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Old Jan 17, 2010, 12:51 AM   #1
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Default Questions/Comments on DPHDR Software

I just downloaded the trial version of DPHDR and have some initial impressions, comments and questions.

My initial series were some I took early Friday morning, as sunrise was starting. So my longest shutter speed on a number of pictures were 30 sec. My normal workflow is to first import the raw files into Lightroom, then use it to select the frames for the HDR and export to Photomatix (there's a plug-in for this), which brings up the Photomatix dialog box and automatically imports the saved HDR back into Lightroom.

You can't do that with DPHDR since it doesn't have the plug-in. That is probably not a big deal normally because DPHDR works with raw files (it didn't have a problem with the DNG files I use, at least). However, with this series it made a big difference, since I don't think my camera does black frame noise reduction when you use auto bracketing. Lightroom automatically corrects for hot pixels and since you are exporting from LR into Photomatix, it's using files without them. DPHDR uses the original, uncorrected raw files, so there's quite a few hot pixels. So I should have exported the raw files from LR first to correct the hot pixels. This wouldn't be an issue if my shutter speeds hadn't been so slow.

Second, the alignment function is probably more versatile, but probably fussier. There's the ability to push frames around, lining up one spot then going to the next spot. I haven't tried it yet, most of the times these types of things get me frustrated before I become good enough to do it easily. They do offer an auto alignment function, but in a case of one hand-held series the auto function didn't properly line up the frames, where Photomatix didn't have a problem. On the other hand, this series was one that Photomatix added a huge amount of noise to and I don't quite know why as everything had texture (it was a brick wall and staircase picture). DPHDR did a significantly better job with the HDR part of it, just didn't automatically line it up right.

The series with all the hot pixels was interesting for another reason. The Photomatix version using the program's default settings was flat (it normally is) so I always add contrast to it in LR. The DPHDR version (I had played with some of the sliders) had better contrast to begin with.

When I looked at one part of the picture at 100%, the DPHDR version had much more saturated colors - so much so that it interfered with the amount of fine detail compared to the Photomatix/LR version. I think I would want to lower the saturation with DPHDR - there's a slider that you can use to control it. I do know that I tend to not like the super-saturated look that some cameras are known for, choosing instead a more natural, muted look with as much fine detail as I can possibly capture. Perhaps I've gone too far with this.

I did have some trouble with my computer hanging up when using it. My hard drive is probably too full or perhaps my laptop doesn't have enough memory, or it might be a bit buggy when it comes to running on a Mac, as it's really designed for Windows. Or all of the above contributed to it. Are there other Mac people using it?

I know that I've got a long way to go before I can really draw any conclusions as to whether I'll want to switch programs. I know that with HDR it depends heavily on the particular scene as well as what you start out with. I wouldn't imagine someone using 3 frames with one stop between them would use the same settings as someone using 5 frames and 2 stops between frames. So asking what settings someone else is using may not be very useful, but I'd appreciate any tips/suggestions anyone has that would help me figure out the program faster. Like anything else, I saw some positives and some negatives right away.
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Old Jan 17, 2010, 7:52 AM   #2
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I did have some trouble with my computer hanging up when using it. My hard drive is probably too full or perhaps my laptop doesn't have enough memory, or it might be a bit buggy when it comes to running on a Mac, as it's really designed for Windows. Or all of the above contributed to it. Are there other Mac people using it?
I gave the Windows version a spin under Wine with Linux (I keep both Windows and Linux installed on my PCs and use Linux most of the time), and I didn't notice any stability issues (and speed of operation also seemed fine in Linux).

So, you may want to give the Windows version a spin and see if it works better for you. I'm not a Mac user, but it looks like you can install Wine on a Mac, too.

Here's an article on the subject:

http://davidbaumgold.com/tutorials/wine-mac/
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Old Jan 17, 2010, 1:18 PM   #3
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Hi, mtngal. Sorry I'm not much help as I think you're far more advanced than me. I just want to say I too experience the occasionsl frustrations and surprises when considering alternatives. So I'd say stick with what you're already accustomed to but with an open eye to what's out there -- which I think is what you're already doing.

