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on July 14, 2009
I am a HDR newbie, I never thought I would be diving into HDR so quickly (didn't even know what it was a month ago). This program makes it so easy to transform your photos. I have a nikon D200, D5000 and Olympus e-pl1, and I have achieved astonishing photos, adding this technique, photos are jaw-dropping. I have had some many compliments to my photos, and even friends asking me to help them achieve the same wonderful photos. This is a very insteresting technique. Once you have your shot taken with at least 3 different exposures then you will merge the 3 photos into HDR image, and then next step of the program is tone mapping to reveal highlights & shadows details in HDR image. The results will AMAZE you.

One note, you can download this software's trail version for free to see if you like it, that is what I did. You can use it indefinetely (not 30 days like most), but it will leave a watermark on your finished project, but at least you can play with it before spending $100.

**If you don't have a camera that can take 3 different exposures or you having a moving target that you can't, you can take one photo and then manipulate 2 new exposures with a software program, or even Windows photo gallery. It is not "true" hdr, but it gives similar results. I took some photos of my niece walking down the aisle at an outside wedding on a beautiful day. I couldnt do the 3 diffenet exposures with my camera because of the movement (even a second in time makes a difference of the photo you take), so I manipulated 2 new exposures afterwards and then used this program. The results were amazing, the sky alone with the clouds and sun shinning thru looked 3D.
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on March 31, 2012
Photomatix Pro is a widely used and respected program. But before investing in it, you might wish to consider a mixed strategy: Buy only the lite version, Photomatix Essentials, which is available on the Photomatix web site. Then, with the money you save, buy another well regarded program such as Topaz Adjust to generate the artistic effects associated with HDR. The total cost will be slightly less than that of Photomatix Pro alone.

The rationale is this. HDR photography has two different aspects: (1) Combining images of different exposures to increase the dynamic range; and (2) Creating the artistic style known as the "HDR effect". These two aspects are often confused but are actually quite separable. You can use Photomatix Essentials to combine bracketed images, giving you (1), then pass the composite result along to Topaz Adjust to create the so-called HDR look, providing for (2). An advantage of this strategy is that Topaz will create not only the HDR style if you want it, but many other styles as well. It will stylize any single image, whether or not it happens to be a high dynamic range composite.

Topaz Adjust is a Photoshop plugin. It will also run in Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, iPhoto, PaintShop Pro, and some other hosts. Beside Topaz there are also a number of other programs that will produce an HDR style from a single image.
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on December 14, 2009
Photomatix Pro has enabled me to get DSLR quality images on my Canon Power Shot S5 IS camera. I'm having so much fun with Photomatix Pro, my hungering for the Canon EOS 7D is not as strong as before discovering Photomatix.

Using this "magical" software I have been able to "reverse engineer" some of my older photos taken as single exposure shots and turn them into the eye poppers.

In Photoshop I increased the exposure on an otherwise well composed shot, but a little flat exposure wise. I increased exposure by 1.0 stops, and reduced the exposure by .5 stops. I saved each "tweaked" image and then sent them over to Photomatix, and WOW! Another eye popper emerged. There is one drawback, although the exposure and contrast were great, the color suffered. I saved the recreated photo as a black and white, and corrected the image a little bit back in Photoshop. The resulting black and white image is as great as if it had been a bracketed image in the first place.

ADDED: I was able to "reverse engineer" a color photo and merge the exposures and the color rendering came out fine. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won't. But you'll get great B/W images even if you cannot get good color results.

Many of my photos done with the bracketing and Photomatix merging take on oil painting qualities or some have even looked like pen and ink drawings.
Others take on a surreal look without any Photoshop SFX.

If you own a higher end Point and Shoot with exposure bracketing, this is THE software to purchase. You don't even need Photoshop. Photomatix saves the merged images as a TIFF file which means you can edit the merged image in just about any photo editing program.

If you're like me, wanting to upgrade to a DSLR but still can't quite afford one, then the $100 investment in Photomatix will make the wait a bit more tolerable.

ADDED REVIEW CONTENT

Well, I now own the camera of my dreams, the Canon 7D. Using exposure bracketing on the 7D and Photomatix have given me some really eye-popping images.

