photomatix vs photoshop cs5(HDR Comparison)

By Gavin  Jun, 25, 2011   Posted in HDR Software

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photomatix vs photoshop cs5: can anyone advise.. Have Adobe, done enough in CS5? What advantages will I have.. if I buy photomatix ( which I think is excellent).. but I have tested either enough to be sure .. has anyone done any serious comparisons?

FAQ: I installed the 1 month free trial of CS5 extended yesterday and I have spend some time playing with the HDR part of it to see how well it works.
My experience so far is that Photomatix is what I will prefer to use, but its not all that useless, but as soon as I want to use the non presets the results are not usefull so its live or die with the presets I think…
Anyway some examples to come. I have made 2 in CS5 with the default preset and the more saturated preset and finally converted 1 Photomatix .tiff file to jpeg of the same pictures.
CS5 default.

FAQ: I have CS5, and have downloaded the trial of Photomatix Pro, when you go onto the Photomatix website, there is are comparison shots between cs5 and photomatix… I came away unsure.. I have spent tonight.. seeing what results I can get from CS5. Its seems to have alot of options available.. whereas.. I got a good and easy result in Photomatix as well…

CS5 Local Adaptation – Default                   Photomatix Details Enhancer – Default

CS5 Local Adaptation – Photorealistic      Photomatix Exposure Fusion – Default

CS5 Local Adaptation – Surrealistic          Photomatix Details Enhancer – Grunge

A.The biggest improvement, that I can see at least, is CS5 eliminates the noise that Photomatix leaves in its pictures.
I have been using Photomatix for several years and I think I’ll stick with it.

B.Yes. CS5 has some great features like the ghost removing tool, and even CS4 did a better job of alignment than Photomatix, but there are several reasons why you just simply HAVE to have Photomatix.

While CS5 is better at alignment, it generally does not do so well at the merge to HDR process, and can produce erroneous colours and even banding! While CS5 is an improvement over CS4 regarding tonemapping, Photomatix is still well ahead in this respect.

There are workarounds where you can use CS4 to align the images, and then load them into Photomatix to take advantage of the strengths of both applications. I’ll see if I can work out a method to do the same with CS5.

photomatix vs photoshop cs5: Photomatix supports Exposure Fusion, and this is an essential tool for some scenes. As I mentioned in a recent thread, you can process the same bracketed shots with tone mapping and exposure fusion, and mask the best aspects of each image into one shot. Exposure fusion can sometimes produce far more photorealistic results under the right lighting conditions.

On the other hand, I can’t remember a single image processed with Photomatix that didn’t need further work with Photoshop to fix it up, so you need both applications. Photomatix represents a tiny additional cost after you have paid for CS5 as well, so it really is a no brainer.

C.CS5 is faster than Photomatix, and also seems to be better than Photomatix at removing ghosting. CS5 appears to give more naturalistic results overall. But sometimes CS5’s results seem a little too flat and dull compared to Photomatix.

D.I haven’t been using CS5 long enough to say for sure, but so far I like it a lot. The images seem more natural, and the ghosting controls are better. It’s a huge improvement over HDR in previous versions of Photoshop.

That said, my sense is that Photomatix is still a much more flexible program giving a greater variety of effects, both with tone mapping and exposure fusion.

I’ll probably continue using both applications depending on the effect I’m looking for.

photomatix vs photoshop cs5:

E.I’ve been getting much better results with CS5 since my post above. The secret seemed to be to bypass all those nasty presets and sliders, and use the Curves tab in HDR Pro. It lets you see what you are doing.

F.I just meant most of us do not understand algorithms and that most of us would be tempted to buy CS5 anyway even though it is not cheap:-)
and people always hope that the new version will be better than the one they have.

G.My thinking is Adobe put the tonemapping in only to stop people complaining about PS not having tonemapping, and I think the tonemapping they put in was subtle so that Photographers would say “Well they didn’t sell out to the extreme HDR crowd”.

Some will see it as Adobe moving with the times and others will see it as Adobe selling out, while the rest will say they didn’t go far enough.

I’ll tell you what though, if you do the style of HDR that this HDR Pro is designed to work with I think you will be well pleased with the results.

H.To generate a HDR image, you must:
a) capture HDR image;
b) compress dynamics;
c) strengthen the local contrast;

The first two tasks can be done very quickly. The third task requires the use of complex algorithms and large computing power. Currently you can not achieve this task well in hardware.

The third task is badly implemented by Adobe. Adobe has applied the algorithm similar to the Unsharp Mask, the most primitive as possible.

I.I have to say that I really like CS5’s HDR tool. It works a little differently than Photomatix and took a little fooling around to understand how the controls affect the image but I got better results on one scene with CS5 than I did with Photomatix. I need to work with it more but it looks very good so far. Could it be better? Sure and it will but I could say the same about any piece of software.

If you already own Photoshop and can upgrade, the inclusion of the Content Aware fill tool and a very much improved selection tool are worth the price of admission let alone a much improved HDR tool.

J.Pebal, I don’t agree with you that the production of an HDR image ‘requires’ the application of any degree of local contrast. Tone-mapping operators do but it’s not necessary at all. In fact IMHO the way that most TMOs add local contrast is distracting and makes the final image look fake, that’s why I don’t use them any more.

I don’t think you caught what I meant in my first post. What I was trying to say is that in the near future camera sensors are very likely to have DR sensitivity close to or + our eyes and thus there won’t be any need to use software to ‘generate’ HDR images. Let’s see what happens.

K.Well, not everyone is gonna run to the next store and buy a new DSLR for a 1000 bucks because their image sensors can capture a higher dynamic range. There will always be demand for a software application. People are generating HDRs from pictures they took with their phones.

And even if sensors get closer to the human eyes’ DR, with HDR you can even top that and get more DR in your image.

Camera manufacturers should just build in HDR-functionality that merges captures into one .hdr-file that you can than tonemap in PP with the software of your choice. There are cameras that already do TM in-camera but that takes the whole control and therefore the fun out of HDR shooting. My opinion.

L.There’s still the problem that the Merge to HDR doesn’t work on large images. I just tried it and got the same old

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which has been extant since CS3 at least


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