Having said that, when Walter said DPHDR is the more powerful of the two a few posts ago, I took it with much grain of salt because it sounded to me like a generalization. But I must admit I can't deny his statement outright. Over time, I began to see what he means and tended to agree (which doesn't mean much as I haven't put Photomatix through its paces).

In the end I'm glad to know you (and JimC) are at least looking into DPHDR because I'm always interested in how others might use it.

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Old Jan 17, 2010, 1:26 PM   #4
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BTW, here's a free open source HDR software solution you guys may want to give a spin, too. It's a popular solution with Linux users. But, they also have Windows and Mac versions of it:

http://qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net/

It's probably not as full featured as some of the commercial products. But, the price is right. ;-)
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Old Jan 17, 2010, 2:41 PM   #5
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I've played some more with DPHDR this morning and didn't have any trouble with stability - I think I must have had too much open or something or else I was being too impatient. So I can throw out that as a comment.

I tried the sunrise pictures that hadn't looked all that good in Photomatix, but they also suffered in DPHDR, but for different reasons.

Photomatix introduced noise that wasn't there, while DPHDR didn't. Advantage DPHDR.

The auto alignment worked perfectly in Photomatix, I couldn't properly align the frames in DPHDR. The program couldn't do it using the auto feature, and I couldn't see details in certain frames to do it properly (too dark). When I used the auto brightness to lighten those frames, I still had trouble getting the points lined up (would have had to use the pin function and I didn't want to spend huge amounts of time on it). Advantage Photomatix.

The HDR process window in DPHDR is smaller - that can have advantages and disadvantages. I find sometimes its easier to see tone/contrast better in a small thumbnail. But for detail and saturation, its a disadvantage. I found these particular sunrise pictures it was a disadvantage as once I processed them then looked at the full-sized image in Photoshop, I saw detail problems I hadn't noticed when looking at the smaller version.

I also discovered something else about Photomatix - I've noticed occasionally in the past that the preview you see in the program doesn't quite match what is output. The differences are usually small (if at all) but can sometimes be very distracting. The interesting thing is that the noise that I had seen/found so objectionable in the preview wasn't as bad as I had expected when I looked at the actual processed picture. It was the first time that I had ever actually processed one.

The other thing I tried was using tone mapping, something I hardly ever used with Photomatix. There were two different series I was playing with and I found one of them worked better with tone mapping, the other with detail enhancer, and the tonemapped one didn't have much noise, definitely less than the detail enhancer one did. I'll keep that in mind for the future.

Like last night, the DPHDR had better contrast than the Photomatix versions. However, that is something that's easy to adjust in Lightroom so while that's a definite advantage for DPHDR for many people, it's not as big of an advantage for me. I got the saturation better this time.

I now have have a better idea of the advantages of each program. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, and each will be preferred by different people. I can certainly understand why someone would prefer DPHDR - the output from the program is much more a final product, while I think of Photomatix as being just one step in my processing work-flow, providing a starting point for further adjustment.

However, I'm going to stick with Photomatix for two reasons - first, the auto alignment function is better with Photomatix and that's huge for me since I'm often shooting without a tripod. Second, Photomatix fits better into my workflow because I use Lightroom and the Photomatix plug-in method of processing is easier.

This has been a fun exercise, since it got me to try some new things with Photomatix. And I'm even more delighted that I could try DPHDR without having to spend money on it first. Also, I ended up being quite happy with the two sunrise pictures, after I got done playing around with them (in more than just the two HDR software packages).

I'm going to check out Jim's free software program, I'm always looking for new stuff.
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Old Jan 17, 2010, 11:52 PM   #6
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BTW, here's a free open source HDR software solution you guys may want to give a spin, too. It's a popular solution with Linux users. But, they also have Windows and Mac versions of it:

http://qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net/

It's probably not as full featured as some of the commercial products. But, the price is right. ;-)
I went to the above link, and downloaded the latest version of Qt. Doesn't seem to do anything at all...

