I have read some interesting comments about the new raw processing software Picktorial 3. Well, it’s not really brand new but this third version came out in April 2017 and I read that there is a plugin that would give me the film simulations I love so much when I use my fujifilm cameras. This post is not a full review but a first look or rather my first steps using the software and the comments I made to myself on the way.
So what is Picktorial ?
It is advertised as being a raw converter that gives you a non destructive workflow in an all-in-one package. It enables global and local adjustments from a catalog-free library. It has an export menu that enables to write a jpg or tiff file to disk or a small list of other options for export (mail, messages, twitter, Facebook…).
Note that it is Mac only. It is not a digital asset management program, so it will not enable tagging, keywording, colour tags etc… It does not allow collections or searches. The only asset management I found was the classic 1 to 5 star. The “catalog-free” library just means that Picktorial can load a photo from your hard drive if you can find it in the right folder (and that means a good organisation of the thousands of raw files you have!). The list of feature from there website is here.
SOOOOO…. what is the appeal ?
Well, there have been quite a few raw converters coming out in the last couple of years to take a slice of the market of Lightroom, most of them boasting lightning fast editing and more advanced functions than Lightroom. The all-in-one package is the USP. To be fair to Lightroom, its strength an main reason of existence is its calalog and digital asset management functions. The raw conversion and editing is enabled by the integration of Camera Raw. The versions that have come out over the last couple of years have greatly improved on the editing side and have sparked the idea that an all-in-one program is possible. Why not ? I’m not a pro but I still go into photoshop from time to time. The more I can do in Lightroom, the better. It saves me from having an intermediary tiff file next to my raw files.
Picktorial has some fantastic appeals on the local adjustment side of things so I downloaded the 14 day trial and gave it a go, comparing it to what I can do in Lightroom.
The first photo I tried is a 1/3s exposure of a river taken on a mini tripod. The exposure is ok but the highlights in the water were badly lacking in detail. I just cranked down the highlights to -100 in Lightroom and adjusted the greens a little with the HSL sliders and here is what I got.
I then opened up the photo in Picktorial, the interface is easy to use and clean by the way. I found the how to do the same thing quickly but although the colours are very pleasing, the highlights stay very overexposed.
I can get them down a bit if I underexpose the whole picture by one stop.
I honestly tried bringing down the highlights on the water with the local adjustment tools, trying the very promising luminosity masking, but to no avail. Keep in mind that I’m trying to recreate what I did in Lightroom in one step and I have neither the skill nor the patience to create complicated local adjustments to get better highlight management.
To give Picktorial its due, the luminosity masking is easy to do, it would take me much longer in photoshop to get similar results. Picktorial also boasts colour masking, radial and gradient masking with adjustable edge detection. The sophistication is there!
I tried a second picture which was taken at ISO 8000 to look at the highlight and shadow recovery there. The photo has a very strong contrasts betweens the light parts and the dark parts. Lightroom does a good job but there is some chromatic aberration where the rock meets the sky.
Here is a crop at 100% of the area with the sky.
You can clearly see the purple aberration at the water-colour rendering of the details. The photo was taken at f/1.4 so there is no expectation of sharpness here. There is some global sharpening and noise reduction done.
Here is the equivalent photo in Picktorial 3:
You can see that the highlight recovery suffers in comparison but so does the noise reduction. I set the luminance slider to 20 in Lightroom and the luma slider to 30 in Picktorial. Anything more and the details start going really mushy. Here is the 100% crop.
It looks seriously worse to me… The lack of recovery in the highlights annihilate all the details that Lightroom can show, albeit in a bit of a painterly way.
Picktorial 3 looks very promising, it has very advanced local adjustments, has a slick interface and tools that Lightroom does not. It is not in my opinion a standalone program as you will need some kind of asset management program. Maybe Photomechanics or something similar.
I don’t really know why I had a look, I think everyone is tempted from time to time to have a look around to see if there is anything better out there. I have done this several times, trying Capture One for example. Every time I come back to Lightroom because nothing can beat having a good digital assets management program and also because the raw processing and editing powers are better than good. Lightroom may be sloooooowwww but I have used it for years and it is seriously in my opinion the best program out there for getting photos off a card at to start working.
Picktorial has all kinds of bells and whistles on the editing side that push the boundaries of what a raw processor can do but if the raw engine is not up to standard I cannot use it.
I’m hoping the team at Picktorial will appreciate the positive comments made here and address these issues. I’m sure we will hear about Picktorial again!
Have a look at their website here and give it a try.