The Lake at Nikko

Daily Photo – The Lake at Nikko

This place was Cold with a capital C, as you can plainly see.

And worse, I had forgotten my special little gloves with the flip-up fingertips.

So I was goin’ finger-commando while trying to line up this shot. The wind was pretty stiff in my face. The wind always seems to be against you, eh? I think I just never notice it when it comes from any other angle.

By the way, there is only one place that is convenient to quickly warm up your fingers.

There is an older, historic part of Nikko that is about a 30 minute drive away. The drive is practically straight up a mountain, through a series of switchbacks. During the entire time up the mountain, I was surrounded by clouds. I thought it would be quite miserable at the top. But once I poked out, everything was free and clear. I was between cloud layers, exactly where this chilly lake sat at sunset. HDR-Photo

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  • http://www.richardhales.co.uk Richard Hales

    The results look excellent Trey, can’t wait to get my hands on the final product.

  • http://teleshphoto.blogspot.com Anton Telesh

    There is a misprint in the tab “Speed – Processing the Images”. You wrote “Photoshop” both the times instead of writing “Photomatix” the first time.

    Thank you for sharing your tests!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Deron-Kamisato/715846146 Deron Kamisato

    I think the people who say CS5 is so great at HDR have never used Photomatix.

  • Wallace Shackleton

    I am curious to understand why you used two, under exposed images (for the shadow detail under the jetty) and yet your final image appears to only exposed for the highlights?
    Wouldn’t something like 0EV to something like -4EV have been enough to produce the Nikko image?

  • http://JapanDave.com David LaSpina / JapanDave

    Wow… I’m really looking forward to Photomatic 4!

    Nice shot. Nikko is one of my favorite places. But yeah, it can get cold there. All of Tochigi gets this wind in winter than just chills you to the bone.

  • http://bit.ly/FlickrHDR Chris

    I don’t have nearly as much experience using CS5 yet, just played around with it on a couple of images. My take was that it was tough to really create any of the textured feeling (I don’t mean the grungy look) to enhance some of the fine details. Using CS5′s HDR sliders to try and enhance the details almost looked like it was just over sharpening the image. I played around for quite a while but didn’t have much luck. I’m sticking with Photomatix for the foreseeable future.

  • http://www.robhansonphoto.com Rob Hanson

    Trey -

    In addition to the mis-assignment of product names that Anton mentioned, there’s another one right under “What are your results so far?” It should read “Photomatix Pro 3″ instead of “Photoshop Pro 3.”

    Great article, and we appreciate your efforts in bringing us the news. Personally, I’m really looking forward to Photomatix Pro 4, especially for the improved ghost-handling capability.

    Best wishes — Rob

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Churchwell/708768458 Thomas Churchwell

    Maybe the HDR will be better in Photoshop Pro 5. haha

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gail-Stayton-Moshier/513775196 Gail Stayton Moshier

    I love this copy better than the Cs5, much better results!! What a beautiful scene!!! That was sure worth your time going to the top. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Steighner/596717878 Michael Steighner

    Another fine post from the worlds greatest expert in this process! Thanks for the info Trey :)

    When are you going to Iceland by the way?

  • amit

    Great review!

  • http://www.oxherdingisfun.com DJ — Oxherder Arts

    I will be very interested in Nik’s new version of HDR processing software. Albeit, it will be a version 1.0 release the “Sneak Peak” thy are running shows it off very well. Combined with their point/selection technology it could be very interesting. The quality of their software is usually high — good German engineering. ;-)

    Have you tested it? It would make sense that someone like yourself would be in their beta program.

    All the best, DJ

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Thanks everyone.

    Michael – I go to Iceland this weekend! :)

    DJ – I am interested in Nik’s too. I don’t know if I can say anything or not now, so I probably should not!

    Thomas – hehe… man – I wrote and rewrote this thing so many times that I made a few of those mistakes – all fixed now I think.

    Anton and Rob – thank you very much! I fixed those mistakes right up!

