Photomatix Pro is giving photographers more tools for realistic HDR

High dynamic range photography is a popular technique for capturing a wider range of light and detail, but critics say HDR is too easy to overdo, resulting in an unrealistic photo. The dedicated HDR program Photomatix Pro is helping photographers achieve both a realistic look and a wider range of light with a set of new tools in the latest software update.

Developer HDRsoft recently launched Photomatix Pro 6, the latest edition of the software designed specifically for the HDR technique. The new update includes a number of new tools, with several geared toward getting a more natural result.

The latest version gains a new rendering method called Tone Balancer, which the company says adds more presets for getting realistic results. The new render style is ideal for real estate and natural landscapes, HDRSoft says.

Users gain more than just a new render mode for capturing that wider light range without overdoing it. The updated program now allows photographers to blend the original photo with the edited HDR shot. The feature can be used to bring a sense of realism back into the entire photo, or to allow photographers to selectively paint over which areas to merge with the original.

An interactive brush tool is also joining the platform, allowing photographers to adjust the saturation, hue, and brightness of only part of the image at once. HDRSoft says the feature is helpful for removing color casts, as well as creative uses like enhancing the sky.

The latest version also brings perspective distortion tools. The new distortion correction tool allows photographers to straighten photos when lines appear to bend because of wide angle lenses or other distortions. The change brings more features to the HDR program so photographers don’t have to open a separate photo editor to fix distortion.

The update also brings a more intuitive, guided workflow.

“What’s unique about Photomatix Pro is the full range of styles it offers to render HDR photos, and version six makes this even better,” Geraldine Joffre, HDRsoft managing director, said in a press release. “Unlike other apps which rely on one HDR rendering algorithm, Photomatix comes with several. Each algorithm can give an entirely different look with enhancing tones and details or fusing multiple exposures together. Photographers will find it useful to have several alternatives for processing HDR photos as things change with different subjects or lighting conditions.”

The program can be used as a stand-alone app or as a Lightroom plug-in. For new users, the program retails for $99, while Photomatix Pro 5 users get a free upgrade and photographers with earlier versions can upgrade for $29.

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