Quick Overview of Photomatix 4.1

The folks at HDRSoft released a new version of their HDR software recently. As a beta tester for the software I got to see some of the new features during development and there’s some really good stuff in this update.

The first thing that’s evident is the speed. The speed increase was introduced with v4.0 a few months ago. PM has never been sluggish but the uptick in the new version is certainly welcomed.

In v4.0 there was a new deghosting method introduced which allowed you to make a selection of the ghosted area that the software would then work on. I discussed it in my preview a little over a year ago.  At the time it didn’t work that well and it was brutally slow to process the deghosting.

Fast forward to v4.1 and the selective deghosting has been markedly improved.  You select an area of the image the same as you did before but you now have the choice of which source image to use for deghosting.  This is something that HDR Pro in PS CS5 included when it came out.  The selection process is the same as the previous version.  You use your mouse to draw a line around the area to be deghosted, right click and mark the area.  The software will automatically select one of the source images.  If you right click again on the selected area, you then have the option to choose one of the other images.  From a quick bit of testing, it seems that choosing the 0, -1 or perhaps -2 image would be the best bet.  Using one of the + images or a more underexposed image creates a less pleasing blend.

No Deghosting (click for larger version)

The image at the left is the tonemapped version created from 5 source images.  You can see the boat in the left of the shot is ghosted as it was moving during the capture of the source images.







Processing Options GUI (click for larger version)

To use the selective deghosting function, you need to select it when you’re loading the source images.  The screen capture at the left of the dialogue box shows which option to choose.









Source Option Selection (click for larger version)

The next image shows the selected area with the options open to choose the source image.









How well does it work?  Let’s see.


Deghosted Area (click for larger version)

This is an image captured using the Loupe feature in Photomatix of the ghosted area.  In general it works pretty well.  There’s a small area at the back of the boat where you can see the flag didn’t get deghosted.  That would be fairly easy to clean up in post-tonemap editing.










Selective Deghosting Comparison (click for larger version)

I decided to go back to the test image I used in the initial review to see how it would work on that set of images which has much more finely detailed ghosting in tree branches.  The results were definitely better than with the previous version of the selective deghosting.  Clearly the semi-manual deghosting process has been improved in the newest version of Photomatix and it’s been improved both from the standpoint of effectiveness and speed.






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