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Photomatix Pro User Manual Version 4.1

© 2011 HDRsoft. All rights reserved.

1 Taking Photos for HDR2
1.1 Setting up the Camera3
1.2 Selecting the Exposures3
1.3 Using Film-Based Cameras4
2 Loading and Pre-Processing Images5
2.1 Merging Bracketed Images5
2.1.1 Loading Bracketed Images5
2.1.2 General Pre-Processing Options7
2.1.3 Using the Selective Deghosting Tool8
2.1.4 Pre-Processing Options for RAW Files10
2.2 Working with Single Image Files1
2.2.1 Options for Single RAW Image Files1
3 Adjusting Images Using Tone Mapping or Exposure Fusion12
3.1 Image Adjustment Workflow12
3.2 Image Adjustment Windows13
3.2.1 Preview Window13
3.2.2 Preset Thumbnails Panel14
3.3 Tone Mapping Details Enhancer Settings15
3.4 Tone Mapping Tone Compressor Settings17
3.5 Exposure Fusion Adjust Settings18
3.6 Exposure Fusion Intensive Settings18
3.7 Replace Selection with Source19
3.7.1 Selecting the Area to be Replaced19
3.7.2 Fitting the Selection to the Area’s Edges20
3.7.3 Replacing the Selected Area21
4 Automating with Batch Processing2
4.1 Batch Processing Bracketed Photos2
4.1.1 Using Batch Processing2
4.1.2 Batch Processing Settings23
4.1.3 Batch Processing Subfolders24
4.1.4 Advanced Options24
4.2 Batch Processing Single Image Files25
5 Tips and Techniques26
5.1 Integrating Lightroom with Photomatix Pro26
5.2 Processing RAW files in Third-Party RAW Converters26
5.3 Dealing with Noise27
5.4 Photomatix Pro and Color Management27

Contents Photomatix Pro User Guide

Photomatix Pro User Guide1


Photomatix Pro works with photographs of the same scene taken under different exposure settings, often called “bracketed” images in reference to the auto-bracketing exposure functions available on many camera models. If you have not taken bracketed photos, you can start using Photomatix Pro with the sample images available from the download page of the Photomatix Pro website – http://www.hdrsoft.com. Use the information in Section 1, Taking Photos for HDR to try Photomatix with your own images.

This manual contains information about how to use Photomatix Pro to adjust images using different Tone Mapping or Exposure Fusion methods. All of the methods are accessed from one window within the application, making it easy to try different settings to achieve the results you want. Refer to Section 2, Loading and Pre-Processing Images and Section 3, Adjusting Images Using Tone Mapping or Exposure Fusion for detailed information about the different settings that are available.

Photomatix Pro User Guide2

1 Taking Photos for HDR

The shooting phase is essential for getting good results with Photomatix. To photograph a high contrast scene, you need to take several exposures in order to capture information in both the highlights and the shadows of the scene. The exposures taken must properly cover the dynamic range of the scene, especially the shadows.

The number of photos you need depends on the scene. It also depends on the Exposure Value (EV) spacing separating the photos. If you take them in one-EV steps (e.g., -1, 0, +1 EV), you will need more photos than if you take them in two-EV steps (e.g., -2, 0, +2 EV). We recommend shooting in two-EV steps whenever possible.

High contrast scenes can be grouped into roughly two types depending on their dynamic range:

• Medium dynamic range scene: Most landscapes and other types of outdoor scenes fall into this category. Three exposures taken in two-EV steps (i.e. –2, 0 +2 EV), or five exposures taken in one-EV steps, are usually sufficient for this type of scene.

• High dynamic range scene: A typical example is the interior of a room with a view outside the window on a sunny day. You need to take at least five exposures in two-EV steps (or nine exposures in one-EV steps) to capture this type of scene, but you may need more. Taking the exposures manually is recommended in these cases.

2 Three exposures of a medium dynamic range scene, taken in two-EV steps

The source photographs for HDR processing can be taken with digital or film-based cameras. The only requirement is that the exposure can be adjusted when taking pictures. If you use a film-based camera, you will need to scan the photographs into your computer before processing them (refer to Section 1.3).

