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RetouchPRO LIVE "ETTR, HDR and Exposure Blending"

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Old 09-20-2011, 11:38 AM
mistermonday's Avatar
mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: RetouchPRO LIVE "ETTR, HDR and Exposure Blendi

Much of the magic in HDR s/w takes place during the merge of the source images into a 32 bit working file. Any artifacts or color distortion which occur during that process usuallly make or break the image because the damage is difficult or impossible to fix despite all of the sliders, curves, bells & whistles in the tone mapper, fuser, or compressor. The tone mapping process usually amplifies the problems significantly. Every HDR s/w developer uses a different set of algorithms to effect the merge. Some compromise decisions are made. Clearly the results are between the various programs are quite different.
Attached are some sample extracts. For reference there is a base image which represents a crop from the ev0 exposure of a bracketed set.
The samples are a zoomed in section of the merged source files of the various programs. In all cases, Alignment, DeGhosting, Noise Reduction, Chromatic Aberation, Sharpening, were all turned OFF. There were no adjustments of any sliders.
- PSCS5 was the worst of all and this is consistent with most reviews of CS5's merge to hdr capabilities compared to other dedicated products. I see lots of color artifacts all over.
- Nik HDR Efex Pro is a pretty close 2nd to CS5. It has real problems on high contrast edges, is over sensitive to blue casts, creates strange micro-halos that resemble amboeba in a petri dish. Strong color distortion in spots.
- Photomatix is generally better but in high contrast spots it inserts black pixels beside where white ones exist, almost as if it is trying to use dithering to create a something that will look gray / neutral to the eye.
- Oloneo produced the least color distortion by far. Where it needed to combine bright highs and dark lows, it appears to have inserted actual gray pixels.
While there are no so many HDR apps on the market many of them are competing on the aestethics of interfaces a catalog of snazzy presets, but there is still some black art that goes into the real differentiation.
Regards, Murray
Attached Images
File Type: jpg PSCS5.jpg (181.9 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg Nik Efex.jpg (179.0 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg Photomatix.jpg (151.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg OLE.jpg (131.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg Base Image 33.jpg (172.3 KB, 5 views)

Last edited by mistermonday; 09-20-2011 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:30 PM
andrewrodney's Avatar
andrewrodney andrewrodney is offline
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Re: RetouchPRO LIVE "ETTR, HDR and Exposure Blendi

Did get a reply from Nik support. While they are not saying it specifically this is a bug. They wrote:

I am referring to noise reduction within the HDR Software itself, not within the Raw conversion through ACR. The pixelation is not being created within the raw conversion, it is being created in the HDR process where HDR Efex Pro is trying to add detail where no detail was captured in the exposure.

Again, the best way to avoid this issue would be to increase your exposure bracketing range to capture the information and detail in the shadow area.
None of the other four products produced these artifacts with the bracket I used, perhaps the Nik software is very sensitive to this. I think they need to work on the engineering here. Too bad, I really like the GUI, controls and, expect for really ugly pixilation, the results. Maybe the next dot release....
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