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Photomatix FAQ

Licensing and download

Do I need to buy a second license if I install Photomatix on another computer?

One Photomatix Pro license entitles you to install and register Photomatix Pro on other computers you use. The same applies to Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle, Photomatix Essentials and the plugins for Aperture and Photoshop.

However, your Photomatix license is limited to one user. You will need to buy an additional license if you wish to install and register the software for another user (unless the other user is your spouse or close family member, as we make an exception in such cases).

Your license also entitles you to install and register the software on both Windows and Mac computers. If you bought a license for Photomatix Pro for Windows, for instance, you may install the Windows and Mac versions of Photomatix Pro, and register both with the same license key. See the FAQ on cross-platform licensing for more details on this.

If you are on Windows, you can of course install and register any of the two editions (32-bit and 64-bit) on your other computer, regardless of whether you installed the 32-bit or 64-bit edition on the first computer. A license is valid for any edition (32- or 64-bit) and platform version (Windows or Mac) of the software.

I haven't yet received my serial code, when will I get it?

Our reseller BlueSnap/Plimus emails your license information immediately after your payment has been processed. If you didn't receive this email, it may be due to a delay on the reseller's server or because the email was caught in spam filters.

You can request your license key via our automated resending of license key or by contacting the Photomatix Support Team.

I upgraded to Photomatix Pro 5. Do I need a new license key?

Yes if you purchased a license when Photomatix Pro was at version 3.2 or older. Please see the upgrade information form.

I lost my license key. Can you send it to me again?

If you purchased the license via the HDRsoft.com website, you can use the license key resending form to have your license key automatically resent to you. Alternatively, you can contact the Photomatix Support Team.

My photo computer is not connected to the Internet. How do I install your software on it?

Your computer doesn't need to be online to install Photomatix, as long as you have another computer with an Internet connection where you can download the software. You would then copy the downloaded file on a flash drive, USB key or other type of removable drive and transfer it to the computer without Internet access.

Here are instructions on how to do this depending on your platform:

On Windows:

  • Go to the download page of Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials depending on the software you want to install on your offline computer.
  • Click on the "Download Photomatix Pro" or "Download Photomatix Essentials" link in blue.
  • When prompted, choose Save (Internet Explorer) or Save File (Firefox).
  • On the Save As dialog box, navigate to the location you would like to save the file and choose "Save".  If the removable drive (e.g. flash drive, USB key, etc.) is already inserted in your online computer, save the file to it directly. Otherwise, save the file to computer's hard drive and copy it to the removable drive.
  • Use the removable drive to transfer the downloaded file to your offline computer.
    The name of the file depends on the software, its version and the edition. For instance, if you have downloaded the 64-bit edition of Photomatix Pro 5.0, the name of the file will be: PhotomatixPro50x64.exe.
  • Double-click on the transferred file to install Photomatix on your offline computer.

On Mac:

  • Go to the download page of Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials depending on the software you want to install on your offline computer.
  • Click on the "Download Photomatix Pro" or "Download Photomatix Essentials" link in blue.
  • Copy the downloaded zip file to the removable drive (e.g. flash drive, USB key, etc.).
  • Use the removable drive to transfer the file to your offline computer.

Can I switch my Windows license to Mac? (or vice-versa)

Yes. In fact, you do not need to switch your license, as one Photomatix license allows you to install the software on another computer, regardless of its platform as explained above.

The license key you received after purchase registers both the Windows and Mac versions of the software, except in two cases: If you purchased a Photomatix Pro license before April 2007, or a license of the Tone Mapping Plugin for Photoshop sold separately (i.e. outside of the bundled product). In these two cases, you will need to contact us to request the license key for the other platform.

When ordering online, you will see two separate purchase buttons depending on whether the license is for the Windows or Mac version of the software, even though the license is valid for both. This is done to let us track sales per platform, but doesn't have an incidence on the validity of your license for both Windows and Mac.

How do I upgrade to the latest version?

You can upgrade to the latest version by downloading it from the download page and installing it on your computer. If you are on Windows, it is better to uninstall your current version of Photomatix before installing the new one.

If you want to be notified when new major versions are released, you are welcome to subscribe to our announcements.

The upgrade to Photomatix Pro version 5 is free of charge for customers who purchased a license of Photomatix Pro version 4.0 or higher. If you need a new license key, please see the upgrade information page.

What is your upgrade policy?

If you purchase a Photomatix Pro license from the HDRsoft.com website or legitimate resellers, you are guaranteed at least two years of free upgrades. In reality, you are likely to get free upgrades for more than two years.

The upgrade to Photomatix Pro version 5 is free of charge for customers who purchased a license of Photomatix Pro when it was at version 4.0 or higher through the HDRsoft.com website or legitimate resellers (Photomatix Pro 4.0 was released on October 2010).

If you purchase a Photomatix Essentials license, all upgrades are free of charge.

If you purchase a license of the Photomatix Plug-In for Aperture or Tone Mapping Plug-In for Photoshop, you are guaranteed at least two years of free upgrades, but it is possible you will get all upgrades for free. We haven't charged for upgrades to new versions of these plugins yet, and don't have plans to at the moment.

To upgrade to the latest version, please see the above question.

I purchased Photomatix Essentials. Is there an upgrade price to Photomatix Pro?

Yes. You can purchase a license of Photomatix Pro for the US$60 cost difference. Please use the automated Upgrade to Photomatix Pro form to access the upgrade pricing.

How do I transfer Photomatix to a new computer?

Please download the software from our website to transfer Photomatix to your new computer. To do this, go to the download page, and install the downloaded software on your new computer.

If your new computer is not connected to the Internet, see the above instructions to install on an offline computer.

I have a new computer. How can I download Photomatix again?

You can find the latest versions of our software on the download page.

If you need to download older versions, you will find these listed at bottom of the download page of the product you wish to download. If your reason for downloading the older version is because you cannot find a feature anymore, please contact the Photomatix Support Team for help with finding the feature in the new version.

Is there a way to get the watermark off a photograph processed before buying the license?

If you have a license for Photomatix Pro, it is possible to remove the 'Photomatix' watermark from photographs processed when the software was still in trial mode, but only if the resulting image was not post-processed or double tone mapped.

Here are instructions for removing the watermarks:

  • Click on the 'Automate' menu and select "Batch Single Files"
  • Make sure that neither of the "Tone map" options is checked
  • Check the "Remove watermark" option (this becomes enabled after registration)
  • Browse to the folder where the watermarked images are located, and make sure the images in this folder do have the watermark added to them.
  • Click on the "Run" button

If you have a license for Photomatix Essential or the Aperture plugin, you can use the trial of Photomatix Pro to remove the watermark as detailed above.