This is a five star product!
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0Comment|95 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Photomatix offers a relatively strong and low-cost way to get into HDR photography, and I find it a great creative tool.

The program's support for RAW format images seems to be good - it handles RAW from my Nikon D300 and D3x without problems, although the large files that come from my D3x seem to take a long time to process. A fast computer and lots of memory help.

Assuming good basic technique, the images come out amazingly well. Although the basic idea is to stitch together images taken with different exposures, sometimes it's handy to use the program's tone mapping capabilities, even on a single image.

I tend to start my workflow with Photomatix, outputting HDR TIF images that I usually bring back into an editing program (PhotoShop) for further tweaking. Photomatix is good at HDR - you still need something else for many of the other changes you might want to make to your images.

Overall, I find the software a great creative tool and it's helped me think in new ways about contrast and dynamic range in my images. Definitely worth the price.
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on October 4, 2009
If you're tired of spending hours making hair-splitting selections in numerous layers in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements in order to get a photo that is well-exposed from edge to edge, Photomatix is the application for you. Within 15 minutes of taking three shots of my street and transferring the images to the computer, I had created my first High Dynamic Range photo. It usually takes some tweaking with a photo editing program to put the finishing touches on the photo, but the results are amazing. The software comes with a 28-page printed manual that provides good guidance on how each of the sliders affects the results. Add Photomatix to Ferrell McCoullough's book, "Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography" for a real education in HDR photography.
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on December 9, 2009
I have begun teaching HDR photography in my photography classes. Needless to say, we use Photomatix Pro in that class. Although there are other useful software products, Photomatix Pro is by far the most comprehensive. It allows you to make many interpretations of the same set of exposures. You can go from realistic, to super realistic, to over the top with the same set of origingal captures. Granted, it is a little intimidating the first few times you encounter the Detail Enhancer interface (to say the least!), but with a little practice it quickly becomes familiar. You will need to post process most of the images you create in an image editing program to achieve optimal results. But this is also a way to make addition interpretations of your image because of the great amount of detail in images made with HDR techniques. I highly recommend this product!
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on March 6, 2010
In photography and Image Processing HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a technique that allows a much greater range of light intensity from the lightest to the darkest area of an image than a regular image produced by a common camera. Tone mapping techniques aim to reduce the overall contrast so that an image with greater luminosity range can be displayed on devices that are not capable of showing that range while, at the same time, maintaining localized contrast. This can also be exaggerated in order to create artistic effects.
True high dynamic range photos can be obtained by capturing multiple shots of the same scene with different exposures and merging them in a software like HDRSoft's Photomatix. This is what I use for all my HDR needs.

Now, I can already hear some of you groaning: "HDR looks so fake..." - Well, it doesn't have to. As a matter of fact, HDR can look as real as human eye can see (remember that our eyes can see by far a much greater contrast than the sensor of the best camera in the market), or as artistic as you want it to be. In my experience as a photographer I came across all sort of HDR/Tone Mapped images and I can guarantee you that a job well done cannot be always told apart from non-HDR/Tone Mapped images.

There were times when a photographer would have to give up a particular shot (or be very creative about it) because the light just wasn't right. Your classic example would be a dark interior with bright light coming from the windows: you want to show the interior as well as the scenery outside of the windows but the sensor of your camera (or the film) cannot resolve such a high contrast; it's either one or the other. Photoshop has many times come to our help: if the contrast isn't excessive we could create an adjustment layer and modify highlights, shadows, etc. in a particular area of the image. In case of excessive contrast, though, that technique can only get a close approximation to reality, I'm saying a close approximation because for as powerful as it is, Photoshop cannot create data that is not there, the missing highlights were not captured in the first place, and the part of the image that is too dark cannot be lightened over a certain amount or it will become highly noisy. Landscape photographers face scenes with high contrast all the time and many times we have been able to overcome this problem by using a split neutral density filter. Unfortunately it only works when there is a net distinction between the dark side and the bright side of the image, as when we are taking the photo of a sunset over the sea. Suppose you want to shoot a "tunnel" created by a canopy of trees where the ground is dark, the canopy itself is brighter and the "end of the tunnel" is really bright; or maybe you want to shoot the movement of the waves under a boardwalk. Fortunately, for these and many other situations, HDR software comes to our help. There are many programs out there, and even Photoshop CS4 can merge to an HDR image (with a serious lack of options and a serious lack of speed), but in my opinion the best one in the market is Photomatix. I don't want to get into fine details because the web abounds of reviews of this excellent program as well as tutorials so let's just take a look at some of the features...

