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Photomatix 3.1 Adds a Lightroom Export Plugin

Published: 08/10/2008

I'm glad to see that the 3.1 version of Photomatix has added a Lightroom export plugin. Photomatix 3.1 is still in Beta. I've been using the Beta 8 version of Photomatix for several days and I like being able to use Photomatix from Lightroom.

The only downside that I've found to the current export plugin is that it does not re-import the final tonemapped or blended image back into Lightroom like LR/Enfuse does. To me, it makes a great deal of sense to keep both the final image stacked with the RAW images that when into make the final image.

When I suggested this to HDRsoft their reply was as follows:

Thank you for your suggestion.

I asked one member of our team who is using Lightroom
on a daily basis to have a look at this idea. He discussed
this with another LR user, and they both say that they do
not like to have their processed image in the same
location as their RAW file, and do not think this is a good
thing. They systematically separate both, and thus prefer
the ability (as implemented in Photomatix Pro 3.1 beta with
the option on the Save dialog) to import the final processed
image in Lightroom the way they want.

We could make it an option to have the saved image automatically imported back in to the source folder, but we will see first if we received more requests
for it before working on it.

So what do you think? If you agree with me about grouping everything together send HDRSoft an e-mail (support at hdrsoft dot com) an let help me convince them.

Larry Lohrman

18 comments on “Photomatix 3.1 Adds a Lightroom Export Plugin”

  1. I've been using Photomatix 3.0 with LR 2.0 with great success. I setup an "Edit with" that points to the exe for photomatix. I do my work in Photomatix and save the final TIF file in the same folder as the RAW files. Once back in LR I go to the library module and right click on the folder where the TIF file is and click on Synchronize. This imports any new files including the freshly created HDR blended TIF from Photomatix.

    Pretty simple really.

  2. Rick- Oh sure, there are workarounds, but how should it work to maximize convenience? It's possible for photomatix to automatically just put processed files in the source folder with out you doing anything. Wouldn't you rather have it work that way?

  3. Larry- I am a long time Photomatix user and I fully agree with you that PM should save right back to where the NEFs or CR2s came from. When I use PTLens or Photoshop CS3 from LR2 that's what happens right?
    I'll send HDRSoft a message on this and hope others will too. If they make it a toggle/option I'd like that.

  4. Larry,

    I'd like to keep the same image file at the same locations, both raw and processed so i don't need to look for it.

    I have snet HDRSoft an email on this.

  5. Thanks for everyone's support on this issue! I've left a comment on this subject over at because I actually got the idea of keeping all the exposures for a HDR or blended image stacked together with the final image from a video that Matt did on Photomatix see:

    Matt keeps all the exposures for a tonemapped or blended image in the same stack with the finished image on top and the RAW images hidden. I think this is a very natural organization and the automatic re-importing would just support that organization and make it easy.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I TOTALLY agree with you. It just doesn't make sense. We want our images in the same library - not scattered all over the place. That's the reason we're using Lightroom in the first place and having a Photomatix export plug-in is more then just exporting from LR but it's about having the whole round trip. It's a lot easier to import it and have to delete (if you don't want it in your catalog which I doubt many do), then it is to figure out how to import it later if you do. They could at least have a checkbox or something for an option. I'll see if I can write this up in a post on the website and point people to the email to send their comments. I think we can get enough emails together to convince them 🙂

    Matt K

  7. AFAIK, the Photomatix plug-in already provides for this round-trip - at least it works for me with the beta version 3.1 of Photomatix Pro. As soon as I save the processed image, it gets re-imported into LR and I can choose where to store it, even with my RAW files if wanted.

    So I believe it has already been implemented?


  8. In general I strongly recommend to have RAW files and derived TIFF files in separate folders. That is why I never use Lightroom's edit in Photoshop command but use drag/drop to Photoshop instead.


    1. RAW files are like negatives to me and TIFFs more like prints. When I browse a folder with RAWs (negatives) I don't want to see the TIFFs and vice versa.

    2. I backup my RAWs and TIFFs in different folder structures and mixing RAWs and TIFFs would blur this seperation

    3. I hardly ever think a picture just tonemapped in Photomatix would be ready for a final print. There is always something left for Photoshop:

    - Sharpening
    - Lens correction
    - perspective corrections
    - tonality fine tuning
    - Dodge & burn

    If now the tonemapped images are stored in the same folder as the RAW files I would add temporary images to the RAW file folders. Cleaning up that mess requires a lot of extra work.


  9. Gunther,
    Yeah, it does work but it's clunky at best. I doesn't even remember what folder my file is supposed to be in and then the whole import dialog pops up. If you're going to make a plug-in for Lightroom I want it to be seamless.

