The best HDR software, like the best camera, depends on what you are looking to achieve.
Many people choose to use Photoshop, Lightroom or Photomatix Pro as they know it will produce the best results. However, there are lots of free and low cost alternatives and if you are looking for a quick and easy way to create HDR images then these may be worth a look.
As the name suggests, Lightroom is a powerful image editing and organizing tool. It is used for all kinds of image editing, from adjusting exposure to retouching images. Lightroom comes with a number of plugins, such as the popular Adobe Camera Raw which allows you to correct lens distortion, adjust white balance and exposure, add vignettes, color correction, and other editing techniques.
Lightroom is a good choice if you want to quickly create stunning panoramas, create HDR images or fine tune a scene that you photographed with a point and shoot camera. The interface is simple and intuitive to use and you can easily combine images to create HDR images and panoramas. The software allows you to export images in a number of formats including.psd,.jpg and.tif and if you are looking to create a panorama Lightroom has a number of tools to help you align and stitch together multiple exposures. Lightroom is compatible with all Apple Mac computers and PCs.
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Photoshop is one of the most popular professional software packages around. It can do many things that other editing software cannot, and can be used for more than just photo editing. Photoshop has a built in image editor, layer manager and batch processing tools.
Photoshop has several HDR and panorama tools. To create a seamless HDR image using Photoshop you will need to open several copies of the original image, make sure the background is not visible, and then merge the layers. This will allow you to blend the individual layers and remove any unwanted detail or noise.
Photoshop can be used to create HDR images but will take a bit longer than Lightroom. As with any program, it takes practice to master. If you are planning on creating a number of HDR images it would be worth investing in the full version. Photoshop does require a large amount of disk space. It will also work with any Apple Mac computer.
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Photomatix Pro, like Lightroom, is a multi-purpose software package. Its primary function is as a photo editor, but it also comes with a number of tools for creating panoramas.
Photomatix Pro is great for creating HDR images as it comes with a number of tools to help you merge exposures together. Photomatix Pro is free for personal use, but you can buy the professional edition, which includes extra features and the ability to create panoramas, for $59.95.
Photomatix Pro works well with Apple Mac computers and can also be used with Windows. It has a user friendly interface, making it easy to use, and although it is not as flexible as Photoshop, it will allow you to create a number of stunning images in a short period of time.
However, if you don’t want to spend the money, there are some excellent free alternatives. The best is the free open source program Gimp. It is simple to use and can be downloaded and run on a number of operating systems, including Mac OS, Linux and Windows.
The Gimp HDR tool is a useful free alternative to Photoshop. It requires a little bit of setup, but is easy to use. It is very similar to Photoshop and offers similar functionality. Gimp is free, open source and works across a number of platforms.