Workspace: Best Free HDR Software Samples


A Real World Test

(Link to the main article: Best Free High Dynamic Range (HDR) Software)

Methods and Testing:

To make my comparisons of the best free High Dynamic Range Software, I used three different sets of images.


HDR Comparison 1:

The far left exposure is the proper exposure for the shade on the right.  The far right exposure is the correct exposure for the sky.


Luminance 2.4.0:

This was very close to the first result that came out using default settings. It took a little tweaking to come up with this image.

Good detail in both the highlights and shadows without halos or ghosting.


Picturenaut 3.2:

Picturenaut would also deliver a nice result, though I was unable to get the details in the clouds I wanted. Picturenaut is the easiest to use of the programs I tested.


FDR Tools Basic 2.6.1:

Great detail in the clouds, not so good in the shadows.  Overall I felt it was muddy and lacked detail specifically in the shadows.  First rattle out of the box did not look this good and I expended more time working on this program than the others.


Fusion V1

Very good detail in the clouds and shadows and has the most accurate color, though I am bothered by the slight halo at the top of the cliffs.

This was made using the sumation method.  I was unable to obtain good results using the HDR method.

Even though this was photographed using a tripod, I did have to align the photographs.


HDR Comparison 2


This trial is difficult for two reasons.  First, because it was hand held and there was camera movement between the images.  Second, there is movement of objects in the images.  This would not only test the program's ability to create a decent HDR image, but to align images as well.  


Luminance 2.4.0

Luminance did a nice job automatically aligning the images and has some nice controls for manually aligning the images.  The test was run with automatic alignment and did have some ghosting.


FDR Basic 2.6.1 & Picturenaut 3.2

Both failed this trial.  The automatic alignments they produced were unusable.



Fusion V 1

Fusion had the best alignment of the four and a decent HDR image. 


HDR Comparison 3

To verify the results, I ran a third test. Like the first test, this one was taken using a tripod - which is highly recommended when creating HDR sequences.



Luminance 2.4.0

Nice detail retention in the sunset and the house and lighthouse.  Color fidelity is good.  Slight ghosting in branches in upper left.


Picturenaut 3.2

Loss of detail in trees by the houses and loss of detail in sunset.  No ghosting of branches in upper left. Better color fidelity on the lighthouse.



FDR Tools Basic 2.6.1

Maintained detail in both the trees and the sunset without ghosting in the branches in the upper left.  Similar to the previous comparison, it has a muddy appearance.  Color shift in lighthouse.



Fusion V1

Retained detail in the sunset and the trees.  No ghosting on the branches in the upper left.  Once again, I obtained better results using sumation mode than HDR mode and did have to tweak the settings to reduce halos between areas of great contrast.


(Link to the main article: Best Free High Dynamic Range (HDR) Software)

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