Trying Out Nik HDR Efex Pro

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6866574467/in/photostream

Kauai Coastline (Nik HDR Efex Pro) 17mm, f/22, 7 exposures, ISO 400

I recently downloaded a trial version of Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro.  I’d been semi-disappointed in many HDRs I’d created in Photomatix and had heard many people say they’d made the switch to Nik.  If you’re hoping for a complete review of Nik HDR Efex Pro I apologize in advance — I’m only going to give some impressions here.

First, a bit on Photomatix.  It’s great software in many ways and I’ve used it to make many cool (IMO) images.  However, in many of my HDRs of late I’ve ended up doing so much masking in Photoshop after tone mapping in Photomatix that I’m practically producing a composite of the original exposures.  Photomatix often doesn’t handle motion to my liking — leaving way too much work to do afterwards.  I’ll readily admit that it could be the user — I’m no wizard with Photomatix.  It could also be that I’m getting pickier as time goes on.  On the plus side, I find Photomatix to be much faster than Nik but I don’t process all that many HDRs so that’s not a huge factor.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6866428629/in/photostream

Pictures in Glass 24mm, f/2.8, 3 exposures, ISO 100

I used Nik HDR Efex Pro to process all but one of the images in this post.  For my own comparison purposes I processed another Hawaii coast photo — similar to the one at the top of this post — with Photomatix.  It’s not completely apples-to-apples since I didn’t process the *same* photo but I ended up having to spend a ton of time in Photoshop fixing up the Photomatix image (basically ending up with a composite as I mentioned above).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6866594001/in/photostream/

Horse 30mm, f/11, 6 exposures, ISO 100

As for the mechanics of using Nik HDR Efex Pro, it’s quite simple.  In each of the images (5-ish?) that I’ve processed with it I’ve started out with a preset and tweaked from there.  Of course I’m still learning all the sliders, etc. but I’m happy with it so far.  I find the “control point” concept useful (it defines circles in which you can separately tweak portions of the image) but I would prefer that it worked more like the adjustment brush in Lightroom where you can choose exactly where the effects are applied.  The final images here aren’t completely to my liking (some spots would get fixed if I were to spend more time on the images) but are illustrative enough for this post.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6866431907/in/photostream/

28mm, f/14, 7 exposures, ISO 400

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6866568557/in/photostream/

Kauai Coastline (Photomatix "composite") 17mm, f/22, 7 exposures, ISO 200

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4 responses

  1. Sweet shots Michael, I still like my Photomatix maybe some day I will venture out of the Photomatix world

    February 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

    • Don’t give up Photomatix yet 🙂 It’s still better in some cases!

      February 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm

  2. I was a long time Nik HDR user before Photomatix. It’s my opinion that Nik grants a bit more control, especially with being about to use the control point an tone curve. But it is saps some serious resources and would get laggy on me. It’s a strong competitor though, and I believe is a tad underrated.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    • Yes, I’m liking Nik and went ahead and purchased it. I still have found cases where Photomatix excels with respect to the final result but I too like the control points. I haven’t done actual measurements but I agree — Nik is SLOW and can really tank my laptop for a while (not so bad on my iMac though).

      February 22, 2012 at 12:16 am

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