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Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 vs photomatix

18 Oct 2012 10:45PM
Hi, does anyone use either Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or photomatix? I would like a good HDR programme to make subtle enhancements but just wondered which users thought was the better of the two. I have had trial versions but remain undecided so any pros or cons would be appreciated.
Ps...I want a disc not a download. Photomatix is advertised on Amazon and looks like it is software not a download.

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19 Oct 2012 12:47PM
Photomatix is definitely better at stitching hand held sequences and is much faster at processing. However it always gives that same 'hazy' overlay on images when using tonemapping which I can never seem to get rid of. It can also create a lot of noise on occasions.

HDR Efex works very well with tripod based sequences and can pull out incredible details but can be very slow at processing and is not as good dealing with ghosting.

There is also a HDR feature within Photoshop that often works very effectively.

Exposure blending often works best and gives more natural results. Just stack the images in one layered file and mask accordingly.

Carrera_c 8 273 3 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2012 2:35PM
I prefer HDR Efex Pro, you seem to end up with a sharper image in the end. Think it also gives you some more creative control over Photomatix.

On the note of wanting a disc and not a download, why not just buy the download and then save the file (and a text file with the license key) onto a disc yourself? Job done!
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
19 Oct 2012 2:42PM
I have both and much prefer HDR Efex Pro2. The reasons?

1. More "intuitive" to use, especially if you also use other Nik products such as Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro.

2. Works beautifully from within Lightroom.

3. The real no-brainer for me is the use of Control Points in HDR Efex Pro that allow you to apply different degrees of effect or, indeed, different HDR effects, to different areas of the image.

4. I don't like "grungy" HDR. To my taste, an HDRed image is best if no-one can tell it has been HDRed. HDR is a fantastic technique for producing a great photograph in lighting conditions that would be impossible to capture well in a single exposure. In my experience it is easier to get "natural" looking HDR results in HDR Efex Pro than in Photomatix.

On the downside, the Nik product is more expensive and is apparently less useful if you have a need to batch-process HDR in hundreds of images simultaneously.
Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
21 Oct 2012 6:16PM
I find the same as Gary there is a hazy overlay on Photomatix images and other Club members find the same. It actually looks very poor compared with Oloneo or 32 bit editing in Lightroom. I have not used Nik Efex HDR Pro but understand that it is very similar to Oloneo. Oloneo was a little cheaper than the Nik software and is excellent for a natural look as well the sureal look. Oloneo uses a special algorithm to create the natural colours which is very effective. Oloneo also works from Lightroom. I am certain that you can download a trial of Oloneo and, if you can do so for Nik Efex HDR Pro as well why not compare them but I am sure both outperform Photomatix which clearly has a significant problem.

ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
21 Oct 2012 8:39PM
describe your HDR workflow - then we can better advise based on needs
wasper 12 533 1 Ireland
21 Oct 2012 10:28PM
I think photomatrix stopped Being a serious software since version 3.2.
I use both but prefer NIK, then I bring back opacity to half.
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
21 Oct 2012 10:38PM

Quote:I think photomatrix stopped Being a serious software since version 3.2.
I use both but prefer NIK, then I bring back opacity to half.

Why? You can still do everything you used to? And better, just a different user interface. It handles noise far better than it used to, it's easier to get halo free images - just harder to find how to get the garish results you used to (but if you must you can), the exposure fusion option is very good, you can make your own presets, you can remove movement better. It doesn't clunk away for three weeks blending an image like it did... ok I exaggerate a bit.

All that said, I tend to use the HDR function in CS5 just as much these days - for the very few I do nowadays.
22 Oct 2012 2:16PM
Many thanks for all the replies. I downloaded a trial of Nik HDR pro 2 and had more or less decided to opt for this but when I looked at the full version it states it is not suitable with ps elements. Does anyone know why?
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
23 Oct 2012 10:10AM
I don't know the reason, Keith. But you are right - Nik say it needs CS4 or above or Lightroom 3 or above.

So I don't know why the trial worked if you are using it in Elements. The "trial" and the full version are identical - the only thing is that when you buy the full version you get a registration key that lasts for ever - not just the 15 days of the trial. In fact, if you decide to move from the trial to the full version, you don't download any fresh software; you simply enter the new registration key into the one you already have installed.

Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
23 Oct 2012 1:00PM


Is the trial, perhaps, not delivering its full potential because it's installed with Elements?
Unless you compared it to a version working with CS or Lightroom, you might not know if you're missing something.
Despite a load of snide remarks I picked up on here for saying this the other day, some of the tools in Elements don't seem to work as well as their namesakes in CS. Could it be that the same applies?
Just a thought.
JASPERIMAGE 12 55 1 Scotland
2 Feb 2013 9:08PM
I use Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 with Photoshop CS6, and shoot 3 RAWS using AEB on my Canon. This produces fantastic realistic HDR's and I use this all the time. Have tried others but none has a patch on Nik.

You can view some of my results on Facebook by following JASPERIMAGE
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
3 Feb 2013 12:48PM

Quote: This produces fantastic realistic HDR's and I use this all the time. Have tried others but none has a patch on Nik.

Why do you "use it all the time", Jasper.

Like you, I swear by Nik HDR EfexPro, but I only use it when I need to - i.e. when the scene I am trying to capture has such a wide dynamic range that it will not fit within the 14.3EV range of my camera sensor. I don't see the point of merging bracketed exposures otherwise.

By the way, it used to be useful, occasionally, to tone-map a single exposure using HDR software to squeeze out the maximum detail in the highlights and shadows of an image. That technique is now redundant as the new Highlights and Shadows sliders in Lightroom 4 (and, I assume, ACR) will do exactly the same job much more simply and controllably.
JASPERIMAGE 12 55 1 Scotland
3 Feb 2013 12:59PM
I use it all the time as it is what I am comfy with to produce an image with depth/colour etc that I want. I use CS6 to enhance and yes shadow and highlight is good but I never bother I Nik, in my mind, Nik produces a far better depth, we can also use the BURN tool etc.

I also use Nik - http://www.niksoftware.com/site/ - to get rid of all noise in image.
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
3 Feb 2013 3:25PM
Fair enough, Jasper.

But if you routinely find a need to enhance what you describe as "depth, colour, etc", have a wee look at Nik ColorEfexPro4. (You can download a trial for free). You'll find that it is far more versatile for that purpose.

The one thing to watch with both packages is that you do not over-do the "structure" sliders, otherwise you will get some really horrible over-sharpened grungy effects. With both HDR Efex and ColorEfex, it pays to douse any sharpening that Lightroom/ACR has applied on import and take completely unsharpened files into the Nik products.


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