Top 20 Best HDR Software Review 2024

Download Photomatix – HDRsoft.com

May 2024 Update – Dive into the Latest HDR Software Reviews! Captain Kimo, your go-to source for HDR expertise, has meticulously reviewed the top HDR software of 2023. Having experimented with numerous programs, here’s a curated list of 20 HDR tools. Remember, preferences vary, so test them to find your fit. Among these, Photomatix Pro offers renowned features. EasyHDR remains a timeless favorite for many.

It’s essential to note that my personal style is heavily influenced by Luminar, a photo editing software on the list. Each photographer’s vision is unique, so feel free to explore. Questions? Concerns? Reach out at [email protected]. Discover the perfect HDR software for your creative journey!”

 

1. Photomatix Pro
> Download – HDRsoft.com
Rating – ★★★★
OS: 
Windows & MAC
Price: $39.00-$99.00

Photomatix Pro 2020

I’ve been using Photomatix Pro since 2009! This program has lots of different options for creating HDR images. I feel the software is a little dated but it still does well with producing HDR results. For those of you who are looking for intense HDR looking photos, this is the HDR program for you. Photomatix has a way of creating extreme looking HDR images that a few photographers like. I love doing extreme HDR but it does have its’ place. You can also get a realistic-looking HDR image with its other tone mapping options. Currently, I like using Photomatix for my Aerial HDR images. When I compare all my aerial photos I like the way Photomatix process the images compared to other HDR software.


2. EasyHDR
> Download – EasyHDR.com
Rating – ★★★★
OS: Windows & Mac
Price: $39.00-$65.00

EasyHDR is another great HDR software that I recommend because if offers a different look compared to the first two programs. I highly recommend this software but I think it requires a little more tinkering to get the colors right. It doesn’t have as many options as Aurora but the way it renders the final image is what I love about this program.


3. Aurora HDR (Discontinued)
> Download – AuroraHDR.com
Rating – ★★★★
OS: Windows & Mac

Aurora HDR is the newest HDR software on this list. I highly recommend this software for beginners and advance user as it is very easy to use and has lots of settings for HDR photo editing. You also have the ability to use layers and masking features like in Photoshop which is very helpful in developing the perfect HDR image. You also have the option to go HDR crazy or keep the HDR look more realistic. Aurora HDR also has batch processing feature which is great for doing a large number of HDR images. I use this feature daily on all my HDR real estate photos to get my editing done quicker.


4. Lightroom Classic

For those looking for a simple solution to HDR photos in Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC has the HDR feature built right in. The HDR solution in Lightroom Classic is super basic with only three options. But results can be very realistic and pleasing. However, the dynamic range that you get doesn’t compare to any of the first three programs mentioned.

Rating – ★★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: $9.99 a month
adobe.com


5. HDR Projects 2018

HDR Projects 4 is a more recent HDR software that has some interesting features. Available for both MAC and Windows computers it is simple and easy to get started working with HDR images. The Lightroom Plugin that comes with it is a plus for any photographer who uses Lightroom in their workflow. I was able to export from Lightroom to HDR Projects 4 without any problems and the results were very good. The presets that it comes along with aren’t the most impressive. There are a lot of options and controls for adjustments however I found it painful to use on my 4K UHD monitor because the interface was very small. I ended up using just the presets more and make limited adjustments to the settings. Overall I feel this HDR program has a lot of potential and worth checking out. The results are beautiful if you’re looking for natural HDR photographs.

Rating – ★★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: $99.99
projects-software.com


6. Oloneo HDR

Another easy to install HDR program with plenty of features and settings. I loaded my first set of 5 exposures from and it handles it and produced a very clean image. At first, I thought there was no drag and drop feature but after playing around I manage to drag and drop my exposure into the small menu on the top right side. So I’m happy about that. This HDR software is packed full of feature, I not even gonna attempt to list them all. This is one program I highly recommend doing a demo download.