First of all, Photomatix is very easy to use, you can actually drag and drop images in its interface and with just a few clicks that don't require anything more than following on-screen instructions you get your first HDR image. For the power users, though, the possibilities are nearly endless. There are so many ways to tweak you final results that you could spend hours playing with it (and you probably will).
The program comes as a stand-alone as well as plug-ins for Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4, Lightroom and Aperture. At the start-up of the stand-alone application we are presented with an empty window and a small menu window (the Workflow Shortcuts window). Click on "Generate HDR image" or "Exposure Fusion" then browse and select or drag & drop the images that you want to use (these can be either RAW or JPEG). In the next step we choose if we want to align hand-held images and how (I find that the option "matching features" gives better results); Reduce Noise and Chromatic Aberrations, Reduce Ghosting Artifacts (in case you have movement in the images, like leaves); and then some more options that are specific to JPEG or RAW. We click OK and let the software work. After some time which varies on the complexity and size of the image, the file format, and how powerful your computer is, we are shown a preliminary version to which we will apply Tone Mapping using standard setting or customizing any or all of the many options available. After playing with the interface for a while we can create a pretty realistic scene. We can also save a lot of time with the Batch Processing interface that is filled with options ranging from the number of exposures to the Color Profile and a lot more.
As I mentioned, the software can do an alignment of multiple exposures for hand-held shots. I prefer to use a tripod, but it's not always possible and the results I've seen with the automatic alignment are great.

Photomatix comes both in 32 bit and 64 bit versions for Windows and Mac. The 64 bit version naturally only runs in 64 bit Operating Systems. A 32 bit Operating System can only address up to 3 GB of RAM because of physical limitations that cannot be overcome. If you want to use 4GB of RAM or more you need to use a 64 bit version of the OS or this will see the amount of memory but will not be able to address it. My main computer is a custom built PC with Windows 7 64bit and Photomatix 64bit runs flawlessly on it. If you are upgrading your PC from XP or Vista to 7, the good news is that the upgrade DVD contains both versions. As with all upgrades there might be some incompatibilities between old 32bit software and a 64bit OS but so far (and I was a beta tester of Windows 7 64bit since July 2009) I have found none; even Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom 2.0 come with 32 bit and 64 bit versions. On the plus side, if you have more than 3GB of RAM your PC will always run at the very least a bit faster in the 64bit version. Personally, I don't think photographers and video editors should be allowed to use 32bit Operating Systems :)

These are the version of Photomatix and Plug-ins available for sale:

Photomatix Light is a stand-alone program which allows the merging of bracketed exposures into one single image with Tone Mapping or Exposure Fusion and also does an automatic alignment of hand-held photos.

Plug-In for Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4 provides a tone mapping method for this well known Adobe software.

Photomatix Plug-In for Aperture 2.1 or higher provides HDR Tone Mapping, automatic alignment of hand-held photos, and options for reduction of noise and chromatic aberrations in HDR images.

Photomatix Pro is a stand-alone program with options for Exposure Fusion, HDR Tone Mapping, Automatic Alignment of hand-held photos, reduction of ghosting, noise and chromatic aberration in HDR images, Batch processing and includes an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom plug-in. It can also convert a single RAW image into a pseudo-HDR image with Tone Mapping and an option to modify the White Balance.

Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle includes Photomatix Pro as well as the Photoshop and Aperture plug-ins.

More reviews can be found on my website and blog as well as discount codes: search Luca Diana Photography on Google.
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on September 13, 2010
Being somewhat "stingy" with my money, due to not having much of it sometimes, I was reluctant to purchase Photomatix. I already had Photoshop CS4 on my Mac, which was given to me by a friend when he upgraded to a new computer. After trying a number of free programs as well as experimenting for many hours in Photoshop with lousy results, I decided to try Photomatix.

