May 26th, 2015
Dwayne asked the following:
I have used Photoshop from it’s first edition. Now I have the new Photoshop CC along with Lightroom CC. I’ve never used Lightroom before but have seen a lot about Enfuse. My question is: now that LR has it’s own “Merge to HDR”, do I really need LR/Enfuse? The LR version seems to work faster than LR/Enfuse. I have Photomatix Pro 5 but I am not happy with the garish colors it sometimes gives and I end up desaturating everything. Your thoughts?
Since Simon Maxwell (author of the Enfuse e-book and video series) is the expert on the LR/Enfuse plugin because he uses it intensively, I asked Simon to weigh in on this subject. Here is Simon’s answer:
Batch processing: LR/Enfuse is still ahead of LR merge to HDR in that you can bundle up/stack all the bracketed groups of files in one sitting in LR and then leave Enfuse to it. I don’t think there is any other system/process to beat it on time-saving. This can be a huge time savings.
The long tonal range DNG (RAW) file generated by Lightroom: while this could be seen to be an advantage in terms of further adjustments to the blended file presumably displaying the same characteristics as standard adjustments in Lightroom to RAW files. I have found that making basic adjustments to the 8 bit TIF generated by LR/Enfuse to be a predictable process with no loss of quality. Highlights can be recovered still further and there is plenty of shadow detail to be uncovered by means of the usual Lightroom develop sliders, post-enfuse. it has been said that HDR is the new RAW and I have enjoyed working with an enfused file for all images from a shoot. These files seem just as rich in tonal information as RAW files with the ability to extend their apparent range even further with careful global adjustments. If you think you might be applying major changes in contrast or exposure you can always output from Enfuse in 16 bit but I have run tests on the same file in both 8 and 16 bit to which major adjustments have then been applied and have really not noticed any appreciable improvement for working in 16 bit (with the added doubling up of storage space which that entails).
Speed of processing: Lightroom CC seems to be able to produce an effective result with fewer files which would benefit processing times and there are reports of quicker processing in general. Since putting an SSD and 12GB of RAM in my Macbook Pro (I do not use a desktop) I have found LR/Enfuse runs very quickly. I am actually able to work on other images/stacking while the main enfusing of shoots of regularly up to 100 plus images are being processed in the background. There is no doubt though that for those running laptops/systems with lower RAM/ processing power the LR merge to HDR function may be a more efficient process than running Enfuse from Lightroom.
Conclusion: If you have an adequately configured laptop or desktop that you do your post processing on you will probably find the batch processing features of LR/Enfuse still has a big advantage over LR merge to HDR.
What are others experiences?