    Wallace – that is a good question…. briefly a) I just wanted to test these with 7 images no matter what. b) Even thuogh I end up with something pretty flat and well lit all around, I like to keep some dark areas in the final photos. In my judgment, black helps to anchor the eye and gives other colors a richer feeling.

  • http://www.flickr.com/millais Patrick

    great! thanks for the review – looking forward to using it.

    small typo though –
    What are Your Results So Far?
    I’m sure many of you already have Photoshop Pro 3.

    guessing it’s meant to be photomatix :D

  • http://www.learningdslrvideo.com Dave Dugdale

    I was waiting for your post to come out before I bought anything new like CS5, I am glad I waited. Can’t wait to see what they have when 4 comes out. Thanks for the review.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karl-Davis/514051542 Karl Davis

    Trey,

    Your completely right about the CS5 HDR merge. I have found it to be sub par compared to Photomatix and the toning restriction is just…meh. I can’t wait for photomatix 4, 3 beats CS5 comfortably, i can’t wait to see the results of PM4!

    I very intrigued at the ghosting features.

    r

    karlos!

  • http://blog.sektormedia.org Aaron

    Great article! So nice to see a concise overview. I can’t wait for the new version of Photomatix!

  • denise

    Really enjoyed your critique of both programs.. I have both programs.. and I’m going to an HDR class today.. really nice to figure out which program to fous on for my HDR learning! thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Kesselhaut/1577738503 Alan Kesselhaut

    I use photomatix but I thought I woould give the HDR pro in cs5 a test ride. I agree about the speed and some of your other comments. I look forward to using photomatx 4 to make a true comparison. Enjoy Iceland.

  • http://www.lightasmagic.com Justin

    Great review. I was running a side by side test last night just for fun (CS5 vs PM3.2) and PM was blowing it out of the water. I had a stop watch and PM was consistently more than twice as fast. I am far more comfortable with Photomatix, so the only test I could objectively run was the HDR generation speed.

    Don’t worry, you are are not crazy!

    Thanks for the review!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Greaves/622182953 Ben Greaves

    Ive been working on a lot of different processes using photomatix lately myself. Trying things different ways and playing with the results.
    http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages&ref=mb#!/photo.php?pid=3994777&id=622182953
    Here is one of my latest ones which I am quite proud of.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingtheshadows/ Ben Greaves
  • casusan

    Gorgeous shot of the lake Trey – love the colors!

  • Rudy

    For the most part, a stand alone solution is usually much better than an integrated one. Integrated solutions tend to may things faster and easier at the sake of quality. Just my two cents. Great review Trey!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Bahnik/670871395 Jean Bahnik

    Trey,

    Thanks for the comparison!

    Do you think that Photomatix’s improved way to reduce noise can replace Noiseware?

    Enjoy Iceland

  • http://robinswoods.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Robin

    Unfortunately (especially for Adobe), I don’t think you are imagining anything. To give them credit, the HDR process is much improved in CS5 over CS4, but they’ve got a long ways to go to catch up to Photomatix. The difference in your side by side examples is glaringly obvious! I do like the new HDR toning feature for single exposures, and have found it very useful for simple snapshots that need tweaking (small post about that on my blog). I also find the need to flatten irritating and inexcusable, but get around it by duplicating the image on the necessary layers, running the process, and then recombining the duplicates into a single layered image.

    I’ve been doing my own version of HDR processing in Photoshop for years now; not the heavily worked (and totally gorgeous!) variety you do, but just enough to make my photos look like what I saw when I took them. Having learned how to do this without the benefit of any HDR toning specific plugins, I have a great appreciation for what Adobe now offers in the way of HDR processing, but that said, am disappointed they have not done better by now.

  • LTD.Edition

    So… if this is not available to the public yet… I guess they gave it to you? And if they gave it to you shouldn’t that be included in the article so that we know there is a potential bias with one of the companies giving you free merchandise?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cindy-Williams/1491650220 Cindy Williams

    Does Skitch work with windows?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trey-Ratcliff/502475833 Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks all.

    Cindy – I don’t think so – too bad too – it’s great!