While you can purchase a CD from Amazon, it's much better to purchase the downloaded version straight from HDRsoft. This is because your licensing information will automatically be stored in their database making it very easy to get your license key resent to you. Also, you are entitled to download at least a year of free upgrades. So far people who have purchased even a few years ago are still able to download upgrades. All people who purchase a license to version 3.0 are entitled to upgrade to version 4.0 for free. Having your license already in the system makes this easier.

You can download a free trial version of any of the Photomatix software from their main website. These trials are fully functional and never expire. They do leave a watermark on the saved images however.

Finally, if you do decide to purchase through the main HDRsoft site, you can get a 15% discount by entering a coupon code during your order. You can find them by entering searches into Google such as "buy Photomatix", "Photomatix discount code", Photomatix coupon" and so forth.

Photomatix has taken my photography to a new and very fun level. It wasn't hard to learn and I love that I can create either very realistic or very surreal results depending on the settings I choose. There are presets available Online as well which can be found by Googling "Photomatix presets.

I highly recommend Photomatix Pro!
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on September 12, 2009
I am so glad I bought this program! It takes time to learn how each control effects a picture but the results are phenomenal. This software solution captures a wider exposure range like true eye sight. My next camera will have exposure bracketing to make the process faster. For interior pictures of a home light pouring in windows have always been a problem but now I take dazzling pictures of the decor of a home, and see green grass outside the windows!
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on March 25, 2010
Photomatix Pro is a wonderfully easy software package to use. Select the images you want to use to create your HDR image, click on a button, and it's done. Click another button to tone-map the HDR image back into an image that will look good on paper or your computer screen, and it's done again. It's so easy your spouse's mouth-breathing brother could do it.

Unless that mouth-breathing in-law is also a man of sensitive artistic taste and deft skill, the results will look awful. That's where the program becomes more demanding. It gives you two options for tone-mapping, one that enhances details, another that takes a more global approach. To explain just a little, your HDR image is like a negative, full of information that has to be interpreted into a positive before the picture looks good. The detail enhancing tone-mapper brings out every little detail on that negative, high-lighting the transitions from brick to brick, leaf to leaf, and stripping away shaddows to reveal what might be hiding in the dark. The more global technique de-emphasizes those details in favor of creating a smoother image, one where the over-all balance of shaddow and light in the negative is the focus. The result is more photographic.

You might think then that the artistic decision is in deciding which tone-mapper to use. Wrong. Each tone-mapping option comes with a variety of sliders to adjust things like contrast, luminosity, the intensity of whites and blacks, color temperature and so on. Choose wisely and you can get beautiful results with either tone-mapping option. Those gorgeous images you see in the how-to books are well on their way to being realized on your computer screen. Choose badly and you get garish, eye-watering results. Look at HDR images on-line and the great majority fall into that second category. The problem is that very few of us are both tasteful and technically proficient artists.

There are ways to make up for artistic deficiencies. Photomatix comes with pre-sets that allow you to choose your look - painterly, grungy, standard photographic. Think of those as frozen dinner equivalents. They can actually look pretty good, just not as staggeringly good as the examples in the books. They can't make you a good photographer, and they can't capture the subtleties you might have seen when you saw the scene you decided to photograph. But they can get you on your way to seeing what the software can do. Ultimately, you'll have to play with the sliders and figure out what works for you. Buy some how-to books and try their "recipes" and then get creative. Just understand that it will take time and effort to become a chef and get a feel for which ingredients will go well in which images.

Photomatix can only do so much. I think that at some point you'll want to do more fixing in Photoshop or another program if your aim is gallery-quality prints. I have no doubt that Photomatix is the way to go to create the initial HDR negative, and its tone-mapping functions are the way to go to create your initial positive. But then you'll move the job to Photoshop for some smoothing here, some cloning there to touch up what Photomatix's ghost-correcting function started, a bit of work to get rid of halos around buildings, then the application of some tools to enhance your artistic vision. You'll do more than 90% of the work in Photomatix though, and for most photos that will probably be enough.

I'm still very much in the learning phase with this program, but I'm having a great time learning to use it. My results are nowhere near the pictures in the how-to books, but it took only a couple of hours of playing with it to get results I really liked. HDR isn't for every situation or for every subject, but in the right situation, it adds a whole new dimension to your images. Photomatix Pro is an excellent product to get you started.
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