My camera does not shoot RAWs. Can I still use your software with JPEG pictures?
Definitely. Photomatix does not require images in RAW format. Photomatix is designed to work with photos taken under different exposure settings, and works great when those images are JPEGs.
The important feature to look at in a camera is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), the ability to automatically take three or more exposures, preferably in two EV steps. The higher the maximum EV step, number of auto-bracketed frames and frame rate speed, the better it is for HDR processing.
I am using Apple Photos app. How do I load images into Photomatix?
In the Photos app, choose File > Export to export the images to a folder. Then, load the exported images in Photomatix.
Note that we will be looking into whether we could offer a Photos Extension that simplifies the workflow between Photos and Photomatix.
When I load RAW files into Photomatix, why does it ignore my Camera Raw edits?
The settings added by Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in XMP sidecar files are parameters of the Raw conversion engine of ACR. As Photomatix doesn't have access to the proprietary technology of ACR's Raw conversion engine, it cannot use information set by ACR in the XMP files.
The same applies to Adobe Camera Raw settings embedded in DNG files.
In order to preserve the edits you made in Adobe Camera Raw, you will have to convert your RAW or DNG files to TIFF, and then process the TIFF files in Photomatix. See above for more information on this workflow.
Why does the size of the Photomatix output slightly differ from the size of the original RAW file in Photoshop?
When you load RAW files directly into Photomatix, the Raw conversion is done by Photomatix, and the conversion process differs depending on the software doing it.
The Raw conversion used by Photomatix tries to extract as many pixels as possible from the original Raw data captured by your camera's sensors. For some camera models, this results in a width and height that are a few pixels more than the width and height you get when the Raw file is converted by other software.
To avoid this, you would need to convert your original RAW files first in Photoshop (or other Raw conversion software you are viewing the Raw file in), then load the converted TIFF or JPEG files into Photomatix. The pixel size of the images produced by Photomatix will then be same as the size of the source images.
Note that if you use the alignment option and need to overlay the Photomatix image with the original photos, you will have to leave the 'crop aligned images' box unchecked to ensure the size is not reduced.
Does Photomatix do all the HDR editing in a DNG format like Lightroom CC/6 does?
Assuming you are referring to the Floating Point DNG format used to store the result of merging to HDR in Lightroom CC, then the answer is yes. When Photomatix merges bracketed photos to HDR, the merged image is in a Floating Point format (a.k.a 32-bit HDR format) that preserves all information from the merged photos.
By default, Photomatix doesn't save to disk the HDR image in Floating Point format after merging. Instead, it lets you directly edit the HDR image and then save the edited file. An edited HDR image can only be saved in non-HDR format, such as 16-bit TIFF or JPEG.
If you prefer to save the merged HDR image in Floating Point format before editing it, there are two ways to do that with Photomatix Pro:
- The first way is to check the 'Show 32-bit unprocessed image' box on the dialog where you load the bracketed photos. Once you have merged the images (and before clicking 'Tone Map / Fuse'), choose File > Save As... to save the 32-bit HDR image.
- The second way is to close the window that lets you adjust the Tone Mapping / Fusion settings and that automatically shows after the merge (unless you followed the first way described above). Once the window is closed, choose File > Save As... to save the 32-bit HDR image. To return to editing the HDR image, click 'Tone Map / Fuse'.
A future version of Photomatix Pro will make it possible to save the 32-bit HDR image as Floating Point DNG, in addition to the existing Radiance, OpenEXR and 32-bit TIFF file formats.
What is the maximum file size that I can work with?
The file size to consider for Photomatix is the size expressed in number of pixels, i.e. width X height. Since Photomatix has to decompress the images for processing, the compression factor of the input images does not make any difference in the ability to process large files.
The maximum file size (in number of pixels) that you can process with Photomatix depends on the following:
- the RAM your computer has
- whether your OS is 32-bit or 64-bit
- the pixel depth of your images
- the number of bracketed photos you are merging
- the number of other memory-hungry applications opened on your computer
- the free space available on your hard drive
Additionally, it is important to note that there is an upper limit to the amount of RAM that is made available to applications like Photomatix. On Windows 32-bit, this limit is as low as 2 GB, regardless of your RAM. That is, it will still be 2 GB via virtual memory if you computer has less than 2 GB RAM, but it won't be more than 2 GB if your computer has 4 GB RAM (unless you enable the /3GB switch).
External memory fragmentation further limits the memory available to Photomatix, by making it impossible to allocate a contiguous block of memory large enough for the processing needed. External memory fragmentation is a problem on Windows OSes, particularly on Windows XP. It means that the system does not organize the available memory efficiently, making it unable to re-use the memory that Photomatix has released.
When you create a particularly large Radiance .hdr file in another application and want to tone map it in Photomatix Pro, you have the option to open the file in so-called "Preview" mode. This will load a low resolution version of the file, thereby avoiding saturating the memory available for the user interface when adjusting the tone mapping settings. The final process will then run in the background and apply the tone mapping settings to the full resolution file.
For an idea of the memory necessary to process your images, the following formulae give a rough estimate of the amount of memory (RAM) needed in number of bytes:
Merging bracketed photos to HDR:
width * height * (3 * (bit-depth/8) * numberOfImages + 6)
Tone Mapping with Details Enhancer a Radiance file (.hdr extension) opened in "Preview" mode with the Lighting Effects Mode box checked:
width * height * 18
This means that merging three 100 MegaPixels 16-bit images to HDR requires around:
100,000,000 * (3 * 2 * 3 + 6) = 2.4 GB
and tone mapping a 100 MegaPixels Radiance file with Details Enhancer (Lighting Effects Mode box checked) requires around:
100,000,000 * 18 = 1.8 GB
How does your software handle color profiles?
