Author Topic: HDR comparison, Adobe CS4. vs Photomatix Pro 3.1 Detail Enh. and Tone Comp.  (Read 9299 times)

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Offline AScot

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Getting desperate for something to shoot during this bad weather, so decided to shoot my street and process High Definition Range photos using Adobe CS4 Merge to HDR, Photomatix Pro 3.1. using the detail Enhancer method and again using the Tone Compressor method.

I Used the A700 and CZ16-80 at f5.6 with a B+W Slim Circ. Pol. filter, 16mm focal length, ISO200. Camera was set to record 5 RAW exposures spread 0.7EV apart, hand held, neutral everything. It resulted in 5 exposures of 1/350sec, 1/760sec, 1/1000sec, 1/1500sec and 1/3000sec. (or +1.4, +0.7, 0.0, -0.5, -1.5) As you can see, I am not positioned at the ideal 90 degrees to the sun to maximize the effect of the Polarizer.

It would have been better if I could have used a tripod and shot at 1 or 2 EV apart but with the A700 that would have meant adjusting the speed by hand and It was freezing so I took the easy way out and used the camera bracketing mode. :-[

Here are the results. I should note that this is my first attempt at HDR and is in no way a scientific experiment. I think the first is not bad, but I probably could have done as well by manipulating a single photo in CS4. The second is more saturated and the light is harsh. It looks a bit overdone. The third is yuk! why I'm unsure. What is certain is that I will have to try again, perhaps with a better photo, tripod and larger spread of Exposure values.

You will note that the corners show a fair amount of vignetting, this is in spite of using a slim filter (no thread in front) on the CZ16-80. :(  Within four hours of taking these photos we had another 150mm of snow followed by -16oC.

Adobe CS4 Merge to HDR, all default settings.


Photomatix Pro 3.1 Details Enhancer Method all default settings.


Photomatix Pro 3.1 Tone Compressor Method all default settings. (It was so dark that I had to lighten it considerably)
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Offline steve

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Hi Ascot
Second one looks like an hdr image but i quite like it. Not a fan of hdr images as they always look a bit unreal IMHO. Photomatix pro seems to have done a good job in defalt settings. I am Not familiar with this software might have to have a look. Well done for having a go.

  Regards Steve

Offline Simon [aka springtide]

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Very good Steve.  The second image does look very HDR but the third image looks much more natural.  The sky in #3 is just so much nicer.

What I've found as a great way of producing natural HDR images is using the Photomatix Tone Compressor method (actually a friend suggested this to me!!), but creating multiple 'exposures' from within Photomatix Tone Compressor and merging these in PS (like the article: http://www.dynaxdigital.com/index.php?page=18)

This method seems to give the most natural results if that's what you are after.  Obviously the 'Details Enhancer' can give some 'funky' results if thats how you'd like the image to look :)
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Offline dominicall

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I think I prefer image #1.

Really nice dynamic range (which is the point obviously) without looking overtly like HDR and most importantly for me the snow in the sunlight is white where it seems a bit grey #2 and #3.

Interesting comparison and thanks for posting :-)

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Offline Tom F

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My vote would go to #1.
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Offline Stef.

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Thanks for posting these. Very interesting comparison. For me it is also no1- no.2 has a colour cast- or at least on my monitor. The only part I prefer from no 3 is the sun. I don't think that it is soo obvious that these are hdr.
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DonSchap

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Personally, I like the van in the second one ... you can actually see the detail ... but the sky in the first one is better ... especially the color.  Can you kind of "mix" the two?  LOL

Offline yhbae01

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There must be a way to fine tune these settings... Looks like #1 is in between #2 and #3. Is there a way to locally compress tones? As the previous post mentioned, I like the texture of the van but may be a bit over-HDRed.

Also, I didn't know CS4 had HDR built-in. Does CS3 have this too?
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Offline Rob aka [minolta mad]

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Yes CS3 does have the HDR built in. Though i have never found it that great (or perhaps i should say, havent got used to it)
For me, the only thing that prevents #2 from being the one id choose is, the burnt out sun and the colour is typical of hdr, so a simple saturation decrease of the blue's and it would be spot on.
One of the things that i dont like with photomatrix hdr is that it tends to render the whites 'greyish' some times.

Thanks for the comparisons, will have to try them sometime with CS3.


Rob

Offline fother

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I'm not a big fan of HDR - see too many massively overdone attempts at it. But the differences here are really interesting.

Darn it Charles (AScot), you've gone and tempted me to get photomatrix pro :-\

Offline Numpty

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Really like no1
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Offline AScot

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Thanks all for your comments.

steve, I am not a fan of the HDR look either and #2 does have that look, although quite mild in comparison to many HDR attempts I have seen. I did not do any post processing (other than brightening #3) and feel that #2 could be improved in CS4.

Simon [aka springtide], the instructions with Photomatix say that the Tone Compensation method should give the most natural result. #3 three is the T. C. version and it was so dark I was forced to brighten it for posting. It's the first time I've used the software so I may have missed something or made a mistake.

dominicall, Tom F, stef and Numpty #1 is my preferred version also, although with further processing in CS4, that could change. There is a slight pink color cast in #2 that is not present in the original. Photomatix has also made the bricks way too pink, probably a connection somewhere. :D #1 has the most realistic colors.

DonSchap, yhbae01, The van looks silver in #2, it's actually a dark gray. I probably could mix or fine tune these but the objective was to see what the programs could do in default settings. (And of course to brighten my winter blues.) :D

Rob aka [minolta mad], you are quite expert in doing these HDR type photos, so I was hoping you would comment. I deliberately included the sun in the photo to see just how these programs could handle it. It's a difficult test, even when the sun is partly covered by a thin layer of cloud. I think the saturation thing is often what makes HDR so objectionable, to me at least.

fother, Just returning the favor. :D
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Offline Rob aka [minolta mad]

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One thing that i have done on a few occasions is to take as many as 3 sets of 5 bracketed exposures, and then choose 5 or 6 images to load into photomatrix, depending on what the image is of, this may include images say -4, -2,  0, +1, +3. You tend to get a feel for what exposures to load depending on the type of image and colours within that image.
Quite alot of the HDR's that i take i nearly always end up reducing the saturation of the reds or blue's to tone it down.
If done well, they really do look great.


Rob