My current HDR softwareI currently use Mediachance's Dynamic Photo HDR and it has worked really well as part of my black and white workflow, when I felt it would help with developing my artistic intent for the image. Dynamic Photo HDR is available as a free trial, which doesn't expire -- but it does watermark images.
As a reference for testing the other HDR software, I took a colour image that I'd already processed with Dynamic Photo HDR (and with further treatment in Photoshop). It's the one from my last post here.
The reviews - initial reactionsI checked out:
- Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro - 15 day free trial
- HDR Soft's Photomatix (version 4.1.1) - Free trial doesn't expire, it watermarks some of the images it produces though
The photos weren't taken with HDR in mind, so I was initially seeing how it could be used to produce realistic-looking images -- we've all seen the super-real HDR treatments of cityscapes at night but I'm not initially checking it out for those sorts of image.
HDR EfexGood points:
- Many presets to apply, giving you a starting point from which you can endlessly tweak
- Can add individual control points which apply all the global controls locally, while confining them to a soft-edged radius of influence
- Integrates well with Photoshop
- Cityscapes, as per their video demo, seem ideal for it
- Skies can be very noisy
- On my system everything slows down horribly
(dual core, Windows XP, 2GB Ram, loadsa free, defragged hard disk space)
- Industry leader
- A good handful of presets to apply, giving you a starting point -- keep tweaking to get closer and closer to the results you're after
- Noise reduction option for underexposed images can really help noisy skies
- Can produce that instantly recognisable "Photomatix" look, if not used with care
- Suffering from complacency due to being market leader - user interface is more clutzy than it needs to be
- Can be a bit of a struggle to get used to, hindered by the user interface
Overall conclusions for initial reactionsI was able to use both HDR applications to get close to the reference image. Although I said that Photomatix came out on top when compared to HDR Efex Pro, when compared to Dynamic Photo HDR, I'm not so sure.
So what will I do? I've uninstalled HDR Efex Pro, I'm keeping Photomatix and will keep comparing Photomatix with my current "champion", Dynamic Photo HDR.
I'll take a few shots with HDR in mind and see where it takes me.
Post by: +Mark Highton Ridley
comments / critique / feedback / tweets / buzzes always welcome :)