Hi-Tech Studio: HDR Software

Everimaging HDR Darkroom 3

Everimaging HDR Darkroom 3 uses an intuitive interface to give you control over 30 parameters for local and global tone mapping, including lens correction for chromatic aberration, curve adjustments, color temperatures and full color space management along with highlight/shadow adjustment and noise reduction. The software handles alignment and ghost reduction as images are imported, and you can batch-process RAW files. A nice feature for social-media enthusiasts is the ability to upload finished images directly to your social media of choice. The amount of custom control is particularly nice for users who have previous HDR experience. List Price: $89. www.everimaging.com

HDRsoft Photomatix Pro 5

If there’s a program that most people would associate with starting the HDR imagery trend, it’s Photomatix from HDRsoft. Photomatix has been the go-to software for leading-edge HDR artists and enthusiasts for years, and the company has continued to improve and refine the features over that time. Available as stand-alone software or as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture, Photomatix Pro 4 merges multiple images and gives you the ability to batch-process. Auto alignment and selective deghosting make merging of handheld bracketed photos relatively fast and easy. Photomatix also features noise reduction and chromatic aberration (color fringing) reduction, and final adjustments of sharpening and contrast. List Price: $99. hdrsoft.com

Topaz Adjust is another popular software package with a dedicated following among HDR enthusiasts of all different skill levels. It tone-maps a single image instead of merging multiple frames at varying exposures. Using Intelligent Detail Enhancement, the software enhances textures and details while minimizing noise. Adaptive Exposure adds contrast to different areas of the image, depending on the area’s tonality. Adaptive Color analyzes the entire image to determine color saturation. You have control over colors, curves, details, noise reduction and exposure, as well as local adjustments for dodging and burning. List Price: $49. www.topazlabs.com

HDR Efex Pro from Nik Software (now the Nik Collection, after Google’s acquisition of the company) integrates with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Elements. It can merge multiple images or tone-map a single frame. Nik Software has a reputation for designing interfaces that are intuitive for photographers and for integrating plenty of presets to get you started. HDR Efex Pro carries on that tradition. You can generate images from natural to more "artistic" with the software’s one-click presets, or you can customize an image using Nik U Point technology. List Price: $149 (full Nik Collection). www.google.com/nikcollection

If you want to give open-source software a try, Luminance HDR is free software for Linux, Windows and iOS machines. Like all open-source software, the engineers rely on feedback from users to make improvements and add features to the software. This gives you a chance to be part of the creative team, in a way. Software updates are shared within the community. Luminance HDR is a fairly basic package. It merges RAW files, plus allows tone mapping, rotating, sizing and cropping. qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net

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