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I don’t remember exactly when I purchased my first copy of Photomatix Pro, but I think it was sometime in late 2008 or early 2009. That means I’ve been using this software for nearly a decade!
Enter promo code ANGANDRIEUX at checkout!
For a long time Photomatix Pro was the only viable HDR software for serious photographers. Now, even though other capable tools have come on to the market, Photomatix remains a solid and reliable solution for photographers to create high dynamic range photos.
What’s New in Photomatix Pro 6?
Photomatix Pro 6 was released late 2017 and includes several notable upgrades:
- Tone Balancer – a new HDR rendering method for achieving realistic results
- Enhanced Color Control – Adjust hue, saturation and brightness of individual colors
- Exposure Blending – Blend the HDR photo with the one of the original exposures for a more realistic look
- Distortion and Perspective Correction – Quickly straighten photos an correct perspective issues
- Edge Aware Brushes – Mask colors and selectively blend exposures with ease
Workflow Note: I’m using Photomatix Pro 6 as a plugin from Lightroom Classic CC on MacOS High Sierra. While Photomatix Pro 6 has a capable RAW converter and can be used as a standalone, I prefer to do my RAW conversions with Lightroom and then export TIFFs to Photomatix.
I will be using the bracketed images below to test Photomatix Pro 6’s interface, functionality and results.
Because Photomatix Pro has been around for quite a while, the interface feels a bit dated compared to other photo editing tools on the market.
While the interface may feel a bit dated, the functionality and reliability are solid.
Upon opening the software users have the option to apply either global or selective ghost reduction. Both are quite effective. The only movement in my sample image was in the water. After a bit of trial and error I chose to NOT apply ghost reduction and blend in the darker exposure later in my processing (more on that later).
HDR Rendering Methods
The next step is to choose an HDR rendering method. Photomatix Pro 6 has several different HDR rendering methods to help you achieve your preferred look. Choose from:
- Details Enhancer
- Contrast Optimizer
- Tone Balancer
- Tone Compressor
Each method has a unique adjustment set specifically tuned for that rendering method.
In most cases I use the Details Enhancer, but occasionally if I have trouble getting my desired results I’ll click through other methods until I find a look that fits my image.
Exposure Blending and Masking
One of the brilliant new features in Photomatix Pro 6 is the ability to blend one of the original exposures back in, and to then mask that effect into specific areas with an edge aware brush.
In my sample images I was quite satisfied with the overall look and balance of the highlights and shadows, but I wasn’t thrilled with the effect on the water. To remedy this I blended in the darkest exposure and then used the edge aware mask to paint the effect in only on the water. It was a quick and effective fix.
- Click on the brush tool in the Blending section
- Select which exposure you wish to blend (for my example I chose the -1 1/2 EV photo)
- Adjust brush size and softness as desired
- Paint in large areas
- Click on Detect edges to activate edge aware brush, reduce brush size and paint around details
- Adjust the opacity of the blended exposure as desired
Once you have finished processing your HDR click on the “Next: Finish” button to bring up optional finishing touches window. These are especially useful if you are using Photomatix Pro 6 as a standalone. However, I prefer to make my final modifications to contrast, sharpening, etc. in Lightroom.
I’m quite pleased with the final results. My completed image (after a few minor tone adjustments and sharpening in Lightroom) is realistic and detailed.
Who Needs Photomatix Pro 6?
Photomatix Pro is made specifically for merging multiple exposures into high dynamic range images. If you exposure bracket photos (or want to experiment with it) then Photomatix Pro 6 is a great processing solution. It functions well as standalone software and integrates well with Lightroom.
Should I Upgrade?
If you own a previous version of Photomatix Pro then I highly recommend upgrading. The ability to blend in exposures and do selective masking is a very valuable tool not available in previous versions.
The upgrade to Photomatix Pro 6 is free of charge for customers who purchased a license of Photomatix Pro version 5 from HDRsoft or authorized resellers. If you purchased a license before Photomatix Pro 5 was released, you can upgrade to Photomatix Pro 6 for $29 USD.
New customers can purchase Photomatix Pro 6 for $99 USD – be sure to enter coupon code “angandrieux” at checkout to save 15% on your purchase!
Not quite ready to buy? Click here to try Photomatix Pro 6 for free!
Upgrading from a previous version? You pay $29 USD (my coupon code does not apply to upgrades as they are already substantially discounted).
On both Win/Mac platforms:
- 4 GB of RAM minimum, but more is highly recommended
- 1 GB of available hard-disk space (more is recommended)
- 1,024×768 or greater monitor resolution
- Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 (non RT) or 10, or Windows 98, 2000 with .NET 2.0 framework or higher (if the .NET framework is not installed, the installation wizard of Photomatix Pro will prompt you to download it from Microsoft’s website).
- MacOS 10.6 or higher
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a commission if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase. I only share products that I believe will be valuable to my readers (most of which I personally use and love). All opinions are my own.