Aprils Updates: Nik HDR Efex, Oloneo & Gigapan

Another month, another flood of updates in the ever-spinning world of HDR imaging.

Nik HDR Efex Pro 1.2

HDR Efex is finally supposed to be rock stable on 32-bit operating systems. I can neither confirm nor deny, never actually witnessed any crashes, but that's because I'm in the warm embracement of 64-bit WinXP / Mac OS for a while. As a bonus, Nik also threw a new ghostbuster in the mix. Heard nice things about it, but I can hardly see a difference myself.

Here is a little deghosting test with a tough example:

Bottom line: Can't beat Photoshop CS5's Automatic Ghost Removal! But that's no wonder, since Adobe had this feature done by El Maestro Greg Ward himself. HDR Efex seems pretty much on par with Photomatix's automatic mode, but that's actually their lame option. Photomatix's user-guided Selective Deghosting is the good one, it comes in second-best overall. Although in this case it requires a lot of extra work, and still ends up clipping the blacks on the palm leaves. Or the whitecaps on the waves, that's your selective choice, basically.

Oloneo PhotoEngine 1.04

PhotoEngine goes into the next beta round, merrily inviting everybody. This is one of the most raved about new-school tonemappers, providing excellent speed, a fistful of great color tools, and an innovative ReLight mode. The new beta includes:

  • Look Presets, ranging from "Natural Soft" all the way to "I love Halos!"
  • Natural Mode, that doesn't seem to do anything (but sure sounds good)
  • Batch Processing, that allows in-between image reviews (awesome)
  • Panorama-safe mode, which I still have to test. (please please work!)
  • and several bug fixes.
Still, no Mac version in sight, and no word on the final pricing yet. For now, it's free and fully functional until June 1st. Grab it!

Gigapan Firmware Updater:

Our good friend Googlebot has snooped out the secret download page of the new Gigapan EPIC firmware. As mentioned last month, this update adds the highly anticipated HDR bracketing option. For some strange reason it's not linked anywhere on the Gigapan homepage, but when you google for "Gigapan Firmware Upgrade" it will happily take you there.

PS: Atlas, the freeware tone-mapping plugin for After Effects, now works on 64-bit Windows. Hurray for Open Source!

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