Comparison Chart

  Photomatix Pro Photomatix Essentials Tone Mapping Plugin
Application Type Standalone +
Lightroom Plugin
Standalone Photoshop CS/CC Plugin
Merge to HDR n/a (*)
Maximum number of bracketed photos per set Unlimited 5 n/a
HDR "Look" with a Single Photo
Details Enhancer rendering method
Contrast Optimizer rendering method -
Tone Balancer rendering method - -
Fusion/Natural rendering method -
Fusion/Interior rendering method - -
Brush Tool - -
Advanced HDR rendering settings -
Blend with original - -
Finishing (Sharpening & Contrast) -
Crop Tool -
Straightening Tool - -
Undo HDR rendering
Saving & Loading Custom Presets
Thumbnails of Built-in Presets
Thumbnails of Custom Presets - -
Favorite Presets - -
Preset Thumbnails Display Options - -
Histogram - -
Native RAW support n/a
Fusion from a single RAW file - -
Noise Reduction -
Alignment of hand-held photos n/a (*)
Automatic Ghost Removal n/a (*)
Selective Ghost Removal - n/a (*)
Chromatic Aberrations Reduction - -
Color Managed Workflow
Batch Bracketed Photos - -
Batch Single Photos - -
Opens & saves in 32-bit HDR image formats - n/a (*)
Integration with Lightroom - n/a
Host Requirement none (Standalone) none (Standalone) Photoshop CS2 to CC

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

(*) 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.