If you have a license of the Merge to 32-bit HDR plugin, it is not possible to remove the watermark. So, you will have to merge the photos again with a different name for the merged file, and then copy the settings from the version with the watermark to the version without it.

Important note: The removal of the watermark requires that the image was not retouched after the watermark was added to it. If you altered the image - by changing the brightness or contrast, cropping, resizing, etc. - then Photomatix will not be able to remove the watermark anymore.

I uninstalled the previous version before installing the upgrade, and was not asked to enter my license key again. Is this normal?

Yes. Uninstalling Photomatix Pro only removes the components of the software, not your licensing information. The Windows version of Photomatix Pro stores this information in your registry (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) and the Max OS X version in your preferences (com.hdrsoft.photomatixpro.plist).

If you wish to unregister Photomatix Pro as well as remove its default settings, please proceed as follows depending on your computer platform:

On Mac:

  • If you are on Mac OS 10.7 or higher, choose "Go > Go To Folder" from the Finder menu, and enter
    ~/Library/Preferences in the box.
  • Locate the file com.hdrsoft.photomatixpro.plist and move it to the Trash.
  • If you are on Max OS 10.6 or earlier, go to ~/Library/Preferences (where '~' is your User directory).

On Windows:

  • Click on "Start" (normally located on the bottom left of your computer)
  • In the box at the bottom that says “Search programs and files”, type "regedit" (without the quotes), and then press ENTER
  • In the Registry Editor, locate and click on the directory:
    "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\HDRsoft"
  • Open the 'PhotomatixPro' folder, then the '5.0' folder
  • Select 'Registration', and click "Delete" on the "Edit" menu
  • Click 'Yes' on the confirmation dialog

If you want to know where to find your current license information, open the 'Registration' folder and look at the data value for 'Key and, if applicable, 'User ID'. Note that for Photomatix Pro version 3 and earlier, you need to locate the following directory instead:

"HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MultimediaPhoto\Photomatix"

Why is the CA$ (or AU$) price for your program more than the US$ price when the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar?

Photomatix Pro is priced in US dollars. When you order a license from Canada, our reseller BlueSnap/Plimus displays by default the price in Canadian dollars, using the exchange rate their bank charges to buy Canadian dollars on that day. And as you probably know, banks charge more than the official exchange rate, as they make money from currency conversion.

However, you can avoid having to use the exchange rate of our reseller. To do this, click on the 'Currency' pop-up menu on the top right of the order form, and change it to 'United States Dollars'. Note, though, that the conversion from US to Canadian dollars would then be done by your bank, and that the exchange rate of your bank might be less favorable.

Should I try Photomatix Pro or Essentials?

Photomatix Essentials is particularly easy to use and intended for photographers new to HDR. Photomatix Pro offers more options and includes advanced features such as batch processing and selective deghosting, as well as a Plugin for Adobe Lightroom.

Photomatix Essentials and Pro share the same internal HDR processing engines, but their interfaces differ. Photomatix Essentials focuses on simplicity, providing an easy-to-use introduction to HDR, while Photomatix Pro offers more options and features.

If you buy a license for Photomatix Essentials, you can upgrade to Photomatix Pro later on for just the price difference between the two products.

I bought Photomatix Essentials from the Mac App Store. When will you update it?

We were offering Photomatix Essentials on the Mac App Store under a Developer account with a different company address. After several discussions with Apple, it turned out that we had to open a new Developer account to get the address changed, which has the big disadvantage that we cannot use the same app ID to offer Photomatix Essentials on the Mac App Store under the new account.

Not using the same app ID means that Photomatix Essentials would appear as a new app on the Mac App Store, and customers who had bought it with the old ID would have needed to buy it again in order to get the latest version. As it has never been our intention to charge for upgrades of Photomatix Essentials, we decided that we would not offer it under the new account, which is why Photomatix Essentials is not available on the Mac App Store anymore.

In order to update your copy of Photomatix Essentials, you will therefore have to download the latest version and request a license key by taking a screenshot (Command+Shift+3) of your iTunes history showing Photomatix Essentials. Then email the screenshot to the Photomatix Support Team.

I see Photomatix offered for very cheap on eBay, Amazon or elsewhere. Is this legal?

No, it is definitely illegal.

You will almost certainly get a stolen license key if you purchase Photomatix on eBay. You will for sure get a stolen license key if you purchase a so-called "Open Box" of Photomatix Pro on Amazon when it is delivered without a box. You will also receive a stolen license key if you purchase on Craigslist or websites selling cheap software.

Please don't buy Photomatix from such sellers. Not only would you be rewarding thieves, but you wouldn't be able to get the free upgrades you would otherwise be entitled to.

Purchases made from sources other than our website or legitimate resellers are made at the buyer's risk and we assume no liability for those purchases.

If you already purchased from a fraudulent reseller on Amazon or another reputable place, we recommend that you report the fraud to Amazon and request a refund.

Compatibilities

Does Photomatix work with Photoshop Elements?

Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials are standalone applications, and therefore don't need Photoshop or another application to run.

Images you create with Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials are compatible with any image editing software. This means you can open and further process them in Photoshop Elements if you need to.

Is Photomatix Pro compatible with Lightroom 5?

Yes. The Lightroom Export Plug-in to Photomatix Pro works fine in Lightroom 5, and files exported from Lightroom 5 via the plugin are compatible with Photomatix Pro.

Is your software compatible with Photoshop CC?

Photomatix Pro is a standalone applications, and therefore runs independently from Photoshop. Images created with Photomatix Pro are compatible with Photoshop CC, as well as older versions of Photoshop.

The Tone Mapping plugin for Photoshop is compatible with Photoshop CC.

Does Photomatix work with Windows 8?

Yes. Photomatix Pro and Essentials work fine with Windows 8 on desktop and laptop computers.

Note that you may have to install version 3.5 of the .NET Framework if this is not yet installed on your computer. See this Microsoft article for more information.

Is Photomatix compatible with Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks?

Yes.

Does Photomatix work on a 64-bit OS?

Yes, Photomatix Pro and Photomatix Essentials work fine on the 64-bit edition of Windows Vista, 7 and 8, and on 64-bit Mac OSes.

How do I know whether my OS is 64-bit?

