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Old 13th of December 2011 (Tue)   #1
bunyarra
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Default HDR Expose

Hmm ... as someone who seems to collect HDR software, I actually bought the HDR Expose and 32/float from Unified Color (http://unifiedcolor.com) a year and a half ago.

Since then, no updates to the product, no minor improvements and no apparent development. They are now punting V2 of the products and will be charging for the privilege. While I applaud all developers that continue to add significant features, I really do want them to also support their s/w by doing minor updates that improve speed, quality etc. issues before asking for upgrades. It would not have been so bad if the original release was usable but it was terribly slow and the results mediocre to say the least. Really not feeling like punting for a new version.

To add insult to injury, support tickets raised 12 months ago are still unanswered.

Anyone else tried the s/w ?
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Old 13th of December 2011 (Tue)   #2
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Default Re: HDR Expose

Sounds like it's time to give someone else a shot. Poor software coupled with poor support = frustration and at least for me a lost customer.
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Old 13th of December 2011 (Tue)   #3
J Bruja
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Default Re: HDR Expose

Here's a link to a freeware HDR program that's worth the money. Actually it's not too bad. This is the only freeware I've found that doesn't hang up or shut itself down - so far-.

http://www.hdrlabs.com/picturenaut/
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Old 13th of December 2011 (Tue)   #4
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Default Re: HDR Expose

First let me say I am a big fan of Picturenaut and Marc and Blochi's development of it. I've used HDRExpose since before it was HDRExpose and was HDR PhotoStudio. It is an excellent piece of software and does a great job at merging and toning. THat said, if you have had technical problems that have gone unanswered, that is a shame. From what I just got finished watching on the promo video for v2, it looks like a ton of changes have been made to workflow and performance. THere are 30 day free trials of HDRExpose and Float32, give them a try. If they still are plagued with the same problems you have had, time to find a new HDR application. THere are plenty to chose from, here's a list:

http://www.hdrlabs.com/tools/links.html

good luck.

kirk

EDIT: Of particular note, the core of Picturenaut, the executable mkhdri is available for OSX at the hdrlabs website. I've used it to automate HDR capture and assembly using SmartShooter for remote, automated image capture, mkhdri for automated merge and psfviewgl for automated previewing of tone mapping on Mac.
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Old 13th of December 2011 (Tue)   #5
J Bruja
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Default Re: HDR Expose

Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkt View Post
First let me say I am a big fan of Picturenaut and Marc and Blochi's development of it. I've used HDRExpose since before it was HDRExpose and was HDR PhotoStudio. It is an excellent piece of software and does a great job at merging and toning. THat said, if you have had technical problems that have gone unanswered, that is a shame. From what I just got finished watching on the promo video for v2, it looks like a ton of changes have been made to workflow and performance. THere are 30 day free trials of HDRExpose and Float32, give them a try. If they still are plagued with the same problems you have had, time to find a new HDR application. THere are plenty to chose from, here's a list:

http://www.hdrlabs.com/tools/links.html

good luck.

kirk

EDIT: Of particular note, the core of Picturenaut, the executable mkhdri is available for OSX at the hdrlabs website. I've used it to automate HDR capture and assembly using SmartShooter for remote, automated image capture, mkhdri for automated merge and psfviewgl for automated previewing of tone mapping on Mac.
Tnx for the link. I'm new to Picturenaut, and as such, am conservative in my appraisal of it. HOWEVER I'm impressed with the work that has gone into it.
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Old 13th of December 2011 (Tue)   #6
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Default Re: HDR Expose

I'm a mac user and have used it with WinXP under Parallels and VMWare Fusion - it is still very responsive even in the virtual machine environment. I am excited to see the mac version on the horizon....

The merge process is much more user informative than most, and permits control that most apps do not.

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Old 14th of December 2011 (Wed)   #7
bunyarra
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Default Re: HDR Expose

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Originally Posted by kirkt View Post
THere are 30 day free trials of HDRExpose and Float32, give them a try. If they still are plagued with the same problems you have had, time to find a new HDR application. THere are plenty to chose from, here's a list:.
I long since moved to a combination of Oloneo (excellent s/w), SNS-HDR (recovers highlight like no other), LR/Enfuse (best batch enfusing app) and Photomatix (good auto-deghosting).

Depending on the situation, some perform far better than others. If I am struggling with internals like lace curtains with a garden behind, then I will always resort to SNS. If I just want to batch loads of basic 5 shot-blends and am not too worried by recoving vast DR then LR/Enfuse is good.

Oloneo promises to be an application that relieve much of the post-processing needed for many fusion-HDR images. If the next release has better deghosting (Antoine is working hard on it) and tweaked LR import, it will probably be my default HDR app.

Many of these still suffer from the white-wall dirt problem. If you are shooting internals where a light coloured wall borders a lighter or darker region, the edge of the wall will often turn slightly grey. This is a real give-away for many that use HDR s/w. Oloneo can be tweaked to reduce this significantly and SNS-HDR will often not exhibit the problem at all. When processing 50 sets of 5-9 exposures for a client - the less post-processing the better. I just wish all apps had the same level of Lightroom integration that LR/Enfuse has.

Sadly, HDR Expose is slow, has rotten alignment and just seems to about a year too late. More costly than Oloneo it offers less control and far worse results.

While I seem addicted to buying HDR s/w, this is one I will not be upgrading to.
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Old 14th of December 2011 (Wed)   #8
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Default Re: HDR Expose

I have tried the trials of HDRExpose v2 and Float32 v2 - they are excruciatingly slow on my 3 year-old MacBook Pro Core2Duo. It is painful.

Oloneo and SNS seem to give very pleasing results but are not worth firing up a virtual PC machine on my mac. That is not a criticism of those applications, but a testament to my laziness and the wealth of options for HDR on a mac.

One of the major decisions in the post-processing chain that often gets overlooked, especially when one has a bunch of different tools for the job (I have collected many HDR apps as well) is the decision to use a 32bit workflow or not. This is really important but often not considered a priority. In everyday terms, one question to ask yourself is:

Do I really need the 32bit file to make the image I am trying to make, or can I stay LDR file format the whole way?

Put another way:

Do I need to merge to HDR or can I use exposure blending?

This should really be the starting point because it alleviates a lot of issues regarding image quality and artifacting. Further, things like local contrast enhancement can be done in LDR outside of enfuse, so simply thinking that one needs to use the full HDR workflow to get that "look" is time consuming and probably not necessary. And, once you get a nice blend, you can always run that file through your favorite tone mapper and get an output image that has that local contrast you want, and layer than into the final image in post.

I really liked HDRExpose when it came out and lived with its quirkiness thinking that it would be refined over time - however, the performance of the new version leaves a lot to be desired. The new approach appears to have built on HDRExpress in that there is a lot of automatic processing that takes place to generate the default preset image - I suppose you could make the default "no processing" but the processing that takes place in each step you perform manually is still clunky. I have yet to really put it through its paces, but I get the impression that the toning has improved with halo reduction being an important aspect of this, but I have not tested this yet.

kirk
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