    Patrick – good eye – I fixed it!

    LTD Edition – you gotta be kidding. I get free advance copies of everything. I’m a straight shooter and give my opinions and judgments on all this stuff.

    Jennifer – thanks – I thought I was a little crazy because I could not find anyone else saying that the CS5 HDR was not the best thing since sliced bread.

    Jean – No – I don’t… I wish… Noiseware is still better BUT — one thing Photomatix now does is reduce the noise in the “input” photos, which makes everything a lot cleaner for sure.

    Ben – thanks for the link – I left a comment

    Justin – glad you did the test too with Photomatix 3.2. I assumed it was just as fast as 4, especially since it uses the same algorithm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Martin-E-Morris/100001133016302 Martin E. Morris

    Hello Trey,

    I downloaded a trial copy of CS5 when it came out and played around with it for a month.I too found it slow loading RAW files but produced less noisy results.In fact for most of that month I used the HDR file created in CS5 but processed it in Photomatix 3.The ghosting feature only appeared to work successfully using the frame automatically picked by CS5,any attempt to use another frame,i.e. when I wanted to remove a passing car or pedestrian moving through the frame,would leave severe ghosting.I found the sliders limited in their functinality and very course in their results.The presets in CS5 are pitiful but then again the ones in Photomatix Pro3 are no great shakes either so I made them equal on that one.Overall Photomatix won my tests by a country mile proving that the specialist will always beat the Jack of all trades.I will be sticking with CS3 for my general editing but am certainly looking forward to version 4 of Photomatix.The best is about to get better!!!

  • http://www.photosignals.co.uk MikeG

    I would be fascinated to know your views of the SNS-HDR application in comparison to Photomatix. I have moved away from the latter in recent months as SNS was giving far better blended results and exhibited less of the over-processed look that, while interesting, can put off commercial customers. SNS’s noise control is superb and seems to be about the fastest at batch processing.

  • http://tagchips.com/skunkworks.html DARYL BUTCHER

    PhotoShop CS5: Still remains a nearly dis-intgrated set of software regardless of PS hype. I got some nice results on JPEG images though with the HDR-ish capabilities. All of the programs I have tried still will halo the waddin’ out of anything unless great care is taken. I found that CS4 did a much better job of aligning hand-held images than PhotoMatix. In my environment using a tripod for most of the shots is just not practical. Batch processing of single RAW images in PhotoMatix just results in a great deal of wasted time because the conditions really have to be adjusted one frame at a time to make me happy. My work flow often includes RAW, Bridge, PhotoShop and PhotoMatix all at once and throws in other software just to make things interesting. Meanwhile the computer is grinding on technical electronics simulations generating G-byte output files. Makes silicon sweat from the box. I seldom have less than a half a dozen programs running. I use Lightroom almost not at all. “Cataloging” just doesn’t fit my way of working and the sorting just doesn’t work … and they admit it. I am still trying to get all of the plug-ins found by CS5. You would think that this would all be automatic. Nope. Just about everything was discarded and has to be re-established. My mode of operation is Photo-realism and I don’t “cook” most images much. Every now and then I find one that can benefit from “over-the-top” but I fight it pretty hard. I tried the other software “OnOne??” and like the interface but got turned off by massive halos right away. I can get all of the halos I can stand with the other programs. I have been watching PS grow and “mature” since V1.? and still can’t figure out how to do a lot of things. The “empire” seems to love spawning zillions of 3rd party “helpers” to break the code on PS operations rather than supplying readable documentation and examples. All-in-all, fun stuff. With PS, Bridge, PhotoMatix, PTGui, DxO, Illustrator, Flash and a few other things open and grinding it keeps me occupied. Now if I could just remember how I “broke the code” on how to do something the last time rather than having to re-learn it each time, I would be a real happy camper.

  • Steve K

    to tonemap a layer, flatten, tonemap, select all and copy, undo back to just before flatten, paste special.

    You’ll wind up with a tonemapped image as a new layer.

