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AKVIS HDRFactory v3.0 Review

Daniel Bell reviews AKVIS HDRFactory v3.0, a program capable of creating panorama shots from images shot at different exposures or just one single image.

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Screenshot 1

AKVIS HDRFactory creates High Dynamic Range images by combining several images of the same object with different exposure values. It can also create pseudo-HDR images from a single image. Prices start from $69 (approx £43) for either the standalone or plugin versions.

AKVIS HDRFactory Features

  • Create HDR images from a series of shots at different exposures or single images
  • Supports many file types including RAW
  • Adjust colour saturation and brightness
  • Bring out the detail in dark and bright areas
  • Ghost removal
  • Various presets to choose from
  • Save frequently used settings as presets
  • Standalone version lets you change brightness, contrast, gamma and saturation
  • Plugin version supports batch processing when creating a HDR from a single image

AKVIS HDRFactory Performance

Installation is easy, with options to install as a standalone program or plugin for your image editing software. Here we are testing using the standalone program. When you start the program the first step is to choose the image(s) you want to use for your HDR image. You may be asked to tell the program which exposure values the images have been shot at. The time it takes to combine them depends on the number of images used. It can be time consuming, enough time to go and make a brew.

When you select your images, by default you'll be performing a normal alignment. Other options include no alignment, fast alignment and high-quality alignment.

No Alignment
No Alignment
Fast Alignment
Fast Alignment
Normal Alignment
Normal Alignment
High Quality Alignment
High Quality Alignment

The best results came from using no alignment, with the other causing ghosting. The idea of the alignment methods are to remove ghosting where there are moving objects, such as trees in the wind, but appears to cause more problems than solutions.

If you do get ghosting when using the no alignment method you can use the ghost removal tool. This is located in the bar on the right hand side. Select this and highlight the area where you have ghosting, when you have finished it will automatically remove the ghosting.

Screenshot Ghost Selection Before
Screenshot Ghost Selection Before
  Screenshot Ghost Selection After
Screenshot Ghost Selection After
Normal Alignment Ghost Removed
Normal alignment with ghost removed around the wind turbine.

To make your HDR images even more creative there are a number of editing options. The first place many will head are the presets. There are 46 in total, with examples of each below.

AKVIS HDRFactory v3.0 Sample Photos

There are also other editing options to choose from, split into three sections - HDRI (saturation, highlights, lowlights, level of detail, lightness, dark detail and light detail), Adjustment (tone correction, depth, gradient contrast, smoothing, local contrast, colour intensity and remove noise) and Effects (white balance temperature and tint, glow intensity and vignette dark/light edges, distance, shape and smooth transition).

Screenshot HDRI
Screenshot Adjustments
Screenshot Effects

Below is an example taken using nine different exposures.

Akvis Hdr Factory Test 2 Minus 5 Exposure
-5 exposure compensation
Akvis Hdr Factory Test 2 Minus 4 Exposure
-4 exposure compensation
Akvis Hdr Factory Test 2 Minus 3 Exposure
-3 exposure compensation
Test 2 Minus 2 Exposure
-2 exposure compensation
Test 2 Minus 1 Exposure
-1 exposure compensation
Test 2 0 Exposure
0 exposure compensation
Test 2 Plus 1 Exposure
+1 exposure compensation
Test 2 Plus 2 Exposure
+2 exposure compensation
Test 2 Plus 3 Exposure
+3 exposure compensation
Test 2 Plus 4 Exposure
+4 exposure compensation
Test 2 Plus 5 Exposure
+5 exposure compensation
Test 2 No Alignment
Test 2 No Alignment

The HDR effect has taken what is quite a dull scene due to the overcast conditions into a much more impressive, dramatic one. Here is one last example, also using nine different pictures.

Scarborough HDR
Scarborough HDR

Value for money

You can buy the home plugin version or the standalone version for $69 (approx £43) each. Home deluxe includes both versions for £99 (approx £61), with business costing $189 (approx £117). Other HDR programs include Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro 2 at $99.95 (approx £62), Photomatix from $39 (approx £24), HDR Darkroom at $59 (approx £37) and Luminance HDR (free).

AKVIS HDRFactory Verdict

For those who are looking for a quick and easy way to create HDR images the AKVIS HDRFactory delivers excellent results. We like the wide range of presets available as well as the further editing options, but would like to be able to crop images without having to switch to another program such as Photoshop. The alignment methods didn't delivery any better results than when using the no alignment method, we preferred to use to ghost tool to remove any obvious alignment issues caused by moving objects.

AKVIS HDRFactory Pros

Generally impressive results
Loads of presets to choose from
Can use many different image formats including RAW

AKVIS HDRFactory Cons

Can be quite slow
The alignment methods don't work particularly well
When using alignment method there was a need to crop the images, with no crop tool provided


For more information, please visit the AKVIS website.

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