    Anyway, I posted on my Lightroom site about this. Leave a comment. Tell your friends to leave a comment. Tell your friend's friends to leave a comment so I can send them all to HDRsoft and hopefully get this implemented in a better way.

    Matt K

  10. Matt,

    If you feel that images produced by Photomatix never need post-processing in Photoshop, then I agree with you that the way it is implemented in clunky. However, users who have both Lightroom and Photoshop (and many Photomatix users do) often prefer to further process their blended or tone mapped images in Photoshop -- they use Lightroom to organize and render their RAW files, but use Photoshop for post-processing.

    We believe that most of our users will appreciate the ability to open in Photoshop the image produced in Photomatix, which is why we chose this implementation. Moreover, this implementation also makes it possible for users to reimport in Lightroom if they prefer to do so.

    Geraldine Joffre

  11. Uwe...
    I definitely understand where you're coming from. But from an ease-of-workflow standpoint I always recommend that folks store their "extra" files with the raw files and stack them in Lightroom. If you're a pro shooting stock then you'll need a more complicated system. For me and most of the folks I teach, we don't. Based on what you said above, here's my thoughts:

    1) The beauty of LR is that it doesn't care about RAW, TIFFs, PSDs, etc.. Neither do I. I want my final image in Lightroom, regardless of anything else. That's where I'll print, go to web and slideshow from. And I don't want to have to do anything to get it there. That's what software is for.

    2) Frankly the separation is just something I don't need. Again, LR is my catalog. Backup is a totally different topic. I'm talking about managing my library. I don't want to complicate things by making separate folders (who likes more folders to be confused by?) for different files for my backups. I'm a HUGE member of the keep is simple club and keeping it all in one folder let's me backup, manage, archive, move etc... all in one shot.

    3) I totally agree. But let Photomatix take it back to LR for me and then I'll go to Photoshop if I want to. Or better yet, I'll do most of my adjustments with the Adj. Brush in LR like I do now. It's no better the other way. I go to Photoshop from Photomatix or I go there from LR. I'll take the route that keeps my stuff organized for me.

    Again, I agree. I think every one of my photos will go to Photoshop after Photomatix. But do it from Lightroom where it belongs (remember, that's why we're using Lightroom). If anything, just give us the option to do it this way, or the other.

    In the end, this topic came up not from my own personal angle to get it this way. I literally teach thousands of people during the year about Lightroom and whenever I show how to go to HDR from Lightroom the first question people ask is "Why won't it just save the file back to LR like Photoshop does" and "How do I get the file back into LR?". And then when I try to show them to save the file back to the original folder (people generally don't like multiple folders all around) and then to re-import I can see their eyes glazing over. I know it seems simple but trust me, it's confusing. It's confusing to me to have to explain to people and they shouldn't need a tutorial to show how to get their HDR'd image back into LR. The way it is implemented right now, it will require a tutorial. Me personally, sure it's only a few more clicks and I have it the way I want it - no sweat. I'm worried about the folks out there that are not as savvy and just want it to be simple.

    Finally, take a look at my website and see for yourself. I created this post only a few hours ago and it's already got 38 comments and I keep getting more.

    Thanks for listening.

  12. I keep RAW and derivatives separate. It's easier to backup and manage the workflow. RAws backed up once - never touched again. Masters and derivatives backed up when they change. Mine are even on different hard drives.
    Chris Bishop

  13. I absolutely think they should at least give people the option. I am just starting to really use Photomatix. I'll have to download the 3.1 Beta and give the LR piece a try.

    On the upside, this has certainly introduced an interesting LR workflow/ best practices conversation.

  14. Please make the change so we can have the flexibility to import back into Lightroom..great product..btw!

  15. Photography For Real Estate » Photomatix 3.1 and Lightroom Plugin Released says:

    [...] good news is that HDRsoft listened the feedback that PFRE and LightroomKillerTips readers gave them on the way the Lightroom plugin imports finished images [...]

  16. I recently purchased Photomatix Pro 3.1 and am new to the HDR scene. I have one problem...I'm not sure if Lightroom is creating the problem, If I'm causing the problem or if Photomatix is causing the problem. Wherever there are color changes on a wall (two different colors of paint with a perfect line) or with wood trim I get very thin blue lines along those edges. The guys over at hdrsoft say that they have never heard of this before...Has anyone here? If so, how do I fix it?


  17. @Jason,

    Are the blue lines fringe or chromatic aberration? These can be amplified when blending multiple exposures. I find batch correct CA before going to HDR.


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