Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro reveals photographic details previously hidden to the naked eye

Noise issues

One result of every HDR application I've tried is that the process introduces a high level of image noise. Unfortunately, a good noise reduction tool should be, but is not included in Nik's HDR Efex Pro. Fortunately, Adobe's Lightroom 3 includes the best noise reduction processor in the industry at this time. So the final step in editing my HDR images always includes a return to Lightroom.

I'll compete this image by using Lightroom's Lens Correction to adjust the perspective and straighten the buildings, as shown in Figure G.


Lightroom's Lens Correction tool can correct for perspectives caused by wide lenses. (click for larger image)

Using Lightroom's noise reduction feature is the final step in the process. In my view, it may be impossible to match Lightroom's excellent results, but Nik would do well to add noise reduction and make its best efforts to complete its already excellent HDR Efex Pro. See Figure H where the noise is obvious after processing.


The image has significant noise resulting from the HDR process. (click for larger image)

Lightroom's noise reduction process makes a significant difference, as shown in Figure I.


Lightroom's noise reduction feature makes the image much smoother. (click for larger image)

Here is the image as processed through LIghtroom without HDR processing. The difference is significant. And the editing choices made in this image were more for demonstration than for practical use. Figure J shows the HDR processed image.


The final result is a combination of 3 images shot at different exposure values. (click for larger image)

By comparison, Figure K is the standard image without being processed through Nik HDR Efex Pro.


The image without the use of The final result is a combination of three images shot at different exposure values. (click for larger image)

Nik's $159.95 HDR Efex Pro is a great choice for creating a range of HDR results, and its ease of use puts it at the top of the list for HDR enthusiasts to add to their arsenal of image editing applications.

Though it lacks a noise reduction feature, use of Lightroom's top of the line noise reduction function is probably the best option available. Nik's HDR Efex Pro is the current best of breed for HDR processing.