Photomatix 4.2 Review


If after reading this review you are interested in purchasing Photomatix see the bottom of this page for how to get a 15% discount.


When you have your 3 or images at different exposures for an HDR picture you need software to merge the images together. The images exposures and colours need to be blended for the best possible result. The images must also be aligned in case of any differences in position especially with pictures taken handheld. The software also needs to provide you with a wide flexibility as to the final outcome to suite your style and preferences. The software needs to be user friendly.Photomatix meets all of these requirements and is generally used by the majority of photographers taking HDR images as their software of choice.

I have used Photomatix since I started with HDR Photography. This is despite having Photoshop which has a merge to HDR tool to achieve the same objective. I do not have any other HDR software so from personal experience I can only compare Photomatix with Photoshop.

Advantages of Photomatix

  • Much more detailed control of movement in an image during the time the exposures were taken. This is done automatically or semi manually by selecting an area of an image and selecting the one image to be used.

  • Noise reduction and reduction of Chromatic Aberrations included as options.

  • Much larger number of presets (standard set of adjustments to produce different looks)

  • Presets shown in thumbnails for an instant preview of various options.

  • The ability to create your own presets for settings you regularly use, again shown as thumbnails.

  • More control with basic and advanced sliders

  • User friendly with the latest version having a feature whereby you hover over a slider and an explanation of what is does will appear.

  • Indefinite free trial available to try it out though with a watermark on the final image.

Although the competition have been trying to catch up, Photomatix have leapt ahead with their latest version 4.2 which was released on 30th April 2012. Anybody with an earlier version of Photomatix from Version 3 upwards is entitled to a free upgrade. I have been trying out the new features and it is well worth taking the time to upgrade.

Click Help in the Photomatix Window and Check for Updates. Any existing custom presets you have saved are not affected.

These are the main improvements –

  • More user friendly with the description added of what a slider does when you move the mouse to it.
  • The slider previously called Smoothing and now Lighting Adjustments is the most important in deciding how natural or surreal the final image will be. This is now much clearer to the user. If you tick the lighting Effects box under the slider the descriptions for each level are Natural, Natural +, Medium, Surreal and Surreal +
  • 20 extra presets have been added to the Built-in presets making 32 compared with 12 previously.
  • An icon allows the user to toggle between one column and 2 columns of presets so as to see more. Another Icon enables toggling between normal thumbnails for the presets and large size to enable you to see more easily the best look.
  • Built in presets can be shown in groups - All, Short List, Realistic, Artistic, Black and White and Fusion.
  • Your own presets are now much easier to import and show in the programs Presets thumbnails. This could be presets from another Computer or downloaded from a Website. Store the files anywhere. Go to the My Presets Tab, then the dropdown for groups and choose Import Presets. You can choose your own group to put them in or create a new one. The Program will now automatically store them in the correct program folder.
  • If you want to store your existing presets in new groups, eg Churches, Night, Interiors go to the Programs Presets Folder, create new folders there and name them accordingly and move the files as appropriate.
  • When the processing is completed by default a new editing window will appear. This allows basic editing to take place. There is a tab for contrast with presets or sliders for custom adjustments showing on a curves line. Another Tab deals with colour with sliders to adjust saturation for each colour. Another Tab deals with sharpening with Presets or custom adjustments with sliders.

Most advanced users will use other digital editing software to finish off a picture with detailed control through layers. However this new feature in Photomatix means that it is possible to get a decent finished picture without leaving Photomatix.

I tried this out as a test. The pictures below are of the entrance to Notre Dame Cathedral Paris. The first one is the original middle one of the 3 exposures. The next picture is the final image created in Photomatix. This included import of the 3 original RAW files, Processing in Photomatix and then editing in Photomatix of Contrast, Colour and Sharpening.

Original Image

Notre Dame Entrance OriginalNotre Dame Entrance original

Final Processed Image

Notre Dame Entrance Photomatix ProcessedNotre Dame Tonemapped

It will be noted that my own style in HDR tends towards a more natural look than some.

Photomatix Coupon Code

HDRSoft the makers of Photomatix are good enough to provide a 15% discount to readers of this site for Photomatix Pro and their other products. Use the code, EDWINJONES in capitals as shown at checkout to save money.
For the code to work you need to click one of the links below to either try out the free trial or purchase immediately. If you click here for the free trial and later decide to purchase the code will work without needing to click here again.

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Edwin Jones