There are plenty of well established software packages out there for creating High Dynamic Range (HDR) images such as PhotoMatix, Dynamic Photo HDR or Artizen. Each of them has their advantages and disadvantages and I know that many of you use combinations of all of them. Recently I have strived to produce more natural looking HDR images, especially as I mainly shoot landscapes, so I’ve been happy to trial a new piece of software called SNS-HDR Pro, developed by Sebastian Nibisz.
For me, it produces the most natural looking High Dynamic Range images with the minimum of effort, and yet, there are many elements of the image that I can control, such as light, colour, temperature etc, which I’ll try to demonstrate later in this blog.
The image below is an HDR of a 3 exposure @ 2EV created with SNS-HDR Pro, taken on a particularly dull day. It was shot without a tripod.
The results are quite natural, with some emphasis on the clouds, with little adjustments made by me. So let’s look at the interface for SNS-HDR Pro which is pretty simple and self-explanatory. Just as well, because, as far as I am aware, Sebastian has not got round to writing a manual or including any help files with SNS-HDR Pro yet.
The large black area is where you view your image, at the bottom of the screen is a slider to let you zoom in or out and down the right hand side is where you load, save and adjust your images. There is also an opportunity to batch process images. Pretty simple really and I’ll try to explain them in greater detail below.
There are only three options here. LOAD, which as you can guess is where you select the images you want to HDR process. As an aside, I found SNS-HDR Pro’s RAW conversion very good and would happily use it as my RAW editor, mainly for the simplified control it gives me over the RAW images. You can also choose whether or not to reduce the size of the image and allow SNS-HDR Pro to Auto-Align. I always used the Auto-Align feature and found it worked very well, even with hand-held brackets that I had shot.
Next is the SAVE option, in the demo version there are some size limitations on the saved file and all images are watermarked. You can save in JPEG or TIFF format and each of these options has individual controls for the saved files.
This is the option for JPEG images and as you can see you can adjust the quality. The TIFF save dialogue allows you to choose 8 or 16 bit and also to embed SNS-HDR data. (Why you would want to or what function this serves I don’t know but Sebastian obviously felt it was necessary to include this option)
A control slider allows you to adjust the overall brightness of the image. You can also adjust contrast, highlights, midtones and microcontrast individually. If you don’t like an adjustment that you have done just press the UNDO arrow on the far right hand side and it will returned to the default setting.
As an added bonus you can also adjust individual colours to lighten or darken them as required. All you do is select the individual colour(s) and adjust the line as shown below.
Colour correction and adjustment is done in a similar way to the brightness function. You can adjust the overall saturation or you can select individual colours to increase or decrease saturation, even change the hue.
There’s a slider to control the overall temperature of the image and you can choose various colour profiles to use such as sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB and Wide Gamut. Clicking the monitor allows you to load a monitor profile.
One of the things I forgot to mention is Presets. SNS-HDR Pro has four presets, five if you include the default one and below I’ll show you a couple of examples, first of all the DEFAULT
Now the DRAMATIC
Overall, I’m impressed with SNS-HDR Pro. The developer, Sebastian Nibisz, has put a lot of thought into his product and at the moment has been issuing a lot of updates as he adds new features. The current version is Version One (build 1.8) and Sebastian has confirmed that Version Two will not be released until 2012. Therefore anyone buying SNS-HDR should get all updates for free until at least 2012.
SNS-HDR is available in 3 versions at the following prices (all prices include VAT). You can visit Sebastian’s site for SNS-HDR Pro by following this link
- SNS-HDR Lite – Free (This version runs in a console window)
- SNS-HDR Pro – €85 (Expanded version of the program with a graphical interface and batch processing module)
- SNS-HDR Home – €30 (As the pro version but without the batch processing module. This version has a limitation of the license for non-commercial home use).
So there you have it. My personal opinion of a new piece of software that we can add to our HDR arsenal. Oh! And by the way. Idon’t get anything for this. As I said, it’s purely my personal opinion.
- How to Enable HDR Photography on Your iPhone 3GS or iPod touch [Downloads] (lifehacker.com)
- HDR Photograpy Software Review (True HDR, Pro HDR) (chris.pirillo.com)
- Nik Software Announces New HDR Efex Pro™ Software (prweb.com)