August 23, 2014, 12:15:15 AM

Author Topic: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?  (Read 2673 times)

Cory

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Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« on: January 14, 2014, 08:18:15 AM »
     Is there a preferred software for HDR?  I have Lightroom 5 if that matters and would place a heavy weight towards "simple".
     Since we're on the subject of HDR do most shoot the 3+ images in RAW or stick with JPEG's?  Don't yet completely have my head around HDR, but I think it's my next thing (so any other insight for a total novice would be very much, as always, appreciated).
     Thanks.
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privatebydesign

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 08:23:53 AM »
I use Photomatix, it was recently upgraded and it has become a fine tool. Subtle effects are now much easier. As for the whole HDR thing, it really depends on what you want your images to look like.

Regarding RAW or jpeg, absolutely do not use jpeg, RAW is the only way to go.
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Cory

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 08:34:16 AM »
Thanks.  Just one quick question to kick it off - Do you usually process one of the pictures and then sync the others to that or process them all separately or not process them at all and just use the raw RAW shots?  Then, I guess, you might further process the finished HDR shot with the Photomatix software?
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privatebydesign

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 08:47:32 AM »
As always, it depends.

For real estate stuff where colours are more important I'll do a lens profile, camera profile and WB on all images then open them in Photomatix. In images with severe blooming issues I'll pull down Whites and Highlights in the most overexposed images of the sequence before merging.

For scenics and landscapes I'll just open them direct from the RAW's via LR, for that kind of thing everything is subjective anyway so it is a blank canvas.

Bit it really depends on what kind of images you ae interested in. Give me a clue or a link to images you like, and I can be more help.
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Cory

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 08:58:21 AM »
Thanks.  I had landscapes mostly in mind, at least to start, but it'll likely branch out into everything minus sports.
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cayenne

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 09:52:16 AM »
     Is there a preferred software for HDR?  I have Lightroom 5 if that matters and would place a heavy weight towards "simple".
     Since we're on the subject of HDR do most shoot the 3+ images in RAW or stick with JPEG's?  Don't yet completely have my head around HDR, but I think it's my next thing (so any other insight for a total novice would be very much, as always, appreciated).
     Thanks.

I got photomatix first when I was exploring HDR...and then I caught the NIK stuff when the suite of that went on sale for like $135. I like them both...if I do some HDR shooting, I'll often see what looks I can get out of both of them.

I started shooting 3 exposures, and am now working with 5....I pretty much only shoot RAW for everything I do, with the exception of long time lapse.

I believe in HDR, it is just as important to do it in RAW, to have full control of everything you might wanna do in post in having the full information there, to play around with 32bit imagery.

HTH,

cayenne

m

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 12:49:21 PM »
I'm not that into HDR, because a lot of the images look like color vomit.
HDR itself is not the problem, it's the tone mapping that happens afterwards as it seems.

Then I stumbled upon this:
Shooting and creating photo real HDR
So with the 32bit workflow in PS, things look good. As if you just boosted the dynamic range of the camera.
And there are no new dials or sliders to think about, because you edit the photo in LR just like any other photo.

All good, except it uses PS.
Now I did a quick search and apparently there are plugins for LR to do the 32bit blending.
http://www.hdrsoft.com/download/merge_lrplugin.html
I didn't try them, but if it works it eliminates the need for PS.

There is a thread about HDR with sample images of different workflows, but I couldn't manage to find it, just the video.

scottburgess

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 01:30:27 PM »

I got photomatix first when I was exploring HDR...and then I caught the NIK stuff when the suite of that went on sale for like $135. I like them both...if I do some HDR shooting, I'll often see what looks I can get out of both of them.

cayenne

+1 on that.  I often prefer the HDR in Photomatix (though it is usually close), but the Nik tools are a tremendous investment.  After processing a handful of images, it has become a go-to suite for me since I can retouch parts of landscape images very efficiently.  Pro photographer Tony Sweet has a discount available on Photomatix; I think his discount for Nik is gone since they lowered their prices so much from the Google buyout.  He has discounts for many other suites and tools as well, so check out his web site before buying.

