Saturday, August 18, 2012


Should we load RAW files directly into HDR software: Photomatix Pro, HDR Expose 2 or HDR Efex Pro 2 for creating HDR image or should we convert the RAW files into TIFF files before input into the software.  The argument for RAW is that the software gets the most original complete information to start with thus should give us a HDR image that contains the most information.  However, that may be too much of a good thing.

For us who use Capture NX2 to open our RAW file, we do not even see how the real original RAW file looks like.  Nikon has various default setting in the program and what we have set up (Picture Control, D-Lighting, Auto Distortion, Auto Lateral Color Aberration, etc.) in the camera is also directly brought into the program.  The RAW file open in Adobe's ACR then gives more of the realistic look of the RAW file.

The following HDR images were created from five shots of five different exposures: +2, +1, 0, -1, -2 taken with my D700 and 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR lens at Mosaic Canyon of Death Valley.

 This image was created from RAW files using HDR Efex Pro 2 as plug-in of Photoshop with the "Dark" default setting.  It looks pretty good until I look closely.

 I can see the lateral color fringes in the cloud but most noticeably between the rock and the sky.  I do not see them normally when I open the RAW file in Capture NX2, because they are corrected by the default setting.

I then converted the RAW files into TIFF using Capture NX2.  The white balance was as shoot (automatic), Picture Control was as shoot (Neutral), Auto Distortion on and Auto Lateral Color Aberration on.  They were imported into HDR Efex Pro 2 and the HDR image was created using the "Dark" default setting.  I can see this image is a bit more contrasty and also warmer than the previously one from RAW files, most likely due to the Picture Control setting.

The most notable change is the red and blue lateral color fringes between the rock and the sky now disappeared, although I can still see the left over shadow.  Those in the cloud still can be seen that is not too much of a problem.  HDR Efex Pro 2 does have a Chromatic Aberration correction function at the HDR merging step, but the automatic built-in function in Capture NX2 certainly works easier.

May be I should use a better lens next time such as 24-70mm f/2.8 that may give me less chromatic aberration.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails