A Closer Look At The New Beta 3 Photomatix Fusion/Realistic Option

April 9th, 2012

Mike Yother aka Swampman pointed out to me last week that the HDRsoft site has a new 4.2 Beta 3 version of Photomatix that has what they are calling a Fusion/Realistic processing option. The beta test download page describes the feature as follows:

“New fusion method called Fusion/Realistic designed to work well for real-estate type of scenes involving interiors with bright windows. Note that this method is only accessible in batch mode and requires much longer processing times than the other methods.”

Sounds like an awesome feature and it in fact does add some serious darkening to bright windows. However, as you can see from the example to the right that compares the same brackets processed as Fusion/Natural w/defaults (image on top) to the Fusion/Realistic w/defaults on the bottom there are some negative side effects. The side effect is that the algorithm has a hard time distinguishing where the bright glass stops and the white woodwork starts and the “window pull” algorithm ends up pulling the woodwork as much as the windows and turning white woodwork black. Scott DuBose shows another example in the PFRE HDR/Blending flickr group that has some similar artifacts but in Scott’s example the problem manifests as a small halo on the wall.

First I tried fooling around with the Photomatix Fusion processing settings without any luck at changing the darkening side effects. Then it dawned on me since I had all these test images in Lightroom 4 why not just use the new Highlight/Shadow sliders on the Fusion/Natural image and see if Lightroom 4 would just pull the windows. And anyone that is already using LR 4 already knows the answer. The answer is that yes, if you take the top image into the development module, slide the Highlight slider to the left (to darken the highlights) and the Shadow slider to the right (to lighten the shadows) and I like to crank up the Clarity slider a bit to the right then you end up with a final image every bit as good as the Fusion/Realistic image but without the very dark woodwork!

Has anyone else played around with this new Photomatix Fusion/Realistic beta feature?

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15 Responses to “A Closer Look At The New Beta 3 Photomatix Fusion/Realistic Option”

  • Larry,

    I use Photomatix Pro 4.02 every day and the windows come out great. I use 5 or 9 brackets depending on the room. If room has windows, I use 9 brackets at 1 stop each. I am shooting a D3 and D700.

    I batch all my photos first using DXO and then batch using Photomatix set to “Fuse exposure with H&S – Adjust” and leave all the adjustments to default. I seldom have to do any more adjustments after that. If it get a really dark room I may bracket with the flash also. I normally meter off the windows and sometimes I will do a second round of brackets in an area half way between with windows and a dark area.

    I normally do 3 to 4 houses and day and if flashed every house I would never get finished.

  • John,

    What is it you do in DXO in your first step?



  • I more or less follow the exact same workflow as you John using DxO first to batch for lens correction, vignetting etc and then Photomatix Pro 4.02 with more tweaking to get get as realistic a look as possible. All great, but white window frames always look grey, even with 9 shots. I’m currently experimenting with ways to try and improve this including the use of flash

  • I’ve been using Timothy Armes LR/Enfuse for years now and I love the results. I gave up on Photomatix, I just couldn’t get it close enough to truly realistic final results. Give LR/Enfuse a try, the price is much less (he asks for donations) than any HDR converter and the end results are impressive.

    Its only achilles heal is it doesn’t darken the windows enough. I manage that after the batch runs all complete. I typically setup the batch runs to process while I make/eat dinner. They are always done when I meander back into my office.

    Larry are you adjusting the highlights on the image globally (which might adversely affect other elements of the image) or with a local adjustment brush? Because I have to admit I do like how the window “contents” look.

  • @Jim
    I just use DXO for lens correction only and batch everything I did that day. Lot faster than using Lightroom or other programs.

  • @ Rick

    I agree that Enfuse does a better job. But my version for Mac will crash if I use it to batch a lot of photos, so I went back to Photomatix. It works OK for just a few photos.

  • Hey guys,

    I have been trying like mad to get an HDR program to get closer to Vicaso’s results with not much success. Photomatix has been trying and I have to applaud them for that. I’ve been testing this “realistic” setting for some time now and it’s coming close to let’s say “Exposio”, but not quite there. The processing time on 9 jpegs can take up to 15 minutes for 1 photo as well.

    Aside from the darkness around the windows, the “blue” skies are turning out a bit muddy at times as well.

    I shot for awhile with Vicaso and they had me shooting 12 exposures on medium jpeg. With just the software, they get great results. I am also however convinced that they “color replace” most of the walls and ceilings. That was never told to me however. The white balance they get however is great.

    For me, I’m now using Bracketeer. Basically Enfuse, but really slick. I also take a really rough flash exposure to blend in photoshop. Nothing fancy unless it’s a luxury home where I’m paid more. I’ll then go the extra mile and do a more complex hybrid approach.

    BTW, I had been using photomatix fusion and combining them with complex lighting setups for years. Now it’s Bracketeer all the way.

    You can see my basic style here.

    Happy Shooting


  • @ John

    I find that a bit perplexing. I do stacks of 5 to 9 images in Lightroom and then batch process anywhere from 10 – 15 or more stacks with great success. Thinking back I don’t recall LR/Enfuse ever crashing/failing for me. OK that’s not entirely true. It has complained when I upgrade Lightroom but that’s to be expected. I’m on a Mac on Lion currently using Lightroom 4.0 and LR/Enfuse 4.13.

    You might want to check which version of LR/Enfuse you are using. The current one is at 4.13 and can be found here:

  • I’ve been very happy with LR Enfuse for my business. However I’ve never been able to get the batch processing to work. I hoped that with the upgrade to LR 4 and the newest Enfuse update it might work but batch is still not working. I get an error message that says it failed to import the images. Any ideas?

  • To Mark,

    I use bracketeer and it works flawless for me.

  • @greg- the email you are using is invalid, could you send me an emai at larry at I have a couple of questions for you.

  • My email address should be working now. Thanks for the heads up Larry. I’ll email you now.


  • Little note though, Bracketeer is Mac only…

  • @rick

    My version is running through an Xfuse .5 version front end for mac. Are you using the Xfuse front end? It does not crash all the time, just when I do a few hundred images. Maybe I need to get a newer version!

  • I use Enfuse batch processing daily, & it has never crashed on me once. Works flawlessly imo. This has been the case in LR3 & 4…

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