HDR Batch Battle – Photomatix V Oloneo
What is HDR….
Love it or hate it, or have no idea what it is, HDR is a great solution to difficult exposure conditions, where the bright and dark areas of the shot are so contrasting, your camera just can’t capture it all in one shot. So we take a few shots at different exposures (brightness), often 3 shots, then “blend” them using software.
Blending one set by one is time consuming – so many programs have now embraced “batch processing”. You tell the program process your “sets” of photos, producing blended photos whilst you have a well earned coffee… which is a good thing!
You need to give the program some “settings” to work with – these usually come in the form of “presets”, which are “out of the box” or which you create yourself – usually using one of the shots from the shoot.
Then you apply your new preset to the rest of the HDR photos. This is really where the magic happens – if you get the preset right, then the batch will look good – and vice versa of course!
This is arguably the industry standard, most McFade HDR shots will have used this since 2007 when it first started to become popular.
This has an extremely comprehensive Batch engine – allowing all manor of options. We’ve taught this to many people and its transformed their workflow.
Oloneo Photo Engine
This software is a newer player, many people using the BETA test version got hooked by its quick, intuitive interface. Since BETA it has matured into a fine piece of sofware, and importantly for the busy professional, it has batch processing.
Like Photomatix, you feed it a folder name, some settings (a preset you have created – or one that comes “out of the box”) and it pumps out the blended shots.
So we’ve run the batch on a set from Harrogate in North Yorkshire, 315 frames blended into 105 images.
In both cases, one image was blended to look as natural as possible, then the settings saved away. Then Batch fired up and those setting applied across the 315 files
So here is the pump house.
The sun was bursting through the clouds, so the stone was lit nicely yet teh cloud in the background remained dramatic.
The first one is Oloneo, which is significantly darker, obviously entirely due to the preset used. The car on the left is more pronounced than the Photomatix version.
The Royal Hall
Again we see 2 reasonably naturally processed images – the sky is a bit more dramatic on Oloneo. The mid-tones are again brighter on Photomatix, down to the preset.
Prince Albert Row
Here’s a tricky one – shooting into the bright sky, with a darker are under the arcade. The dynamic range is pretty high.
Oloneo seems to have held detail in far more areas, the sky & the glass roof have more interest. Conversely, the arcade looks brighter and more inviting in the Photomatix version.
Looking at these 3 shows that both programs do a good job in Batch Mode. The main difference seems to be the colour temp (oloneo are cooler) and highlight retention – more detail in the Oloneo shots.
This is entirely down to the preset you choose to apply – so I’d hazzard to say that this is the main factor. Can you get the right preset for each occasion?
Choosing the right photos to blend in the first place is key – pick a set which is pretty typical for the shoot and get that just right, maybe play on the safe side with White/Black clipping, and your results will improve. You can always pop the resultant blended shots into Lightroom and boost contrast.
So both seem to work well in Harrogate… just need to test Oloneo on a few future shoots.