More Realistic HDR Images Using “Enfuse”

Hi gang – and howdy from Charlotte, North Carolina (here for my seminar today). So, last week I had Real Estate photographer Thomas Grubba as my guest on “The Grid” (our life weekly talk show for photographers), and he was talking about how he uses a Lightroom plug-in called:


It’s from a developer in the UK, and it’s what Thomas uses to take his bracketed real estate photography images and merge them into a single image with a realistic look. He was really raving about it, so I tried it myself and it’s pretty amazing (most of the time). Best of all, it’s “Donationware” (there’s no set price – you give what you want to the developer).

Here’s a few quick results (no toning was done to any of these – just the initial merge, so you can do a lot to these examples. The first one will be Lightroom’s built-in “Merge to HDR” followed by the Enfuse plug-in. 

Note: Ignore the ghosting – I didn’t address it in any of these examples.


Above: Lightroom’s Merge to HDR feature 


Above: Same images merged using the “Enfuse” plug-in


Above: The same image with Lightroom Merge to HDR but with the AUTO TONE turned on. 


Above: The Enfuse image with Auto Tone added. 



Above: Lightroom’s Merge to HDR version.


Above: the same images merged in “Enfuse”


Above: Here’s what the plug-in looks like when it opens in Lightroom. 4 tabs along the top with different options for merging.

Most of the time, I seem to like the results from Enfuse better than Lightroom’s built-in (which I’ve been quite fond of, so that’s saying something), but there were a couple of images I merged where I liked the Lightroom native version better, but not many.

Thomas recommended added +20 Clarity and +10 Contrast two your HDR bracketed images before you Enfuse them, and he’s right — I think it produces a better result.

The only downside I’ve experienced thus far is that it’s quite a bit slower than Lightroom’s Merge to HDR, so you wait longer to see your result, especially with larger brackets of 5 or 7 images. Outside of that, it’s a peach.

Here’s a link to download Enfuse from the developer (be generous). 🙂

Hope you found that helpful.

One more thing…
In other news: Registration for the Photoshop World Orlando 2017 Conference officially opens today. You can read more about it on my blog at or go to

I look forward to meeting a bunch of you here today! 🙂



Author: Scott Kelby

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books. You can learn more about Scott at

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  1. This seems to display a lack of understanding for how LRs merge to hdr works. It’s going to look like a non-HDR photo because it just adds the extra range into the image, boosting your exposure slider from 5 to 10 stops. It gives you substantially more room to work as you normally would.

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  2. Been using Enfuse since 2013. Great natural looking HDR.

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  3. Last update was April 2015. When will Enfuse provide a more up to date version?

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    • I’ve used Enfuse for a while. I does indeed make very natural in-HDR looking HDR images. Compared to dedicated HDR software like Google/ NIC HDR Efex autoalignment is hit or miss for handheld HDR. Anti-ghosting is quite weak. Conclusion is that the tradition HDR advise to use a tripod and select only absolutely non-moving subject matter applies very strongly.

      That said, if you meet the conditions, above, Enfuse make an excellent natural appearing image

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  4. I’ve been using Enfuse for my real estate photo business for several years. With my Nikon D300 it gave me much better results than other tools. And it produced definitely less niose in the shadows. Since I switched to a D750 and LR CC I was only using the built-in HDR function. After having seen Thomas and Scott on the Grid I re-activated my Enfuse plug-in again and tried the +20/+10 thing. Great! These images have more punch out of the box. Just also did the speed check with three bracketed 24 MP images of my last interior shoot: Lightroom’s HDR-function did it in 12,58 sec and Enfuse needed 54,52 sec. If you judge quality over speed, Enfuse may be a good alternative.

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  5. When you click on the link Scott included to Enfuse, there is a link on the page to an e-book, and even an accompanying video, if you really want to jump into Enfuse, especially as it relates to real estate photography. Of course, KelbyOne may have something up their sleeve… hint Scott. 🙂

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  6. Have you compared it to other programs like Photomatix Pro?

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  7. I used to use Enfuse, but I have an 8-year-old DSLR and I found the DNG file produced by Lightroom gave me better scope for adjustment – it is probably a closer run thing with a recent DSLR…. I tend to spend my DSLR fund on travel so I may never find out!

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  8. Scott – do you recommend doing any basic edits to the images first prior to doing the HDR merge, or does it matter?

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    • Gary – Scott here (not logged in – I’m on my iPhone). Thomas recommended increasing the Clarity to +20 and contrast to +10 before doing the conversion for better results.

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