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Author Topic: Holy Cow! NIK HDREfex Pro trial version  (Read 2687 times)
walter.sk
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« on: October 10, 2010, 08:01:53 PM »
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I have been using a variety of HDR programs:  Photomatix, Photoshop CS5's Merge to HDR Pro, and HDR Photostudio (now HDR Expose).  Each has its own strengths and foibles, and I've learned which images work best for me in which program.  I generally go for the most natural look.

I just downloaded the NIK HDR Efex Pro, trial version.  It rocks!  The first part, merging to an HDR 32-bit file, is automatic, with a few choices to make concerning ghost removal, alignment, etc.  When the Begin Tonemapping button is pushed, your image comes up as a very large preview, with some 34 or so presets on the left side that can act as starting points, with a wide range of HDR effects.  On the right side of the screen is a panel that looks very much like Viveza, with global sliders for exposure, contrast, structure, saturation, warmth, HDR method and HDR strength, among others.

There are also control points with the same sliders available, and they really work in selective parts of your image...the first I have seen in HDR programs with this available.  There are some other effects possible in the right hand panel including levels/curves and vignetting.  I haven't become familiar enough with all of the choices yet, so there may be more that I don't remember at this point.

The main things are:  1) After trying with image sequences that I had problems with using other programs, NIK seems to do at least as well in terms of artifacts and over all effect.  2) The adjustments are so intuitive (especially if you know Viveza or Silver Efex Pro) and locally controllable that my wallet is beginning to itch, badly!

Disclaimer:  I do not work for NIK, nor am I related to anybody that does.

Claimer:  I use several of the NIK programs and find them indispensable in my workflow.
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sniper
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 02:54:18 AM »
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I haven't had time to try it yet but it does look promising, and it's getting good reviews so far. 
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francois
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 05:10:40 AM »
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Thanks for the short report. I'll give NIK HDR Pro a try.
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Francois
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 06:32:33 AM »
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I have yet to see a sample from this application that looks natural.  Everything I've seen has an obvious HDR 'look'.  Is it possible to get a natural looking result with it?
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walter.sk
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 09:30:48 AM »
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I have yet to see a sample from this application that looks natural.  Everything I've seen has an obvious HDR 'look'.  Is it possible to get a natural looking result with it?
There are presets and settings that make the result look more natural, and you can tweak them to make the picture look so natural that most people would never know it was an HDR.  However, since the main goal is to show a higher dynamic range than one exposure can capture, and then map it down to 16 or 8 bits, there will always be the paradox of seeing detail in dark shadow areas as well as detail in highlight areas that in and of themselves could not occur in even the best-exposed single image.  Since we are not used to seeing that, there may be a basic unnatural look to the results.

Despite that, however, it is very possible to have what I consider a natural appearance to HDR images.  After a couple of days with NIK HDR Efex Pro, I will post an example here.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 11:22:58 AM »
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Here is 5-image sequence that I processed in the new Nik HDR Efex Pro program.  I'm not completely satisfied with it yet, but the HDR file was processed and saved as a Smart Object, so I can go back and tweak it.  One of my projects is doing twilight and evening landscapes capturing natural and artificial light.
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Philip Weber
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2010, 09:41:19 AM »
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I just downloaded it last night and only played with it for a few minutes but encountered the following issues:

1. It doesn't save the change/effect in a separate layer like Color/Silver Efex and Viveza do.

2. When I tried to save the changes ("save as" and just "save") I got a pop up box saying "program error and was stuck.

I'm running CS 5 (tried it on 64 and 32-bit) and my OS is Vista Ultimate. I did an uninstall and reinstall even though there were no problems during the installation but it still won't save.

It's probably something basic I'm not doing and again, I haven't had much time to play with it but it seemed odd as the rest of their programs have worked great.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Phil
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walter.sk
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2010, 03:16:39 PM »
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1. It doesn't save the change/effect in a separate layer like Color/Silver Efex and Viveza do.

2. When I tried to save the changes ("save as" and just "save") I got a pop up box saying "program error and was stuck.
When the HDR dialogue box comes up, check the box to ran it as a smart object.  Then, when you tonemap it, you will see the HDR settings on a separate layer, which you can save as a smart object and revisit when you reopen the file (32-bit file).

After you process the tone mapping, you will see two files on the CS5 workspace.  The one to the left will be your 32-bit file and the other will be your 16-bit or 8-bit file, and each can be saved separately.

I suggest that while you are in the Nik HDR window you click on "Help" (bottom left, if I remember correctly) and it will take you to an excellent series of tabbed pages on using the program.  One of the pages gives various ways to save your work, including one that goes through Photoshop's HDR Pro when you change mode from 32 bits to 16 or 8 bits.  It tells you what settings to use so that you do not actually change the file in HDR Pro, but just convert it to the lower bit-depth.

I hope this helps...
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 04:32:37 PM by walter.sk » Logged
Philip Weber
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2010, 03:42:47 PM »
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Thanks so much Walter and yes, that helps a great deal and will save me some time with inevitable trial and (mostly) errors!

I'll give the help files some time now that I know what I am looking for and get educated...from what little I could tell while playing with it, the program looked amazing.

All the best,
Phil

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