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Standalone program for HDR image creation and processing: [user Features:
Submitted by GB1 a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: March 20, 2011
Strengths: * Great results.
* Reasonably fast processing time.
* Enough settings to allow good control over the image, but not so many to overburden the user.
* Price is quite good for such a powerful application.
Weaknesses: * Photoshop CS5 has closed the gap considerably since earlier versions like CS2.
* If using a weaker computer, processing time could be an issue.
I've been using Photomatix (PM) for over a year. This is extremely powerful software that makes High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. I got it because I was using CS2 at the time, who's HDR capability left much to be desired.
Using the Pro 4.0 version, PM contains settings that can automatically align your images, reduce ghosting, noise and chromatic aberrations. Its speed is acceptable, taking about 60 seconds to create an intermediate image from five source files, depending on what settings you've selected.
Bells and whistles are nice of course, but the end result is what counts, and PM creates incredibly rich and beautiful HDR images. 4.0 contains several preset settings like Grunge, Painterly, B&W and Smooth, but these are very specialized effects that you might only use on occasion. The only one I use is the B&W effect, which creates an 'Old West' look.
The biggest choice you will make in processing is either going with Tone Mapping or Exposure Fusion. Not exactly sure what is the difference, but it appears that exposure fusion creates a less-intense looking version of HDR (note that this isn't what they say online - just stating my personal observations).
Once you select Tone Mapping or Exposure Fusion, or perhaps one of the specialize looks, you can adjust things like the Gamma, Strength, White and Black Points, etc. Clicking the Process button performs the final steps in about 10 seconds, where you can save this image as either a JPG or TIF.
That's it! PM is pretty simple, but note that Photoshop CS5's new HDR capability is also quite good and is even simpler than PM; albeit, you don't have much control in CS5 either.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $99.00
Similar Products Used: Photoshop CS2, Photoshop CS5.
Type of photography: Outdoor
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