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01-26-2014, 10:45 AM   #1
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Workflow question on s/w

Hi,

I like using Photomatix for my HDR work with bracketing shots.
Lately I have been taking the raw shots directly into Photomatix to do the HDR merge and then if I want to fool around with that in Adobe Lightroom, I will export it as a TIFF so I don't lose anything in compression. Finally, once I'm happy with it in LR I'll put it out as a high quality JPG file.

I have noticed that Photomatix will convert the input raw files to JPGs as an intermediate step. I'm wondering if that is not the best.

As far as the Pentax software that came with my camera, I have not used it. Also, is that not wise?

So what do you guys recommend? Should I convert the raw files to something with the Pentax software before going into Photomatix for the HDR work?

Thanks.

01-26-2014, 10:57 AM   #2
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Can Photomatix work HDR with raw files?

If so I would do it that way, as your working with best possible data, convert to jpg after you finished, as the kinda the last step.
01-26-2014, 11:09 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I import the RAWs to Lightroom, do initial color balance etc, then group and export as TIFFs to Photomatix, when finished the HDR TIFF goes back to LR for final tweaks then export as jpg for use.

No idea if that is better or worse than your system, it's just what works for me.
01-26-2014, 02:07 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lloyd_Christmas Quote
Photomatix will convert the input raw files to JPGs as an intermediate step
Never convert anything to JPEGs before the final export. To modify a JPEG file, the software has to convert it to an uncompressed bitmap, apply changes, and then re-compress the bitmap into a new JPEG file. The missing data from a JPEG file may not be visible after the first step, but without it, software modifying the image will amplify any differences between the original file and the new file, and you can very quickly end up with software generated artifacts. Which really defeats the purpose of HDR software.

01-26-2014, 02:13 PM   #5
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What jtrax said.

M
01-26-2014, 02:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lloyd_Christmas Quote
I have been taking the raw shots directly into Photomatix
Unless Photomatix does a better job of sharpening, adjusting colour and so on than Lightroom, you should follow jatrax's workflow. In order to work with RAW files, they have to be converted into a new file with various forms of software correction to look like they are supposed to. Those corrected images are then merged into an HDR image. TIFF files are normally created with loss-less compression, so they can be opened and saved multiple times without losing information, so it is the preferred way to move images from one program to another. Each time the image is modified before saving it as a TIFF file, those changes overwrite the original image, but as long as the original RAW file isn't modified, you can always go back to square one and start over.
01-26-2014, 02:36 PM   #7
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At least the version of Photomatix I use will convert the input raw files to jpeg as part of the import process.

I have no idea what they do with tiff files. If they can process those without converting it would definitely be worth trying.
01-27-2014, 07:24 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone.
It sounds like I need to get the file to a TIFF before going to Photomatix.
I know that going to a JPEG is not good but when I import the raw DNG files into Photomatix it appears to be converting to JPEG as it processes (I'll double check).

So is the Pentax software what I should use to convert the raw files to TIFF?

01-27-2014, 07:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
At least the version of Photomatix I use will convert the input raw files to jpeg as part of the import process. .

Yes, that is what I see when I kick off the import of the raw DNG files!
I don't want that.
01-27-2014, 07:52 AM   #10
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Ok, it seems even Photomatix themselves say their raw converter is not the best (and the raw files must be developed into either jpeg or tiff before they can be processed further).

The recommended workflow then is to develop the raw files into to tiff (or jpeg) files with your favorite raw converter - be it Lightroom, ACR, rawtherapee, or whatnot, then import these into Photomatix.

You can find a discussion over at Flickr here referencing Photomatix' own Tips & Tricks section.

Hope that helps!

EDIT: Basically what jtrax said above, really

Last edited by savoche; 01-27-2014 at 08:11 AM.
01-27-2014, 10:03 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lloyd_Christmas Quote
So is the Pentax software what I should use to convert the raw files to TIFF?
That depends on whether you want to adjust the images before they are merged in Photomatix or not. The software that came with your camera has the advantage of being developed to Pentax's specific requirements, so it's a good choice for raw conversion, but might be lacking in post-processing features. If the program you want to use for post-processing has a good raw converter built in, you can use it instead of the converter that came with your camera, and save a step. Lightroom uses ACR (the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in) to do raw conversion. You can use the same PP program to make changes to the HDR image, but making corrections to each individual image before merging them in Photomatix should produce better results than applying those corrections after the HDR image is created. If you only want to make changes to the final HDR image that aren't dependent on the individual images merged to make it, then go straight from raw conversion to Photomatix.

The raw conversion itself simply modifies a bitmap from the camera according to the shooting information or metadata supplied by the camera, in order to get colour and exposure corrected so the image looks "normal". Even though they get the same data from the camera, different raw converters will produce images that look slightly different. If you want to adjust contrast, brightness, etc. of the converted image with software, that software takes the converted image and makes changes to it, not the raw file that came from the camera. To eliminate one step, every program for PP has a built-in raw converter, but as long as it converts the raw image to a TIFF file, you don't have to do the post-processing in the same program as did the conversion. If you export your image as a TIFF file after post-processing, you can do other alterations to it, such as merge it into an HDR image, with yet another program. By using TIFF files, you can use one program for raw conversion, another program for PP, and a third program for making HDR images, without reducing the quality of the image every time it gets opened and saved in a different program.
01-27-2014, 10:21 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lloyd_Christmas Quote
it appears to be converting to JPEG as it processes
According to Photomatix it doesn't. FAQ about HDR photography software Photomatix - Tone Mapping, HDR images creation and Exposure Fusion
01-27-2014, 11:32 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I read that FAQ differently.

From the FAQ:
QuoteQuote:
Photomatix Pro opens and saves images in the following formats:
JPEG
TIFF (8-bit, 16-bit and Floating Point)
Radiance RGBE
OpenEXR
The following formats are supported in read mode only:
PSD
PNG (Mac version only)
...which I'd read as "can open and process without any converting necessary".

QuoteQuote:
Photomatix also supports RAW files from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax, Panasonic, Sigma, Phase One and Leaf, as well as Digital Negative (DNG).
By which I think they mean they have raw converter support for these formats. Because Pentax raw files are definitely converted to jpegs before they get processed in Photomatix.
01-27-2014, 10:00 PM   #14
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Thanks for the help everyone.

I put the Pentax utility on my PC.
Then I output the DNG files to 16-bit TIFF. WOW! Almost 100MB each!
Okay, I might have to back down to 8-bit TIFF files.

Anyway, when I brought the TIFFs into Photomatix it was much faster and I didn't see any intermediate conversion to JPEG.
I'll be doing it this way from now on.
01-28-2014, 08:19 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lloyd_Christmas Quote
Almost 100MB each!
Okay, I might have to back down to 8-bit TIFF files
It isn't the file size that will choke your computer, it's the number crunching to merge multiple images into a single HDR image that will strain your system. Do you have at least 2GB of RAM in your computer? You are better off upscaling your RAW files to 16 bit TIFF files than to downscale them to 8 bit. Downscaling will have have a similar effect on the quality of the images being imported into Photomatix as saving them as JPEG files. You want to keep the quality of the images being merged as high as you can, you can always apply compression to the final HDR image when it get exported as a JPEG file.
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