HDR - Which program?

Started May 29, 2011 | Discussions thread
Julian Vrieslander Senior Member • Posts: 1,063
Two-app workflow for better alignment

Tom Baker has a web page that compares the performance of four HDR apps, and in particular, how well they align the images in a stack. He tested HDR Expose, Photomatix Pro 4, HDR Efex Pro, and Photoshop CS5.

http://www.mylifeinhdr.com/2010/10/12/hdr-alignment-comparing-the-big-4/

He found significant differences. Photoshop was the best at aligning the images, but many people prefer the tone mapping capabilities of other apps. Tom suggests that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Use Photoshop to align the images and do the HDR merge in your preferred app.

A bit of googling brought me to another page that describes the two-app workflow, and even provides a Photoshop script to automate part of it.

http://www.outbackphoto.com/CONTENT_2007_01/section_hdr_and_tonemapping_2009/20100917_HDR_OptimizedAlignment/index.html

I followed the recipe in this article, using the same test shots that I used for my earlier post in this thread. I aligned the three bracketed images in Photoshop CS5, and exported to HDR Expose for the merge. The result surprised me. Not only was the merged shot sharper, there was also a significant reduction in the ghost artifacts caused by people moving in the scene. Perhaps HDR Expose was able to do a better job at de-ghosting when the source images were better aligned. The initial tonal mapping in HDR Expose was also better than in my previous test, but that may have been because of some other changes suggested in the article.

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