On Windows 8

  • From Windows 8 "Start menu" click on the Desktop icon (lower left by default) to switch to the desktop.
  • Hold the Windows key and hit the 'X' key at the same time, then select "System" from the menu that appears.
  • Under the 'System' section, view the "System type". If your OS is 64-bit, it will say "64-bit Operating System".

On Windows 7

  • Click on the "Start" button (the button with the Windows logo), then click on the 'Control Panel' menu option
  • In the 'Control Panel' window, click "System and Security" and then click "System"
  • Under the 'System' section, view the "System type". If your OS is 64-bit, it will say "64-bit Operating System".

On Windows Vista

  • Click on the "Start" button (the button with the Windows logo), then click on the 'Control Panel' menu option
  • In the 'Control Panel' window, click "System and Maintenance" and then click "System"
  • Under the 'System' section, view the "System type". If your OS is 64-bit, it will say "64-bit Operating System".

On Mac OS X:

  • Open your Terminal application (which you will find under "Applications/Utilities")
  • Copy/paste the following command:
    ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep firmware-abi
  • Press the Enter key
  • If the result includes <"EFI64">, then your Mac is 64-bit enabled.

What are the system requirements?

On both platforms:

  • 2 GB of RAM minimum, but more is highly recommended
  • 1 GB of available hard-disk space (more is recommended)
  • 1,024x768 or greater monitor resolution

Windows platform:

  • Photomatix Pro: Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8 (non RT), or Windows 98, 2000 with .NET 2.0 framework or higher (if the .NET framework is not installed, the installation wizard of Photomatix Pro will prompt you to download it from Microsoft's website).
  • Photomatix Essentials: Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8.

Mac OS X platform:

  • Photomatix Pro: Mac OS 10.4 or higher
  • Photomatix Essentials: Mac OS 10.5 or higher

Does Photomatix support RAW files from the Nikon Df, Pentax K-3 and Sony A7/A7R?

Support for Nikon Df, Pentax K-3, and Sony A7 and A7R RAW files were added in Photomatix Pro 5.0.2 and will be added in the next sub version of Photomatix Essentials.

Does Photomatix support RAW files from the Canon 70D, Fuji X100 and X20?

Support for RAW files from the Canon 70D, Fuji X100, X100s and X20 were added in Photomatix Pro 5.0 and Photomatix Essentials 3.2.2.

Does Photomatix support RAW files from the Canon 6D and G15, Nikon P7700, Panasonic G5 and Sony Alpha A99 and NEX-6?

Yes. Support for RAW files from these camera models was added in Photomatix Pro 4.2.6 and Photomatix Essentials 3.2.2. To upgrade to the latest version, please go to the download page.

Does Photomatix support RAW files from the Canon 1DX?

Yes, the current version of Photomatix Pro and Essentials support RAW files from the Canon 1DX, provided they are taken in standard RAW mode. 1DX files taken in SRAW or MRAW mode are not supported.

If you prefer to load your D1X RAW files directly in Photomatix, then take them in standard RAW mode. If you prefer to shoot in SRAW or MRAW mode, you can use Canon Digital Photo Professional to convert your files to TIFF or JPEG, or load the files via our Lightroom plugin if you have Lightroom.

Does Photomatix support RAW files from the Canon S100 and G1 X, Nikon D4 and D800, Sony NEX-7 and Panasonic GX1?

Photomatix Pro supports RAW files from these camera models since version 4.2 and Photomatix Essentials since version 3.2. To upgrade to the latest version, please go to the download page.

What are the file formats and RAW files supported?

Photomatix Pro opens and saves images in the following formats:

  • JPEG
  • TIFF (8-bit, 16-bit and Floating Point)
  • Radiance RGBE
  • OpenEXR

The following formats are supported in read mode only:

  • PSD
  • PSB 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit, but only when a single photo is opened.
  • PNG (Mac version only)

Photomatix also supports RAW files from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax, Panasonic, Sigma, Phase One and Leaf, as well as Digital Negative (DNG).

If your camera model is recent, you may have to wait for a future version of Photomatix before it supports RAW files from your new camera. You can check whether RAW files from your camera are supported on this list.

Note, however, that the above linked list isn't exhaustive. The latest Photomatix version may still support RAW files from your camera even if it is not listed there.

Tips & Tricks

What camera do I need to get good results with your software?

Photomatix works with differently exposed photos. To get good results, it is important that each one of the source photos are taken with a sufficiently different exposure in order to properly cover the dynamic range of the scene. Taking three photos separated by two EVs (i.e. two full-stops), or five photos separated by one EV, will be sufficient for most outdoors scenes.

Many digital cameras include an Auto Exposure Bracketing function that makes the process of taking several exposures easier and faster. If you select Aperture Priority and then use Auto Exposure Bracketing, the camera will automatically take 3 or more shots at different exposure times when you press the shutter release button.

A camera offering the Auto Exposure Bracketing option is therefore recommended for taking HDR pictures. However, this option won't be useful if the maximum EV step possible with Auto Exposure Bracketing is less than one EV for your camera. If your camera offers less than that (for instance 0.7 or 2/3 EV), then Auto Exposure Bracketing won't be useful and you will have to change the exposure times manually.

A list of camera models with their AEB settings is available here.

A two-EV spacing is best for capturing images intended for HDR. However, a one-EV spacing is still OK if the camera can take 5 or more frames with Auto Exposure Bracketing.

I have a RAW file. Can I make different exposures with it to use in your software?

Yes, you can still use Photomatix when you have shot only one exposure in RAW mode. The big advantage, of course, is that you just need one image, so there is no need to use a tripod or to remember to auto-bracket, and it will also work if the subject is moving.

However, the range of "workable" exposures you can get from a RAW file is limited. If you are shooting a high contrast scene, you are unlikely to match the results you would have with taking the scene under different exposures that can cover the whole dynamic range.

There are three techniques for using Photomatix Pro with one single exposure taken in RAW mode:

  • Technique 1: Open your RAW file in Photomatix Pro to tone map it directly.
  • Technique 2: Convert your RAW file into a 16 bits/channel image in your favorite RAW converter, open it in Photomatix Pro, and tone map it.
  • Technique 3: Create two or three exposures in your RAW converter and combine them in Photomatix Pro (or Photomatix Essentials) as it they were "real" bracketed shots

Technique # 3 often gives the best results. Also, it has the advantage of working with Exposure Fusion. Technique # 1 used to give less good results in Photomatix Pro version 3 and earlier, but this changed with Photomatix Pro version 4 and Photomatix Essentials/Light version 2 thanks to the high-quality noise reduction algorithm implemented in the new versions.

