Skip to content

High Dynamic Range in Software

It is everywhere.  Everyone is doing them, but to do HDR images, you need software, specific software that will process your images to give you the High Dynamic Range that is required.  Well, you need it if you do it the way I do.

I first started doing HDR images last year, I don’t know when, but probably about 12 months ago.  I started with the HDR option in Photoshop.  Then I started seeing other people with their HDR images, and theirs were so much better than mine.  The software that I was recommended was Photomatix Pro.

This image was processed in Photomatix quite some time ago.  I love the colours of the image, and as I used the software more, I started to understand it more.  I also began to know what each of the sliders did and how it affected my image.  I have almost said good bye to halos.

Recently I was approached by a company for an affiliation with their HDR software.  The software was HDR Darkroom, produced by a company called Everimaging.  I had never heard of it before, but I decided not to dismiss it out of hand, to try it out.  As I have previously stated I also have an affiliation with Photomatix, not that you would know looking at my bank account, I wondered about having another one with another company.

Same images have been used to produce this, and though the results aren’t the same, it isn’t too bad.  I found there weren’t as many things I could control in this and I found that a little bit limiting.  Though I would imagine for someone just starting out, it is probably not bad and pretty easy to use.

This next image was produced with some software that was recommended to me by lensaddiction, the software was Oloneo.  So I downloaded the free trial of the HDR PhotoEngine and had a play in it.

The Oloneo one has come out quite well.  It probably is the best of the three.  Though I found it far harder to use, and I think my experience with HDR imaging helped me, so I don’t know that I would recommend it for a beginner.

Another Image

The Manchester Unity Building in Melbourne.  This one was processed with Photomatix Pro.  I found the way the software darked the building toward the top quite annoying.  Though, I was left with a sky and plenty of detail.  No halo, so that was good.

This has come out better than the Photomatix Pro, the building is a little dark around the top edges, but we haven’t lost the top of the building to darkness.  I have to give HDR Darkroom a massive tick for this image, out of the 3 software packages, it got the best image this time.

This one was done with Oloneo, we lost all detail in the sky.  the building isn’t too bad, I did try to darken it some, but it didn’t work too well.  I wasn’t really happy with this image.  Then again, today is the first time I have used it, so I imagine if you are going to use it you might find ways to make it worse.

Last Image

One of the issues I have had with Photomatix Pro is how it produces funny colours around the trees.  If you look closely at this image you may see that.  I have worked out how to get rid of a lot of it, but sometimes I can’t do anything.  Though, what I have started to do in situations like this is not do a HDR image, but just work with a single image.

It should always be about the image and how that looks, not how you got there.

You can see what I mean about the trouble around the treetops in this one.  This was done with HDR Darkroom.  That isn’t too bad, it would probably annoy me, but then again, as I said, it did the same sort of thing with Photomatix Pro.  It has processed the image quite well.

I don’t have an image done with Oloneo for this one.  When I took this image I was hand holding the camera, so there are some variations between each image.  I found that Oloneo could not get rid of the ghosting, and the image wasn’t very good. I tried all the different ways of doing it, but in the end I had to scrap it.  That was very disappointing.  Both Photomatix Pro and HDR Darkroom had no trouble with de-ghosting the images.

My Conclusions

I still love Photomatix Pro, it is priced at US$99, which isn’t too bad, and if you use the coupon code I have, you get an additional %15 off, that is fairly good.

HDR Darkroom, my first attempts weren’t great, but I have been impressed with it today.  It is very easy to use, and I think if you were wanting to try HDR images, but didn’t want to spend a lot then the US$58 price tag isn’t bad.  You are limited with what you can do, but for some images, it is very good.

Oloneo, the most expensive of the three, at US$149, it is more complicated to use.  I don’t know that I would buy it, not being able to do that last image was a concern. Since I like to hand hold my camera more than use my tripod, it may be a problem.

I can’t help thinking they all are pretty good for certain images, but you can’t purchase them all.  I have Photomatix Pro and I will stick with that.  Though I was hoping to also try out HDR Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software, but as I have already had a free trial, I had to get a new code for another one and it wouldn’t work.  So I am sorry to say I wasn’t able to compare that one as well.

