Photomatix Pro 3.1 Beta – Lightroom 2 Plug-In

I’m just beginning my exploration of HDR (high dynamic range) processing and how it fits in my current Lightroom 2 workflow. Like most photographers, I find the idea of expanding the dynamic range displayed in certain images to be very compelling. After all, who wouldn’t like their images to show more detail in the shadows without blowing out the highlights?

I’ve spent the past few weeks reading literally hundreds of blog posts about different HDR shooting and processing techniques and reviewing the software available from various vendors. At the end of all this research I still wasn’t sure how HDR processing would fit into my Lightroom workflow until I saw a note on HDRSoft’s web site about a beta version of Photomatix Pro 3.1 and their new Lightroom 2 plug-in. So I took the plunge, bought a license and installed everything in just a matter of minutes.

Here’s my first test using an image with a moderate dynamic range (mostly dark shadow areas and fairly bright highlights). The image on the left was processed entirely in Lightroom while the image on the right was merged from three “bracketed” raw (.dng) exposures, tone-mapped in Photomatx Pro 3.1 (beta) and then cleaned up in Lightroom.

Monument Hill

Monument Hill
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4 L at 19mm, f/8, 1/125th, 1/350th and 1/1000th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post processed using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom 2’s Develop module. Click on the image above on the right for a larger version.

I’m very impressed with the results using the default settings in Photomatix Pro 3.1 beta. The detail in the shadow areas under the trees looks very natural and the noise level is acceptable. My only issue is with some of the halo artifacts that show up where the sky meets the tree tops. Other than that, it’s a fairly decent exposure.

Click on the image on the right to see a more detailed version.

6 thoughts on “Photomatix Pro 3.1 Beta – Lightroom 2 Plug-In

  1. My new Sony a900 Has two(reg & advanced) bracketing positions to make HDR images. So its being worked on! You know Nikon and Canon will have the technology soon if not now. Thanks for the info. Ed K

  2. Louis,

    Thanks for reading, for the comment and for the suggestions. HDR is very new to me but the potential is incredible. After seeing what detail this technique can produce, I wonder why the latest digital cameras aren’t designed to extend the dynamic range they capture? I would think this would be a priority over increasing the pixel density of the sensor.

    Thanks again!

    Jeff

  3. Jeff,
    Nice work.
    I think you’ll find the more you play with the sliders in Photomatix, the more you will be able to work out the halo problem. As trey indicates, there are no set settings for the Tone Mapping sliders. The settings can vary wildly from image to image. One tip, after you find your settings for a given image, and before you process it, there’s a “save settings” command in Tone Mapping. As you collect settings, you will find you’ll be able to run through those settings on any new image, giving you multiple potential starting points. I find that technique useful.
    Again, good work.
    Best,
    Louis

  4. Thanks Tom!

    I hadn’t seen Trey’s blog before and you’re right! What an incredible image. A panoramic HDR image. Very cool idea.

    Jeff

  5. This is an amazing photograph and techquie. I mean just stunning. You may have seen it already but why not pay a visit over to trey’s blog to see his work and watch his free tutorial. Trey is an amazing guy much like yourself that spends a lot of his time traveling but always giving and playing it forward to others, esp, children.
    You can go here and again, this is a wonderful picture and well done.
    http://stuckincustoms.com/2008/09/27/the-majesty-my-largest-photo-ever/

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