New 32 Bit HDR Software

Photo equipment and photo sofware reviews.

New 32 Bit HDR Software

Postby jamesfc on Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:56 am

just downloaded a 30 day trial of HDR Photostudio http://www.unifiedcolor.com/hdr_photostudio_featuresthat was recently recommended by Christian Bloch who wrote the HDRI Handbook (highly recommended). This program is like Photoshop on steroids! It can be slow as it is working entirely in 32 bit, but the results that I am seeing are well worth the wait! Very realistic final output and total control over nearly every aspect of your image. In addition, if you purchase Christian's book, you will receive a very hefty discount off the price of the program.

I'm going to continue to test the program and will post some results here!
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Re: New 32 Bit HDR Software

Postby jamesfc on Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:10 pm

Update -
The program works great, but does require a lot of horsepower in your computer since it is dealing internally with 32 bit files. However, it will allow a large amount of image manipulation and will still maintain color integrity. Quite amazing. One of the biggest issues with most HDR software is the halos that can occur in brighter areas next to darker areas - especially the sky. This is due to the algorithms used which is essentially a blurred mask. The edge of the mask causes the halos. This program has a fix built in that can limit or eliminate the halos. The final results are very natural and amazing! Of course, to get the most out of the program, you need to shoot two or more exposures and the more you cover the contrast range of the scene, the better.

Since this program doesn't do the standard tone mapping that PhotoMatix and other similiar programs use, there is a bit of a learning curve. Hopefully HDR PhotoStudio will come out with some better documentation!
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Re: New 32 Bit HDR Software

Postby jamesfc on Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:16 pm

Attempted an HDR last night with HDR PhotoStudio and the results were disappointing. I'm blaming myself at this point, not the program.

First of all, it successfully read my Canon 5D MK II RAW files, but the images were shot handheld. They lined up OK, but I got some really odd color fringing in some deep shadows on the right of the image that rendered it ususable. So, I put the images together in CS3 and saved that as an HDR EXR file and brought that back into PhotoStudio.

However, no matter what I did, the image remained very flat (low contrast), low color saturation, and just dull. I tweaked and even tried the automatic adjustment feature, but the image just looked bad. I tried to save it as a BEP file (their proprietary HDR format) and it failed, giving me some kind of cryptic error. I finally saved it as a TIFF file and please note - it uses an extension of .TIFF instead of .TIF and my computer did not recognize it as an image file.

I brought that into Photoshop, but finally gave up. I successfully processed the EXR file in Photomatix and was pleased with the results. I'll try again this weekend.
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Re: New 32 Bit HDR Software

Postby jamesfc on Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:55 pm

Ok, here's a better test. I took a series of 3 handheld RAW images I shot in Turkey of a beached boat.

exposures.jpg
Bracketed Exposures
exposures.jpg (39.76 KiB) Viewed 5661 times


To be fair, these were only about 1 EV apart, but it's good enough for a test! These were converted in Photoshop to TIF images without any RAW adjustments whatsoever. The TIF files were loaded into PhotoStudio.

First, I adjusted the image manually, and here is my result:

photostudio_boat_Jim.jpg
Jim's Manually adjusted image
photostudio_boat_Jim.jpg (73.12 KiB) Viewed 5661 times


Not bad! I was quite pleased! Note that the image was brought into Photoshop, changed to sRGB and reduced in size - no other adjustments were made.

Next, I clicked on the auto adjustment icon in the lower left to see what PhotoStudio would do on it's own and here is the result:

photostudio_boat_auto.jpg
Automatic adjustments
photostudio_boat_auto.jpg (69.83 KiB) Viewed 5661 times


There appears to be a lot more detail showing, but I'm not sure if I like the results. It appears to me to be too little contrast, but it might be a good start to begin manually adjusting!

Again, this was brought into Photoshop and only resized and converted to sRGB.

Finally, I decided to try the noise adjustment and had an unpleasant surprise. I pretty much used the default settings, and it took nearly 10 minutes on my laptop to finish. Unfortunately, here are the results:

photostudio_boat_noise.jpg
What the ???
photostudio_boat_noise.jpg (30.49 KiB) Viewed 5661 times


I have no explanation for the strange black out extending across the image. I tried an undo and redo, refresh, but the artifact remained. I'm going to send this to the folks at Unified Color and I'll let you know what they say!

UPDATE - 7/8/09 - I'm impressed with the quick and rapid response I've received from Unified Color. However, they have not been able to recreate this odd result and I have not been able to replicate it either. If anyone else happens to try the software and gets a similiar result, please save out the "recipe" (which is a complete history of actions/adjustments taken) and let me know and I will see the results get to them.
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Re: New 32 Bit HDR Software

Postby jamesfc on Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:19 am

Just received a reply from UnifedColor and I'm sending the original TIF files for them to test and will post an update once a solution or cause is discovered!
******************************
Jim Caldwell
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Florida Master Naturalist - Coastal Systems, Upland certified
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Re: New 32 Bit HDR Software

Postby jamesfc on Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:43 pm

jamesfc wrote:Just received a reply from UnifedColor and I'm sending the original TIF files for them to test and will post an update once a solution or cause is discovered!


Sadly neither Igor nor I was able to recreate this strange behavior, so it may have just been my system at the time.

Still, recommended software to look at it for you HDR junkies!!
******************************
Jim Caldwell
NANPA, NAPP, PSA, CNPA
Florida Master Naturalist - Coastal Systems, Upland certified
Forum moderator
******************************
User avatar
jamesfc
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Posts: 142
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:26 pm
Location: Florida


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