Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Senate Chairs and HDR Efex Pro Quick Review

Senate Chairs

As usual, I'm a little late to the party. Nik Software's HDR Efex has been out quite a while now and there are a lot of reviews of it already. Money and time prevent me from getting the latest and greatest software out there as soon as it's released, but I finally had a chance to get the new HDR Efex from Nik Software and I must say, I'm quite impressed.

The shot above is nothing to write home about or even blog about for that matter, but it's one that I thought I'd use with HDR Efex.  The version I have is the Photoshop plugin.  To use it with Photoshop you just do the following:

Open up Bridge, select the brackets for your HDR and select Tools | Nik Software | Merge to HDR Efex Pro.  You will get a dialog that pops up asking about the brackets you want to use, strength of ghosting, etc.  I just used the defaults there and clicked on OK.  When it's done doing it's thing, you will get the standard Nik window with your merged image and many presets to the left.  I then go through and pick the preset I like most for the particular shot I'm working with. For the Senate Chairs shot above, I used the "Vibrant Scenery" preset.  That's it!

This is the how the shot looked after I completed that process with no noise reduction or sharpening done to it afterwards like I normally do.  I'm not sure if HDR Efex does that automatically or not, but it sure looks clean and sharp to me.  Maybe those things won't be needed anymore!  The other thing I like about this, just like with Photomatix, is that it keeps most of the EXIF data of the shot in the final image, unlike Photoshop which strips it out when you merge to HDR.

I highly recommend it and will have to play with it a little more to see what else it can do.  Check it out!

As far as the shot above goes, this is inside the Senate Chamber in the Texas Capitol Building.  I'm not sure who these chairs are for.  Maybe pages or aids of the senators when it's in session.  Who cares.  Anyway, like I said, the shot isn't that great, but I thought it worthy of posting since I used the new software.  Gotta get out and get some more stuff!

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D300s
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
ISO: 200
Aperture: f3.5
Exposure Bias: 1.67
Shutter: 1/8
Focal Length: 18mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -0.33 to +3.67 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-30 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com

2 comments:

  1. I found that out of the box, HDR Efex Pro has many more presets than Photomatix to select. I also think their customization controls are integrated for a better user experience, and they leverage some of the control tools that are in their other products. I have been enjoying using this application much more than Photomatix, maybe it’s because I am too simple minded for Photomatix though.

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  2. You're right! I love Photomatix and have had great success with it, but this new-fangled HDR Efex by Nik is really giving Photomatix a run for it's money. I'm going to process my next few shots with it and see how it works compared to Photomatix. Although, with Photomatix, I pretty much have that dialed in with the settings I like, but I will have to play with HDR Efex to get it where I really like it. I'm not totally giving up on either yet, but if I find I'm doing more with HDR Efex, Photomatix may go out the window!

    Thanks for the comment and thanks for dropping by!

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