Rating – ★★★
OS: Windows
Price: $59-$149.00
oloneo.com


7. SNS-HDR

SNS-HDR is the other HDR program that I use. This is the HDR program I use for a more realistic result. This HDR software produces natural looking HDR images. Also I like it because it produces a unique look. I can’t really explain it you’ll have to look at the samples or better yet download it and try it yourself. This program is not recommended for the extreme HDR look but perfect for subtle results. Installation of this program is pretty straightforward. The program itself is very easy to use. The only problem I have is that it takes a few minutes to get to the tone mapping part especially when processing 5 or more RAW exposures. Rating – ★★★

OS: Windows
Price: $30.00-$85.00 Euro
sns-hdr.com


8. Machinery HDR

The installation of this HDR program went nice and smooth. Upon launching the application I was fascinated with the interface. I threw my initial 5 exposure RAW files at it and it handle it nicely. I had to sit there for a few seconds to figure out how to use it but I realized it was easier than it looks. I am very impressed with this program it has a lot of potential. It produces very nice looking HDR images. It has presets. Looks like this program is more for realistic HDR images. Boosting the settings for a more surreal look only can be very interesting but it doesn’t have the punch that I’m use to. But that’s just my flavor.

Rating – ★★★
OS: Windows
Price: $39.00
machineryhdr.com


9. Dynamic Photo HDR

Installation went smooth, interface is clean and polished. Preview window is a little small. Alignment feature is a bit tricky to understand but the option is there for fine tuning. Process with first batch of example image came out very horrid. I am thinking it does not like the RAW files I am using. Also first example exposure has a total of 5 images. I loaded only three instead 0ev,-2ev and +2ev which seems to work better. There is a problem in the shadows where there is a lot of grain instead of fill color. So to try and resolve this issue I converted the 3 RAW files into a JPG file and reprocessed the image. Converting the file to JPG really helped out a lot! The second example image seems to work fine with alignment. However being that it’s a RAW file I was getting a lot of noise in the shadow areas. Again I converted the RAW into a JPG and image came out fine.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows
Price: $49.00
mediachance.com


10. HDR Darkroom

Another easy program to install and use. Loading the exposures require you having to browse for the image so there is no drag and drop feature like most of the other HDR programs. I loaded the initial 5 exposures which went well. there is an option to align and deghost the image so that’s always a plus. There are three options for tone mapping which is a good variety. I notice something unusual in the highlights which appears to be a magenta cast. This could be due to the RAW files being used so I processed the image again using JPG and the magenta cast seem to have gone away. It definitely handles JPG better than RAW.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: $89.00
everimaging.com


11. HDR Expose

So far this one took the longest to install, which means it’s going to be jam pack full of features! After installing the program I find out that it doesn’t have a drag and drop feature like HDR Darkroom… bummer. After some fiddling around I created my first HDR image and somehow manage to crash the program. Second try was a success and I manage to get to the tone mapping window. My first thoughts after scrolling through the list of presets is that this program was designed for natural looking HDR. Any attempt to overcook resulted in a realistic overcooked image. HDR Expose does have an option to align and remove ghosting which is good. It seems to handle RAW files very well. I played around with JPG instead of RAW to see if there was any difference and the results were pretty much the same.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: $119.00
pinnacleimagingsystems.com


12. HDR Efex Pro

This software comes bundled with the entire Nik Collection which is actually a good deal for the price. The HDR software option with this program can be basic but the results can be great if you like the intense HDR look.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: $69.00
nikcollection.dxo.com


13. Luminance HDR

For a free program it was very easy to install. After installing I load the 5 exposure RAW file from the first example. It took some time to process which is understandable. It was able to handle RAW files better than some of the other paid for programs. I also like the results from the image as well. The initial controls are a little awkward but should be easy enough after some getting use to. For some one looking for something free to play around with this program produces some nice looking natural HDR images. It is a little slow but the results are worth it for the price. Also if you use the auto align feature it’s going to make it even slower. My favorite part about this program is that there is a drag and drop feature. Give this program a try it can’t hurt it’s free! Of course donate if you end up using it in your HDR workflow.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: Free
qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net


14. Paintshop Pro 2019

Corel is a well known software company that has produce great software like VideoStudio, Painter and WordPerfect. I was pretty excited to see what kind of HDR program they were able to incorporate into their photo editing software PaintShop Pro. Yes this is a full photo editing program not just a software for creating HDR images which is actually good and bad at the same time. Installation was a breeze however don’t click too fast on the trial version because it has one of those add browser toolbars that get installed by default. Those are so annoying. After installation I found it a little overwhelming because the software is trying to everything. After a few minutes I was able to get the first 5 exposure merged and I was impressed. The results are very natural and has the ability to produce some nice colors. But that is as far as I can say about the HDR feature. If you go too crazy with the options the results don’t look good. I think this is a great program worth trying out. The HDR software is free so you have nothing to lose but time. If you don’t want to waste time I won’t recommend using it since I personally feel that the dynamic range results achieved is comparable to a single RAW. Of course I could be doing something wrong.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows
Price: $99.00
paintshoppro.com