  • http://robinswoods.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Robin

    Great approach to the flattening issue, Steve! I’m glad I checked back to see what other people were saying on the subject. You never know what you might learn!

  • Tom W

    Just read this so went and tried Merge to HDR in CS5. Slow is an understatement. And I was using a quad core i7 q720 processor. Don’t have Photomatix 4 for comparison, but Photomatix 3.2 is much faster and easier.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chad-Delany/1233865947 Chad Delany

    Great write-up. I’m glad the upgrade to version 4 is free.

    Hey Trey,
    You should rent some off-road vehicles when you are in Iceland and get real remote. http://www.arctictrucks-experience.com/

    Chad

  • http://www.photo-chimp.com Eric W

    I guess I get to be semi-contrarian. This morning I started testing the comparisons between PS5 and Photomatix 3 today (I guess we can’t all be rockstars and get early releases, d’oh!), and I’d put PS5′s “Merge to HDR Pro” as a definite improvement over Photomatix 3 in the merging category. I’ll agree that the controls aren’t quite as fine-tuned, but the ghosting, and it’s edge detection… man, I’m in love.

    Seriously – for my processing workflow, 90% of the success & failure is how well the images get merged. Absolutely no prob with PS5 – for handheld HDRs taken underwater (hovering in place – hardly a stable situation). Photomatix? Forget about it, just can’t handle it.

    Oh, and the speed – for my old ‘puter, I’d say that Photomatix 3 is slightly slower across the board. It’s not a huge difference – the merging is faster for RAW images, slower for JPGs. Rendering while toning feels about the same. And on toning: PS5 is still pretty worthless in my book, definitely prefer Photomatix.

    One thing for sure, you’ve piqued my curiosity about Photomatix 4. I’m glad I’ll get a copy courtesy of them – love how they take care of their customers!

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Eric – that is VERY interesting that your merging is faster for RAW images… I wonder if other people are experiencing that? Thanks for the info.

    Daryl – thanks for the comment there – interesting!

    Steve – Thanks good idea… what a way to do it… not exactly intuitive, but it works!

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Chad – thx for the tip!

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremyjoubert/ Jeremy Joubert

    “… but I just don’t see it. Am I living in a fantasy world?”

    Let’s examine the evidence:
    - travels the world taking photos of interesting places
    - spare camera is a D3s
    - has a beautiful wife and kids
    - gets new releases of Photomatix before mere mortals.

    I think the answer is pretty clear!

  • Bryan

    Trey,
    Thanks for the review! I just got CS5 but haven’t done any HDR work with it. Do you have any info on the release date for Photomatix 4? I love my 3.2 and it sounds like 4 will be the bomb!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ramelli-Serge/1068395128 Ramelli Serge

    Dear Trey,

    I have been a huge Photomatix fan for years and I used it a lot for my pro work When CS 5 came out 2 things stroke me :

    1. The remove gosth feature a great options as I do a lot of landscape, and trees were always a bit blurry with photomatix, not anymore with CS5

    2. The noise, the difference between photomatix 3.0 and CS 5 on the noise is huge, I do very large prints and for that reason alone I have been using CS 5 and only CS 5 since it came out.

    3. Then natura look, I find it a lot more natural the looks that came out of CS 5, Im a not a huge fan of the fantasy look in HDR, the result to me in CS5 was a lot more natural,

    here is a video comparaison I did in French and some example of the same image being processed with both softwares :

    http://photoserge.com/2010/05/video-hdr-photomatix-versus-photoshop-cs-5/

    If you have time check out my portoilio it is mostly HDR and I have been selling a lot of this prints around to hotels in paris.

    Keep up the good work Im a big fan.

    Serge

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Thanks all.

    Ramelli – thanks for the link — interesting points I appreciate them. Maybe you will like the new ghosting selection bit with Photomatix 4. You get to draw a selection around the part you do not want ghosted… does that make sense?

    Bryan (and others) – I have no idea when Photomatix 4 comes out for real! :(

    Jeremy – hehe you are funny thx

  • James C

    I am curious, Trey, where is the place where you “warm up your fingers”? I can think of several, depending on the location and who is with you.

