View Full Version : HDR software options?

4th February 2009, 04:51 PM
Since seeing Nick Temple-Fry's demo of what can be done with HDR software on one of my images I have been having a closer look.

First I downloaded a trial of Photomatix Pro and found this easy to use with default settings and that it did work on my images without looking too unnatural. To get the best out of it I will need to go up quite a learning curve though. I was a little concerned about the cost though with the current exchange rates so I started to look for a cheaper solution.

Although Photomatix seems to be the most popular at the moment, there seem to be alternatives out there that are cheaper or free and some of which seem to be more powerful (More confusing?).

Of these so far I have tried Qtpfsgui which is open source and free. This I found pretty confusing and very slow if working on full size images. I didn't get on with it.

I also tried Artizen HDR which is less than half the price of Photomatix. It also seems to be much more powerful (maybe confusing) but has a pretty good interface and also offers some photo editing features. On speed, I thought it was quite close to Photomatix and very much quicker than Qtpfsgui. I did find it tricky to get the result I wanted though without the necessary learning curve. I seemed to have a halo problem even without trying to push the images away from natural. This is probably fixable with practice.

If all other HDR packages had problems I would be prepared to go for Photomatix but I don't want to miss a possible alternative that could be better (and cheaper).

Does anyone have experience of any alternatives to Photomatix and feel able to compare alternatives with it? I would appreciate any views that can be offered.


4th February 2009, 05:04 PM
Try Picturenaut. It is freeware available from http://www.hdrlabs.com/picturenaut/ and I find it easy to use and able to provide very natural results.

Picturenaut includes automatic image alignment and tone mapping functions.

4th February 2009, 06:30 PM
We discussed it a bit on FourThirds recently


5th February 2009, 06:39 PM
Thanks for the advice. I am investigation all options and getting more confused by the hour.


5th February 2009, 07:51 PM
Welcome to the club *chr

5th February 2009, 08:12 PM
I discovered that Photoshop CS has an option to create a HDR image automatically. Didnt get to use it much this year but I want to do more this year before I spend more money on a third party tool. If you have Photoshop I would try this out first.

5th February 2009, 10:47 PM
I've only got Elements 7, otherwise I think I would do as you suggest. Thanks for advice anyway.

I've tried Photomatix, Artizen HDR and Picturenaut and it is between these 3 so far. Photomatix is the easiest to use but also the most expensive. Still, I suppose that is to be expected.

Sleeping on it for another night or two.

6th February 2009, 01:38 PM
The saga goes on. I've just discovered Essential HDR and this seems very easy to use and very quick. I've been trying the free download, known as the community edition, which has limitations on file save size. Whether the files are downsized early in the process and this accounts for the speed, I don't know.

Has anyone else tried it and have comments to make? At the moment this seems to be the easiest to use other that Photomatix and there isn't much in it. It is also less than half the price. Much less function than Artizen but even I can use it.


12th February 2009, 05:06 PM
Me again. Thanks to those that offered advice. After much deliberation and trial on the few suitable images I had, I opted to pay the price for Photomatix. It seemed to give me more reliable results and the documentation is better.

There are some other interesting options out there though and if they are developed and supported well they will give Photomatix a run for its money.

12th February 2009, 05:18 PM
Welcome to the Photomatix family... at the moment they are developing plug-ins for Lightroom and Aperture with 3.1 as the latest version.
As you may have gathered the program uses dcraw to demosaic raw files so for Olympus raw files you may find the results less noisy if you go to
View->Preferences->Raws and set the demosaicing quality to medium

13th February 2009, 10:33 PM
Since seeing Nick Temple-Fry's demo of what can be done with HDR software on one of my images I have been having a closer look.
If you look in - this thread - (http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=3437) there's a discussion about various HDR software, including what Nick uses with Gimp.

Hope that helps. :)

15th February 2009, 09:46 AM
In this months Digital Photo the say that next month:

"We review the best free and paid-for High Dynamic Range packages"

So if others, like me, haven't taken the plunge yet, buying dedicated HDRi software, viewing this may be worthwhile.


18th February 2009, 08:41 PM
Thanks everyone for the extra info. I haven't been to the forum for a few days due to kitchen update activities.

Photomatix is going to be it now, cos I've paid my money, at least unless one of the free options is clearly better. It will take a while to learn how to get the best out of it. So far I have tended to leave the default settings. It is slower than Essential HDR Community Edition.

I did like the simplicity and speed of Essential HDR and it produced very natural results without much effort, but noticed that some people on their support forum were having problems with the full package.

Picturenaut didn't really do it for me. I will await the Digital Photo review and hope that it doesn't 'rubbish' Photomatix too much.

Doing conversions of single RAW files and also using some bracketed hand held, I am quite pleased with the results. Now all I need to do is take some really suitable shots for HDR treatment.

Thanks again for all the advice. When I have moved the kitchen on a bit, I will try to post some images.