15. Picturenaut

Picturenaut is a free HDR program and it was one of the first HDR software that I use back in 2008. This is a very easy program to use and install. However getting the results you want might be a bit of a challenge for the newbie. While processing my first batch of five RAW exposure it seem to handle it well. But there was a slight color cast to the overall image. I was able to adjust that somewhat using the setting. Picturenaut crashed twice while I was using it but I think it was due to me going too fast for it to handle. I think this is a great program worth trying out. The HDR software is free so you have nothing to lose but time. If you don’t want to waste time I won’t recommend using it since I personally feel that the dynamic range results achieved is comparable to a single RAW. Of course I could be doing something wrong.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: Free
hdrlabs.com


16. FDR Tool

This program has greatly improved since the last time I played around with it. Still it’s a little awkward to use compared to the other HDR programs but it creates very nice looking HDR images. I had doubt at first that it would open my first batch of 5 RAW files but it didn’t have a problem. I didn’t see and alignment tool or ghosting but I ran through this program really fast. Not a bad program.It might take some time to learn the settings to produce some high impact HDR images but I think it’s worth downloading and giving it a try.

Rating – ★★
OS: Windows & MAC
Price: NA
fdrtools.com


17. Canon Digital Photo Professional

This photo editing software comes bundled with most Canon Digital Cameras. It has an HDR feature built in but you will need the latest version. This program is very limited for HDR but it gets the job done. It’s great for a beginners who owns a Canon Digital Camera looking to produce HDR images right away. Note you will only be able to load 3 exposures with this program for creating HDR images. Program is very basic not too many options for fine tuning HDR photos. If you are really into natural HDR images this one would be a great place to start off. Especially if you don’t want to pay extra for more software. However I highly recommend getting a software with more features if you become more serious about HDR photography.

Rating – ★
OS: Windows & Mac
Price: $25.00
usa.canon.com


18. Photoshop – Merge to HDR

Adobe is also a very well software company and Photoshop is also a complete photo editing program which includes a option to create an HDR image from multiple exposures. It’s pretty amazing how advance Photoshop is when it comes to photo editing. However I can’t say the same for it’s HDR feature. The HDR option in Photoshop is probably the most basic of all the HDR software. The result from the Photoshop HDR feature are also very flat. Attempts to produce anything worth showing is very difficult. Personally you are better off blending the exposures together using Layers. I don’t recommend Photoshop for HDR at all! But if you’re going to use Photoshop as a photo editing program it’s the best out there.

Rating – ★
OS: Windows & Mac
Price: $9.99 a month Photography Plan
adobe.com


19. Fusion HDR Software

(Doesn’t look like this software is available anymore.) One of the first free HDR programs that I thought was pretty cool. There is now a small price for the program but I think it’s worth it. The program can handle RAW exposures pretty well. There are two tone mapping options available, both seem to produce very good results. This HDR program is somewhat limited but has enough to produce some decent HDR photos. Not a bad program.It might take some time to learn the settings to produce some high impact HDR images but I think it’s worth downloading and giving it a try.Rating – ★★
OS: Windows
Price: $25.00
Website N/A


20. PhotoStudio

PhotoStudio is another photo editing program with a HDR feature. The software is made by ArcSoft, not as well known as Adobe or Corel but it does produce some pretty useful programs, like Media Converter which is a pretty cool program if you need something to converter media files. But lets get back to their HDR feature in their photo editing software. It’s pretty much useless, it’s just as bad as the one in Photoshop only with even less controls.

Rating – ★
OS: Windows & Mac
Price: $79.00
arcsoft.com

132 Comments

  1. Great commentary Dave. Yes, I can see how color depth would allow more aggressive stretching of levels… more depth to stretch before it blows out and bleeds. DOS CLP allows for more batch processing flesibility… understood. I got away from that years ago… but if you are a C++ language programmer, you never ever get away from it. If you don’t use it you loose it.

