I am just getting into photography and HDR photography. I downloaded the trial of Photomatrix to test out some photos of pictures I took in Washington DC. For better or worse I decided to take RAW images opposed to bracketed images. When I load the RAW image in Photomatrix and play around with the settings I get a preview image I think looks awesome. However when I process the images I get totally different result. I know they say the image is a preview but this seems very different to me. I have tried with 4 or 5 different setting and I am getting the same problem every time.

Here are some links:

In particular look at the difference between the crispness of the flags, the details of the stones in the monument and the detail of the grass in the foreground. Is there anything I can do to get my images to look more like the preview image?

Also FWIW I am trying to do a panoramic image and this is the first image, I am going to do HDR first and then stitch them together.

Thanks for the help.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This just sounds like the effect of tone mapping. To answer your other question - yes RAW photos are better than starting with JPEG images, especially in the case of trying to create an HDR/tone mapped image. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Aug 4, 2012 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I think I just figured out what was going on and it is totally egg on my face. I was looking at the post processed images in preview when the images are zoomed to 30% and it didn't look right. Once I zoomed into 100% everything looked fine. Please close this question as an ID10T error. \$\endgroup\$
    – zgirod
    Aug 4, 2012 at 22:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ When in Photomatix, use the preview window and notice that the actual preview image in Photomatix also appears to be of very much reduced quality and much noisier then the final result. I think that the preview is just an proximate rendering of what the final image will look like. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4, 2012 at 22:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zgirod In the future other people could have the same doubt that you had. You should write a short answer yourself, and accept it as the answer. This way the experience is not lost and other people will be guided through this "mistake" :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Aug 5, 2012 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


What happened to me was a basic misunderstanding of what was going on. The preview image is something like 640x400 pixels so it fits in your screen and you can see the whole image. Once the final get processed it created a full size image however to display the image in full on your screen it zooms out to ~33% (depending on your image size) to diaplay the whole image. At least on my computer when the image was at 33% it looked distorted. Don't worry the image is fine, just zoom out or zoom to actual size and the image should look fine.

My lessoned learned is the large images when zoomed to fit can look dramatically different, it had nothing to do with photomatrix.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no "r" in Photomatix. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 18, 2013 at 9:47

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