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Photomatix Pro 5.0 Review

Daniel Bell reviews Photomatix Pro 5.0, a standalone program for creating HDR images which can also be used as a plugin for Lightroom.

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Photomatix Pro 5 Screenshot 2

Photomatix Pro is a standalone program for creating HDR images which includes a plugin for Lightroom, as well as advanced features such as batch processing and selective deghosting. It is available for £72, but if you don't require the advanced features, there is Photomatix Essentials, available for £30, which is designed to be simple and easy to use. On test here is the Photomatix Pro version using Windows.

Photomatix Pro 5 Screenshot 3

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5.0 Features

  • Merge bracketed photos to HDR
  • Tone Mapping with Details Enhancer
  • Advanced Details Enhancer settings
  • Tone Mapping with Contrast Optimiser
  • Fusion / Natural
  • Fusion / Real-Estate
  • Finishing Touch (sharpening, contrast, saturation)
  • Undo Tone Mapping / Fusion
  • Fusion from a single RAW file
  • Automatic alignment of hand-held photos
  • Automatic ghost removal
  • Adjustment options for Automatic Deghosting
  • Selective Deghosting tool
  • Thumbnails of built-in presets
  • Thumbnails of custom presets
  • Display options for preset thumbnails
  • Saving and loading of user presets
  • Batch processing of bracketed photos
  • Batch of single files
  • Automatic reduction of chromatic aberrations
  • Automatic noise reduction
  • Unlimited Maximum number of photos per bracketed set
  • Read/write in 32-bit HDR image formats
  • Integration with Lightroom via free export plugin
Photomatix Pro 5 Screenshot 4

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5.0 Performance

When opening the program you are presented with a simple enough interface - there is a column along the left hand side which gives you options to load bracketed photos, as well as load a single photo.

When loading a RAW image there are options to reduced noise, reduce chromatic aberrations, adjust the white balance, adjust the colour space and enable exposure fusion - this will split the RAW file into different exposures to create images to fuse into a HDR. If you load just one JPEG you're given the option to reduce noise before tone mapping.

Photomatix Pro 5 Screenshot 6

When loading images at different exposure values a screen appears which gives the exposure values of each image. The program will get it just about right, you might just need to tinker slightly with the settings.
The next screen is the merge to HDR options. This lets you align the source images, handy if there has been a little movement between each shot. You can tell Photomatix if you have shot hand-held or on a tripod as well as include perspective correction. If there has been movement in the shot - such as a person walking through, there is an option to remove ghosts. You can also reduce noise and chromatic aberrations.
Whichever option you choose, the fun doesn't start until you hit the tone mapping button. On the right-hand side are a number of presets to choose from, we have included examples of each below.

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5.0 Sample Photos

The left-hand side of the screen is where you can manually edit your picture. There are lots of different methods of creating your HDR images.
Tone Mapping has three different methods - details enhancer, contrast optimiser and tone compressor. Each option has further enhancement options such as strength, colour saturation, tone compression, detail contrast, with more options and advanced options available under separate drop downs.
The exposure fusion mode has a number of different methods including natural, real-estate, intensive, auto and average. The editing options available differ depending on which option you choose.
To help with editing there is a histogram as well as a loupe, where you click a part of the image so you can take a close look at how the details are enhanced. You can also zoom in and out. Photomatix processes images reasonably quickly - even if you are combining a number of pictures at different exposures. Speeds will also depend on the specification of your computer.
Once you have finished editing you need to press the apply button where you can save as a jpg or a tiff. You can save the image settings so they can be applied to further images. There is the option to perform double tone mapping which allows you to add additional effects, using your already-processed image as the starting point. 
The last option on the final screen allows you to batch process single or bracketed photos. There is also a tutorial to help you, if you are stuck you can also read the lengthy manual, but tips do appear when you are using Photomatix, mainly to explain what certain options do.

Sport Before | 1/1000 sec | f/3.5 | 200.0 mm | ISO 200
Sport Before | 1/1000 sec | f/3.5 | 200.0 mm | ISO 200
  Sport After | 1/1000 sec | f/3.5 | 200.0 mm | ISO 200
Sport After | 1/1000 sec | f/3.5 | 200.0 mm | ISO 200

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5.0 Verdict

Photomatix Pro version 5 is excellent at producing superb HDR images, whether you have taken the time to shoot a number of images at different exposures, or you just have the one image to work with. There's not much to say against Photomatix - it's easy to use and has lots of presets that many users will be happy to utilise. If preferred, you can use the large range of editing options available to process your HDR image even further. Photomatix Pro 5.0 is a software product we are happy to recommend.

  Photomatix Pro 5.0 is easy to use and produces superb HDR images.

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5.0 Pros

Easy to use
Lots of presets
Ideal for both novices and experts
Can use single images or a number of bracketed images

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5.0 Cons

Can't export directly to social media sites
Pro version more than double the price of the Essentials version


Photomatix Pro 5.0 is available for £72, but if you don't require the advanced features, there is Photomatix Essentials, available for £30. For more information, visit the HDRsoft website.

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