    Sounds like you don’t use the detail factor because your native images already have enough detail.

    Yes, you can get away with 8bit, ‘if’ you don’t need to stretch them too far. If you do, then 16bit native RAW is required, from what I hear you saying. That is very helpful to know.

    Yes, depending upon the original quality, detail levels tend to bring out background noise defects at full resolution. However, that tends to be mostly a hardware sensor/internal processor software/lens issue. That should not be much of an issue with a Canon 5DII. I haven’t checked out the lab reports on the 24-105mm kit lens yet. Most Canon kit lenses are pretty good in order to sell the camera body. However, I was rather surprised at the spread in quality of Canon EOS lenses for cropped frame sensors. One needs to be very careful to use the better quality lenses otherwise native quality for post processing just isn’t there, resulting in a waste of time and effort. However, in the shadows things can tend to get iffy, even with great equipment.

    Regarding RAW files compared to JPEG. RAW files do look smoother from what I have seen where as JPEG’s tend to look sharper for the same resolution and camera settings. I believe this is because the internal camera processor may be programmed to do some preprocessing of JPEG’s, including some color enhancement and sharpening. The whole idea of RAW’s is to give it to you raw without any preprocessing that can create or enhance defects in the preprocess.

    Even running the tonemapper at a 1.2 saturation factor requires additional saturation enhancement.

    Definitely not going to fit in your shirt pocket.

    Native exposure quality is absolutely the issue. First in terms of equipment and the built in options for using that equipment. And secondly the photographic conditions and subject matter being photographed. HDR is all about the depth and the stretch. Without higher dynamic native quality, all you may get is a tear in the digital fabric. Cheap material vs. high quality material to work from.

    I have posed this question on another one of Kim’s message boards. Wouldn’t it be possible to take one neutral exposure of a single frame and then create additional images from that original at various f-stop settings in Photoshop, without taking a bunch of bracketed exposures. Photoshop has a function that is able to change the relative f-stop exposure setting and save it to file as a new image. I believe it will do it for both JPEG as well as RAW. If that is possible, it would save allot of time and effort and eliminate all the issues with ghosting and alignment when creating HDR TIFF’s. Just a thought.

  2. Great points, Gordon.

    OSs: Purely a matter of choice. Choose an OS based on how easy it does what you expect and how much support for the unusual you require.

    I use Hugin for their sourceforge presence, but that’s a self-imposed limitation. The best tools are those that one chooses to understand, so I have no doubt that others are doing admirable things with tools that I have not used. I’m a tech-geek, and I tend to prefer a technician’s interface (I prefer 3DSMAX over Maya, for instance) over a sometimes more sensible artistic UI. I’m not in the least afraid of software that utilises a command line interface. Less than half of my processing requires graphical feedback, and a CLI gets me through the rote processing via a line of text with minimal fuss.

    Detail factor: I just don’t use it and keep it at minimum.

    8bit vs 16bit: There are two things stacked against you with 8bit originals: color depth and compression. It’s not at all a trashbasket case tho. I’ve stacked JPGs in astrophotography into 16b/c composites and it’s useful. If it’s what you have, make use of it. 16bit originals allow aggressive stretching of levels; far more than you can get away with when using 8bit images. It’s preferable to have 16bit originals, but not a requirement. As for compression, that speaks directly to detail levels. You really don’t want to have JPG artifacts interfering with sharpening/unsharp masking. Again, though, it’s a preference and not a requirement. I suppose the big difference is that it really affects the need to reduce rez, RAW files are noticeably superior if you look closely and far more tolerant to manipulation… I can tear into a 16bit in ways that destroy 8 bit images. 8 bit doesn’t care much about noise, but posterizes easily. 16 stays smooth while you stretch up the low end of the histogram but shows that noise (and hot pixels).

    Color levels in qtpf…/Luminance: I run the tonemapper normally at 1.2 saturation for exactly that reason.

    General thoughts on 16 vs 8: You need a LOT of 8 bit subs (not really practical) to equal the range of sensitivity you get with 16, which makes it much easier to shoot below the right of the histogram so things don’t saturate and still recover contrast in the shadows, even with a bright background. It’s useful, and worth it in my opinion if you’re gonna geek with photography (no complaints here), but it’s not gonna fit in your shirt pocket.

