updated 08:55 pm EST, Wed February 9, 2011
Also offers second tone-mapping option and presets
HDRSoft has debuted version 2 of its Photomatix Light HDR software, intended to let enthusiast and hobbyist photographers work with either "bracketed" exposures or simple tone-mapping presets to produce high-dynamic-range photos that come closer to revealing all the detail in both light and dark areas that the human eye can perceive. From restoring washed out skies or enhancing details to giving photos a stylized "look," the program is designed to give photographers an introduction to HDR processing and an easy path to upgrading if they need it.
Version 2 now includes visualized presets such as "painterly" or "grunge," making certain looks easy to achieve -- or users can adjust processed images manually as before. The program automatically aligns pictures taken at various exposures ("bracketed" from too dark to too light), meaning photographers can create HDR pictures even without a tripod. It merges the bracketed photos and applies tone-mapping options (v2 adds a second method for tone-mapping) and exposure fusion to create pictures where light and detail are focused where the photographer intended.
The new version also adds high-quality noise reduction, minimizing an issue most often cause by low-exposures.
Photomatix Light v2 is a free upgrade for existing Photomatix Light or Pro users, and costs $39 for new customers (a free trial version is available). Upgrading from Light to Pro is simple -- users just pay the difference in price to unlock the additional features in the Pro version. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 or higher (a Windows version is also available), and the program can also be purchased in plug-in form to work directly inside Adobe Photoshop (CS2 or higher) or Aperture (v2 or higher).