Photomatix Pro 4 Review

I've been a long time user of Photomatix Pro 3 and it has been the ideal HDR solution for me. I know there are other applications out there, Nik come to mind, as well as plug-ins for the common photo applications - but I find for a start to finish application is the best way to go and I was thrilled to notice that HDRsoft has updated their HDR application to Photomatix Pro 4. The improvements from Photomatrix 3 to Photomatix 4 are staggering. I'm using a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro Circa early 2007 and it's running this program like a champ. Photomatrix 3 allowed me to create HDR shots, but Photomatix 4 allows me to productively create HDR shots and that's a huge improvement in my workflow. There's obviously some features under the hood that make Photomatix 4 faster and more efficient than Photomatix 3 - in my experience, specifically with the jump from Aperture 2 to Aperture 3, I notice a plethora of new features but a slower workflow experience. This is not the case with the transition from Photomatix 3 to Photomatix 4, everything under the hood has enhanced my experience with the program. Aside from noticing a faster application, right out of the gate there are some really nice UI changes that really showcase the usability of the application. Before Photomatrix 4 the application was very functional, but you had to find things. The Photomatix 3 UI wasn't set up for a user starting out with HDR or unfamiliar with the Photomatix software, you really had to know your way around photo applications and stab your way through to get decent results. That's no fault of HDR soft, it's a professional level application that hobbyists shouldn't have had a need for. However, HDR Soft, likely getting feedback about their user interface have progressed leaps and bounds with the new Photomatix update. The UI of Photomatix 4 reminds me of looks and features that can be found in Lightroom 3 or Aperture 4, which will certainly help new users get adapted easier. Everything the user is going to need to produce a quality HDR image is laid out in front of them with this redesigned interface and allows for a very fluid workflow. The presets while tone mapping are a plus, especially for users who are use to programs like Lightroom and Aperture who might need a starting point with their HDR editing. I won't get into a debate about whether a user should apply presets because that usually gets old school photographers in a tizzy and the newer generation photographers get bent out of shape because their getting oppressed by the old ruling class. The presets Photomatix includes are incredible and cut a lot of the work one would have to do in Photomatix 3 in half and, again, provide a very fluid workflow. I have created images with not adjusting any presets and have made images without the help of the presets and the conclusion were very similar. I've gone as far to look at images created with Photomatix 3 and reprocess them in Photomatix 4 and compare the results. I will admit that there are some significant improvements in Photomatrix 4 in handling ghosting effects caused by the HDR process. An image that I wasn't able to submit to a client in HDR due to a significant amount of ghosting was good to be submitted and had little to no ghosting effects. The improvement of handling ghosting effects alone is worth the price of admission with the new Photomatix update. To sum it up, Photomatix Pro 4 is a superb update. Ultimately, a great application is now even greater. The updated user interface will welcome new comers looking to dabble in HDR photography, as well as the inclusion of presets that will appeal to new users and the significant updates under the hood that professionals will love to improve their workflow. If you're looking to take the next step with your HDR photography, then this is update is absolutely essential. If you have a license of Photomatix Pro 3 then you will be able to update to version 4 for free. If you're new to photomatix then a license will cost $99 which includes a plugin for Lightroom. For $119 you can purchase the Photomatix Pro bundle which includes the desktop application and plugins for Lightroom, Adobe CS2 - CS5 and Apple's Aperture software. Please visit HDRsoft's website for more details and purchase Photomatix  Pro 4.

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