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How To Use Photomatix Pro 7 to Create Professional HDR

Why Photomatix? If you are a Real Estate photographer, Photomatix is a no-brainer. But you can do much more with it! Captain Cook, your go-to source for HDR expertise, has meticulously reviewed a comprehensive how-to-guide for Photomatix Pro 7. Photomatix Pro offers many features to streamline your job, including automation. Let’s review that!

Second floor view of the main entrance of The Forum Shops at Caesars, Las Vegas, NV Shot by Nikon D5300 Bracket EV+2
Second floor view of the main entrance of The Forum Shops at Caesars, Las Vegas, NV Shot by Nikon D5300 Bracket EV+2

Download RAW



Presentation of HDRsoft Photomatix

Used by the pros, results guaranteed. Explore Zillow or Redfin for more examples. One of those software that just gets the job done.

PhotomatixPro 7.1.1 main
PhotomatixPro 7.1.1 output screenshot
  • PRO:
    • makes stunning HDR, ready to use online to sell houses
  • CON:
    • Noise reduction seems sub-par
    • DNG output is broken and cannot be post-processed, use TIFF instead
  • Lightroom plugin: yes
  • outputs DNG, TIFF, JPEG and also EXR, HDR
  • regular releases, current is 7.1.1
  • price: $39, Pro is $99
  • my take:
    • Very old software from the Windows 98 era, outdated UI but don’t get fooled: it’s totally worth its price.
    • Its true power lies in the automation it comes with.
    • Outstanding results, automation, it’s the preferred choice for Real Estate photography.
    • GET THE JOB DONE and make money.

💡 How to use Photomatix Pro

Step By Step Process To Merge Brackets

photomatix pro 7.1 main screen
Start by dropping your brackets on that guy
photomatix brackets review
Check the exposures of your brackets if you like, and move on to merge
photomatix merge options
Check all options that matters: for this case, I was holding the camera firmly on a parapet. That’s still not close to tripod stability. Notice how it recognize my lens immediately, to apply the best distortion profile!
photomatix selective deghosting
Photomatix selective deghosting example, where you mask only the objects you know are moving. In this example, the people in the escalator, and those walking.
photomatix adjust & preview screen: colorimetry and profiles
Style selection screen: here you can see if your selective deghosting was appropriate. This is also where you select the profile to apply and make it shine.
photomatix finishing touch window
Photomatix finishing touch window: apply contrast, sharpening, crop, and some straightening values to make it look perfect
photomatix final screen
Photomatix final screen: save your work, redo it with different rules, save HDR settings to use them in another batch, etc


Style selection screen in more details:

Photomatix styles selection screen
Look at the style box, and choose among the lists that match what you want this image to convey.

Final screen interesting options:

  • Redo with Other Settings: brings you back to the style selection screen.
  • Double HDR Effect: apply another style to the current result, effectively adding up effects. More artistic results…


🧭 Photomatix Styles Overview

Realistic and Natural are really close to what you started from with the default EV+0 bracket. Here is it with 3 Real Estate styles to compare:


Some of the Black&White style really should be considered too, I love the smoothness of Monochrome 3:

For this particular scene, I think Interior 3 looks best, which one do you prefer?

📜 Automate Your Life

Now is time to explore what those $99 you invested, can do for you. The way it works is pretty simple:

  1. First, you test with a sample brackets, to see what style works best with your set. Choose your sample brackets carefully.
  2. Select Automate > Batch Processing…
  3. Select source, outpout folder, and all the presets you used in your sample
  4. Click RUN and done!
photomatix batch processing screen
Photomatix batch processing screen

Photomatix Batch Options

The batch screen offers ALL the options you can dream of. For instance, you may have a mix of 3 and 5 brackets, in cases where light conditions justifies it. Advanced Selection option lets you do that!

photomatix batch processing advanced selection options
Photomatix batch processing advanced bracket selection options: select only the first and last, or 3 out of 5, it’s incredibly easy and right on track of what photographers need


photomatix batch processing advanced merge options
Don’t forget the More merge Options… As you need to also apply the correct Lens correction, noise reduction and deghosting. Choose the correct Lens correction from a sample in your folder and apply it to all brackets


photomatix batch processing output naming options
Finally, here are the options for naming your output files: Photomatix offers lots of options to name the files however you like

Photomatix Outputs Multiple Styles at Once

Light conditions can vary widely between rooms, when you are shooting that house for sale. In this case, one style may work better then the other, but you cannot tell in advance when it should be used. Simply batch process your whole set twice or more, with different styles!

photomatix apply multiple styles to batch processing
Apply multiple styles to batch processing: presets or custom


Photomatix Drawbacks

It would not be a honest review without pointing out what can be improved. Here is what we discovered so far:

  • Automatic deghosting does not work. Example below is with MAX setting. Use the selective deghosting instead.
photomatix automatic deghosting issue
Photomatix automatic deghosting has trouble
  • Noise in HDR output is to the roof

Here is a comparison of the same raw processing with standard noise reduction versus 150% noise reduction. Photomatix clearly mentions it will apply it to the originals, not to the output file. Results are the same, however the noise reduction value is.

photomatix noise sample original bracket
original EV+2
photomatix noise sample with noise reduction standard
standard NR
photomatix noise sample with noise reduction 150%
150% NR

More testing needed with less noisy original, to see if this noise only comes from Photomatix, or is an inherent problem that happens when originals are already noisy.


🗂️ File extensions considered

Depending on the process, some intermediary files can be generated and should be dealt with. Ordered from purest to crappiest:

  1. .RAW, .NEF: proprietary raw formats coming from your camera
    1. bitness: 12bit, 14bit, depends on camera
  2. .DNG: Adobe proprietary raw format
    1. bitness: 16bit or 32bit
    2. Can embed original raw formats
    3. Only Adobe software can use lossless compression, as it’s proprietary
  3. .TIFF, .TIF: the largest size of them all. Can be used as intermediary file
    1. bitness: 8bit or 16bit
    2. lossless compression: LZW is best
  4. .JPEG: what you upload online
    1. bitness: 8bit
    2. lossless compression: set quality=100

What formats does Photomatix handle? ALL OF THEM!

photomatix input file formats
Photomatix can open ALL existing RAW formats


🧰 Extra software needed to handle HDR and RAW files:

  • Batch/scripts: the more pictures you process, the more likely they will come handy
  • exiftool: command line tool to extract metadata, tags manipulation
  • exiv2: command line tool to extract embedded JPEG from a raw file
  • IrfanView: free and small, quickly view a picture of any format
  • CameraRaw: Installed with Lightroom, make sure it is up to date
  • AdobeDNGConverter: free converter from Adobe, converts raw files to DNG
  • RawTherape: free editor for raw files, needed by other free software such as HDRmerge or Hugin
  • Topaz Photo AI: improve pictures with diffusion, aka machine learning, aka AI
    • best noise reduction software I know of
    • beware of its sharpening
    • 3rd option: upscale images = doubling or tripling their size. Removes noise at the same time. Works best with raw files.

Wraping Up

If you have some bucks to spare and not afraid of scripting, go for Photomatix. Pro quality, easy, automated. Drop your files, process folder, boom done. Upload and get paid. Photomatix is without a doubt one of the best HDR software around, whether you use it for your job or as an Artist.

If I had one wish, that would be the ability to export the preset options you try manually, to let you use them in batch processing. This way you won’t have to remember what settings are needed for the batch. There can be lots of adjustments needed in colorimetry, to make things right.


top 5 hdr software 2024 featured
Compare Photomatix in the Top 5 HDR Software 2024?

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