To optimize the results achieved with a single-exposure capture, it is important to ensure the lowest noise level at capture time. For this, set the lowest ISO possible (ISO 100 for instance) and expose for the shadows when taking the RAW image, i.e. overexpose your shot. Even though the histogram of your camera may indicate that highlights will be lost, you should still be able to recover them during RAW conversion (unless the scene is too high contrast, but then a single image will not be sufficient for good results with Photomatix). There are two examples obtained this way here.

Deriving "fake" exposures from a single RAW file (technique 3 above) is theoretically an improper way of creating a 32-bit HDR image. If you intend to use the HDR image file for 3D rendering, then you should not use this technique, as you will not get accurate linear pixel values required for image based lighting. However, if you are only interested in the tone mapped result, then creating "fake" exposures is a valuable technique, as long as you get improved results over technique 1 or 2.

On the other hand, some high end cameras have sensors with a depth of 14 bits, which means two f-stops more of dynamic range. It is definitely a good idea to try the Tone Mapping tool of Photomatix Pro on the 16-bit TIFF file derived from the the RAW data of such cameras. Also, the dynamic range of the RAWs of the Fuji S3 and S5 Pro is higher than RAWs of other DSLRs.

Do I need to process bracketed RAW files to TIFF format first?

The answer depends on your needs and preferences. It is better to first process your bracketed Raw files in your favorite Raw converter, and then combine the converted TIFF or JPEG files in Photomatix, in the following cases:

  • You need lens correction
  • You need fine control over white balance adjustments
  • You are more interested in Photomatix Exposure Fusion than HDR/Tone Mapping.

When you need to convert your Raw files to TIFF or JPEG before processing in Photomatix, you should systematically disable sharpening (sharpening should be applied on the final HDR processed image, not before) and ensure the Black is set to zero.

If you are primarily interested in HDR/Tone Mapping, then you should also uncheck all tonal and exposure-related automatic settings. That is, set to zero the Exposure adjustment setting but also adjustments for contrast, shadow and similar.

If you are only interested in Exposure Fusion, then the reverse applies. It is better in this case to use the auto-settings of the Raw converter, or adjust them to your liking.

Note that if you have Lightroom and Photomatix Pro, you can directly integrate Lightroom's Raw conversion with Photomatix via the free Lightroom Export Plug-In to Photomatix Pro (if you are instead using the Photomatix HDR plugin for Aperture, the Raw conversion is done by Aperture when you invoke the plug-in).

If you need to use the intermediary 32-bit HDR file for image based lighting in 3D or special effects software, then it is better to load Raw files directly in Photomatix. This will ensure a better linearity and accuracy of the intermediary 32-bit HDR file, as data in Raw files represent the linear luminance values captured by the camera sensors, and the exposure information is still reliable when the image has not yet been altered with shadows/highlights type of enhancements.

What is the ideal exposure range and exposure spacing?

The ideal exposure range is the one that covers the dynamic range of the scene you are shooting. So, the exposure range depends on the scene.

For many outdoors scenes, 3 exposures spaced one or two EVs apart may be sufficient. However, for an interior with an outside view on a sunny day, for instance, the dynamic range can be quite high.

An E.V. (Exposure Value) is also referred to as a stop (or full-stop when it is one E.V.). One E.V. increment corresponds to a doubling of the amount of light hitting the camera's sensors. This means that a range of 8 E.V. can be achieved with exposure times ranging from 1/250 to 1 sec. for instance, assuming a fixed aperture and ISO setting. If you set your camera to +/-1EV step increments, you will need 9 frames to achieve that range. If you set it to +/-2EV, you will need 5 frames.

Regarding the exposure spacing, an increment of 1.5 or 2 E.V. is generally recommended. The advantage compared to an exposure spacing of one-EV is that it will limit the number of shots required to span the dynamic range, and therefore reduce the risks of mis-registrations and ghosting. It will also reduce storage needs and make for faster processing in Photomatix. On the other hand, a one-EV spacing -or lower- does have one advantage, which is to better smooth out noise when merging to an HDR image.

How do I select the exposures?

To get good results with Photomatix, your capture sequence must include photos that correctly expose highlights and photos that correctly expose shadows. The latter is especially important to avoid noise showing in the processed HDR image.

The number of photos you need depends on the scene. It also depends on the Exposure Value (EV) spacing separating the photos. If you take them in one-EV steps (e.g., -1, 0, +1 EV), you will need more photos than if you take them in two-EV steps (e.g., -2, 0, +2 EV). We recommend shooting in two-EV steps whenever possible.

In your most overexposed photo, the darkest shadows should be close to the mid-tones. You can check this with your camera's histogram preview in playback mode: The first third of the histogram of your most overexposed photo should contain less than about 10-15% of the histogram. If this is not the case, it is recommended to add one or more photos taken with longer exposure times.

Another option is to re-shoot the exposure sequence with the normal exposure set one or more EVs higher if your most underexposed image in the exposure sequence was too dark. This is the case when the histogram of your darkest image is completely empty on the right half.

High contrast scenes can be grouped into roughly two types depending on their dynamic range:

  • Medium dynamic range scene: Most landscapes and other types of outdoor scenes fall into this category. Three exposures taken in two-EV steps (i.e. -2, 0 +2 EV), or five exposures taken in one-EV steps, are usually sufficient for this type of scene.
  • High dynamic range scene: A typical example is the interior of a room with a view outside the window on a sunny day. You need to take at least five exposures in two-EV steps (or nine exposures in one-EV steps) to capture this type of scene, but you may need more. Taking the exposures manually is recommended in these cases.

Here is how to select the exposures when you need to take the exposure manually for the High dynamic range scene case described above.

  • Set your camera in manual exposure mode and select an aperture that is the most appropriate for your scene (e.g. f/8 for a motionless scene) and the lowest ISO setting.
  • Measure the light in the highlights you want to preserve (in Av mode to point only the highlights, otherwise with spot metering). Take a shot with this exposure - let's name it time T1 - and look at the histogram to check that no important area is burned out.
  • Measure the light in the shadows by pointing (or spot metering) the darkest area where you want to see details - let's name it exposure time T2.
  • The ratio log2(T2/T1) gives you the number of E.V. needed to capture the dynamic range. We recommend an EV spacing of two f-stops apart for Photomatix (see question above), so your lowest exposure will be exposure time T1, the next one will be two stops more (i.e. T1 multiplied by 4), and so on till you get at the longest exposure time T2.

If you cannot achieve the number of shots and exposure settings with the Automatic Exposure Bracketing function of your camera, then you will have to bracket more than once or set each exposure individually. When you need to manually change the exposures or brackets, using a tripod will be necessary.

How can I get good results when shooting a room with a bright window?

The dynamic range of the inside of a room with a view outside the window on a sunny day is particularly high, much higher than the dynamic range of a typical outdoor scene.

The key to getting a good result with such scenes is to take enough exposures to properly cover the dynamic range. In most cases, you will need at least five exposures spaced two EVs apart. If you take less, you may get washed-out highlights, or noisy shadows, or black artifacts due to "holes" in the coverage of the dynamic range.

The best way to make sure you have taken enough exposures is to measure the light as explained above. Also, set the EV steps to +/- 2 if your camera allows it, but no more than 2 in order to ensure a "smooth" coverage of the dynamic range. If your camera does not allow more than a +/- 1 EV increments, remember that you will need more exposures than with a two-EV spacing.

Then, when it comes to processing the shots, we recommend trying both Exposure Fusion with the Fusion/Real-Estate method and Tone Mapping with the Contrast Optimizer method. You can access them via the Process and Method controls (located above the sliders on the Setting panel on the left).

The Fusion/Real-Estate method is particularly good at keeping a balanced and "photorealistic" look, while still preserving highlights.

What is the best workflow: Exposure Fusion or HDR Tone Mapping?

This depends on the dynamic range of the scene, the characteristics of the differently exposed images and the effect you want to achieve. Our recommendation is to try both. The table below lists the main pros and cons of both processes.

  Pros Cons
  • HDR Tone Mapping
  • HDR image file can be saved, enabling to tone map the same image with other methods or other settings.
  • Ability to preserve details in shadows and highlights even when the dynamic range is particularly high
  • High degree of parametrization, i.e. tone mapping methods can offer many settings to adapt image to one's liking
  • When source images are noisy, tone mapping may further increase noise.
  • In spite of the availability of settings, controlling the tone mapping operation is not easy.
  • Exposure Fusion
  • Fusing the images has the effect of reducing noise
  • Fused image is close to the source images giving it a "natural" look
  • Easy-to-understand process, no or few parameter setting
  • Lack of local contrast when dynamic range is high, "flat-looking" results in some cases
  • Memory required for Exposure Fusion increases with the number of source images and bit-depth.

I am getting noisy tone mapping results. Is there a way to avoid this?

The Tone Mapping method "Details Enhancer" enhances local details a lot. If the local details of your HDR image are noisy (you can easily see that in the HDR viewer), then the noise will be enhanced as well, unfortunately.

To avoid too much noise showing on the tonemapped image, make sure to check the "Reduce noise" box when merging the images.

However, it is always a good idea to ensure you are taking the photos in the best conditions to keep noise as low as possible. Here are the two rules to follow to achieve this:

  • Rule 1: Set a low ISO setting (ISO 100 or lower)
  • Rule 2: Overexpose sufficiently, ensuring that the lightest image of your exposure sequence has its shadows in the mid-tones.

If you are using Photomatix with a single RAW image instead of differently exposed photos, then the chance of getting noisy results is higher, unfortunately. In this case, you should expose for the shadows by slightly overexposing your shot.

Photomatix also offers Exposure Fusion. Combining your photos with the Exposure Fusion methods is an effective way of reducing noise. The resulting combined image will show less noise that the individual source images taken under different exposures. We recommend in particular the Fusion/Natural method.

How do I reduce/eliminate "halo" or "glow" effects with tone mapping?

Increasing the value of the Smooth Highlights setting (under the "More Options" section) is useful for reducing halos around objects placed against bright backgrounds. The other adjustments that may help are lowering the Strength and/or increasing the value of the Lighting Adjustments setting.

An easier way to avoid halo artifacts is to either use the Tone Compressor method for tone mapping your image, or to process your bracketed photos with Exposure Fusion using the 'Fusion/Natural' method. The latter is particularly recommended if you are looking for natural-looking results.

Using Photomatix

I created an HDR image, why can't I save it as JPEG?

An HDR image stores color information in 32-bit precision and as such can't be directly saved in a Low Dynamic Range format such as JPEG.

An HDR image in itself is not very interesting for photographers since it can't be correctly displayed on monitors and even less printed. This is why the HDR image you created from several exposures needs to be further processed for photographic use. It needs to be tone mapped so that the values of the image data fit into the limited range that your monitor can display.

Once you have applied the Tone Mapping tool to your HDR image, the details in highlight and shadows captured with your multiple exposures will then become visible on screen and you will be able to save the result as JPEG (or as 16-bit TIFF image if you choose this option).

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 works with images taken under different exposure settings, and works great when those images are JPEGs as well.

Most results shown on our example page have been produced from differently exposed jpegs, by the way.

So, 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 as detailed here. The higher the number of auto-bracketed frames, EV step and frame rate speed, the better it is for HDR processing.

When I load Raw files in Photomatix, why does it ignore my Camera Raw edits?

The settings added by Adobe Camera Raw in XMP sidecar files are parameters of the Raw conversion engine of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Photomatix does not have access to ACR's Raw conversion engine, which is a proprietary technology, so Photomatix 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 just 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 in Photomatix, the Raw conversion is done by Photomatix, and the Raw 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 just 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 in 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.

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 or 64-bit
  • the pixel depth of your images
  • the number of bracketed photos you are combining
  • 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 XP 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).

Then, external memory fragmentation further limits the memory available to Photomatix, by making it impossible to allocate a contiguous block of memory large enough to contain the whole images data. External memory fragmentation is a problem on Windows OS, and 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 in another application a large 32-bit HDR image file that you want to tone map in Photomatix Pro, you have the option to open the file in so-called "Preview" mode. This will load a low resolution 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 from the file on disk. Note that the "Preview" mode is only available when the 32-HDR file is saved in the Radiance format (.hdr extension).

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 bytes)

Merging bracketed photos to HDR:

width * height * (3 * (bit-depth/8) * numberOfImages + 6)

Tone Mapping with Details Enhancer a 32-bit HDR image file opened in "Preview" mode with the Lighting Effects Mode box

checked (the memory needed is significantly higher otherwise):

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 HDR image with Details Enhancer (Lighting Effects Mode box checked) requires around:

100,000,000 * 18 = 1.8 GB

The amount of memory needed to merge photos to HDR can be quite high when the source images are in 16 bits/channel mode and/or when there are many of them. However, there is an option in Batch Processing that allows creating the 32-bit HDR image file one strip at a time, provided the source images are TIFF files. When this option is checked, Photomatix Pro will only load, process and write a given number of rows from the source images instead of the entire images. This way, you can create a 32-bit HDR file stored in Radiance (.hdr) format from any number of large source images, even on a computer with limited RAM.

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 the resulting images produced by Photomatix will be 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 combined image.

Please note, though, that in the case of a tone mapped image, the color profile can only be passed through if the Generate HDR and Tone Mapping steps are done in the same session. If you have first saved the HDR image file, then the ICC profile information will be lost and the Tone Mapping step won't know the color profile anymore. This means that you will have to assign the color profile of the original source images to the tone mapped image yourself.

However, since version 3.0, Photomatix Pro saves the name of the color profile in the header of the HDR image file when this is saved as Radiance (.hdr extension). This means you will not have to re-assign the color profile, provided the HDR image file has been saved as Radiance and the color profile is either sRGB, Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB.

Additionally, Photomatix Pro 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.

I can't get sharp results with your software!

Lack of sharpness on tone mapped HDR images is often due to the use of Shutter priority or Program mode instead of the recommended Aperture priority mode when bracketing shots.

It it important to set your camera to Aperture priority when shooting with Automatic Exposure Bracketing. This way, only the shutter time will vary, and the Aperture will remain the same. If you set it to Shutter priority instead, the depth-of-field will change between the shots, and this will lead to inferior results on the combined image. Additionally, there may be vignetting issues too.

Are there ordering rules for loading the images?

No. You can load the images in any order, regardless of their Exposure Value.

Creating an HDR image requires to assign an exposure to each source image. Photomatix automatically retrieves the exposure information from EXIF data. When the images do not have EXIF data, Photomatix will let you enter the exposure values manually, or automatically estimate them when running in batch mode.

What are the differences between Exposure Fusion and HDR/Tonemapping?

Both processes start from the same source files: differently exposed Low Dynamic Range (LDR) images. And both attempt to produce as final result an LDR image that shows tonal details of the entire dynamic range captured by the different exposures.

The differences are in the process itself. Exposure Fusion consists in combining the differently exposed images in such a way that highlight details are taken from the underexposed photos and shadows details from the overexposed ones. Since the bit-depth does not change throughout this process, the basis of Exposure Fusion algorithms is a type of weighted average of the source images.

One of the advantage or Exposure Fusion is that it is easy to understand and you can see what you are doing. Also, it is rather familiar to photographers who are used to doing this process manually in image editing applications. Another advantage of Exposure Fusion is that it reduces noise.

HDR Tone Mapping is composed of two steps. The first step creates an HDR image from differently exposed photos. This HDR image can not be displayed correctly on a Low Dynamic Range monitor, which is why a second step called Tone Mapping is necessary. Tone Mapping consists in scaling each pixel of the HDR image, so that details in highlights and shadows show correctly on monitors and prints (those details are available in the HDR image but not directly visible in both highlights and shadows because of the low dynamic range of the display).

Tone Mapping algorithms vary from a simple gamma curve (which is often what cameras are doing when converting 12-bit RAW data to 8-bit JPEGs) to more complex operators commonly divided into two categories:

  • Global operators: mapping depends on the pixels' intensity and global image characteristics, but not on spatial location
  • Local operators: mapping takes into account the pixels' surroundings (in addition to intensity and image characteristics).

The main advantage of global operators is fast processing. Local operators require longer processing times but they are better at producing a "good-looking" photograph (the human eye adapts to contrast locally). In Photomatix Pro, the Tone Mapping method "Details Enhancer" belongs to the category of local operators and the method "Tone Compressor" to the category of global operators.

The pros and cons of Exposure Fusion vs Tone Mapping in Photomatix Pro are detailed under the section below.

Does Photomatix make use of dual and quad processors?

The current version of Photomatix Pro supports multiple processors for the Tone Compressor tone mapping method and noise reduction on source images, as well as parts of the Details Enhancer tone mapping method, Exposure Fusion/Natural method, alignment by matching features and RAW conversion. Further versions will add more multi-threading support.

However, it is important to note that most processes of Photomatix are memory-intensive, which means that multi-processor support will 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. This means that the processor has to stay idle for many cycles, waiting for data to be fetched in memory. Adding more processing power in this case will just waste even more cycles.

So, multi-core support will not improve much the processing speed of the most memory-intensive functions of Photomatix, and may even increase processing times because of the overhead incurred. However, there are still processes in Photomatix that are not particularly memory-intensive and can thus benefit from multi-threading -- the Tone Compressor tone mapping method is probably the best example, but some parts of the Details Enhancer method can benefit from it as well.

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. However, The fusion method "Highlights & Shadows - 2 images" merges only two images. If you have loaded more than two images, Photomatix Pro will let you select the images to process.

For HDR generation and all other fusion methods, you can merge as many images as you want.

When you have 3 or more bracketed shots and are using the "Exposure Fusion" functions of Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials, we recommend that you also try to merge fewer images, eliminating for instance images that do not add much values (e.g. an underexposed image where even the highlights are too dark to provide interesting details).

Is it true that Photomatix converts RAWs to JPEGs for internal processing?

No. Photomatix does not convert RAWs files to JPEG for internal processing, and never did it. It would not make sense to do this anyway, given that converting to JPEG would result in quality loss and moreover would 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 moment 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. There is an example produced with 3 scans from a film's negative here. 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.

We would recommend combining the differently exposed 16-bit outputs from your scanner with the Exposure Fusion method named 'Fusion/Natural'. Since this fusion method is mostly automatic, it is recommended to use the Batch Processing function to process the 16-bit scans to avoid out-of-memory issues.

The scans will need to have the same size before processing them. Also, the option "Align images" will have to be checked in order to correct for possible mis-registration of the scans.

Error messages and unexpected results

When I try to run Photomatix for Windows, I get an error message just after launching it

If the error message makes reference to a "process id" and "thread id" and/or includes "application has generated an exception that could not be handled", "the application or DLL is not a valid Windows image", "application failed to initialize properly" or "fatal execution engine", then the error is most likely related to a corrupted installation of the .NET framework on your computer.

Solving the issue requires to uninstall and reinstall the .NET Framework on your PC.

However, if you are on Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, an easier alternative is to download the special version of Photomatix that embeds the .NET Framework, and therefore should solve the issue. You can download this special version directly from one of the links below:

Download Photomatix Pro 5.0 with the .NET Framework embedded (28 MB).

Download Photomatix Pro 4.2 with the .NET Framework embedded (28 MB).

