal to the most advanced and demanding B&W shooter who wants massive control over the B&W conversion, and to the casual photographer who just wants to play around with presets and click into a nice-looking B&W conversion.
I like the interface and the ease-of-use. Its powerful and sophisticated but not in a burdensome way. I do wish it had a few more brushes, the ability to edit more than one image at a time and theres still the occasional image that seems more suited to Silver Efex Pro (that might be a simple perception problem for me since I am very familiar with Silver Efex Pro and still learning Tonality Pro.)
With that said, I find myself using TonalityPro about 90% of the time even though I also own SilverEfex Pro. Give it a try. I think you’ll be impressed.
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