Fusion Free HDR Software Review

Feb 28, 2011 | articles

Posted March 1, 2011 –  Fusion HDR software is the fifth high dynamic range program to be tested and reviewed by Captain Kimo. For those who want to start getting into HDR and playing around with high dynamic range photography this is a great program to start with. Not only does it produce top quality HDR images but it’s also a free HDR application.

Operating System – Windows Only
Price – Free
Standalone/Plugin/Both – Standalone
Processing RAW files – No
HDR from Single JPG – Yes
Overall Speed – Fast
Visit Official Websitehttp://ns-point.com/
Go to Fusion Download Page

If I were to ever built an HDR program, not that I could, Fusion would be the HDR application it would resemble. The reason why is because it’s simple to use and offers me the least amount of obstacles to go through to get my HDR image created. Unlike the other four HDR software that I’ve tested.

When starting Fusion you’ll notice the window consists of only the bare necessities. This is what I’m talking about… HDR doesn’t have to be complicating! I find that some HDR software get too fancy and start to clutter their work space with too many options. This reminds me of the old days, during the web browser war with Explorer and Netscape… where browsers kept getting more complicating. Eventually Firefox comes around with just a basic interface, and ends up winning the hearts of millions.

Getting started with Fusion can’t be any easier, click the first button on the left that says Add Image. This button will allow you to load your exposures for creating your high dynamic range image. If you add too many images you can remove them by clicking the Remove image button.

You can select one image or multiple images. Fusion only supports the jpg images so you’ll need to convert your RAW files to load them in this program.

If you need too align your image in Fusion all you have to do is click the Align image button… it’s that easy. And unlike other HDR programs it doesn’t take forever to do, which is another thing I like about this program, it’s fast.

A feature that’s missing in Fusion, which I find important in any HDR application, is the ability to reduce or remove ghosting. But I can’t complain since this HDR software is free. I’m sure the developer will implement something in a later version.

There are two options for tone mapping, either Summator or HDR Operator. Summator appears to produce more natural images were as HDR Operator is more of a traditional tone mapping option that produces results similar to other HDR programs.

Under Summator you have very limited options unless you click the Priorities check box, which then allows you more tone mapping control. Working in Summator, I found it difficult to create dynamic images. The more natural results seem to be some what flat as well.

HDR Operator is where Fusion shines! Tone mapping using this option will allow you to create very dynamic images as well as natural scenes with more detail. HDR Operator has two modes, Mode 1 and Mode 2. Mode 2 seems to be much more aggressive in the tone mapping process.

There is a good number of controls available under the HDR Operator for tone mapping exposures. Like any other HDR software these options can be over whelming at first but processing a few HDR images I found them to be very intuitive.

Another option that isn’t found, or that I can’t seem to find, is presets. Saving and loading tone mapping presets is a must for any HDR application. However I found that Fusion is so simple and fast that presets wasn’t much of an issue.

Fusion is fast at merging, aligning and previewing images. Note preview window is a little small but I didn’t have much of a problem with it. The only time when Fusion is slow is when I go to render the final HDR image. This seems to take some time to do, but considering how fast it does everything else I don’t mind it one bit.

The one thing that I would ask the developer to add into Fusion is the ability to control color temperature. It’s not a must have since I do this in Photoshop, but I like to get my HDR images as close to the final product as possible, especially with color.

Fusion might be lacking some options that the commercial HDR programs have, but for a free high dynamic range application, the results of the final images are comparable to even the most expensive HDR software. I highly recommend downloading this program and taking it for a spin. Other than your time, you have nothing to lose since it’s free.