15-April-2011

Comparison of HDR Image Processing Programs. 

I’ve used 5 images from a Nikonians Academy Photography Workshop in Big Sur taken a year ago today to compare two of the newer HDR image processing programs: HDR Express from Unified Color, and HDR Efex Pro from Nik. The image is of a waterfall in Redwood Gulch where there is a very wide range of light levels. To smooth the moving water in the waterfall, I used a couple of Singh-Ray filters (Vari-N-Duo and Mor-Slow ND). The exposures ranged from 2.5 to 30 seconds. The initial raw images were processed with Capture One Pro, cropped to a square image and converted to tif. The images were then imported to Lightroom, then processed with the HDR programs. The first image is the 10 second exposure without any HDR processing. The next 5 images were processed with HDR Express using the following defaults (Optimum, Linear, Natural, Vivid, and Artistic). This is followed by 3 images processed with HDR Efex Pro using the following defaults (Realistic Strong, Realistic Gradient, and Vibrant Textures). Please let me know which (if any) you like or dislike.

Additional images are included in my 15-April-2010 Photoblog.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Initial Image taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 10 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro.. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Initial Image taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 10 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro..

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Optimal. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Optimal.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Linear. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Linear.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Natural. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Natural.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Vivid. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Vivid.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Artistic. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, HDR Express: Artistic.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, Nik HDR Efex Pro - Realistic Strong. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, Nik HDR Efex Pro - Realistic Strong.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, Nik HDR Efex Pro - Realistic Gradient. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, Nik HDR Efex Pro - Realistic Gradient.

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Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, Nik HDR Efex Pro - Vibrant. (David J Mathre)
Redwood Gulch Waterfall, HDR Exercise. Image(s) taken with a Nikon D3x and 24 mm f/3.5 PC-E lens Singh-Ray filters (ISO 100, 24 mm, f/16, 2.5 to 30 sec). Raw image processed with Capture One Pro, Nik HDR Efex Pro - Vibrant.
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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.

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