My thoughts, if you are new to HDR imaging and don’t want to spend a lot to test it out and try, then I would recommend HDR Darkroom.  It is probably a toss up for more advanced, but I think I would come done on the side of Photomatix Pro.

New Releases

Nikon have announced the release of the new D5200 and WR-R10/WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller.

It looks really interesting and would be a great camera to own.  From what I can tell it is in a similar market to Canons EOS 600D.  It has a few similarities.

The press release states, “Boasting a 24.1 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, a class leading 39-point AF system, a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor and a high resolution vari-angle LCD monitor. ”

I have to say, WHAT.  I understand some of that, but really, what does it all mean to us.  I got four pages in the press release.  Considering the camera is one of their entry level cameras, why don’t they write these things in a language for the entry level photographer.

From what I can work out, you get good resolution with the images, so that is fantastic, means you can print images really well, it also boasts less noise at the high end of the ISO range.  The DX-format, means it isn’t full frame, so the sensors are in the middle of the image, and that is where it takes its readings from.  It has lots of great features, and I am sure if you go to Nikon or Nikon Australia’s website you can see what they all are.

I haven’t used the camera, so I can’t really comment on what it is like.  You would just have to take Nikon’s word that it does what it says.

It comes in red, that is pretty cool.  The screen on the back flips out, apparently this is so you can do “selfies”.  Apparently so many people are taking self portraits that the camera companies are even making DSLRs so you can do them.  Interesting.

60 Comments
  1. Thank you for sharing this article!

    November 7, 2012
    • You are very welcome Renchick.

      November 8, 2012
  2. On my magazine I often get some very vintage images that need a bit of help for print. HDR is a godsend but I’m lucky that we have photoshop for help…

    November 7, 2012
    • Photoshop is brilliant. I love it. Thanks.

      November 8, 2012
  3. Interesting read. Funny thing; I was going to try my first ever HDR shot this weekend 🙂

    November 7, 2012
    • I think the software you use is what makes it successful or not. Good luck with your HDR this weekend.

      November 8, 2012
      • Thanks!

        November 8, 2012
  4. Again we musty thank our resident professor for her lessons…

    November 7, 2012
  5. Lee #

    Hope to see more HDR from you In the future. If you get some time try out Sepia in HDR.

    November 7, 2012
    • I do lots of HDR Lee and nearly all the images you see on my blog are HDR’s. What do you mean try out Sepia in HDR? Do you mean a sepia image, or some other software.

      November 8, 2012
  6. I think it’s great that companies are contacting YOU, rather than you chasing them! You’re becoming known, Leanne! 😀

    November 7, 2012
    • It was quite interesting. I must admit, I was quite chuffed when it happened. It is amazing. I hope there are more. Thanks Marie.

      November 8, 2012
  7. I really love the results you obtained with Photomatix and HDR!

    November 7, 2012
    • I have to admit I do really like Photomatix, though I would like to try HDR Efex by Nik Software again. My first go wasn’t great, but it would be nice to know whether I am using what I think is best. Thank you Susi.

      November 8, 2012
  8. Thanks Leanne, love the comparisons! And, love your take on the press release. Really, why can’t they just speak normally. It’s like if we throw all technical jargon out there, it must be good… Enjoyed your post as usual… 🙂

    November 7, 2012
    • I don’t know that Nikon will like it, hahaha, oh well, I look for certain things a camera, and I try to find one that matches what type of photography I would like to do, and that is what we all should be doing. Most of us don’t really care about the technical specifics, we just want to know stuff like, is it full frame or not, how many shots can it take per second, how big are the files etc. I think it is good, I wonder if I will get to use one one day. 🙂 Maybe not after what I said.

