HDR Comparison of Different Software

Mar 4, 2009 | articles

HDR Comparison Example PictureHDR Comparison of an image photographed at Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Out of curiosity I processed these exposures using different HDR software. This HDR comparison was something I wanted to do for a while. I’ve been evaluating multiple HDR software to see which program produced the best HDR results. These are my results from the comparison. Three of the images are from HDR software and two are from detail enhancement software. I used the non HDR software because I wanted to see the results compared to the actual HDR photos.

The three HDR software I used for comparison include Photomatix, Photoshop and Picturenaut. The two detail enhancement software used for comparison are Lucis Art and Topaz Adjust plug-ins for Photoshop. For fun, I also included an HDR image produced without using HDR software.

Original Exposures

Below is the original exposures from the Cape Elizabeth photo above which we will be using to create our comparison samples with. I’ll admit this photo wasn’t the best choice for this HDR example. Next time I’ll use a better photo I promise.

HDR Comparison Exposure Samples

HDR from Photoshop

Below is the image merge in Photoshop to create a HDR photo. Unlike Photomatix, Photoshop is limited when it comes to tone mapping. However Photoshop has an endless amount of possiblities to get any look you want, which of course requires time.

Photosho HDR Comparison Sample

HDR from Photomatix

This image was merged in Photomatix. I took advantage of the tone mapping that was available in Photomatix. Notice the dreamy look versus the Photoshop’s more natural rendition.

Photomatix HDR Comparison Sample

Click here to learn more about Photomatix.

HDR from Picturenaut

Picturenaut is a free HDR software. Not bad for free… great program for creating realistic HDR photographs. The comparison result from Picturenaut was much better than Photoshop.

Picturenaut HDR Comparison Sample

Non HDR from Topaz Adjust

Topaz Adjust is a detail enhancer plugin for Photoshop. When applied correctly you can achieve the HDR look without having to use multiple exposures. But the comparison is nowhere close to Photomatix.

Topaz Adjust Pseudo HDR Comaprison Sample

[intlink id=”542″ type=”post”]Click here to learn more about Topaz Adjust.[/intlink]

Non HDR from Lucis Art

Lucis Art is also another detail enhancer plugin for Photoshop. For a non HDR image Lucis did an excellent job of bringing out the details. The only problem I have with Lucis Arts is lose of color when you apply to much detail enhancement.

Lucis Detail Enhanced Comaprison Sample

Pseudo HDR created in Photoshop

The definition of HDR is to gain more detail than what a single exposure from a camera can capture. By merging 2 exposure together and masking out the areas I didn’t want, I was able to get the image below. The most natural image out of the bunch and it didn’t take me any longer to do either.

Photoshop Pseudo HDR Comaprison Sample

That’s it for this HDR comparison article. I will probably do  another comparison article soon so consider signing up for my [intlink id=”1972″ type=”page”]Feedburner[/intlink] and you’ll get notified when I do.