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I am thinking about doing some more HDR photos and thinking about the software side. I have CS5 but have never been happy about the speed or the quality of the final images. I have heard about Imagematix and like what I see. Any other ideas or suggestions for OS X?

I use Lightroom for my primary editing so integration with it would be a bonus.

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3 Answers 3

Luminance HDR is available for Mac as well as for other platforms. It is free and open source. The definition of "better" and "quality" may vary, but it doesn't cost money to try.

Flickr group with the samples

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I've been using Photomatix Pro version 3 for a while. It's good, but a bit geeky and doesn't really help you find a good image. I've been experimenting iwth Nik Software's HDR Efex and it's a nice step forward but I'm not yet ready to commit to it. I'm just starting to test Photomatix 4 to see whether i'll move forward with it or Nik's software. Nik has a demo you can download and try out. I like it's integration with Lightroom, but on my Mac I found it a bit laggy. Probably not surprising given how much data is being manipulated,a nd less laggy than Photomatix 3.

Okay, just did a quick test with photomatix 4. Initial thought -- definitely a step up from photomatix 3; still kinda geeky. Faster than HDR Efex by Nik but not as user friendly. The program seems to turn out images more on the "grunge" side by default (not a suprise given Trey Ratliff is an advisor) but you can tone it down. I'm going to experiment more, but right now, I'm (surprisingly enough) preferring Photomatix over HDR efex. I'm a big fan of Nik's software, I didn't expect that.

Here are some quick samples:

unprocessed image:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuqui/5207965359/

image out of HDR Efex Pro:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuqui/5208563906/

image out of Photomatix 4:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuqui/5275434248/

now, don't consider any of these "final" (and the subject matter isn't great, but it was handy). I tried to image them to the same general feel (i.e. "my bias" vs. the program's inate bias on how it ought to be rendered). comparing them, I think I desaturated the phtomatix more.

Both are nice tools. HDR efex is more user friendly, I think the rendering tool in Photomatix is more mature, at least on initial tests, and faster.

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At my point of view the best is the one included in Photoshop CS5 (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/photoshop/whatsnew/index_rr.html). It's precise and professional, you can also quickly reapply previous settings and the integration in the adobe suite is a must.

You can also try Hydra (http://www.creaceed.com/hydra/), it's integrate weel in Aperture like Photomatix.

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