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HDR Darkroom 2 Review

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Category: Other Software
Product: HDR Darkroom 2
Price: £37.16
Rating: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

HDR Darkroom 2 Review - Daniel Bell gives us his opinion on HDR Darkroom 2.

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Features
Performance
Verdict

Hdr Darkroom 2 Screenshot 1

HDR Darkroom 2 is a standalone program designed to create stunning HDR pictures at lightning speed. It is available for both Windows and Mac for $59.00 (approx £37.16 as of 21 Jan 2013). For more advanced users there is a Pro version priced at $89.00.

HDR Darkroom 2 Features

  • User-friendly interface - designed for ease of use, but without compromising on control.
  • Local/Global Tone Mapping Technology - three types of tone mapping technology.
  • Alignment Technology - corrects problems with misalignment when your camera moves slightly between the bracketed frames.
  • Ghost Reduction Technology - removes an object if it moves through the scene while you are taking multiple shots.
  • Real Time Processing - makes the process as quick as possible
  • Powerful Batch Processing - automatically process multiple sets of photos according to your unique preferences.
  • Camera RAW File Converter - supports RAW files of more than 150 camera models as well as Adobe (DNG), etc.
  • Available for both Windows (XP, Vista, Win 7 x32/x64) and Mac (OS X v10.6 and above).
  • Export to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

HDR Darkroom 2 Performance

When you first open the software you need to go to the HDR button then browse to select your images, ideally at least three images of the same frame at different exposure levels. If you don't select all of your images the first time, you can hit add to select more. Selected too many, then select the unwanted picture and hit remove.

Hdr Darkroom 2 Screenshot 2

When you're happy with your chosen images there are two merge options to consider - Alignment and Ghost Reduction. Alignment helps to compensate for any movement and distortion during the capture process. If this isn't selected your final image may appear fuzzy or out of focus. Ghost Reduction eliminates moving objects that would appear ghost-like on your final image. When you're happy, hit OK.

The Ghost Reduction example shows how HDR Darkroom 2 can remove unwanted subjects, such as the battery which has randomly appeared in one of our three shots.

Hdr Darkroom Ghost Reduction Image 1
Ghost Reduction Image 1
Ghost Reduction Image 2
Ghost Reduction Image 2
Ghost Reduction Image 3
Ghost Reduction Image 3
Ghost Reduction Example
Ghost Reduction Example

Your images are then merged and you then need to divert your attention to the column down the right-hand side which starts with Tone Mapping. Within the Tone Mapping area there are three different mapping options:

  • Tone Balancer - aims to balance the tones to reveal both the shadows and highlights (adjusts local contrast levels and the local lighting levels).
  • Tone Enhancer - extracts and enhances the details of an image (adjusts the local contrast and uses fill light to reduce the contrast and illuminate shadows).
  • Tone Compressor - maps every pixel in an image, but doesn't take into consideration the position of each pixel and its surrounding pixels. It processes photos at a faster rate but the results aren't as impressive.
Tone Balancer
Tone Balancer
Tone Enhancer
Tone Enhancer
Tone Compressor
Tone Compressor

Whether you select Tone Balancer or Tone Enhancer will come down to personal preference, but we can't see any reason why you'd want to use Tone Compressor. Whichever you go for, you can further edit your picture by adjusting the strength and fill light as well as a range of other options:
  • Basic adjustment - brightness, contrast, saturation, white and black
  • Colour adjustment - white balance, temperature, tint, red, green, blue
  • Noise reduction
If you hit upon a range of settings you like, you can save this to use on future images using the parameter settings option. You can create black and white HDR's by reducing the saturation to zero.

Hdr Darkroom 2 Screenshot 3   Hdr Darkroom 2 Screenshot 4

Along the bottom of the screen are some further options, these include crop, rotate and undo as well the option to view your image in full size, with zoom in and out available.

The left hand side is where you go to save your final picture or share to Flickr, Facebook or Twitter. When saving to your computer your image can be saved in .jpg, .bmp, .tif, .png or .hdr. Other options we're yet to mention on the left are open a file, batch and help.

Hdr Darkroom 2 Screenshot 5
 
You can use the open a file option to load a picture where you only have one shot, rather than a number of shots to create a HDR. The manual mentions selecting RAW files but we used it on JPEGS and were surprised by the quality of the images produced.

Single Shot Example
Single Shot Example
Tone Balancer From One Image
Tone Balancer from one JPEG
Tone Enhancer From One Image
Tone Enhancer from one JPEG
Tone Compressor From One Image
Tone Compressor from one JPEG
Tone Balancer From One Image Raw
Tone Balancer from one RAW
Tone Enhancer From One Image Raw
Tone Enhancer from one RAW
Tone Compressor From One Image Raw
Tone Compressor from one RAW

There are also buttons along the top - file, processing, batch and help. These repeat the buttons already mentioned along with the option to check for updates to the software. The help button takes you to the online user manual.

Hdr Darkroom 2 Screenshot 6

The batch option lets you process a large number of images in one go without manually adjusting both. It works as long as the folder you select all have the same number of different images per HDR. There are options for Alignment, Ghost Reduction and Tone Mapping.

HDR Darkroom 2 Verdict

HDR Darkroom 2 is a very simple software product to use, an excellent option if you are new to HDR photography. The resulting images are very impressive, whether you have multiple exposure shots of the same frame or just one single JPEG that you want to bring to life.

 
  HDR Darkroom 2 is easy to use and produces excellent HDR images.

HDR Darkroom 2 Pros

Very easy to use
Alignment and Ghost Reduction tools are effective
Impressive results, even from a single JPEG image
Works with RAW files
Has batch processing ability
User manual is extremely helpful

HDR Darkroom 2 Cons

Tone Compressor option doesn't produce as impressive pictures as Balancer and Enhancer
There are some free HDR programs and other photo editing software packages with HDR built-in, such as Corel PaintShop Pro

FEATURES  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

HDR Darkroom 2 is available from the Everimaging website for $59.00 (approx £37.16 as of 21 Jan 2013).

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