Photomatix HDR Export Plug-in for Lightroom

One of the problems I’ve had with using Photomatix Pro in my HDR workflow is the fact that there wasn’t an easy way to go from Lightroom into Photomatix. Well, HDRsoft has recently released an export plug-in for Lightroom that does just that. Yep, once installed, you just select your photos and go to File > Plug-in Extras and Export to Photomatix Pro will appear. Now the company claims the requirements as “The export plugin works in Lightroom version 1.3 or higher, and requires Photomatix Pro version 3.1 or higher. Photomatix Pro 3.1 is currently in beta release.”. However, I have Photomatix Pro 3.0.2 (not the beta 3.1) and it still works fine (I haven’t done any research on that part yet). Anyway, I think it’s newsworthy because HDR is hot these days and most HDR enthusiasts agree Photomatix is the way to go (yes I know there’s others but I’ve found Photomatix to be my favorite as well). Here’s a link to the plug-in page if you want to check it out.

Oh yeah, if you don’t own Photomatix yet and you’re a NAPP member you can get a 20% discount on the purchase using the code in the NAPP members website discount area.

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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18 Comments

  1. Hey Matt,
    I found the same thing that you did as far as Photomatix versions go. I actually have version 2.5 as well as the newer beta versions and the first time I did an export from Lightroom it automatically opened my ver. 2.5. I just started playing with it last night so I have much more to explore but I agree that this will make the HDR workflow move much faster. The one thing I’m not sure of is if the export keeps your Lightroom adjustments or if it is just kicking the default file over to Photomatix. So much to discover, so little time.

    Jeff

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  2. This is Sweet. PM is the best HDR plugin I have found, and having tighter integration with Lightroom will help our workflow.

    I also Like LR Enfuse (I think you’ve mentioned it before) It’s a LR plugin as well, and though the options are less it’s good for making quick HDR’s. One still needs Photomatix though.

    Gav
    seimeffects.com

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  3. I’ve been using Photomatix Pro for quite a while, and absolutely love it. I generally drag and drop my images from Bridge into the “generate HDR” window in Photomatix. I was a little disappointed to find that LR plugin to export to Photomatix 3.1 beta converts the images to 16-bit TIF files to dump into Photomatix. This disables a couple of the Photomatix 3.1 options that are available if you’re generating your HDR file from RAW files, notably: noise reduction and chromatic aberration reduction.

    So, I think for now, I’ll stick with dragging and dropping my RAW files from Bridge to Photomatix.

    By the way, I’m really impressed with the noise and chromatic aberration reduction in the 3.1 beta version. Works great!

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  4. Ah crud. LR was great before HDR came along to it. HDR is 98% of the time way overdone andlooks like crap, the other 2 % don’t need it.

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  5. @Jon,

    If you use the Export button from Lightroom, the dialog that comes up for 16 bit ProPhoto RGB allows you to select DNG as the export type. Would this prevent disabling those Photomatix 3.1 options?

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  6. FYI, for installation of the plugin in Lightroom2, all I did was doble click the download and Lightroom automatically installs it. No Plug-in Manager required.

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  7. I spent the last several hours using this plugin and I think it’s great that it’s now available. However, I think it would be a service to the community if you guys stopped drinking the Adobe Kool Aid and started pressuring them to fix some of the awful bugs in LR2.0. Notably: appalling adjustment brush performance; a bunch of problems on Windows Vista (let’s not get religious here, 80% of us use Windows, sorry); and real problems with dual monitor support (maybe that’s Vista too, but Lightroom is the only app I’ve seen with this many problems).

    Given your prominence in the community of users I would definitely advocate that (a) you involve PCs in your day to day work; (b) don’t try to tell us Adobe is perfect in what they have released (which is quite different from what you wish they would have released).

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  8. My opinion is that Photomatix is the best out there. The best results start with the best series of images. That being said, I agree with the Adrian that lightroom 2 needs to fix the adjustment brush performance. The big problem I have with Lightroom is that on my desktop, for some unknown reason, each time I shut down and bring it back up, I get an “Assertion Fail” error. I do not have this problem on my laptop!!. Go figure, so using the plugin for Photomatix, I can’t do it because that error pops up when I try to export. I read the blogs and many others have this problem as well. There is a temp fix for it that works to bring it up and then when you shut down and bring it back up, bingo. the error. Adobe has been no help on the blogs I have read.

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  9. While were on this crusade to help the folks at Photomatix (love the program by the way) make the LR plugin better can we add Adobe to the list.

    Those Adobe User Forums have been taken over by a bunch of Adobe-can-do-no-wrong types. If you try to bring up a legitimate point about the problems in LR2 you get castigated by a bunch of thugs. I’ve looked into the backgrounds of some of the posters over there and some are very closely related to product development for Adobe. I doubt they are being paid by Adobe (I hope that Corporate America would not allow such behavior by its employees) but seem to be “groupies” of Adobe who’s manhood feels threatened whenever a problem is addressed. I’ve noticed several people have commented on experiencing this unprofessional behavior over at the Adobe Forums so I suspect that more people would be posting about their LR2 issues if they didn’t think they would have to get into a scrap with a bully.