Photomatix processes the RGB values of your source images directly, without converting them to another color space. This means that images you create with Photomatix are in the same color space as the one specified by the ICC color profile of your source images.
When a color profile for the source images is available, Photomatix embeds it into the resulting tone mapped or fused image.
If you are using the Photomatix Plugin for Lightroom, note that Lightroom will first export your images to TIFF before Photomatix can load them. This means that Photomatix will use the color profile of the TIFF files created by Lightroom, which is Adobe RGB by default. To use another profile, see the Lightroom Plugin FAQ.
In the special case when you have saved as Radiance the unprocessed intermediary 32-bit HDR file before tone mapping, Photomatix saves the name of the color profile in the header of the Radiance file. If you then re-use the Radiance file for tone mapping in Photomatix Pro and the saved name is sRGB, AdobeRGB or ProPhoto RGB, Photomatix will generate the corresponding ICC profile and embed it in the tone mapped image.
Photomatix is color managed for the display, as well. This means it will show the correct color values based on the ICC profile of the image and the color profile set as display profile for your monitor.
On Mac OS X, the display profile is set under System Preferences->Displays->Color.
On Windows, it is under Settings->Control Panel->Display->Settings->Advanced->Color Management.
Do I need to load the images in any particular order?
No, you can load the images in any order, regardless of their Exposure Value.
The process of merging to HDR makes it necessary to assign an exposure to each source image and Photomatix automatically retrieves the exposure information from EXIF data. When the images do not have EXIF data, Photomatix estimates the EVs based on the brightness level of the source photos. Photomatix Pro also offers the option to manually adjust the estimated EVs (unless the program is run in batch mode).
What are the differences between Exposure Fusion and HDR/Tonemapping?
Both processes start from Low Dynamic Range (LDR) images taken under different exposures and both attempt to produce an LDR image that shows tonal details of the entire dynamic range captured by the multiple exposures.
The differences are in the processes involved. Exposure Fusion combines the source photos in such a way that highlight details are taken from the underexposed photos and shadow details from the overexposed ones. The fused image is therefore a weighted average of the source images.
Exposure Fusion has the advantage of being easy to understand and is familiar to photographers who are used to doing this process manually in image editing applications. Also, Exposure Fusion has the nice side effect of reducing noise.
HDR Tone Mapping is composed of two steps. The first step merges differently exposed photos to a 32 bits/channel unprocessed HDR image. Such image cannot be displayed properly on standard monitors, which is why a second step called Tone Mapping is necessary.
Tone Mapping consists of scaling each pixel of the HDR image, so that details in highlights and shadows show correctly on monitors and prints (these details are available in the unprocessed 32-bit image but not directly visible because of the low dynamic range of the display).
Tone Mapping algorithms vary from a simple gamma curve (which is close to what cameras are doing when converting 12-bit or 14-bit RAW data to JPEGs) to more complex operations commonly divided into two categories:
- Global mapping: the brightness value of a pixel in the final image depends on its brightness value in the original image, as well as global image characteristics, but not on the pixel's spatial location
- Local mapping: the brightness value of a pixel in the final image varies depending on whether the pixel is located in a dark or bright area in the original image.
The main advantage of global mapping is fast processing. Local mapping requires longer processing times but is better at producing a "good-looking" photograph (which is because the human eye adapts to contrast locally). In Photomatix, the Tone Mapping methods named Details Enhancer and Contrast Optimizer belong to the category of local mapping and Tone Compressor to the category of global mapping.
Does Photomatix make use of dual and quad processors?
Photomatix makes use of multi-threading in RAW conversion, image alignment, noise reduction, and processing with Details Enhancer, Contrast Optimizer, Tone Compressor, Fusion/Natural and Fusion/Real-Estate methods.
However, it is important to note that most processes of Photomatix are memory-intensive, which means that multi-processor support may not speed up processing times as much as one may expect. For a memory-intensive process, the bottleneck regarding processing times comes from memory accesses rather than a high number of operations (as the processor has to stay idle for many cycles, waiting for data to be fetched in memory).
How many images can I merge?
With Photomatix Essentials, the number of images you can merge is limited to 5. With Photomatix Pro, the number of images you can merge is unlimited.
Is it true that Photomatix converts RAWs to JPEGs for internal processing?
No. Photomatix does not convert RAW files to JPEG for internal processing, and never did. It would not make sense to do this anyway, given that converting to JPEG would result in quality loss and add processing time.
When you load RAW files in Photomatix, the files are converted in linear space into an uncompressed image with 16 bits per color channel, i.e. 48 bits per pixel.
The only time Photomatix converts to JPEG is when you want to save the image created by Photomatix and choose to save it as JPEG. This applies to a tonemapped or fused image created by Photomatix, and not to the original image you loaded.
Can I use your product for combining multiple scans?
Yes, Photomatix can be used to combine two or more scans from the same film scanned under different exposure settings. You may also try with scanned slides, but it is better to do it with negatives, as the dynamic range for film's negatives is higher than for slides.
You will need to ensure that the scans have the same size before loading them in Photomatix. You will also need to check the "Align images" option in order to correct for possible mis-registration of the scans.