Hands-On With Mac-App Picktorial 3
July 19, 2017
The local adjustments Retouch subpanel provides options such as HSL adjustments not available in other software.
The Picktorial interface is well designed with all options and adjustments available in a single window with the Light subpanel providing global adjustments.
With the release of Picktorial 3, Mac users gain another powerful yet intuitive image-editing app. Earlier releases from the Israeli-based startup laid the groundwork for this powerful upgrade. Just a few years since its initial release, Picktorial has the feel of a well-developed program.
Using some of the latest available technology and custom-built algorithms, Picktorial 3 is designed to bridge the gap between mass-market photo editors and high-end professional applications. Particular attention is paid to presenting professional tools in a clean, simplified interface. Picktorial 3 provides non-destructive RAW file editing while offering native plug-in support for browsing and editing images in Aperture libraries.
New features are found in version 3 of Picktorial along with features that separate it from its competition. These include full support of the latest compressed and uncompressed RAF files from Fuji X-Trans cameras, auto lens corrections based on embedded metadata for all supported cameras, skin smoothing using automatic frequency separation techniques, easy-to-use color and luminosity masks, advanced local adjustments using the new edge-aware Magic Brush, and a single-window interface with new tabs for metadata, presets and history.
Picktorial 3 costs $70 and is available free to owners of previous versions. You can get a 14-day free trial at picktorial.com.
With no need to switch from a library to a Develop module or to mouse through a tabbed workspace that requires a redraw for each tab, it is quick and easy to familiarize yourself with the Picktorial 3 workflow. An opening splash screen can take you to a review of new features for previous users or tutorials for new users. The interface features a central Viewer window with a browser beneath. To the left is a Library panel. The right side Inspector panel contains the editing tools, presets and image-specific information. Keyboard shortcuts generally follow Photoshop and other advanced image program standards, making keyboard navigation in the workspace feel familiar. While the interface is not fully customizable, you can open and close each of the main panels from the View menu, with icons or with keyboard shortcuts.
The Inspector panel holds four subpanels: Presets, Adjust, Info and History. You make global and local adjustments in the Adjust panel where you can crop and rotate, adjust exposure, adjust color, use curves and brush all of these global adjustments locally using the Retouch subpanel. I found it very intuitive and easy to navigate. This is a good thing as the Help function offers more descriptive information than actual “help” and requires you to have an Internet connection to access. On the plus side, the first time you use a tool, a window opens with some instructions for the tool’s function. These instructions are easily hidden when no longer needed. There are short but useful and informative videos available from the company as well.
Although Picktorial is not catalog- based, you can connect your camera, card reader or external drive, and import images or folders of images into your computer using the software. If you are importing images with existing sidecar files, Picktorial 3 can’t read them, although it does read adjusted Aperture files.
What We Liked
The amount and implementation of current, state-of-the-art, image-processing algorithms is impressive. The skin smoothing brush automatically applies frequency separation smoothing as you brush it on. When you are finished, you can adjust the smoothing with texture, structure and the point of frequency separation with sliders. The adjustments appear instantly on a recent iMac. Speaking of speed, the Picktorial 3 patch tool is vastly faster than Lightroom’s spot-removal tool. In fact, the entire program feels more responsive than many of its competitors.
The ability to brush on local adjustments using the edge-aware Magic Brush almost eliminates the need for selection tools and is well implemented. There are always issues with this approach when you have leafy trees against the sky and want to replace the sky, but Picktorial 3 handles the issue as well as other programs. And the ability to make local adjustments with hue, saturation and lightness tools, as well as performing split toning locally, is unique. It’s also quite simple to create color and luminosity masks. All of these tools performed up to expectations for me.
What We Didn’t Like
While Picktorial 3 seems designed to appeal to mass-market Mac users who are advanced amateur photographers, I was somewhat surprised at the lack of any initial auto-correction to get the user started in editing an image. And while Picktorial 3 includes a new Metadata panel, it is far from a complete IPTC implementation. A star rating system is available for images, but there is no ability to sort by star rating.
Picktorial 3 provides the ability to apply global tools locally, but noise reduction is only available as a local adjustment. Although it is wonderful to have this level of control, including the ability to reduce noise with a luminosity mask, it seems that this is not something an advanced amateur is going to wrap their mind around quickly. Some sort of global noise reduction is needed.
Also needed is the ability to browse a selected folder of images in the central Viewer window. Scrolling through thumbnails in the Browser is an option, but seeing a greater number with scalable thumbnails in the main window would be even better.
How It Compares
There are many competitive imaging programs for Mac owners, although none have the depth of features or the price tag of the Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom/Bridge combo. Serif has made it clear that their excellent Affinity Photo is taking on Adobe, and Capture One provides the best RAW file output but with somewhat weaker selection and cloning tools and masking than the other top programs. Picktorial 3 slots smoothly into the next tier of offerings along with Adobe Photoshop Elements, onOne Photo RAW (recently updated), The Escapers Emulsion and MacPhun Luminar. Each of these programs is rich in features with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. If you’re a Mac user, you’re officially spoiled for choice.