Digital Editing — Comparison of HDR (High Dynamic Range) Emulation Programs and Settings.

There are a number of HDR programs programs available. Over the next several days I will be comparing images processed with Adobe HDR Pro, HDR Soft Photomatix Pro (ver 4.0), and the recently released  Nik HDR Efex Pro (ver 1.0). I will also include a couple of examples of “one shot HDR” from Phase One Capture One Pro (ver 6.0) and DxO Optics Pro (ver 6.0). The HDR programs have improved significantly in the last few years.

The images used for this test were taken during a Nikonians Academy  Photography Adventure Workshop in Big Sur run by Michael Mariant.  Five images were taken with a Nikon D3x and 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 100, 14 mm, f/16, 0.6, 1.2, 2.5, 5, 10 sec) with mirror up delay to minimize vibration on a tripod.

Adobe HDR Pro  Adobe has included a HDR rendering program with the last few versions of Photoshop. The version include in Photoshop CS5 is significantly improved over the previous versions. The program is relatively easy to use. Select File> Automate> Merge to HDR Pro, Select the images to process, OK. Once the images are initially processed, there are 14 preset options (default, flat, monochromatic, photorealistic, saturated, surrealistic, etc.). I am providing examples of the standard default, photorealistic and saturated presets. In addition to the presets there are many additional sliders to control and tweak all aspects of the final image.

Wide Angle Looking up from a Coastal Redwood Forest. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens (ISO 100, 14 mm, f/16, 2.5 sec). Raw image converted using Adobe Camera Raw 6.2 (landscape and used lens correction). (David J Mathre)

 Adobe Camera Raw: Landscape, Nikon 14-24 mm f/2.8 Lens Correction. Original Exposure (no HDR)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro (5 images (+2, +1, 0, -1, -2 EV) using the preset Default settings.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro (5 images (+2, +1, 0, -1, -2 EV) using the preset Photorealistic settings.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro (5 images (+2, +1, 0, -1, -2 EV) using the preset Saturated settings.

Author: David Mathre

I am a scientist by training (Eckerd College, BSc; Caltech, Ph.D.). I worked for 27 years as a Chemist in the Pharmaceutical Industry developing processes to manufacture medicines for human and animal health. I now spend my time as a photographer and world traveler. My interests in photography include the natural world, wildlife, landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes. I have traveled to over 50 countries over the last 10 years, often on Semester at Sea voyages. While at home in New Jersey, I spend time on a home renovation project and expanding my wildflower garden/meadow.

2 thoughts on “04-December-2010”

  1. The wide angle is definitely the way to go. I tried a fisheye last time in the redwoods, and it ties the canopy together too much. So other than slugs or bends in the trail, my choice will be wide angle or ultra wide angle in the redwood forest parks.


    1. Thank you. I initially tried a fisheye, but decided I didn’t like the resultant curvature distortion in the trees. I also got images of the yellow banana slugs and the wild purple iris flowers while in Big Sur which I will post one of these days. DJM

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