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Features Comparison
  Photomatix Pro Photomatix Essentials Aperture Plugin Photoshop Plugin Merge to 32-bit HDR Plugin
Merge bracketed photos to HDR Yes Yes Yes No (*) Yes
Tone Mapping with Details Enhancer Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Advanced Details Enhancer settings Yes No Yes Yes No
Tone Mapping with Contrast Optimizer Yes No No No No
Fusion / Natural Yes Yes Yes No No
Fusion / Real-Estate Yes No No No No
Finishing Touch (sharpening, contrast, saturation) Yes No No No No
Undo Tone Mapping / Fusion Yes No No Yes No
Fusion from a single RAW file Yes No No No No
Automatic alignment of hand-held photos Yes Yes Yes No (*) Yes
Automatic ghost removal Yes Yes Yes No (*) Yes
Adjustment options for Automatic Deghosting Yes No No No (*) No
Selective Deghosting tool Yes No No No No
Thumbnails of built-in presets Yes Yes Yes No No
Thumbnails of custom presets Yes No No No No
Display options for preset thumbnails Yes No No No No
Saving and loading of user presets Yes Yes Yes No No
Batch processing of bracketed photos Yes No No No No
Batch of single files Yes No No No No
Automatic reduction of chromatic aberrations Yes No Yes No No
Automatic noise reduction Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Maximum number of photos per bracketed set Unlimited 5 Unlimited n/a Unlimited
Read/write in 32-bit HDR image formats Yes No No No (*) Floating Point TIFF only
Integration with Lightroom via free export plugin Yes No n/a n/a n/a
Application type Stand-alone Stand-alone Requires Aperture 2 or higher Requires Photoshop CS2 or higher Requires Lightroom 4 or higher

(*) Photoshop CS2 to CC includes the merge of bracketed photos into 32-bit HDR with automatic alignment and read/write in 32-bit HDR image formats. Photoshop CS5 to CC includes an option for ghost removal as well.

You can also visually compare Photomatix Essentials and Photomatix Pro through their introduction videos.

Note: If you buy a license of Photomatix Essentials, you can later upgrade to Photomatix Pro for the $60 price difference between both products.