      November 8, 2012
  9. Wow … nice analysis of the HDR stuff … I think I’ll stick with Photomatix. There’s just not enough time in the day to be going back and forth between programs that essentially do the same thing. Regarding the D5200 – I’ve never liked hinged monitors – even on the compact cameras that I’ve owned. Sometime you’re going to have to give a consideration of DX versus FX format. That’s something your readers might be confused about – and it’s an important issue. I’m so glad I was able to come up with the $ for the D600 which is FX – I’ve already seen its advantages in low light an in field of view. D

    November 8, 2012
    • I’m with you, I will stick with PHotomatix, the only way I would change now would be if something came along that out did photomatix on everything, haven’t found that yet.
      The hinge isn’t too bad because you can turn them around and they sit back into the back of the camera like a normal screen. But it also means you can change it so when you are storing the camera the screen doesn’t get damaged. The Canon that I am using has one, and at first I thought it was a little silly, but once I turned it around, I didn’t mind it at all. Of course, one of the first things that would get broken would be that. I really want a FX camera, but it is going to be a while before I can afford it. Thanks Dave.

      November 8, 2012
  10. Thank you, Leanne , I appreciate your time taken in this article. I found it very informative and very understandable written for me as a novice in photography.
    Ciao, Francina

    November 8, 2012
    • It is really good for me too. I don’t know if I would have done a comparison like that if I wasn’t doing the blog post, it is good to see the images like and really compare. Glad you found it informative, that is great. Thank you Francina.

      November 8, 2012
  11. It’s quite a difference between the shots, thanks for sharing.

    November 8, 2012
    • I was quite surprised at them as well. Thank you Mirjam.

      November 8, 2012
  12. Can you give us the discount code for Photomatix again?

    Ps Good article. Showing the comparisons is spot on. bill

    November 8, 2012
    • Of course I can Bill, it is LeanneCole15
      It is also up on the software page is you lose it again. It is great software. Thank you.

      November 8, 2012
      • I would not have thought about buying had it not been for your presentation and recommendation. thanks, bill

        November 8, 2012
      • I hope you enjoy it Bill, any problems let me know.

        November 9, 2012
  13. Nice post. I often try to do HDR photography myself but haven’t succeeded once (well at least not to a level which I deem successful). I’m using photomatix, and getting halos is almost the norm rather than exception since I’m just using the built in effects. My photos are all quite grainy as well even though I’m using iso 100. If you don’t mind, maybe next time I can forward you some of my raw files to see what I’m doing wrong… Anyway keep up the great informative posts.

    November 8, 2012
    • I did a post on removing the halos, well as much as you can, let me give the link
      http://leannecolephotography.com/2012/08/13/hdr-images-my-way/
      That might help a lot more. I hate the halos, so I do everything I can to remove it. I really should do another tutorial on using it.
      If you put one of your images on your blog, I may be able to take a look, though it is hard when you don’t know exactly what has been done. Try my tutorial and see if that helps. thank xerith.

      November 8, 2012
  14. You picked great subject matter to practice with, these photos are very appealing.

    November 8, 2012
    • I love the one of Flinders Street Station, glad you liked them too Katie. Thank you.

      November 8, 2012
  15. Great reviews, Leanne. I downloaded a trial version of Photomatix Pro some time ago and I really liked how it handled HDR too. Still thinking of getting the full version as I think my trial version is finish.

    November 8, 2012
    • Thank you Gracie, I have to say that I am pretty happy with it, there a couple of things I don’t like, but I think it would be the same with any software. If you do decide to purchase it, you can use the coupon code LeanneCole15 and you will get a further 15% off as well.

      November 8, 2012
  16. This ‘share’ was quite informative, Leanne and it was great to see all the little nuances each piece of software can provide.

    Once again, you began with fine images, so that’s ‘half-done’ right there! I did check out Photomatix yesterday…offering Pro 2, which costs $199 USD…out of my range for now, but may start saving up!

    November 8, 2012
    • Thank you 1000, it is interesting to see how each different software does something different.
      I don’t know where you are getting that price from 1000 according to their website it is only US$99, for version 4.2 http://www.hdrsoft.com/download.html
      Also if you use the coupon code LeanneCole15 you get another 15% off, so that would make it just over $85, so you won’t have to save as much as you thought. I use that version. I am very happy with it.

      November 8, 2012
      • No, the $199 was at Niksoftware for Photomatix Pro 2…they did not seem to be offering an original version.