    If you’re going to feed any of the above HDR programs, you’ll get better results with better feeds… so getting the best exposures you can (whether 8 or 16 bit) is the most important step.

  3. Thanks for all the details Dave. What you shared about the advantages of working with RAW at 16bit to start, in order to help delay and avoid the posterizing effects of over processing, is very interesting and I can understand that. Kim indcated that it was more of a preference, but it goes deeper than than the more you are looking for a very designer specific effect.

    Frankly, I don’t care for using the unsharp tool for the same reasons you gave. If the image is good enough quality, I find that I can use about a 50% sharpening to get what I am looking for without getting any thermal noise. There may be reasons why you use unsharp instead of sharp, in spite of the limitations.

    Regarding the use of operating systems on very large images. In your opinion, does Linux handle memory mapping issues better than Windows? In other words, does Linux still use the same basic method of memory page mapping as Windows, or is it handled differently? Also, is processing time reduced with Linux over Windows for such graphics handling? I am under the impression that Linux does not have the same operating system overhead as Windows.

    Regarding stitchers, in your opinion is the Hugin Stitcher the best for these size images? Or is it just part of your preference for working with open source tools?

    Regarding my settings. It wasn’t the contrast factor slider that I used as much as the detail factor slider. Adding some contrast factor in the initial tone mapping stage allows faster (and more) contrast without pushing the Adjust Levels on the post adjust histogram stage. As soon as you push the histogram contrast by pulling the right slider in to the left, the whole color map gets saturated. That gives contrast but not the kind you want for realism. To avoid stretching the color contrast, just use more contrast factor in the tone mapping stage. This also helps minimize the potential posterization effects, which you require.

    In order to get closer to the high detail you have in your 16bit RAW images, I have to use a detail factor of about 10 when tone mapping my original 8bit Jpeg to 16bit TIFF HDR images. The problem with adding detail factor is that it details any slight ghosting, making the image in those areas appear fuzzy. However, the areas that are static look really good.

    You may not need to do this in your images because they were 16bit RAW to begin with. It is hard to know since we aren’t dealing with apples and apples here… I am working with native 8bit Jpegs and you are working with native 16bit RAW.

    Another thing about Luminance/Qtpfsgui. The resulting 16bit HDR TIFF to LDR Jpegs, always look bleached out of color and required some color enhancement in either GIMP, Paintshop, or Photoshop in order to come alive. That is not so much the case with Photomatix.

  4. I took the shots with print in mind, and was aiming for a 4′ image at 300dpi. I got close, and it did print up very nicely at 36″. My wife had me frame it, and I wound up making prints for friends and cow-orkers. I was a bit surprised at all the attention the image drew in, to be honest. I’m more of a technician and less of an artist, so I really don’t feel that I have much of an eye for composition. I was happy with the results on this one, though.

    As far as shooting/processing goes, my subs were shot at 24mm @f22 so I could keep the foreground in focus and I shot with a pretty substantial overlap between frames. 24mm is the low end of the 24-105mm kit lens on the 5DII, so the individual subs are fairly wide angle. Someday I need to go out and shoot a test series just to find a good compromise between DOF and detail (diffraction at f22 hurts a bit). Anyways, I lost some detail to high f-ratio so the final went through a slight unsharp mask (note to self: always apply unsharp in 16bit/channel depth), then I cloned out the tiny bits of yuckus that I missed cleaning off the glass. The final image is 1:1 with the camera’s native rez. Unsharp plays hell with thermal noise in the clouds, so you can’t be heavy with it.

    My basic processing flow (for anyone interested):

    Batch convert RAW to 16bit/channel TIFF.
    Make major corrections to levels/curves. Final corrections
    come later, and I use the same settings for each image if
    it’s part of a pano. This really should be done in 16
    bit/channel depth if at all possible, as well as the
    next step.
    Pass TIFFs to software for HDR compositing.
    Tonemap. Output to LDR.
    Clone out dust, etc (cleanup for final)
    Small levels, curves adjustments.

