HDRstudio: An Emerging Alternative For HDR Processing

August 10th, 2009

The last week or so I’ve been talking to Igor Tryndin, the CTO of, about their HDRStudio product. Even though HDRstudio is still a Windows only product, Igor convinced me to give it a try.

I’ve not used HDRstudio enough to form a strong opinion of it but I have used it on several images that I’ve previously processed with Photomatix. What I’d like to do is point the product out to readers and do a collaborative assessment of what real estate HDR shooters think of this HDR processing alternative. There is a 30 day trial download on the website. If you like it enough to purchase it Igor is offering PFRE readers a 15% discount here.

Here are some of my thoughts on HDRstudio at this point:

  1. I call HDRstudio an “emerging alternative” because in my mind a product like this must support both Windows and OS X to be a serious alternative. Igor says they understand that and are working on a Mac version. Interfaces from Lightroom and Aperture are also important.
  2. So far, it’s clear to me that HDRstudio tends to create fairly realistic results. That is, if you like the fantasy HDR look HDRstudio is not for you. This is a positive for real estate work I think.
  3. To me it feels like the workflow of trying out various adjustments is slower on HDRstudio than Photomatix because the whole merged image file is processed each time you change a slider.
  4. I think you have more control over color within HDRstudio than with Photomatix. I feel less inclined to take the final image into Lightroom for final adjustments.
  5. The images I’ve processed so far don’t have the characteristic soft, foggy look that frequently occurs with Photomatix. This can be a positive or negative depending on ones tastes and the particular image.

So what do you think? Have you used HDRstudio? How do you like it’s results? Try it out and tell us what you think.

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12 Responses to “HDRstudio: An Emerging Alternative For HDR Processing”

  • I saw this on Blochi’s site recently… I typically trust his opinion… he gives it rave reviews:

    I’m still stuck in my Enfuse ways b/c it’s so darn simple, but I agree, this looks worth tinkering with for RE.

    Post up some Photomatix/HDRstudio/Enfuse/etc comparison images if you have a chance.

  • How funny, I was talking to David Palermo yesternight about this… It’s on my todo things this week sometime. I’ll report back

  • Someone just suggested that I take a look at: which is a Mac only product.

    My general philosophy is that I don’t pay much attention to PC only products or Mac only products. The readership here is diverse and uses both Macs (33%) and PC (66%) and the most important products work on both PC and Mac. I would not even brought up the HDRstudio product if it wasn’t for the fact that I know they are working hard on a Mac version.

  • I did not love the program, but it is functional. There are fewer adjustments to be made compared to photomatrix, but that is not necessarily a good thing. There were tweaks I would have liked to do, but just could not find a control for it. Also, very dark areas on my photos seemed to have lost pixels in the merge…I could not find any adjustments that would bring them back. Speed still seems to be the greatest hurdle with the HDR software…I don’t see them being too much faster than manually photoshoping images. I can’t wait to see more comments on this subject.

  • I’ve tried HDR PhotoStudio now on a few files that I had previously processed with Photomatix. The results are similar.

    It seems to me that the problem with most of these programs is that they are not specifically designed for Real Estate photography. HDR would be great for Real Estate if the program could identify where the windows are and then use the correct exposure for the indoor part of the photo, and a different but correct exposure for the outdoor part of the photo. Isn’t this what we want? Isn’t this why HDR has such great potential in this field–the ability to correctly expose and balance indoor light (usually dark) with the outdoor light (usually bright)?

    When I use HDR I end up having to mask the windows and play around with the overall exposure. It takes too long to get natural looking results and to be used on a regular basis

    I think a company like Vicaso, which has developed its own proprietary HDR program specifically for Real Estate, must have solved the window recognition problem. That’s why they are able to process so much work quickly and for a reasonable price and with fairly predictable and acceptable results.

    Is any software company working on developing an HDR module specifically for Real Estate Photography?

  • I agree about the windows. I’ve tried endless exposure ranges and combinations in Photomatix without finding a combo that yields consistent results.

    Anyone here working with Vicaso?

  • Tried it on the same source images I used in Photomatix.

    No choice of installation location (doesn’t use windows installer?!).

    Too few controls, TONS of noise, doesn’t make good use of my twin dual quad processors. Got good window results, but couldn’t get enough brightness in the midtones & shadows.

    And – WHY is it 50% more expensive than Photomatix?!

  • I just tried it… loaded 4 images that gave a good result in Photomatix (4 DXO JPGs, processed from 4 D3 NEFs), and went for the “merge optimal”. The result was a total joke, it looked like a speckled, barely visible cartoon. That trial stayed installed on my machine about 20mn.

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  • I’ve been using Photomatix for more than two years doing RE. My biggest problems were getting good views thru windows and bad looking dark fabrics on furnature (e.g., black/dark brown leather couch, etc.). I believe both these problems are in large part solved by giving Photomatix more data. To this end, now my normal interior work flow brings home 7 exposures (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3).

  • Hello all,

    I’ve been using Photomatix for about 18 months with less-than-stellar results and so not using it for RE just yet, until I get a handle on it. If it’s not asking for trade secrets in public, does anyone want to give me a snapshot (so to speak) of what settings they’re using prior to merge?

    I’d also like to know what percentage of those merged shots are going into PhotoShop for a final tweek.

    I would love to be producing those really excellent HDR shots but mine are looking not quite real, which I don’t think is the right way to go.

    I shoot with a 7D and import via Lightroom3.

    Thanks in advance for your tips.

  • I shot for Vicaso very briefly. They have me shoot with “no” lights and do a series of exposures from almost complete darkness to almost completely over exposed. Maybe around 12 exposures. They have you shoot large jpeg.

    They spent a ton of money developing their own program. There is no photoshop unless the realtor wants to replace a sky, car, etc.

    I don’t know of any program out there coming close to the results Vicaso gets. If any of you know of such a program, let me know.

    Now…..I “hand blend” most of my commercial images. No way I’m spending that time on a real estate gig. They just don’t pay well.


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