  • Gr8Scot

    One thing CS5 does have over Photomatix 3 (and probably Photomatix 4) is that it can handle larger file sizes. Photomatix does have limits on file sizes that are a bit small id you are doing any pano stitching. But I like Photomatix better – maybe because I am used to using it.

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  • http://blog.agenciapreview.com Jefferson Bernardes

    Trey, what is the possibility of Photomatix Pro upgrade the plug-in for Apple Aperture 3.0? It is very practical work Apple Aperture + Photomatix. Thanks for your help!

  • http://funny-video-compilation.blogspot.com/ Akina

    Hi! Bump into your site and was very interested on this topic. I’m new to photography but had been interested for years now and got friends who does. I was thinking of learning Photoshop CS5.. But do you suggest that i will learn Photomatix instead? Your insights is greatly appreciated. Thanks much!

  • http://www.fluidr.com/photos/bush Marianne Bush

    Thanks for the review, Trey. Am certainly looking forward to Photomatix 4.0 – I have been playing around with CS5 and just don’t like it. Seems kind of flat to me. Looked at the preview from Nik and wonder about all the presets – I must be kind of old school as I don’t want a program that does everything for me. Well, we’ll see. I sure as hell don’t get all the envious hostility that’s going on here with some people just because you get access to the programs in advance. Have a great trip to Iceland – I’m not the least bit envious (yeah, right ;-()

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Herbert/586282034 Jonathan Herbert

    Thanks for the review, I shall be getting the next version of photomatrix. I tried HDR pro and found it very odd didn’t have nearly as much control as photmatrix but I did like the ghosting thing in CS5. Glad that photomatrix has that now so it shall make things much easier with having people in the way. Thanks Trey great work as usual.

  • http://www.imageassoc.net Dan Blackburn

    Trey..

    Always really love your site. But I can’t agree that CS5′s HDR version is slow. I am running Windows7 64bit and found CS5′s HDR merge faster than Photomatix 3.2 and with less ghosting. I look forward to Photomatix4. As a landscape nature wildlife shooter and Photomatix 3.2 enthusiast until now, I lean toward CS5 system just a bit but that, of course, depends on what we see in Photomatix 4 and, for sure, what Nik comes up with soon.

  • http://www.rf-photography.ca Bob Fisher

    That World War analogy is out of line. It’s not just a bit harsh, it’s ridiculous.

    I havent’ found HDR Pro as slow as you. I’m on a Win7 64 platform with a 2GHz dual core processor and 4GB of DDR2 dual channel RAM. Not exactly a barnburner of a system by current standards and HDR Pro runs well. Typically I’ll have LR, Firefox, Thunderbird and WMP for music open concurrently. Maybe APG if I’m doing some pano work as well. In terms of image quality, it’s very good. Ability to go from mild to wild is also right up there.

    Despite your suggesting that your reviews are objective, it’s difficult to accept that position when you tout PM as much as you do and the appearance of a cosy relationship with the HDRSoft folks exists.

    The new anti-ghosting feature sounds similar to what DPHDR uses. Doesn’t work as well there as you’d think. I’m looking forward to seeing what PM has in v4 with the next beta because right now, the HDR Pro anti-ghosting functionality is superior to PM 3.x.

  • http://carltonwardphoto.com/ Carlton Ward

    I have an 24″ IMAC 2.4ghz with 4GB RAM and have selected CS5 to run as 32bit instead of 64bit which is faster but it is still very slow. I cant use the select tool, type tool or anything else without getting the “pinwheel of death”. PhotoMatix 3.2.7 works great & is as fast as its always been and I will upgrade to 4.0 soon. CS5 is about to go in the trash. After all the time & $$ I have invested in Adobe Photoshop over the years, my frustration with Adobe is getting to be too much. One of the reasons I upgraded from CS3 to CS5 was because their latest available version ACR/Bridge for CS3 couldn’t read my Canon 5D Mark II raw files. I think I will be happier going back to using the DNG converter & CS3. I wont even attempt to try the CS5 HDR tool – I have been very happy with PhotoMatix.

