I have been toying around with two HDR programs, the free HDRtist and a trial copy of Photomatix, which is arguably the best HDR program for the amateur/hobbyist. I have done several side by sides, using both jpegs and RAW format images. There is no doubt about it, Photomatix is so much better that I would be forever disappointed using the free HDRtist, knowing how much better my images could be with Photomatix. So I’ll suck up the cost for yet another photography gadget (refer to previous post about turning into my father) and shell out either $79 bucks for the Aperture plugin, or $99 for the full stand alone version. The Aperture plugin is cheaper and would be more convenient to use right from Aperture, but the extra $20 gets me features I would use, so I’ll probably buy the stand alone.
Here’s an experiment from earlier this morning, a difficult shot in a darkish area with lots of shadows, and I took 3 hand held exposures (so the software had to align them.) HDR lets you see what the eye can see and a camera’s single exposure cannot.
Update. After reading Linda’s comment, I thought I’d post the best regular exposure that my camera could take of this image. With many shadows, some areas will be overexposed and some under. This is where HDR (the above image) shines.