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I shoot real estate photography and recently learned about a plugin called LR/Enfuse, which is marketed as a tool to "blend multiple exposures together directly from within Lightroom" for higher dynamic range images.

What are the benefits of learning to use LR/Enfuse plugin within lightroom compared to the standard HDR merge feature in the latest version of lightroom CC?

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Exposure fusing is a different technique of combining images than HDR algorithms. So, it's basically having another way of doing a similar task. Photomatix, for example, performs both exposure fusing and HDR.

What an HDR technique is doing is to remap the values of the set of images along a scale large enough to encompass the entire high dynamic range, and save it in a special HDR image file format. This HDR image is then "tonemapped", where values are mapped back down into the LDR range to create a file that is directly viewable on most monitors.

Fusing, otoh, simply takes the individual pixel values of the images, and then combines them to form a pixel in the final image. Enfuse allows for weighting of pixel values by contrast, saturation, or exposure, so it can not only do exposure fusing, but also tasks like focus stacking. There are no special file formats involved, and no tonemapping. And, depending on the software package and tonemapping algorithm you use, the default result of exposure fusing can often seen more natural than default HDR output, since the range of the values will never fall outside those of the source images.

Whether there's an advantage to you really depends on your personal taste, and why you're performing HDR or fusing in the first place.

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There is not a whole lot of difference between the two. While Enfuse does have the ability to set certain weights for contrast, saturation and exposure, it does not have any options to do manual tone mapping. That is important if you want to be able to tweak how the intermediate 32-bit HDR images will turn out before it is exported out as a 16-bit TIFF file or 8-bit JPG file.

First, there is no previews to view how the images will look. You need to constantly re-run the plug-in to view the results. Next, the images I was producing looked like what Lightroom produces without auto tone checked.
Just realized that what this plug-in is doing is exposure fusion which takes the best parts of the images and combines them. It still is nowhere near the results I have gotten when using Photomatix for my HDR images.

Also note that you need to make a donation to lift limitations on the plug-in which restrict image sizes to 500px.

LR/Enfuse was mainly made back in the hay day when Lightroom did not have HDR feature. It makes it unnecessary to use this plug-in unless you have an older version of Lightroom (pre-Lightroom CC) or want exposure fusion.

  • The contrast/saturation/exposure weights in enfuse aren't to manipulate the final image, but how input image values are weighted when being combined (e.g., increasing contrast weight doesn't increase contrast in the final image, but performs focus stacking). – inkista Jan 19 '16 at 3:59

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