HDR Projects platin review: One of the most comprehensive HDR apps and plug-ins on the market
There are a number of HDR apps and plug-ins on the market, some better than others but with HDR Projects platin, from German publisher Franzis Verlag, you’d be hard pressed to find one more comprehensive. The entire process is based around using three images, one dark, one well exposed and one bright. Ideally you’ll already have three exposures that fit the bill but don’t worry if it’s just one image you want to play around with because the app will work with that. It creates the other two artificially and then tone-maps the result. The images can be loaded or dropped directly onto the interface. Any images in the wrong orientation can be rotated and all the standard RAW formats are supported so you can just grab images direct from the camera and start using them.
The first step is the preparation phase, though you can just accept the defaults here and move straight on. It allows a custom white balance and colour space to be set for the project. There are also options for suppressing colour noise, optimising the image and aligning multiple images if their positioning is slightly off. One thing you’ll notice immediately is that while there is a plethora of options in this app, it makes every effort to explain what they do. Simply hover the cursor over any setting and a guide pops up.
After using the presets to create a HDR image, some noise suppression post-production was required to smooth it out.
The next section is one for the HDR enthusiast who likes to tweak every detail. The weighting of the three images can be set and there are seven different styles of HDR algorithm to choose from. Changing these updates the processed in the middle but there’s usually not much difference unless the bracketed images show a very wide range of tones. If that wasn’t enough it’s then possible to mask elements of each of the bracketed images to create a custom-combination. Again, a lot of the time you won’t need this but if there’s some blown highlights it can be worth masking them off the image.
The fun begins with the tone mapping and post-production section. It’s not overly clear how you progress through these sections initially but it’s easy enough to work out. There’s a range of tone-mapping presets covering natural results, surreal, architecture, landscape, monochrome and artistic. If you have a hankering for the worst excesses of HDR imagery, here’s where you can get your fill. Simply click on a preset to update the processed image, which is quick, so it’s easy to see what looks good and what doesn’t. If you like a results but there’s an issue with it like too much noise, then the post-processing filters come into play and there are no fewer than 46 of these. Of course all the settings for the presets can be tweaked as well to deliver a finely tuned result. Then simply save the project or export the combined image.
If you only have one image to work with, the app will create another two to expand the tonal range and give it more to work with.
Although it’s a little on the pricey side, this is about as comprehensive a HDR app as you can get. The fact that it works on single or multiple images is a bonus and there are presets to make it easy and lots of detail for those who like get their hands dirty. Highly recommended for those interested in HDR and tone-mapped images.