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Outback Photo Handbook: HDR and Tonemapping

The Art of HDR Photography: HDR Express Preview

Preview by Uwe Steinmueller


Unified Color is busy this year getting new (and we have to say improved) products into the market. This is a preview based on a beta version we got (Final Review can be found here).

The ideas behind the latest product HDR Express are:

  • Simplify the HDR tone-mapping
  • Improve some algorithms
  • Perform all halo removal without any user interventions
  • Speed up the process

HDR Express

HDR Express shows only a few options:

HDR Express Sliders

The first 3 options control the tone-mapping:

  • Brightness: Controls what is otherwise called Exposure (and avoiding color shifts at the same time)
  • Highlights: Compresses the highlight range to avoid clipping.
  • Shadows: Compresses the shadow range to avoid clipping.

The other 4 options allow to fine tune the tone-mapped result:

  • Black Point: Allows to set the proper black definition.
  • Contrast: Tunes the local contrast. Higher values can create some nice "grunge" effect.
  • Saturation: Like other saturation tools. We would like to see the more flexible option from HDR Expose.
  • White Balance: Nice to be able to control the warmth and tint

We tried HDR Express on a few images and were quite pleased. The above image is a harder test case than you may expect. HDR Express performed very well (among the best we have seen) and this with a few slider corrections.

First Conclusion

We consider HDR Express a very interesting product. HDR Express provides great tone-mapping quality (based on our style of HDR photography) combined with good usability and speed.

We will follow HDR Express more closely once it is released.




Save on HDR Tools

Besides of course Photoshop CS5 these are our core HDR Tools we use.

You get 15% off all Nik Software photographic filters (excluding upgrades and bundles). Be sure to use code OUTBACK when checking out to receive your discount.

Photomatix is our core HDR tool. Use coupon code DOPphotomatix for your 15% discount.

Read more here.

You get a 20% discount through this link unless a better promotion is in effect. You support DOP using this link.





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