    The problems with LR2 are real, as Adrian shares above, and I’ve taken Adobe to task for using LR2 as paying Beta testers for their ACR5 development all the while not offering a discount on CS4 upgrades to early LR2 adopters (many of which are NAPP members) (Note: a discount is currently available to late adopters who have held out for CS4 but not LR2 users who bought the program back in the summer and early fall) . I hope that the great guys over at NAPP never get so comfortable with Adobe that they lose their will in being able to call them out when they have dropped the ball.

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  10. Have any of you tried Dynamic HDRi from Mediachance.com? I was curious to find out how good it is. Please let me know where I can find some good reviews. I know they are a relatively unknown company but some of their features look really cool. I have downloaded the trial but I am still a novice when it comes to HDR so I need some advice. Thanks

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  11. HDR is the wave of the future. In under a decade, I predict HDR enabled cameras that can capture HDR in one click. Yes it can be overdone, but it’s great for say a church with a stained glass window. I did an HDR of one of the oldest churches in Sydney. I wanted to be able to see the original timber roof as well as the stained glass windows. The only way to get both was HDR.
    I’ve even done a similar technique in video. I did a short film about the area where I live which is all about contrast. On the street level there are goth shops and punk hair stylists, but abobe them are 19th century Facades. So I went into photoshop, applied a black and white effect to one of the buildings and mixed the two exposures. My only problem, and if someone knows the answer, please let me know. I need to animate the layer mask. Is that possible? Otherwise I have to convert it to stills and work on it in shake, which, being a pro compositing program, lets you keyframe masks and many other awesome things. It’s due Monday night, Sydney time so Tuesday around midnight PDT. Any suggestions will be most appreciated.
    Timothy Mathews
    spacedog@cinedependent.com
    Awesome that there’s a plugin for photomatix. I set it up as an external editor and did it that was but am agree it should output the raw files to photomatix, not tiffs.
    Maybe they’ll come out with another version. In the mean time i guess it’s bridge still.
    Pity.

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  12. Oh if you want to see my video, when it’s done, send me your youtube name and I’ll add you to my friends list, and you can see it.
    Keep up the great reporting Matt. When are you going to do another episode of Lightroom Killer Tips? You’ve done 2 web only videos with Scott: the CS4/lightroom 2 conspiracy and the one on Scott’s new Lightroom book. I have his CS3 book. I have his lightroom 1 book but by the time I got it, we were up to LR 1.4 or so and I’d watched lynda.com’s training with Chris Orwig. Does the new book offer much for someone a major geek and long time lightroom user that isn’t covered by lynda.com or Kelby training videos?
    If so I’ll pick up a copy. I entered the photowalk hoping to win one, but sadly the award went to someone who the team deemed unqualified, so there was no real winner in Sydney and no chimping. In fact not 1 comment from others on the walk on 1 of my photos. That should be a requirement if there is another one.
    Still I enjoyed the walk but what totally blown away with how many pros were on it. Also managed to get harassed for having a tripod because it looked like “serious photo gear.” nevermind I was shooting with a d50 and the 2 people with me were shooting with d200’s and better. It was right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of the most photographed parts of Sydney. I asked him what ordinance I was breaking and he just babbled. Eventually he ran out of steam, the guys with me told him to bugger off, and all was well.
    The others took pics of the guy. heh. check out the Sydney photowalk group on flickr to see my pics and those of the others.
    Oh and one more thing.
    Tell Scott, next time he gives you a hard time, that imho, and I’m sure many others, you’re the hottest guy on Photoshop user TV. I’m sure you’re secure enough to take that as a compliment and not get weirded out.
    Timothy Mathews
    TM

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  13. I have been using photomatix for 2 years now and 90 % of my shots I do HDR, at first I went for the harry potter look, later on I cooled down the effect so that it is not too much.

    HDR is still the best technology out there to get the sky right and the rest of the landscape too.

    check out some of the pictures on my website:

    I will definitly get this plug in right away !

    http://www.photoserge.com

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  14. Regarding NAPP I live in the UK and have nearly joined several times but have been put off by the discounts only being available in the US for Adobe products, so as well as the high price here (for Adobe stuff) we cannot participate in the discount scheme, does this also apply to the Photomatix discount? Regarding HDR can anyone recommend a book. I see several on Amazon but cannot tell if they are any good.

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  15. Matt

    I watched your online class in Kelby Training for HDR but I could not find where you had listed the camera presets you mentioned on the video #3 How to shoot for HDR.

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  16. Hi

    Photomatix rules, but the Plugin sucks. Installing it with Admin-rights installs the Plugin for Administrator and not for all Users. When i Copy it to my c: Documents and settings… Modules the plugin throws an error and the Files are not in Photomatix. That is lame.

    Maybe the Plugin is beta but i also havenĀ“t found a Bugtracker in franzis Homepage

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