        No worries…haven’t even $25 extra to spend right now, anyway…I’ll continue digging deeper into Photoshop, using that ‘inquiring’ part of my brain! (Haha!) I’ve been utilizing Shadows/Highlights first thing after re-sizing, and my results are much better for ‘playing’ with other settings.

        November 8, 2012
  17. Yet another brilliant post!

    November 8, 2012
  18. Very interesting, Leanne, thanks – I knew next to nothing about HDR before now.

    November 8, 2012
    • I imagine that with the type of photography you are doing, it wouldn’t be much use to you, so that is understandable, if you ever start doing lots of landscapes then you might want to check it out. Thanks Richard

      November 8, 2012
  19. petit4chocolatier #

    I have begun to play with Photoshop and love it. Enjoyed your post and pictures!

    November 8, 2012
    • Photoshop is a wonderful tool. I love it too. Thanks

      November 8, 2012
  20. Thanks for the great comparison! I am a fan of the results from Photomatix Pro personally – they are very natural. Now might be q good time to contact Nik about a deal on HDR Efex as they were just bought out by Google – give it a try 🙂

    November 8, 2012
    • I have been asking, I asked for a free license on all their software in exchange for using it and talking about it, but I can’t get an answer. Maybe everything is too mixed up there right now.
      I do love Photomatix though.

      November 8, 2012
  21. I have just started using Nik HDREfex I have found compared to photomatix that i used before it has more options for control and i have produced some great images. http://wp.me/p2DjHx-fw here is a link to my first impressions of the software.

    November 8, 2012
    • I have downloaded the trial version and have started playing with it, still trying to work some stuff out, though I liked the presets, Nik Software seem to do very good presets. I will keep playing Ben. Thanks for the link.

      November 9, 2012
  22. A very timely info that I guess need it now, thanks for sharing Le anne…

    November 9, 2012
    • You are welcome Will of Heart, I hope it is informative.

      November 9, 2012
  23. hutchphotography2020 #

    Great article on how you do HDR. It is still my opinion the best entry level camera only works in manual.

    November 9, 2012
    • Thanks Hutch, I don’t know I think some of the entry level stuff is pretty good these days, I like Aperture priority, myself.

      November 9, 2012
  24. thanks for sharing.

    November 9, 2012
    • No problem at all patrickshu, thanks.

      November 9, 2012
  25. lensaddiction #

    Good review, I liked how you shared an image from each program. Glad you tried Oloneo even if it wasn’t your cup of tea. Doing HDR helped me come to grips with my tripod and now I love it and it goes everywhere in my car with me 🙂

    November 9, 2012
    • Thanks lensaddiction, I thought it was the best way to do it. Took me a while to get my head around it all. I was impressed with it, but the ghosting thing wasn’t good for me. I should use my tripod more than I do, but I find it kills the spontaneity of the shot, or I am talking crap because I am lazy, haha. 🙂

      November 9, 2012
      • lensaddiction #

        I was afraid of my tripod and didnt use it for probably a year after I bought it, realio trulio. Then I ruined a lot of shots I couldnt redo because I had not used the tripod, so I started using it, and then immediately saw the benefits. So I totally get if it doesn’t work for you 🙂

        November 9, 2012
      • I use it when the light is low and I have no choice, but I do prefer to hand hold the camera. Though the last two lots of photos taken at Point Lonsdale were taken using a tripod. I won’t be stubborn about it, and I know I just have to at times.

        November 9, 2012
  26. I’ve never really explored HDR as all those horrific ‘greyed’ images people keep raving about put me off but yours don’t have that effect at all. Nice round up of the 3 software packages, I might have to download a trial and have a play if I ever get some more time!

    November 10, 2012
    • I know what you mean, I hate those too, and the halos and the oversaturated colours. I have played a lot and tried lots of things to try and make sure I get more realistic images, so they are possible. You should try it, even if to say you have tried and didn’t like it, but it can be lovely. I look forward to seeing what you do.

      November 10, 2012
  27. Great reviews. Thanks, Leanne!

    April 11, 2015
    • You’re welcome Nicci, though they are a couple of years old now.

      April 11, 2015

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: