A multi-processor comparison
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Old 04-18-2015   #1
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Default A multi-processor comparison

Introduction and Background

If all you want is to look at the results of this review of HDR software, please skip to the next post in this thread.

Within the last year there have bee comparative tests between pairs of HDR applications on this board but not, as far as I can remember, a side by side tests of all the most commonly used processors. Comparative tests abound on the Internet but the reader can never be sure how much parameter adjustment has taken place before the results and opinions have been published. In this test, the common ground rules are fully described. In all the tests it is assumed that the software writers have chosen the optimum settings for an "average" image for their default presets. So, in all the examples below, "Default" or "Balanced" presets have been chosen for each app. The results are displayed in two styles, (1) no post processing at al. A histogram from Adobe Camera Raw is also shown as it gives a good idea of the tonal range. (2) with minor adjustment where necessary. N.B. The images posted below can probably be improved by slider adjustment during processing. This is not disputed but using prests and very limited post processing is the only way of giving the tests an equal footing.

What is meant by minor post processing adjustment? It has been limited to adjustment of Levels - commonly the white point. Auto-Levels has not been used as it is sometimes too aggressive.


Sometimes, Curves have been adjusted to improve clarity and/or contrast - but never more than this:


After resizing to 1024 pixels wide, all images bar one, were very mildly sharpened using Topaz Infocus before posting.

The Image sets
Two sets of images from previous HDR Practice posts have been used. (1) HDR Practice #103, Elvet Bridge by woollyback is a 3-image set. It's a back-to-the-light shot with even lighting except for deep shadows under the arches. The bridge itself is built with the local Caboniferous sandstone and, though stained, does not have any reddish hues. (2) HDR Challenge #50, Myrtle Beach Pier by KU is a 6-image set; a sunset with bright highlights and deep shadows under the pier. The complex wooden supports against a pale blue sky is a good test for halos.

The Software
The following applications were used:
EasyHDR 3.5.1 (Jan 2015)
Lightroom 6 (Apr 2015)
Nik Efex HDR 2 (Jun 2012). Old but widely used.
Photomatix 5 (Dec 2014)
Photoshop CS6 (May 2012)
SNS-HDR 1.4 (Jul 2012)
SNS-HDR 1.x beta (Jan 2015)

Reasons for not using some other tonemapping software are shown below.
Unified Color HDR Expose 3, July 2013. (Having run trial version previously, a second trial was not possible BTW, it could not align my hand-held image sets.)
Oloneo Photo Engine v.1.1 July 2011 (Old software, not widely used.)
Machinery HDR Effects 2 v.2.9.52, March 2015 (Having run trial version previously, a second trial was not possible)

Please note, this thread is not another practice session for HDR Camels. If you want to post your own results, please do so in the original practice threads.

Martin

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Last edited by Stiga; 05-10-2015 at 06:46 AM.. Reason: Additional info
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Old 04-18-2015   #2
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

#103 - Elvet Bridge


0EV image

EasyHDR 3.5.1



No PP . Processing time 2:58


PP version

nik Efes HDR Pro 2



No PP


PP version

Photomatix 5

Using Contrast Optimizer:




Processing time 1:48


PP Version - including micro-contrast when shapening

Using Details Enhancer



No PP - processing time 1:48


PP version - including strong micro-contrast sharpening

Photoshop CS6



No PP, processing time 1:25




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Old 04-18-2015   #3
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

#103 - Elvet Bridge (continued)

SNS-HDR 1.42



No PP, Processing time 3:54


PP version

SNS-HDR 1.x beta


No PP - processing time 2:35

The last image was deemed perfect and no post processing was attempted.
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Old 04-18-2015   #4
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach


0EV

EasyHDR



No PP, processing time 2:17


PP Version.

nik Efex HDR Pro 2 (Balanced Preset)




No PP, processing time 1:40


PP version

Photomatix 5

Contract Optimizer version



No PP, Processing time 1:35


PP version including micro-contrast sharpening

Details Enhancer method



No PP, Processing time 1:35


PP version including strong micro-contrast sharpening.

Photoshop CS6




No PP, Procesing time 1:30


PP version
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Old 04-18-2015   #5
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach (Continued)

SNS-HDR 1.42




No PP, processing time 3:54



SNS-HDR 1.x beta



No PP, processing time: 2:35


PP Version
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Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.

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Old 04-18-2015   #6
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

Wow Martin, this is a monumental effort. And you have all those programs to boot!!

I am biased towards SNS HDR 1.x because thats what I use. It handles skys best, lower halos and with the presets I have developed I can get an image that only needs a bit of saturation and sharpening. I prefer to keep my presets at lower saturation because its easy to add but nearly impossible to delete. If only I could choose which image to use for motion it would be perfect.

But my bias like most peoples revolves around my final judgement about contrast, saturation, clarity and darkness. I tend to like more of the above than many do. Low key is not my style.

Thanks for the work.
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Old 04-18-2015   #7
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

Thanks Ben. It was a bit of a marathon.

Perhaps I should have added comments but hopefully they will emerge as this thread develops.

My first main comment is that evenly lit subjects are not really suitable for testing HDR applications. If only one thing emerges in this thread it is that these tests have sorted the men from the boys when comes to shooting into the sun. SNS-HDR and Photomatix both performed well with KU's Myrtyl Bridge Pier set. The other processors were bad or mediocre! Having said that, however, Photomatix 5 is still prone to halos despite the upgrade in December 2014

Martin
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Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.

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Old 04-18-2015   #8
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

I am shooting all my stuff for HDR now. Even well lit stuff. The camera still only has limited DR and HDR adds the extra stops in ways that are hard to get with other blending or pushing methods.

For example my recent "Late snowfall" was a cinch for one shot, even my brightest had nothing blown. But the other shots added drama and detail that was missing and would have been hard to do with layer blends.

I should do a before and after on that thread, but I have a problem with 7-8 page threads.
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Old 04-18-2015   #9
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

Hi Martin,

This is a good image for testing the algorithms.

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Old 04-18-2015   #10
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Default Re: A multi-processor comparison

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pebal View Post
Hi Martin,

This is a good image for testing the algorithms.
It is, Sebastioan. Are you still writing new algorithms? SNS-HDR 1.x is near perfect for me

Martin


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Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.

Software: Too numerous to list but my most used utility is ShiftN for perspective correction

Gear: Canon G12, no tripod, no lenses, no flash, no remote, no cases or bags!


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