As promised, this post is a more in depth look at the changes up-coming in Lightroom version 4. The Beta has been out for about a month giving a lot of folks plenty of time to test and put it through it’s paces. Since this is a Beta version, there are likely to be some problems. Watching the forum, the major complaint right now is speed. It seems that this Beta version is very sluggish – surprise! What you have to remember is this a Beta software, meaning there is still a good portion of debug code in the software which will – you guessed it – slow it down!
Anyway, what I wanted to address in this post was changes specific to the develop module. Now the develop module is nothing new, but the new “Process 2012″ portion of the develop module causes some rather significant changes in the user interface of the develop module. Notably the sliders are all zeroed in the center and have a range from -100 to +100. This can take some time to get used to because for example, in LR3 the blacks slider ranged from 0 to 100 and increasing this slider would increase the amount of black clipping. In LR4, to increase the amount of black clipping you will move the slider to the left (to a negative number), to reduce the black clipping you will move the slider to the right (to a positive number). Small movements make a big difference as the sliders are sensitive. Another change in the adjustments is the Fill Light slider is gone, replaced by the Shadows slider which does a much better job of opening up the shadows in your images.
Another notable change is that for the adjustment brush and gradient tools (adjustment brush sliders shown here), all of the basic development module sliders are available with the addition of a few other sliders, including the noise sliders. What does this mean, well for starters it means that you can use the adjustment brush to change the white balance of only the portion of the image where the brush is applied. Additionally, you can apply area specific noise adjustments. For example, if you use the adjustment brush to open up the shadows in a specific portion of your image and find an increase in the noise in this same area, you can now adjust the noise along with the shadows adjustment to balance things out.
Need to warm up just a small portion of your image, now you can using the adjustment brush and the Temp and Tint sliders. Want to adjust the really dark areas of your image, apply an adjustment brush and use the shadows slider in combination with the other sliders to fine tune the look you want. The possibilities are endless.
The image at the beginning of this post was processed entirely in Lightroom 4 Beta 1. This new version of Lightroom gives a lot more control of specific parts of an image to the photographer, and is a welcome enhancement.
Photomatix Pro version 4 has been available for about a month now, and I’ve been using it since it was in beta. Yes, even the beta version with all it’s bugs and quirks was better than version 3, and I dare say better than most of the competitors products. I have looked at and used a few of the competitors products, but my preference is still Photomatix. It is hands down the best HDR tool available and is the choice for most professional photographers.
I have written a couple of tutorial/references for Photomatix version 3 which are available on this site…
Exposure Fusion in Photomatix – A Reference
Tone Mapping in Photomatix – A Reference
Most of what is written in these references is still valid and applicable to version 4 as the basic controls did not change. However, there are a few new features worthy of mention.
- Selective deghosting. ghosting occurs due to movement in the scene, either in the background such a leaves blowing in the wind, or in the scene itself such as people moving through the scene. In version 3, the automatic deghosting worked pretty well, but in some cases it would not remove all the ghosting from the scene. In version 4, the selective deghosting allows you to select the areas of concern and specify which image of the set to use for the deghosting. The results are well worth the upgrade. Oh, did I mention that the upgrade is free for owners of Photomatix Pro version 3! Well it is!
- Improved noise reduction. one of the facts of life in HDR Photography is noise. When combining multiple images together noise becomes a factor especially in the darker images. Photomatix version 4 now addresses the noise issue upfront by applying noise reduction technology to the source images so that the resultant image has less noise. Very cool when you think about the time savings realized.
- Thumbnail previews! this is one of my favorite additions to the new version. You can now scroll through the thumbnail previews and select the one that closely resembles the look you are after. It is then a short set of tweaking the settings for just the right look and your done. Also, if you create a preset and save it, Photomatix creates a thumbnail view of your preset for the next time you use the program. Very cool!
These are the most notable additions to the new version, but that is not all. There have also been some adjustments to existing functionality and additional improvements added. They even increased the speed which is a very big deal that we are all happy with. Creating HDR imagery takes time and any reduction in the time to create the image means more time available to shoot more images! Yea!
Here’s a basic summary of Photomatix Pro 4 features: Tone mapping and exposure fusion methods are now accessible from the same area allowing you to switch back and forth before deciding on which method is best for your image, there are two methods available for tone mapping and six methods for exposure blending, semi-manual or automatic deghosting, 16 bit support, tone mapping a single 8 bit image, alignment tool, batch processing, and full support for both Mac and Windows environments.
If you are contemplating HDR photography, or you are into HDR photography, I highly recommend getting Photomatix Pro version 4. If you are purchasing for the first time use code “HDRPhotoZone” to receive a 15% discount off the already amazing price of just $99. If you already have version 3, what are you waiting for? Here’s the link: Photomatix Pro 4
Oloneo Software released the first public beta of PhotoEngine HDR software today. On first look, this software is going to challenge the heavy weight contenders and carve out a sizeable chunk of the HDR pie. For those of you interested in doing HDR images, you should check out this new player. It comes in a nice user friendly package and is very easy and intuitive to use.
You can down load the beta one software here. Just be patient, the web site is a little slow to load due to the video embedded in the home page (bad web page design).
Processed entirely in PhotoEngine Beta 1 Software
The sofware touts a lot of features, most notably it’s speed and lack of halos (a common problem with HDR images – some haloing can be seen in the image above because I really pushed the detail in the image which causes a halo effect – if I were switch to advanced tone mapping I could control this somewhat, but for this image I stayed in the local tone mapping option). It comes right out of the starting blocks with raw image support for over 300 cameras including Adobe’s DNG format! It also sports real time non destructive editing – you see the changes as you are moving the sliders. This makes editing and fine tuning your image a snap! With the color editing tools and photo toning, I was able to take a raw image straight out of the camera into PhotoEngine, tweak it and adjust it to my liking and save it as a tiff image that didn’t require any additional post processing! Talk about a time saver, and this is beta one software! I can hardly wait for the release version and I’m hopeful they will address some of the features it is lacking, like ghosting removal, presets, and sharpening just to name a few.
Anyway, check it out for yourself. I’m pretty sure you’ll be blown away by what this software can do!