Dave
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Old Jan 18, 2010, 12:40 AM   #7
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dont forget to try easy hdr too they do have a free version .... or you can pay for the pro http://easyhdr.com/download.php
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Old Jan 18, 2010, 5:08 AM   #8
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I went to the above link, and downloaded the latest version of Qt. Doesn't seem to do anything at all...

Dave
Did you install, unzip and install the.dll package it mentions in the Windows section on the download page; as well as download and run the setup.exe program to install the main program? With Windows, you have to install the Luminous HDR .dll package, too. IOW, you have more than one thing to download and install with the Windows version (as mentioned in the Windows download section).
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Old Jan 18, 2010, 5:12 AM   #9
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Oops.. You're running on a Mac Mini, right? With a Mac, you have to install QT4 for OS X, too (you'll see a link to it in the Mac download section).
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Old Jan 18, 2010, 2:27 PM   #10
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- ...Second, the alignment function is probably more versatile, but probably fussier. There's the ability to push frames around, lining up one spot then going to the next spot. I haven't tried it yet, most of the times these types of things get me frustrated before I become good enough to do it easily.

- ...I think I would want to lower the saturation with DPHDR - there's a slider that you can use to control it...
I know that one of Photomatix's strenght is its automatic aligning-function - which is great!! So good in fact that one gets kind of 'sloppy' when shooting for HDR. You think - "Oh well, Photomatix will line it up anyway, I'll save time and shoot handheld instead of taking time to folding out my tripod!"

--- If you'd use a tripod, Photomatix would even do a better job!

So does DPHDR. I used to shoot tripod only for DPHDR-pictures, but I have learned - thanks to vvcarpio's explanation of how it works - using the Pin-Warping methode (which is amazing) in DPHDR, which lets you align exposures manually to the same degree. I get well aligned HDR's out of handheld shots with DPHDR now, I didn't to start with! And I do no less than 5 exposures for each HDR.

Mind you, I usually carry my tripod and use my tripod if at all possible. But if I'm in a bind, I make my handheld 5-exposure shots (keeping my breath...) and know that I can align them also in DPHDR.

The Pin-Warping method is a very small and not so steep learning-curve actually, once you done it a few times, it is 'no sweat'!


Concerning saturation:
DPHDR does oversaturate, yes!
My default is "Eye Catching" where I always turn down "Vivid Colors" to zero and most of the time slide down "Color Saturation" to maximum 70% - and then I go from there. You can save 'Presets' with the controls set to your own preferrance, and call them up, whenever you want to. This is particularely useful if you have a whole series of one shooting-session to generate. You just save the first 'Preset' after you have found your own 'style', and the just load this 'preset' with all of the following renderings, and they will all have the same type of saturation, contrast, etc. etc. - Really useful! I use it all the time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
- ...The HDR process window in DPHDR is smaller - that can have advantages and disadvantages. I find sometimes its easier to see tone/contrast better in a small thumbnail. But for detail and saturation, its a disadvantage. I found these particular sunrise pictures it was a disadvantage as once I processed them then looked at the full-sized image in Photoshop, I saw detail problems I hadn't noticed when looking at the smaller version.


Yes, this is true. But I am afraid that you have not been aware of the of the "Pre-View"-button (Lower row of buttons, the one with "2x Fine" on), which function will give you a rather big window with a pre-view, actually bigger than in Photomatix. Do NOT use the "Full"-button next to it, as it will generate a full-scale pre-mapping which takes for ages to show...(go, get yourself a cup of coffee in the meantime...)

I have done a "print-screen" to show you where this button is, and I hope that this will be of some help. If not for you, maybe to somebody else. I am not so good in making these 'user manuals' and explaining functions and the likes, as I am in constant need of translations and I am always at loss for words to describe something as technically...
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Last edited by Walter_S; Jan 18, 2010 at 3:06 PM. Reason: Spelling errors!!! :o/
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