Download Photomatix Essentials with the .NET Framework embedded (29 MB).

It is recommended to uninstall any version of Photomatix installed on your computer before installing the .NET Framework embedded version.

When installing a newer version, I get the message "Error trying to replace existing file: DeleteFile failed; code 5"

This error message means that you are running Photomatix at the same time you tried to install the new version. To avoid this error, please make sure to close any instance of Photomatix that is already open, and then download and install the new version.

The alignment did not work with my images

As Photomatix alignment is supposed to work in all cases, we would be very grateful to get your images that Photomatix failed to align. Our engineers want to ensure that Photomatix always align images properly, but they need test images that do not align in order to further improve the alignment algorithms. You can send images to our engineers via our Upload Form, and we thank you in advance for it.

In the meantime, there are a few things to try to solve the issue. First, check the noise reduction option if you have not done so yet. Then, try to uncheck the "include perspective correction" box (or check it in case it was unchecked), assuming you used the "by matching features" method . Also, it is good to verify that you selected the appropriate alignment method: if your images were taken on a tripod, then the "by correcting shifts" method should be used, and if taken hand-held the "by matching features" one.

Note that even if adjusting the "include perspective correction" option solves the issue, we are still very interested to get your images, as our aim is to have Photomatix "guess" whether perspective correction is needed.

Why the preview does not look the same as the final output image?

If the final output image looks less "sharp" or "crisp" than the preview, this is because the preview shows the image at a lower resolution than the resolution of photos from your camera. As the preview image is small, it can be displayed directly on screen. That is, one pixel in the preview corresponds to one pixel on your monitor.

The final image, however, is too large to show in its entirety at 100% resolution with images coming from modern cameras. When you are viewing the final image at a lower resolution than its full resolution, the image is downsampled, with one pixel on screen averaging several pixels in the original image, and this has for effect of making it look less sharp.

If the difference you are observing is not the one described above, but is about the final output being darker or lighter than the preview and you are using the Details Enhancer method with the "Lighting Effects mode" box checked, then enlarging the preview (by clicking on the + magnifier icon) to a size close to its maximum should avoid the difference.

Using Photomatix for panoramas

I am stitching panoramas. How should I integrate Photomatix in my workflow?

As you know, getting a seamless panorama is best achieved by maintaining a constant exposure when shooting the panorama's views. The problem is that the right exposure is different for each view. Photomatix Pro can help solve this dilemma.

First of all, you will need to shoot each one of the panorama's angles of view at different exposures (for instance three exposures at 0, -2, +2 EV). Those exposures should remain the same for all of the angles of view of your panorama. This is easy if your camera has an auto-bracketing function -- set the exposure to manual mode, then select auto-bracketing after having set the appropriate aperture (the bracketing function will change the shutter speed automatically).

If your panorama software supports 32-bit HDR stitching, then you can use Photomatix to create the 32-bit HDR images in input of stitching, and later on to tone map the 32-bit HDR panorama once it has been stitched. In this case, integrating Photomatix in your workflow is not different than with standard images and you don't need to read the rest of this section. Please refer instead to the section on large files.

If your panorama software does not support 32-bit HDR stitching, there are two possibilities for integrating Photomatix in your panorama workflow:

  1. Stitch-then-HDR: create multi exposed panoramas and process them in Photomatix
  2. HDR-then-Stitch: process your bracketed images in Photomatix and stitch the tone mapped or combined images

We are using the first workflow, i.e. Stitch-then-HDR. This means producing one panorama for each exposure level and then merging those panoramas in Photomatix.

However, the Stitch-then-HDR workflow assumes that the differently exposed panoramas are stitched the same way, i.e. using the same control points for each panorama. This can only work if your stitching software makes it possible to replicate the stitching parameters used for one panorama to another panorama, so that it can stitch your differently exposed panoramas exactly the same way. This is possible, for instance, with software based on Panotools (see below) and with Autodesk Stitcher (see below). If this is not the case (e.g. with Panoweaver), you will have to use Photomatix prior to stitching, i.e. merging your bracketed shots for each one of the angle of views and then stitch together the resulting images.

The second type of workflow, HDR-then-Stitch, avoids multiple stitches per pano, which is an advantage if your pano is composed of a limited number of views. The drawback, however, is that this approach may not work well with the dynamic range increase techniques that take the most advantage of local contrast, especially the Tone Mapping tool. Because local contrast is specific to a given view, those techniques produce images with different tone levels, making them more difficult to stitch.

It does not necessarily mean, though, that you won't be able to stitch images obtained via HDR Tone Mapping. We have heard for instance that Autodesk Stitcher does a good job at stitching tone mapped images produced by Photomatix Pro. If you have similar experiences with other stitching applications, please let us know.

In any case, we recommend using Photomatix in batch mode for processing panoramas. The Batch Processing of Photomatix Pro has been designed with the needs of panographers in mind.

Autodesk Stitcher returns an error "Image size must be the same" when I load HDR images produced with Photomatix.

When the Align images option is selected and your bracketed images are slightly misaligned, Photomatix will by default crop the images after having corrected the alignment shifts. This means that the width and/or height of the resulting HDR image will slightly differ from the width and height of the source images, and also differ from the width and height of the other HDR images as the alignment correction is specific to a bracketed set.

To bypass the cropping of the resulting image after alignment, please check the option Don't crop located next to the Align images option on the Batch Processing window. When the Don't crop option is checked, Photomatix will not change the size of the images after alignment and Stitcher will not complain.

My tone mapped panorama shows a straight vertical seam line. Is there a way to get rid of it?

Yes. To get rid of the seam when tone mapping an HDR panorama with the Details Enhancer method, you will have to check the option "360º image" before running the Tone Mapping.

Please note that checking this option increases the memory requirement for processing the image quite a lot.

If you are tone mapping with the Tone Compressor method, then the option is not needed as you will never get a vertical seam line when using a global type of tone mapping operator such as Tone Compressor.

Could you detail how you stitched the panoramas shown on your samples page?

The panoramas shown on the examples page of this site have been stitched with Panorama Tools (also known as PanoTools).

In order to produce identically stitched panoramas per exposure, we did the following:

  1. Loaded the images shot at the middle exposure into PTGui
  2. Set the control point and stitched a first panorama for the middle exposure
  3. Saved the project file (.pts)
  4. Then for each one of the other exposure sets:
    • Loaded the images belonging to the same exposure into PTGui.
    • Selected Apply Template and chose as template the project file created for the middle exposure.

