Our step-by-step guide teaches you how to navigate the most popular HDR
programs, including one you may already have at your fingertips.
COMPARING PHOTOMATIX AND PHOTOSHOP CS2
If you listen to some of the chatter on the internet about the HDR Processing capabilities of Photomatix versus Photoshop CS2, you may be led to believe that Photomatix is far superior. My research and experimentation disproves this premise to my satisfaction. Beginning with the same three source images, and following the suggested workflow for each program, and then applying very similar final global adjustments in Photoshop -- increased saturation and added S-Curve -- I was able to achieve very similar results.
The first image was processed in Photomatix. (See below)
The second was processed in Photoshop CS2. (See below)
The two images are not identical, but are extremely similar in overall color palette and detail. Any slight differences between the two should be chalked up to my processing. That being said, both programs have their strengths and weaknesses, but neither is far and away superior to the other in HDR Tone Mapping capabilities. If you want to consider either of these programs, here are our final thoughts on both HDR processing methods.
• As a stand-alone program, it can process HDR images from any type of source image, with or without a separate image editing program. You can create HDR images and import them into any version of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, or any other image editing programs.
• Price: At $99, it is significantly less than Photoshop CS2.
• Automation: Using a logical naming scheme can speed up some of the initial processes.
• Slider controls for Tone Mapping are easy to experiment with.
• Exposure Blending methods sometimes prove to be better than Tone mapping.
• HDR Preview window.
• Exposure blending methods are frequently disappointing.
• Is easy to accidentally Tone map a single 16-bit image when you really wanted to create an HDR to Tone Map.
• Extremely limited Non-HDR image editing options.
• Non-intuitive workflow.
Photoshop CS2/Bridge Strengths:
• Built into Photoshop CS2.
• Offers Powerful adjustable Curve Controls.
Photoshop CS2/Bridge Weaknesses:
• Price: Photoshop CS2 is expensive ($649).
• No preview available for high-bit image adjustments. You're stabbing in the dark if you change gamma or exposure.
• Workflow can be confusing.