  • http://jriceco.smugmug.com Jonathan Rice

    Trey,
    I just did a side-by-side test with CS5 and Photomatix 3.2.9. Hands down Photomatix makes the better image and its faster too. I will say CS5 did a better job aligning the images (they were handheld shots), and it handled the ghosting better, but the overall effect with CS5 just leaves a lot to be desired. The photomatix image was just plain better. Colors, details, and overall “feel” were head and shoulders above CS5. I can’t wait for Photomatix 4.
    Thanks for your posting your opinion. I too only heard how GREAT CS5 HDR was. I don’t see it. If Photomatix 4 is what you say it is, I’ll not be changing my workflow. Photomatix rocks.

  • http://www.anssisaviluoto.com Anssi Saviluoto

    I was also really disappointed in the HDR-features of Photoshop CS5. The pictures always seemed to get super crunchy and ugly or have crazy halos around everything. I thought it was just me, but after watching Matt Kloskowskis training series on Kelbytraining I was unimpressed with the results.

    However I do like the reduce ghosting -feature in CS5. If I have a series of images with a lot of moving objects I merge the images in Photoshop CS5, using the reduce ghosting, and save the 32 bit HDR and then tonemap it in Photomatix.

    I also use the HDR-toning a lot to bring out some detail in clothes. The way I get around Photoshop flattening the image is: i first do my HDR-toning and let PS flatten the image. After that I select all and copy the HDR-toned image to my clipboard. Then I revert the picture from my history panel to the original image and paste the HDR-toned image as a new layer. Now I can easily drop down the opacity and mask out the crunchy ugliness photoshop tends to produce around the image.

  • Eric Johnson

    I just recently upgraded to CS5 from CS3 and also use Photomatix 3.2. I find CS5 is much, much better at ghost removal than Photomatix is. I’m very excited to hear that Photomatix 4 is better in that regard. On the other hand, not being able to drag and drop frames from windows explorer into CS5 to be merged is also a pain (what, drag and drop from outside the application is a new technology to Adobe?), and I find that Photomatix auto-naming is close enough to what I generally want that these two minor things save me several minutes of work for each image. I also find it easier to get the look I want with Photomatix – I seem to have more control and ability to hone in on what I had in mind before I started work on the tone mapping. So, even though I only have Photomatix 3.2, I still use it in preference to CS5′s HDR Pro except where there is motion in the scene, when the output of Photomatix 3.2 requires so much retouching in photoshop to get rid of unwanted ghosting.

  • Jade

    Hi there Trey,

    Can you tell me please, do I need the ‘Plug-in’ for PS CS5 or just the ‘Standalone’ version of Photomatix? I think I am understanding that I only need the Standalone Photomatix Pro and not the Bundle with the PS plug-in?? Need your help please. :-) Thanks!!

    Here are the differences:
    Bundle of separate products:
    + Photomatix Pro standalone program (which includes Lightroom plugin)
    + Plug-In for Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5 [requirements]
    And/or Plug-In for Apple Aperture
    [Features comparison]

    If you are a Windows user or a Mac user not interested in the plug-in for Aperture, please check whether you need the plug-in for Photoshop.

    Thank you again!!
    Jade

  • Jeremy Wisetooth

    Maybe you’re not very good with Adobe Camera Raw, but for single image processing it is very good. CS5 easily beats any of the HDR solutions out there, including photomatix.

    I’ve taken the image of the castle on the bottom of this page and processed it in several applications, including Photomatix 4 Pro beta. http://www.hdrdarkroom.com/examples.htm

    The result in photoshop was much more pleasing. Now, it may be I’m not very good at using Photomatix. Perhaps. That’s why I would love for you to grab the referenced image, run it in photomatix and post your result as well as your **settings** so we can all learn from them. Once you post it up, I’ll post up the result I got from camera raw, including the settings necessary :)

    Then we can compare and let people be the judge of which application is better.