    Do anything that moves pixel values around in 16 bits per channel. This includes levels, curves and white balance in addition to tonemapping. If you’re using any of the above-reviewed software with 8bit images, you’re limiting yourself. Obviously, if you’re using a camera that outputs only to 8bit (ie most point/shoot cameras) you don’t have any choice, and you’re still able to do some pretty amazing HDR with 8bits/channel, but the added color depth of RAW files helps delay the onset of that surrealistic look that so many HDR packages can generate and allows you to be more aggressive with the tools without fear of posterizing the image.

    Transformations (ie changing pixels’ locations or distorting for stitching) can be done after converting to standard 8-bit images. Keep in mind that some stitchers can also adjust exposure to make subframes match in contrast/brightness. This is an issue if your camera doesn’t have manual shooting options (shooting all your subs manually negates this issue, and it’s only relevant to panoramas). The basic rule of thumb is to delay conversion to LDR for as long as possible.

    The final worked out to about 75mp. I’d love to do a much larger image, and I’ll try to as soon as I find a worthy scene I guess. It’s going to have to be static conditions (like a cityscape or rocky desert on a clear day); since if I shoot for a 6X4 grid it’ll take some time to kick off 72 exposures. Yikes. That’s 8.6G of image data to combine…

    Gordon, in answer to your questions, etc (I know, this is turning into a tl;dr lol):

    Auto bracketing is definitely a must. Although I can easily do it manually (I really like Canon’s UI and context-aware control wheels), auto is soooo much faster. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s limited to +/-2.

    Thank you for the compliment regarding details, detail is practically a fetish for me lol… as soon as I finish getting all my tools rebuilt (running linux, and I’m barely at “Tinkerer” status yet) I’m going to play with some options on the RAW development side of things to try to squeeze some more out. I may play around some today and see if what I’m wondering about has any advantages.

    I have not managed to try your settings yet, due both to trying to get my system finalized and my work schedule. What you said about contrast makes sense; turning it down tends to mute the tonemapping somewhat and it’s always a trade-off between detail and surrealism.

    Going the open source route can sometimes be a craps shoot, but being free (and free of the badware that ships with so many of the free, pre-packaged windows apps) makes it worth checking out. Keep in mind that one of my goals is to do all my processing with no-cost software, so I can only show examples without making a direct comparison between the free and commercial packages and that in many cases the tools I use can be less than intuitive. If you have a budget to blow, you can trade expertise for convenience with a commercial package.

  5. Correction… I don’t turn up the Contrast slider… only the Detail slider.

  6. Ok, I downloaded qtpfsgui Ver. 1.9.3 in order to try out Dave’s (your) settings compared to my own. I found that the relative detail was about equal to my own settings. However, I like the contrast turned up a bit more since that tends to enhance details, similar to what sharpening does. I don’t know if that would really improve your canyon image because it is so open, with no overhead shadows to work with.

    One thing I noted is that the very fine detail in your image comes from using some zoom with a low telephoto lens, rather than a wideangle lens. Nevertheless, you substitute more panorama frames to get back the wideangle loss, with a corresponding huge increase in image size and detail definition. Size is resolved simply by sizing down the image after processing. However, the fine detail, captured by your zoom lens doesn’t disappear, it just gets smaller. What an excellent technique Dave.

    How did my settings work out for you? I think you should be able to come very close to duplicating your results simply by turning down my contrast setting. However, in the latest version of Luminance, turning down the contrast seems to also turn down (remove) definition more than what I believe it should. You may need more contrast in order to get closer to your intended result. This may be why the sweet spot has alluded you in the latest version. Let me (us) know.

    Also, the Windows Qtpfsgui 1.9.3 doesn’t crash like the Windows Luminance 2.0.1 does. Processing time seems about the same to me.

  7. Apparently, the developers over at SourceForge integrated or rewrote the algorithms in a more efficient way, in order to speed them up. In doing so they may have adversely altered the programs ability to provide the sweet spot, as you say. Unless the programmers were even aware of that sweet spot, they would not have known of the need to preserve that aspect.

    You might want to contact them and show them your results and indicate that the changes in Luminance no longer give the same favored results. This way, they might included the older version in later releases of Luminance. Or they might have another solution.

    Ok, I now understand the 8 angels… four above and four below, each with three exposures. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just use a wider angle lens? Or were you able to get better detail definition by using a telephoto setup with a greater panoramic array and then reduce the size of the image after processing? I perceive that you are using a whole lot of technique to get your affect. Very interesting.

