Comparing the Best HDR Software
Aurora HDR vs Photomatix Pro, Which One is Better?
Both HDR (High Dynamic Range) Software are great! But which one is better? Let us do a test run and compare Aurora with Photomatix.
- merge and align your pictures
- and re-import the finished image back into Lightroom.
- Merge of bracketed exposures to HDR, tone mapping and exposure fusion
- Automatic Alignment of Hand-Held Photos
- Advanced Tools for Ghost Removal
- Batch Mode
- Plugin for Adobe Light room
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Test of Both Software Applications with Images
We have two images of Paris (taken from the Eiffel Tower). One is shot at ISO 640 (the bright one) and one at ISO 100 (the darker one).
We now want to combine those to images the get more range (keep the bright view of the buildings of Paris but also get the details of the sun and the clouds in the sky).
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Please note: The images were taken with an EOS 600D/T3i Rebel DSLR camera without a tripod.Hence, the HDR software needs to do some minor alignment of the pictures before merging them.
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Photomatix Pro 5.1.3
Let us start with the Photomatix Pro.
After selecting the two images in lightroom, we click FILE > EXPORT WITH PRESETS > PHOTOMATIX PRO.
The alignment and merger process is quite fast. It took around 20 seconds on an iMac (3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM). With 16GB RAM things would probably work faster.
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To see more details of the newly created HDR image, we click the “Loupe” sign, which lets us see the way image details get enhanced inside the selected area.
In the upper left corner, there are two process options: Tone Mapping and Exposure Fusion.
Tone Mapping gives as a better result (Exposure Fusion makes our test image look too grainy).
Below the Process Options we have four METHOD Options:
- With Photomatix, it is easy to go back to the default mode or undo previous adjustments.
- All the adjustments can be saved as a preset for later re-use.
- On the right side, you will find very nice built-in preset styles (36 in total).
Since we want to do a quick test edit for this blog post, we pick a Tone Compressor Preset (Deep) save and reimport the finished HDR image into Lightroom.
Here Is The Photomatix Pro 5 Result:
Aurora HDR 2017
Let us test Aurora HDR 2017 to see how it compares to Photomatix Pro.
Again, we select the same two images with different exposure in Lightroom, right click EXPORT > AURORA HDR > ORIGINAL IMAGES (You can also select the images with Lightroom adjustments if you have already done edits in Lightroom).
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Or alternative, even faster option: Select the images in Lightroom & DROP them in the AURORA 2017 App ICON on your Mac (AURORA needs to be open).
The process is very fast and smooth. Before merging the images, Aurora asks you these options:
Aurora HDR has a very intuitive and easy to use application interface.
On the bottom, you can find all the presets categorized by type of photography (over 70 pre-installed presets):
Special Effect Preset Packs
- Realistic HDR
- Trey Ratcliff Presets
- Captain Kimo
- Serge Ramelli
On the right, you will find plenty of tools available to do adjustments to your HDR photo.
Here is an overview of the tools you will have at your disposal (click on them to see the full list):
- HDR Look
- Smart Tone
- Color Temperature
- Color Contrast
- HDR Structure
- HDR Detail
- HDR Denoise
- Super Smooth
- Image Radiance
- Smart Colorize
- Polarizing Filter
- Details (Global | Highlights | Shadows)
- Top & Bottom Adjustment (Top | Bottom)
- Tone Curve (RGB | Red | Green | Blue)
- HSL (Hue | Saturation | Luminance)
- Color Toning (Highlights | Shadows)
- Inner Light
- Texture Map
See some of the new tools in action in this Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 video here:
For our test run, we chose the preset “ARCHITECTURE” > “STRONG HDR LOOK.”
Here is the AURORA HDR 2017 Result:
Then we made some more adjustments and played around with some of the tools, and this photo is the result:
Aurora HDR 2017 gets one’s creative juice flowing!
You don’t need to be a pro photographer. Anybody (total beginner to pro photographer) can use this software with ease and create amazingly looking pictures.
Our test images above may not be the best work done out there, but they are hundred times better compared to our original image! See how the original image compares to the Aurora HDR 2017 image:
- Photomatix is the go to software if you are a Windows user and if you don’t need too many presets, don’t want to be too creative or just need HDR for real estate photography (Photomatix has a special and lower priced version for real estate photos, see here).
- If you are a MAC user and love being artistic, want a great choice of (pre-installed) presets and editing functions, then AURORA HDR 2017 is for you (update: see our Aurora 2018 review) and we highly recommend you give it a (free) try!
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