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HDR without a tripod: Photoshop vs Photoshop+Photomatix Pro 4 vs Photomatix Pro 4

I was challenged by interesting question from Google+ discussion: what post processing is preferred if you are shooting a multiple exposure HDR without a tripod. I’ve tested 3 methods:

1. Align and Merge to HDR image in Photoshop

2. Stack and align bracketed exposures in Photoshop and then assemble HDR image in Photomatix Pro 4

3. Align and process HDR in Photomatix Pro 4


All 3 ways have advantages and disadvantages. I’ll show you 100% fragments, and you will make your own decision on what is the best and where.
My preference will depend from time I have for processing each image. For perfect result, I think, we need to combine all 3 methods and using masking in Photoshop to use only the best parts from each image. The fastest way for creating handheld HDR is Photomatix Pro 4, but we will get little bit blurred image with lost some details.

I found that the optimum method for me is to use Photoshop for aligning only and process HDR file in Photomatix Pro 4. Alternatively, Photomatix plugin for Photoshop can be used, I believe it gives the same result.

Now, the test results:

This is the test image without any post HDR ajustments and corrections with saved as much details as possible:

Test HDR image
Test HDR image

First image processed in Photoshop without sharpening or other adjustments, second image aligned in Photoshop and assembled in Photomatix Pro 4, and third HDR was created in Photomatix Pro 4 entirely.

HDR test: Photoshop vs Photomatix Pro 4
HDR test: Photoshop vs Photomatix Pro 4

Handheld HDR test
Handheld HDR test

High Dynamic Range photography test
High Dynamic Range photography test

HDR  Phoroshop Photomatix PRO 4
HDR Phoroshop Photomatix PRO 4

HDR photography test
HDR photography test

The winner method for me is Photoshop plus Photomatix Pro 4.

What do you think?

Thank you for looking. Any feedback and suggestions are very welcome!
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2 responses on "HDR without a tripod: Photoshop vs Photoshop+Photomatix Pro 4 vs Photomatix Pro 4"

  1. i think ps+pm4 is bettet
    u can do every thing with Ps then , add photos to pm4 to make HDR

  2. Great stuff, I hate to admit it but I shoot some HDR handheld, and Photomatix does a good job putting them together.

    Here is an example of one I shot the other weekend.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/7880344726

    Dave

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