  • Jeremy Wisetooth

    I should mention, in case it wasn’t clear, I only used Camera Raw.. I didn’t do any post work at all in Photoshop. Anyone will be able to replicate my ACR settings and get the same image. Thus you should only use Photomatix and not any outside 3rd party processing.

  • Jack C

    You can turn off HDR pro Auto Align using the script from Photoshop CS5, not from LR or Bridge. There is an option to turn on/off align just like using merge to layers script.

    The HDR Pro is located in the Automate menu in Photoshop CS5.

    Also if you do some digging and look at the script file “merge to hdr pro” in the CS5 presets directory you will notice in the code that Auto Align is on by default. If you know something about scripting you can change the option from true to false, then align is off by default. You can now load images from LR and Bridge without auto align.

  • http://jriceco.smugmug.com Jonathan Rice

    Trey,

    I just did a side-by-side comparison of Photomatix 4.0 and CS5 HDR Pro and the difference is amazing. Photomatix wins hands down. The difference is detail and color depth is amazing. I used the same work flow for each and the images are night and day. You are right about Photomatix still being the top dog.
    Keep up the good work and try to convince those guys over at Kelby that Photomatix 4 is still the premiere HDR solution.

  • Stuart

    Awesome review, but coming late into deciding that it is time for me to upgrade the game has changed again. Now not only is there CS5 but we now also have Nik’s new players and Artizen’s new beta. I was just wondering what your thought are on the 2 new. To be completely honest i am torn between Nik and Artizen, cause i just don’t think i like the CS5 version at least not for HDR.

  • http://www.joecoylephoto.com Joe Coyle

    Excellent work, Trey. I think the new Photoshop Merge to HDR Pro is a flop. My money’s with Nik HDR Efex Pro. I really liked PhotoMatix Pro 3, but recently upgraded to a 64 bit environment and am really loving Nik’s new player in HDR. I can go to it directly from Bridge and it’s pretty fast — not as fast as PhotoMatix Pro 3 was, but quick compared to 32 bit standards.

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  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene

    I’m with you Trey! I’ve tried CS5 and can’t get anything decent out of it and some of the ones I’d previously done in Photomatix 3 or 4 don’t come out nearly as good in CS5. Yeah not as much control, no good.

    I’m about to do a trial of the Nik one and another I found that looks interesting HDR Expose. Has anyone ever used that?

  • http://www.mprstudio.com Rockland County Photographer

    Photomatix is definitely quicker and overall, it processes HDR better. Love the first image you processed in Photomatix.

  • Pingback: HDR Battle: Photomatix vs. Photoshop | Learning DSLR

  • http://www.photoframed.com Emily Adams

    Seen a link of this post on google+ and wasn’t disappointed to check it

  • http://phoser.500px.com Doug

    A fair comparison… I still use CS5 HDR merging relative to HDR Efex Pro sometimes for a couple of reasons, but it looks like Photomatix has pulled out ahead relative to the earlier versions that I tried in the past and hated. CS5′s allows you to do image alignment and/or tone mapping independently if you want; you don’t have to perform the full-blown “Merge to HDR Pro” in a fully automated way. I find that if you want to develop a VERY flat HDR rendition and to all the tonal adjustments (e.g., with Nik Tonal Contrast or using Nik Silver Efex Pro, masked curves, etc.), CS5 HDR merge works pretty well. One significantly good feature in CS5 is the image alignment, which is simply SPOOKY good — and FAR, FAR better than HDR Efex Pro. Sometimes I’ll do a very flat HDR alignment and merge in CS5 then take the resulting image into Nik HDR Efex Pro or other Nik tools for tonal adjustment.

    CS5′s merge is a good tool when you need to make different mixes (with very different settings or using different source images because of ghosting, etc.) with full manual control, which you then merge together, but Photomatix does still seem to be the best overall tool for doing everything for most users…

    Thanks for the comparison.

  • Steven Ariaza

    There is a writer named Stan Slap who wrote: Who accepts accountability and works autonomously. Anyways I think we can all learn from this knowledge on business to live better. http://www.slapcompany.com is his site if you wana check it out. I recommend it.

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