4 Arguments against Photomatrix HDR

After seeing that lots of people are impressed about the HDR concept, and the easiness of working with this software called Photomatrix, I decided to try it out. But I was disappointed. What Im about to say its just my opinion and many will probably not agree.

I noticed before that the manipulated photos coming from this software have a hallow around the objects, but now it is much clearer: The hallow appears in the “tone mapping” step of the image processing and it is greater as much as you push the Strength option to the right. By using the “Generate” + “Tone Mapping” like in the tutorial, I always came out with unrealistic images full of hallow (and I don’t think this effect is giving the picture dynamism).

Some people are over-fascinated by the HDR trend and use it even on normal pictures which don’t require it. Examples of this are the portraits (in normal lateral light). With Photomatrix, people with hallow around them have an unusual skin lightness and the picture itself looks more like a digital painting.

By the way, I also noticed that this software fills the resulting picture with noise, so, if after this you apply a strong noise filter, its no wonder that the image will look like a painting.

Even if the Photomatrix version I used is called “Pro”, there are still many mistakes in the HDR generation, mistakes that appear like strong white or back spots. I can only hope this will be fixed as soon as possible.

I think the “Combine” function of Photomatrix is ok. Its useful to use the Combine on:
• images taken at the time between night and day,
• images taken with different exposures in order to obtain a better sky,
• images taken against the light,
• images with different focusing points,
• images taken thru a gate or a cave with and without flash,
• as well as images of indoor architecture,
but its an aberration to use it on simple scenes that look just fine with no HDR.

Tags: HDR, Photomatrix, photoaxe, photo tips, tutorials



I started photography as a hobby in 2005, during college. My passion slowly became a more important part of my life since 2008. Because of using a combination of my photographic knowledge, with those of internet marketing, I like to call myself a "photomarketer".

9 thoughts on “4 Arguments against Photomatrix HDR

  1. Interesting. I for one think that there is too much focus on changing and modifying an image as compared to taking good snaps.

  2. this is so true.
    all of your arguments are right, i have a feeling of it too, but you can described it very well !

    nice article here. and i love all those samples you provided 🙂

  3. Lau, mersi pentru review. Este a doua oara cind vin la site-ul tau. Ma bucur sa vad o romanca cu un site bun despre fotografie, in engleza. Si pe deasupra si din Cluj, orasul unde am crescut. Succes in continuare!

  4. I agree entirely. When you see those hdr images with the halos it just looks pants! I like hdr when it is used to enhance the image where there are extremes of tonal range but when it is pushed so it looks like a scene from another world I don’t see the point.

  5. HDR is great – but to me Photomatrix is not more than just a fancy way of making your images less real, a tricky tool for all these blokes who are in love with Photoshop effects plugins.

    I think it went little bit too far from being an useful HDR combine tool to something gimmicky annoying.

    Good post! 🙂

  6. Good points. I think some people just get overzealous when they find something new (me included).

    There are times when HDR makes a photo look much better, but more often then not it’s just more about taking a good photo.

  7. I find the photo from digg it interesting. Almost looks like a bad burn and dodge job in the darkroom.
    I can not understand how that would happen with three controlled exposures of the same image.
    True, there is a place for HDR. I do not think of it as a gimmik, but more of a method to enhance your tonal range, up to you how you bracket.
    Since I have not even tried this yet, am excited to start.

  8. Much of the problems you speak of are due to extreme use of the tools in Photomatix. It’s easy to over-compress the image and get halos, just like in PS it’s easy to over-saturate or over-sharpen. Careful use of the tools will allow you to obtain better results.

    Noise in Photomatix is the result of not capturing the full dynamic range in your image set. When the full dynamic range is captured HDR offers the wonderful benefit of a noise free image – something you will never find in a single shot image where the dynamic range of the sensor is exceeded.

    The beauty of HDR is it’s able to capture the full dynamic range of the scene. What could be bad about that!! It’s not HDR that is unappealing to you – it’s the extreme tone mapping. It’s a matter of tone mapping with good judgement.

    I have some tutorials at http://www.beforethecoffee.com for more info on HDR.


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