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Author Topic: Nik HDR EFEX PRO 2 image mismatch  (Read 3031 times)
Peterretep
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« on: September 29, 2012, 08:55:00 AM »
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I've started using Nik HDR EFEX PRO 2 as one of my tools in making the photos I want. However I've been having problems with it. The image in the adjustment window does not match the image once it is merged and transferred to Photoshop. The transferred image is lighter, lower in contrast and saturation. The monitor is the same for viewing both adjustment and transferred images. I asked about this with Nik tech support. Their response was, " In situations such as these we suggest resetting the Photoshop Preferences first. This will reset actions and some Photoshop setups, so we suggest saving those first if you have some that you do not want to lose. To reset the preferences:
 hold down Alt, Ctrl, and Shift keys (Mac: Command, Option, Shift) while starting up Photoshop. A dialog box will appear asking if you wish to delete the preferences/settings file. 

This should sort out the issue between 32 to 16 bit handling and processing of the image."

I followed their instructions but the problem remains unresolved. Does anyone have any suggestions for fixing this?

Thanks,

Peter
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Peterretep
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2012, 07:31:00 AM »
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It's been about 6 weeks since buying and installing Nik HDR EFEX PRO 2. Still no help offered from Nik other than what they said which I included in my original post here.
Since first asking this I have upgraded from CS5 to CS6. The discrepancy is much greater in CS6 to the point it is not useable. 

Anyone else experience the discrepancy between the photo in the adjustment window vs the output HDR photo? Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

Peter
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Peterretep
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 12:29:27 PM »
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Being that I posed the original question on September 29 and have not received a reply let me ask a different though related question to those using HDR EFEX PRO 2. Does your resulting hdr look exactly like the image you see in the adjustment window?

Thanks,

Peter
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Redcrown
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2012, 01:44:50 PM »
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Peter,

I think you are asking in the wrong forum. Apparently there are no NIK HDR users here. I did a brief search for you, and unfortunately I don't find many NIK HDR users anywhere. Very few posts on the 6 photography forums I use, not much in Google groups or Flickr either.

The response you received from NIK support to "reset your Photoshop preferences" is the typical answer from an untrained support rep who has reached the end of their script and does not have a clue.

Given your experience, I'd suggest it's time to cut your losses and move on to some other HDR program. Maybe you can get a refund from NIK. If they won't give it freely, you can try to file a protest with your credit card company.

Most of the HDR programs I have used have a problem with the active preview matching the true final result. Some are better than others, but none are perfect. That's because the HDR functions are quite complicated and time consuming, so the programs generate their previews from a small downsized version of the image. They don't actually process the true final image until you say you are done.

If you have not already done so, you should check out the HDR alternatives. The usual suspects are Photomatix, Oloneo Photo Engine, DynamicPhoto HDR, and SNS-HDR. At least these have a larger user base than NIK and thus more potential for user support. Each of these has a user forum somewhere with relatively good activity.

And with the release of CS6 (and LR4/ACR7) there is a new HDR process avaialble that shows good results. Since you converted to CS6, you have this HDR process avaialble to you. The old HDR Pro process in CS5 was a weak competitor, but in CS6/ACR7 the ability to process 32bit "merged" HDR files was added to camera raw.

So the new process involves using Photoshop's "Merge to HDR Pro" to create the 32 bit file, saving this file as a TIF, and then re-opening that TIF in ACR to do the "tonemapping" process. Using ACR to tonemap the 32 bit file is entirely different from (and far superior to) using the old "HDR Toning" feature of Photoshop.
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sniper
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2012, 02:28:50 PM »
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I did try it but had so many problems even getting it to work at all, I never spent that much time using it, I did noticed that the preview looks more "hdr" than the resulting image so it's not just you, but I've had the same "preview not matching output" with other Nik products so it seems to be the way they work on some computers.
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DaveJ
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2012, 07:34:49 PM »
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Peter,
I use HDR Efex Pro 2 and don't have the problem you describe. My preview looks identical to what I see when I open the file in CS5. I am running the software on a PC and using a profiled NEC PA241W monitor.
Dave Jolley
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leuallen
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2012, 08:05:09 PM »
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I have Nik HDR but seldom use it. I do a lot of sun in images and Nik gets rather funky around the sun. I use SNS HDR Pro which handles such conditions much more gracefully. Also have Photomatix, Oleano, and have tried CS6 32 bit generation with LR 4.2 tone mapping. They all lack compared to SNS, sometimes to the point of being unusable.