    Yes, unless the air is absolutely still and there is no movement whatsoever in your composition, you must use the auto bracketing function in order to execute the shots quickly enough between exposures. Otherwise, if conditions are still enough, you could get away with all manual settings with unlimited exposure range and just shoot each exposure off one at a time. Pretty iffy at best but still possible. Your tripod will need to be on a hard surface.

    Gordon

  8. Luminance is actually faster, as it’s a true multi-core app. I’m not sure what they’ve done that makes the results so wonky, though.

    My RAWs for the image were 8 bracketed shots, so 8 shots each at -2,0 and +2 stops. Four across the top and four across the bottom of the panorama. +/-2 is the max for auto-bracketing on the 5DII (I sure wish I could double that) and with the clouds and the breeze I really didn’t think I could bracket manually without getting a lot of drift in the clouds and shadows so I had to settle for 9 stops… which in the end seems to have been enough although I still have some saturation in the clouds nearer the sun on the left.

    Oh, the image covers about 220 degrees horizontally… I wanted to get both sides of the ledge I was set up on.

    dave

  9. Thanks Dave… That was an awesome rendition of procedures. Very interesting and fascinating. I will have to get a download version of Qtpfsgui and try out your settings. I sense that your comments may be saying that the sweet spot may not exist in the current version of Luminance. I wasn’t able to find it either.

    The current version of Luminance has an almost useless anti-ghosting function. Whereas, Photomatix’s automatic anti-ghosting eliminates virtually all the ghosting throughout the entire image. That alone is worth its price. It is not possible to get the quality of your image detail if there is too much ghosting going on. Fortunately, your vegetation was mostly low lying desert weeds that are not easily disturbed by a slight breeze.

    Regarding your image. Am I to understand that your composite was 8 bracketed images at three panoramic angles for a total of 24 images? If so, why did you choose eight exposures per angle instead of seven? When looking at a standard -2/+2 exposure spread on a Canon camera, there is a total of 13 manual exposure positions, 1/3rd stop apart. Starting at one end of the spread, there are seven positions available, each 2/3 of a stop apart. Eight just doesn’t work out evenly. Or did you use a different manual method for setting your exposures?

    Also, since your image wasn’t a night time lapse, why use so many gradient exposures? I would have thought five would have been enough. Is there really that much of a difference in the end result? If so, this may also have something to do with the detail quality you achieved.

    I will be interested to see the results of your image using a rendition of the settings I referenced for Luminance. I bet Luminance takes an age and a half to process your image at 5k x 15k!:)

    Gordon

  10. Sorry for the delay, I got to live for the weekend without ‘net access (it’s ok, I survived…).

    Gordon is mostly right, I usually start with the Mantiuk algorithm and drift to others if needed. I have also noticed that there is a big difference between Qtpfsgui and Luminance with regards settings and the final image. In Qtpfsgui, I use Mantiuk with contrast factor at minimum (.001), saturation generally between 1.1 and 1.2, and detail at 1.0. I have yet to find the “sweet spot” for Luminance (and the review is spot-on about Luminance not being particularly user-friendly… it is not at all intuitive) so I keep them both installed, as luminance can output to exr while qtpfsgui crashes. I’ll try the settings Gordon suggested and see how it goes, though.

    As far as the image goes, I chased the rain to the canyon so the cloud formations you see are the results of a receding thunderstorm. The ground is still wet, and if you look closely you can see water standing in the cups left by the blooms on the cactus on the left. There was some breeze, and there are a few duplicate branches floating about in various places. Reducing the image size did make them less apparent, and the image I linked to is about 15% of original size. The image is a composite of 8 bracketed shots, for 24 total exposures. Final dimension was about 15k x 5k pixels. I used a rather stout Bogen tripod set low to the ground for stability and a remote shutter release on a Canon 5D MKII with a 24-105mm L-series lens and stitched the images after a pass through qtpfsgui in Hugin’s Panorama Tools.

    At the time I was limited to a 32 bit OS (and hence just over 3G ram) and the 16bit tiffs were huge (120meg each), so it simply crushed my system and I had to combine and tonemap into LDR before stitching. This image is the reason I’m now running a 64bit OS with 16G or ram.

    dave