HDRexpress Helps You Get to Natural Looking Color Fast

December 12th, 2010

I’ve been using HDRexpress from Unified Color for the last couple of days and I’m impressed with how quickly you can get an a final image with natural looking color from a series of brackets.

It has an intuitive interface and a straight forward two step process of first choosing a tone mapping preset that sets the highlight/shadow values and then selecting a image style preset that controls the overall style of the image.

I tested HDRexpress with a set of brackets from a bright red living room and fairly bright windows. I use this living room as a test case for HDR and Exposure Fusion processing because I originally found it was quite a challenge processing this set of brackets with Photomatix when I originally shot this room. Here is what the Photomatix processed image looks like using the “Enhancer-Smooth” preset using the current version 4.o of Photomatix Pro. On the other hand, I found with HDRexpress, that on the first try I could very quickly get a fairly natural looking image. As far as the interior rendition of this image I still like the job that EnfuseGUI does on this set of brackets best. The problem with the EnfuseGUI rendition is that the window detail isn’t as nice. All of these images are processed with just the default settings with no adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop because I want to see which approach gets the closest to an acceptable image in the minimun amount of time. You can decide for yourself but for me HDRexpress is the winner in this speed-to-natural-color test.

HDRexpress comes with a Lightroom and Aperture plug-in so you can work from within your favorite work-flow management application. It’s available for both Windows and Mac platforms. HDRexpress has distilled the sliders down to seven very intuitive sliders.

In real estate photography when you are doing a bunch of shoots a day it’s essential to be able to get to a natural looking image in a minimum of time without a bunch of trips into Photoshop. This is why many real estate photographers are moving to from HDR to Exposure Fusion processing. I  think HDRexpress can give you the speed and natural look of Exposure Fusion yet still has the ability to make an image look a little more dramatic if you choose to do that. And as you can see from the examples above it holds window detail better than Exposure Fusion.

The only thing I see missing in HDRexpress for real estate photographers is batch processing. But HDRexpress’ big brother application, HDRexpose has batch processing.

Note: The discount code “HOLIDAY2010” at checkout gets you 15% off UnifiedColor products through December.

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7 Responses to “HDRexpress Helps You Get to Natural Looking Color Fast”

  • Have a look also at the new Oloneo beta ; really excellent and has the first pass of ghosting control. The 32float product from the HDR Expose lot also works very well in combination with CS5’s HDR generation.

  • I did my own test and I’ll stick with Photomatix 4.0. The “Smooth Enhancer” preset gets me real close in most all of the situations I’ve encountered.
    Best Regards,

  • Is there a coupon code for that? 😉

  • @Chris- Yea, sorry I forgot to mention. HOLIDAY2010 at checkout gets you 15% off.

  • i find that in photomatrix tone compressor gives best results for interior photography.
    also, photoshop cs5 has some new amazing hdr features that are worth looking into.
    hdr express is a great program, just not towards a professional with a great work load.

  • I’m using LR Enfuse and have been happy with the results. There is some ghosting around really bright windows though, but I’ve found that so far, no Realtors have noticed that. I do though and it bugs me, so I’m always looking for better software. I’m also having trouble running batch processing in Enfuse which is another reason I’m looking at others. Thanks for the write up on this one Larry.

  • See my site for for HDR Express coupon code.

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