Larry
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Peterretep
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 07:13:29 AM »
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Redcrown, I also found a lack of shared information about NIK products on user forums, not sure if there is a better place to post than here.

I have Photomatix and have used it quite a few times. I occasionally use HDR programs as a tool to help achieve a natural looking photo in cases where there is extreme contrast in an architectural subject. Though it was difficult because of the difference in the final HDR compared to the adjustment window, I found that NIK generated a more natural looking photo. The ease of use was it's strong point. With Photomatix I have to open raw files and save them prior to using them. With Nik HDR I could just have the raw conversions open in PS, no need to name and save the files.

Yes, I've already requested a refund from NIK but have not had a response to that request  yet. Maybe their engineers are still working on my problem  Roll Eyes . while they're at it they should also work to improve their customer service.

Thanks, I'll try out the new HDR process in CS6, maybe it will do what I need.

Thanks too to DaveJ, Sniper and leuallen for your experience with Nik.
Dave, maybe this is more of a problem on Macs. I'm using the same NEC monitor as you and view both the adjustment window image and final on the NEC.

Peter
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Redcrown
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2012, 01:37:26 PM »
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Peter, good luck with NIK refunds. A couple more comments.

There has been a long standing debate about the pros and cons of feeding RAW files directly to HDR progams vs. converting those RAW files to TIF with a dedicated RAW converter and then feeding the resulting TIFs to the HDR program. I'm on the side of converting first and feeding converted TIFs to HDR programs.

All the HDR programs, like Photomatix and NIK, use a freeware called DCRAW to convert raw files. None of the HDR programs work directly on the original RAW data. The DCRAW program is a decent raw converter, but it does not compete well with others like LR/ACR. Most importantly, DCRAW, when imbedded in an HDR program, does not allow you to apply noise reduction, capture sharpening, white balance, lens corrections, CA removal, or camera profiles. Even if you set those adjustments using LR or ACR, they are ignored by DCRAW.

The "new" process using Photoshop+ACR does process raw files, and honors all those key settings. In fact, the Merge to HDR Pro function works best using RAW files, and works rather poorly using converted TIFs. However, it ignores all ACR tone controls - exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, blacks, whites, etc. That makes sense because adjusting tones is what HDR is all about, so pre-adjusting tone is kind of counter productive.

I find the Photoshop+ACR approach to HDR greates good "natural" results. It's actually incapable of creating the bizzare, "over-the-top" results that come out of many HDR programs. The tonemapping controls in ACR, mostly Exposure, Highlights, and Shadows, simply won't go far enough to create garbage. However, after much experimenting I still find myself using HDR programs instead.

I use Oloneo, DynamicPhoto, and SNS. I still have Photomatix, but gave up on it long ago. Oloneo wins about 80% of the time. I feel DynamicPhoto does a slightly better job on cloudy skies, but at the same time DynamicPhoto tends to make mush out of midtones in trees, grass, bushes. OloNeo does not tame highlights as well as others, leaving some areas too hot. SNS is confusing. Sometimes it creates beautiful, superior results, sometimes not. But it's default settings are usually very close to perfect, requiring no further adjustment. SNS increases noise more than the others, including the potential for introducing a strange cross-hatch pattern in skies. But only when there is noise in the originals. If I apply good noise reduction both before and after SNS processing, results are OK. SNS is particularly good at tonemapping single exposures (as opposed to bracketed sets).
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Redcrown
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 01:40:21 PM »
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Forgot to include this, a good video demo of the Photoshop+LR/ACR approach.

https://plus.google.com/101396087935203987162/posts/13sUxDXphkw
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DaveJ
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 06:04:48 PM »
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All the HDR programs, like Photomatix and NIK, use a freeware called DCRAW to convert raw files. None of the HDR programs work directly on the original RAW data. The DCRAW program is a decent raw converter, but it does not compete well with others like LR/ACR. Most importantly, DCRAW, when imbedded in an HDR program, does not allow you to apply noise reduction, capture sharpening, white balance, lens corrections, CA removal, or camera profiles. Even if you set those adjustments using LR or ACR, they are ignored by DCRAW.

This is not correct in regard to NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. If you import a RAW file from Bridge or Photoshop, images are processed to TIFF using the ACR develop settings, they are not ignored.

Dave Jolley
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matt4626
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2012, 03:16:57 PM »
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I'm also using HDR Pro 2 and preview and output match. I've found nik customer service to be very helpful FYI.
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