Cory

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 05:02:13 PM »
Thanks again.  Leaning towards Photomatix because it looks like you have to buy the entire Nik everything. 
Someone recommended Photomatix Essentials for the most simplified solution, but is that missing any type of interface with Lightroom?  If so, would it make sense to go all out with Photomatix Pro 5?
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JustMeOregon

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 05:39:14 PM »
Following up on m's comments regarding HDRsoft's "Merge to 32-bit HDR Plugin for Lightroom" -- if you want simple HDR without the overcooked tone-mapped effect, this may be what your looking for...

http://www.hdrsoft.com/download/merge_lrplugin.html

Its functionality is not dependent on Photomatix or Photoshop. It's the cheapest alternative at $29. It generates full 32-bit TIFFs ("radiance" files) out of RAW files, that will be half the size you get from Photoshop (if you select the option to "Use Half Floating Point format"). Because you do all the "developing" in Lightroom, it is drop-dead-simple & nearly impossible to end-up with one of those "radioactive HDR's" that everyone loves to ridicule. And it is far-away the fastest way to an HDR. So even though I own "all of them," and they all have their individual strength's (Nik's U-Point localized adjustments in their HDR Efx is ridiculously powerful), I'll always try the "Merge to 32-bit HDR Plugin for Lightroom" first...

Richard
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 06:57:06 PM by JustMeOregon »

Cory

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 07:02:13 PM »
Wow.  Thanks.  Looks like going from Merge to 32-bit to Essentials to Pro 5 adds features as you move up.  Might go wtih Merge to 32-bit and then, I guess, you would just process the HDR image in Lightroom vs. in the Pro 5 "develop" module.  Do you find that you prefer to develop in Photomatix (like with Pro 5) or do you often get the desired result in Lightroom? 
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JustMeOregon

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 07:59:08 PM »
Quote
I guess, you would just process the HDR image in Lightroom vs. in the Pro 5 "develop" module

Exactly right. Using the "Merge to 32-bit" plugin you do ALL the developing in Lightroom where you are familiar (or should be) with all the usual Lightroom developing adjustments. Moreover, because your now using a full 32-bit TIFF, all those "usual Lightroom developing adjustments" will have a TREMENDOUS amount more latitude & range! For example Lightroom's "Exposure" slider will be adjustable to +/- 10 instead of the standard adjustment range of +/- 5. Highlights that appear to be blown-out to pure white and shadows that look blocked-up to pure black will become easily recoverable...

Now of course it's not perfect, nothing is... For me it's weakness is in aligning the bracketed images. Usually it does just fine, but sometimes not... Photoshop does the best job of alignment, but Photoshop is the slowest way to a 32-bit file, the Photoshop 32-bit files are twice the size, & Photoshop will cost you $10 a month for the rest of your life...

I believe that you can download a free trial of "Merge to 32-bit" Lightroom plugin, you should give it a try.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 08:10:41 PM by JustMeOregon »

cdn_photog

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 09:36:34 PM »
Here is a quick comparison of Photomatix Merge to 32-bit HDR vs Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, using LR5.2.  Settings on both exports were default, nothing done to the files except merging the RAW files straight off the memory card. Bracketed shots were 2/3 stop apart, 7 frames total, so -2, -1.33, -.67, 0, +.67, +1.33, +2.

m

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 04:35:46 AM »
& Photoshop will cost you $10 a month for the rest of your life...

You wish  ;)

@cdn: nice image

cayenne

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Re: Photomatix or Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or ?
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 10:48:43 AM »

Now of course it's not perfect, nothing is... For me it's weakness is in aligning the bracketed images. Usually it does just fine, but sometimes not... Photoshop does the best job of alignment, but Photoshop is the slowest way to a 32-bit file, the Photoshop 32-bit files are twice the size, & Photoshop will cost you $10 a month for the rest of your life...



Not if you buy a nice copy of Photoshop CS6 which is still available from amazon.com, and heck, you can still buy it from Adobe themselves:

http://www.adobe.com/products/catalog/cs6._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_creativesuite6.html?promoid=KFTMT


HTH,

cayenne