What’s New In The Photomatix 6 Pro HDR App?

In Landscapes, Lightroom, Photography by Matt K17 Comments

If you’re an HDR lover, than there’s some big news today. Photomatix Pro (which I’ve always held up as the father of all HDR software) just released a new version – Photomatix Pro 6. There’s a video at the bottom of the post if you want to see it in action. Also, they have a free download trial which I’d suggest checking out first (it’s fully functional). But if you do decide to purchase it, they gave me a 15% coupon code to share. Just use the code: mattk15

My story with Photomatix goes back back almost 11 years to 2006. I was teaching a landscape workshop, and I always walked by one guy who’s camera sounded like a machine gun the entire trip. Back then, I wasn’t bracketing photos – and most people I knew weren’t either. So it was a little weird at the time.

Then, on the computer in the classroom, he showed everyone this program called Photomatix and he merged together the bracketed photos in to an HDR. I tried one of my photos on it and I was amazed. So much so, that I went back to the office the next week and bought it. I spent the next few months getting really good at HDR, and I created a DVD on HDR Photography and Processing. Believe it or not, it goes down as one of my top-selling DVDs ever.

Why Photomatix?

I don’t personally do a ton of HDR merging today. I’m usually able to get what I want from one photo. But, when I want that HDR “look”, or when I shoot architecture (or a really challenging scene), I do sometimes turn to an HDR merge. If I absolutely LOVE the photo, I still use Photomatix to do the merging because I’ve always like their “look”. It may not be the most-used app on my computer, but it’s been there for 10 years.

If I only kinda like the photo, and I don’t have big plans to print it large (maybe just share it online), then I’ll usually use Lightroom’s HDR merge for it. My only gripe about Lightroom is sometimes it’s HDR merge isn’t enough for the shadows and highlights. Plus, it doesn’t have that “look” that Photomatix has. It’s hard to explain but it’s got an edge, detail and contrast to it that I don’t see when I merge photos in Lightroom.

And Yes… there’s other apps out there and yes I’ve tried them. All I can say is that personally, for me, I prefer the look Photomatix gives. Maybe because it’s my first experience with HDR, or maybe because I just feel comfortable with it. But anyone that’s asked me about HDR software in the last couple of years, has always gotten the same answer: “If you’re really in to HDR… Photomatix is the way to go. If you only do it once in a while, and aren’t very picky about the look you get, then use Lightroom”.

What’s New in Photomatix Pro 6

So what’s new in Photomatix Pro 6? Here’s a quick list:

• This is the biggest of the new features – A new tone-mapping style called Tone Balancer. If you want an HDR merge that is more on the realistic side then this is the way to go. It works great for landscape photos and architecture where you want more of that natural look.

• You can blend one of the original photos over the top of your merged HDR and vary the opacity. And you can use a brush to selectively paint in parts of it if you don’t want the whole photo blended in. If you’re a Lightroom user, it’s nice because you basically have access to layering without jumping to Photoshop.

• There’s new color controls. I don’t personally do a lot of color manipulation in Photomatix, so I don’t use this part a lot. But, much like the photo blending option mentioned above, there’s a brush that will let you selectively paint color changes on to the merged HDR.

• Distortion removal – if you want to straighten a horizon or vertical surfaces, it’s got tools to do it. Again, I personally start my workflow from Lightroom, and returning to it when I’m done. So I’d do that type of work there instead.

• And this isn’t new, but it’s got very tight integration with Lightroom which means the round trip pretty much seamless.

A Quick Photomatix Pro 6 Video

As promised, below is a quick video demo of the new version. Don’t forget to use this link to check out Photomatix Pro 6 and if you do purchase use the code “mattk15” (no quotes) to get 15%. Enjoy!

 

Comments

  1. Dennis Zito

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for letting us know about the Photomatix Update and the tutorial. I’ve used it like you for most of my HDR Photos. Your HDR tutorials inspired me to use it. I’m hooked like you because of the look. I have a question for you. In the past in one of your HDR tutorials, you gave us your settings for a couple of different looks. I saved them as presets in Photomatix. They were awesome! However, during my change over from windows to mac I’ve lost those settings. Do you still have them? If you do, could you point me to them so I can copy them again. Like I said I used them all the time. If I remember correctly, you had two or three different settings.

    Thanks for everything!

    Dennis

    1. Author
      Matt K

      Hey Dennis – unfortunately I don’t have them anymore. Sorry about that.
      But glad the video got you re-inspired to check it out again 🙂 Take care!

      1. Dennis Zito

        Hey Matt,

        Well, thanks anyway. They were really great presets! 🙂 By the way, version 6 is a free upgrade from 5 which is awesome!

        Thanks,

        Dennis

  2. Rebecca

    If we already have Photomatix, will it let us upgrade for free?

    1. Dennis Zito

      Hi Rebecca,

      Version 6 is a free upgrade if you have a Licensed version of 5. Just go to and click on “Check for Updates” after you open Photomatix 5 and it will take you to the update page. Then you enter your email address that you originally used to purchase 5 and they’ll send you an email with the new license for version 6

      Thanks,

      Dennis

    2. Rachel Garafola

      Rebecca, I have a real old version Photomatix Pro and found out that I can upgrade for just $29. If you go to their website, hdrsoft.com >Support menu, you will find Upgrade Information where you input your email address. If they find a match for your license, they will tell you what you are entitled to (if your version is older that Version 5.

      Thanks Matt!

  3. Eva Gustafsson

    Hi Matt, tried to purchase with the 15% mattk discount. But a message popped up that the code was invalid. I’ve written to Photomatix but got no answer 🙁
    Thanks for your informative video by the way
    best regards from sunny Sweden

    1. Eva Gustafsson

      Oh – now I see that the code here is mattk15 and not just mattk. Then it was different on the youtube page I watched yesterday. Now I will try and purchase again.

  4. Bruce

    Hey Matt:

    Thanks for the update re Photomatix. Just downloaded it. Went in great on my mac. Seems faster to me. Also like the merge with original photo option as well.

    Take care

  5. KKimmett

    Thanks Matt for drawing our attention to this. I already have a license for a previous version so it was easy to upgrade to this one (for free).

  6. KJ Smith

    Hey Matt. First time, long time.

    Basic question. I typically do all my adjustments in Lightroom, including white balance and exposure. Working on a RAW image file, I have all the options (including settings specific to my camera and lens). If I follow your video example and pull all the RAW files into Photomatix to create an HDR, and then begin working on the composited image in LR, I seem to undue all the HDR exposure magic. I think I’m answering my own question here, but I guess I should do make basic LR adjustments, such as WB, before Photomatix. Is that correct?

    Thanks.

    1. Author
      Matt K

      Hi. Personally, if I am going to merge an HDR I do that first. Then I edit the resulting file in LR just like I would any other photo. Not sure what you mean by “undoing” the exposure magic. Once you merge it, the file (usually TIFF) has all of the exposure you need in it. Hope that helps.

  7. Rachel Garafola

    Matt, thank you so much for your thoughts on this and for the helpful video! I’m in the process of migrating to my new iMac, and you just reminded me why I should keep this software and go for the upgrade. I’m most excited about the easy integration with Lightroom and how the tools seem more user-friendly. I haven’t used HDR in a long time but have taken many photos with the intention of using it at some point. Can’t wait to try it again!

    Oh, and thank you for showing us the different results we get when using HDR in LR vs. Photomatix.

    Sincerely,

  8. greg

    I thought the new Photomatix offered more ‘realistic’ processing…..I don’t think so, there is NO difference……

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