Photomatix Pro User Guide3

DSLR cameras and some compact digital cameras offer Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB). This enables you to automatically take three or more exposures in a row; one at the proper exposure, one or more underexposed, and one or more overexposed. Follow these steps if your camera offers AEB mode:

• Select the Continuous shooting mode on the camera’s drive setting. Consult your camera manual for model-specific instructions for using this setting.

• Set the camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)

• If possible, use the camera’s self-timer setting, or a cable release to minimize camera shake.

• Set the exposure increment to +/- 2 for optimal exposure range. If your camera does not offer +/- 2 exposure increments, select the maximum possible. Consult the camera manual for model-specific instructions for choosing this setting.

1.2 Selecting the Exposures

To get good results with HDR processing, your capture sequence must include photos that correctly expose highlights and photos that correctly expose shadows. The latter is especially important to prevent noise from showing in the processed HDR image.

In the lightest photo of the sequence, the darkest shadows should be at least in the mid-tones. To check this, use your camera’s histogram preview in playback mode. In your most overexposed photo, the left part of the histogram should be empty until 1/3rd of the histogram’s width. If this is not the case, add one or more photos taken with longer exposure times. Another option is to re-shoot the exposure sequence with the normal exposure set one or more EVs higher if your most underexposed image in the exposure sequence was too dark. This is the case when the histogram of your darkest image is completely empty on the right half.

The number of exposures needed depends on the dynamic range of the scene, in addition to the exposure increment. For most outdoor scenes, three exposures taken at +/- 2 exposure increments is sufficient, provided the scene does not include the sun. However, for the interior of a room with a bright view out the window, you will need at least five images taken with an exposure increment of +/- 2, or nine images taken with an exposure increment of +/- 1.

In scenes with extreme differences between light and dark details, you should change the exposures manually to ensure you capture a wide enough range to cover your scene.


The continuous shooting mode may not always be the best strategy because camera shake may build up. It is recommended to use a method that ensures the least possible shake for each single shot, such as mirror lock-up functionality, if available.

1.1 Setting up the Camera

• Set your camera to Aperture priority (A setting) so only the shutter speed varies between the exposures.

• Select a low ISO, such as ISO 100 or lower.

• Turn off the flash. The flash may try to balance the exposure of all the images, when the goal is a range of exposures.

• Mount the camera on a tripod whenever possible. Even though Photomatix Pro offers automatic alignment of hand- held photos, using a tripod is always better. Canon Rebel XTi/400D LCD showing AEB with +/-2 increments selected

AEB settings on a Nikon D80 (3 shots with +/- 2EV)

Photomatix Pro User Guide4

1.3 Using Film-Based Cameras

• Follow the camera setup listed at the top of Section 1.1 and the tips on selecting exposures in Section 1.2. Keep in mind that you will not have the option of previewing the live histogram to determine your exposure range.

• Scan film or slides, not prints. Photo labs attempt to make the best print from each of your source images, and you will not achieve good results scanning these for HDR generation.

• Turn off your scanner’s auto-exposure options. This allows you to manually control the exposure.

• Make sure you select the Align images option in Photomatix Pro when combining your images.

Photomatix Pro User Guide5

2 Loading and Pre-Processing Images

This section describes how to load and merge bracketed image files of a scene taken under different exposure settings as well as how to load single images into Photomatix Pro.

2.1 Merging Bracketed Images

Photomatix Pro merges bracketed images that are in 8 bit or 16 bits/channel mode, as well as Camera RAW files.

Supported file types include JPEG, TIFF, PSD, DNG, and RAW files from many camera models. The list of supported camera models for RAW files changes frequently. You can check the the Photomatix Pro FAQ page on the HDRsoft website at http://www.hdrsoft.com/support/raw.html to determine whether or not your camera model is supported.

2.1.1 Loading Bracketed Images

To load bracketed image files, do one of the following: • Drag and drop the files into Photomatix Pro

• Use the Workflow Shortcuts area or the File menu to load the files

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