This gave us one panorama at each exposure level. We then processed the differently exposed panoramas in Photomatix Pro.

Important note: the Align Images option should always be unchecked when processing panoramas that have been rendered at different exposures, that is when processing in Photomatix already stitched panoramas, one panorama per exposure.>

For the two panoramas processed with the Tone Mapping tool, we also used Enblend, applying it to the differently exposed panoramas. Enblend was particularly useful in this case as it removed the stitching seams that the tone mapping tool would otherwise have enhanced as local details.

One note about using Enblend with Photomatix. The TIFF file produced by Enblend should be flattened before processing it in Photomatix. If you intend to use the tone mapping tool, then it is recommended to ensure that the transparent background becomes black (i.e. pixel values at 0) and not white when flattening the image, or even better to crop the panorama.

Do you have any advice for shooting virtual tours?
I'm a beginner and using a 360º one-shot lens.

  • Select a small aperture (e.g. f/8 or higher f-stop number if you camera supports it). This is important to ensure a sufficient depth of field with one-shot systems.
  • Select a low ISO setting (e.g. 100).
  • Set your camera in Aperture Priority mode, so that only the exposure times (i.e. shutter speed) vary when you are taking the bracketed shots.
  • Select Auto Exposure Bracketing (in continuous shooting mode). The camera will automatically vary the shutter speed and shoot the scene at different exposures.
  • Set the stop spacing for auto-bracketing at +/-2. If this is not possible with your camera, +/- 1.5 should be still OK. If the maximum stop-spacing on your camera is lower than that, you will have to vary the exposure times manually.
  • Make sure to take enough exposures to correctly cover the dynamic range of the room. If there is a bright window, you will probably need 5 exposures spaced by two EVs or even more (which means you will have to bracket twice if your camera can not take more than 3 autobracketed frames in 2 EV steps).
  • If there is a bright window, it is a good idea to switch on all available lighting in the room.

For a good quality panorama, we recommend stitching multiple views rather than using a one-shot system.

Miscellaneous

How do I get informed about your product updates?

Please subscribe to Photomatix announcements to receive notifications of upgrades.

Note that we have a strict privacy policy. This means we do not use the email addresses of customers, unless they explicitly requested to be notified about upgrades by subscribing to the announcements.

How do I change my email address to my new one?

The answer depends on the reason for changing your email address in our records of your purchase.

If it is because you expect to receive a newsletter when you purchase a license of Photomatix, then this won't happen automatically, as our strict privacy policy precludes us from using the email address of your order for marketing purposes.

So, if you wish to get informed of new versions of our products, you will need to explicitly request it by subscribing to the Photomatix announcements. If you already subscribed with your old email address, then you would just need to subscribe again with the new one.

If you wish to change the email address in our records because you need to be resent your license key, then please contact us mentioning your old email address.

Is there a wish-list for Photomatix?

Definitely. Please use our Technical Support Form to let us know about your suggestions or ideas usin/feature requests. Thank you in advance.

How do I transfer to Photomatix Pro version 5 my presets saved with version 3?

This question is only applicable to the Windows version of Photomatix Pro, as the presets location did not change in the case of the Mac version.

In Photomatix Pro version 3 for Windows, presets you saved using the "Save Settings" feature where stored in the 'Presets' folder of the directory where you had installed Photomatix Pro. If you installed it in the default location (and assuming you installed on a C drive), then the presets are in this folder:

C:\Program Files\PhotomatixPro3\Presets

In Photomatix Pro version 4 and 5, presets are now stored in your Application Data directory instead of the installation directory of Photomatix Pro. So, to transfer your presets from version 3, you will have to move the XMP files in the above folder to the following location depending on your OS:

Windows Vista, 7 or 8:

C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\HDRsoft\PhotomatixPro\Presets

Windows XP:

C:\Documents and Settings\<UserName>\Application Data\HDRsoft\PhotomatixPro\Presets

Where <UserName> is the name of the user under which Photomatix Pro was installed.

You changed the name of settings in the new Photomatix Pro version. What was their names in older versions?

Four Details Enhancer settings were renamed in Photomatix Pro v4.1 and one in v5.0:

Old nameNew name
LuminosityTone Compression
MicrocontrastDetails Contrast
SmoothingLighting Adjustments
Light ModeLighting Effects Mode
Highlights SmoothnessSmooth Highlights

Two "Fusion/Natural" settings were renamed in Photomatix Pro v4.2 and one in v5.0

Old nameNew name
AccentuationStrength
Blending PointBrightness
SharpnessLocal Contrast

Why do you charge for your Aperture Plugin in while the Lightroom Export Plugin to Photomatix Pro is free?

Though Aperture and Lightroom are similar type of applications, their plug-in architectures are quite different.

The Photomatix Pro Plugin for Lightroom has for only purpose to export images in the Lightroom library to the standalone Photomatix Pro, and re-importing back the resulting image to Lightroom. This means the plugin itself doesn't perform any HDR processing and can't do anything interesting without the standalone Photomatix Pro. The photos exported via the Lightroom plugin are processed in Photomatix Pro, and not in Lightroom.

By contrast, the Photomatix HDR Plugin for Aperture is an Edit Plug-in which works completely independently from the standalone Photomatix Pro. An Edit plugin is similar to a Filter plugin in Photoshop. The images you edit with the plugin remain in Aperture and are processed by the plugin itself.

You do not need Photomatix Pro to create HDR photos with the Aperture plug-in, which is why the Aperture Plugin is sold separately from the standalone Photomatix Pro (or bundled with it in Photomatix Pro Plus). However, you do need Photomatix Pro if you use the Lightroom Export Plugin to Photomatix Pro.

Do you offer a discount to students?

Yes. You will find the details on the academic pricing page.

Can I install two different versions of Photomatix Pro in parallel?

Yes, as long as you install each version in a separate folder.

Is there any chance you will release a Linux version of Photomatix?

Yes, and we are currently working on it, though as a low priority, and we don't know yet when it will be ready.

In the meantime, note that it is possible to run the Windows version of Photomatix Pro under Linux through Wine. To run Photomatix Pro after version 3.0, you will need to install the .NET framework under Wine. The instructions to install Wine and the .NET framework under Fedora and Ubuntu are detailed here.

Is there a Photomatix app for the iPad?

Photomatix is not available as iPad app for the moment, but we are considering offering one in the future.

If you have suggestions or ideas for an edition of Photomatix that runs on the iPad, you are welcome to share them with us. You can submit your suggestions via the Technical Support Form, selecting "Suggestions / Feature Request" for the type of query.