Version 1.0.0 (1457) version 2018 High Sierra
Developer Macphun Inc. USA
Macphun a San Diego, USA based software company, is famous for its outstanding photo editing software products. Their latest HDR software tool Aurora HDR 2017 has now been upgraded to a new product supporting numerous improvements.
Aurora HDR 2017 was launched September 2016 and Aurora HDR 2018 launched September-28-2017. This review will discover and disclose wether the 2018 upgrade is a true improvement to version 2017 .
Aurora 2017 and 2018 are used by professionals as well as enthousiasts. HDR is a tool to make your pictures stand out from the crowd. Macphun has a great reputation for their outstanding products and aim to listen to their clients and implement their wishes in new product versions.
WHAT IS HDR
HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. Pictures are taken in series or one and are processed and combined to one by adjusting the contrast ratios.
An HDR image is commonly made by taking three photos of the same scene, each at different shutter speeds. The result is a bright, medium, and dark photo, based on the amount of light that got through the lens.
A software process then combines all the photos to bring details to the shadows and highlights both. The result of this magic are stunning pictures with vivid colouring and lighting.
Aurora HDR 2018 is the world’s ultimate HDR photo editing software, with added new tools and capabilities. Its a complete and comprehensive tool kit for casual and pro photographers. Its new updated interface and new features complement a new release of Macphun HDR software. Perfect for single shots or multiple-exposure brackets, Aurora HDR 2018 is able to create beautiful HDR pictures from single shots, as well as the for HR photographed 3 pictures with different exposures. Aurora HDR 2018 can turn any photographer into an artist.
WHATS NEW in AURORA HDR 2018
- Quick video overview
- Next-generation tone mapping
- Lens correction tool
- Transform tool
- HDR Enhancer
- 200% speed increase
- Mac OS & Windows support
- Dodge & Burn tool
- Re-imagined user experience
- New structure algorithm
- History panel
- 10+ more improvements
Okay every update makes some changes great or small to any application, but Aurora HDR 2018 adds some real useful tools like the Lens correction, Transform tool and Dodge & Burn tool. I also notice improvement on speed when applying changes.
USING AURORA HDR 2018
This section is I feel most important as it delivers a end product to your satisfaction and will show some examples of edited pictures. The best before/after effect is generated with pictures most suitable for change. Me being just an enthousiast do not have these ideal pictures for transforming. I just use some of my personal pictures as examples.
To start Aurora HDR 2018 you are prompted to add your picture(s). For best results a set of three with different exposures is recommended, but just a single shot will also do if you have only one exposure picture.
These exposures need to be merged into a 32-bit HDR image. The merge options haven’t changed since last version 2017 and they’re pretty much the same across most HDR applications. There’s an Alignment checkbox that you need to check for shooting your HDR brackets handheld, but there are three more checkboxes on a pop-up ‘gear’ menu. You should check the Ghosts Reduction box if your pictures contain moving objects like passers-by, and Color Denoise and Chromatic Aberration Removal boxes.
The merge process takes about 40 seconds, working with three 24-megapixel NEF (RAW) files. Once the image is merged it’s displayed in the main window interface, and you can then either choose a preset effect in a number of different categories, or add adjustments manually in a series of tool panels – in Aurora HDR 2018, these have been renamed Filters.
The sidebar contains all adjusting tools, from which some are a little hidden like the Lens Correction and Transform icon which opens the sliders.
The bottom of the interface is where you’ll find the ‘ presets’, again similar to version 2017 only to open from the ‘ Categories ‘ button. The Dramatic preset is new, and some Free presets can be downloaded from these sites !
The Presets are created by experienced users and offer a head start for making your own creations. In order to master Aurora HDR 2018 I recommend you to follow some video’s explaining settings and procedures. ( here )
Aurora HDR 2018’s new tone-mapping process gives you a much better starting point than before, and although the initial results look similar, the 2018 version is much less prone to ‘glow’ effects around large objects. Aurora HDR 2018’s new HDR Basic panel offers all the controls you need to get a powerful, realistic-looking image. The HDR Enhance slider adds punchy localised contrast, the Smart Tone slider lifts dark shadow detail, and the Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks sliders take care of the fine tuning.
Indeed, many HDR images depend on localised adjustments like these, and Aurora HDR 2018 adds the all new Dodge and Burn panel. The adjustable brush can Lighten or Darken different parts of the picture in the same way you might have dodged and burned different parts of a print in the darkroom. Other new tools in Aurora HDR 2018 include manual chromatic aberration removal sliders – very handy, since HDR and structure adjustments can really exaggerate colour fringing – and perspective transform sliders for adjusting horizontal and vertical perspective, angle and scale. These are very useful for interior or architectural shots where straight lines and vertical verticals make a big difference to the picture’s appearance and success.
HDR ENHANCE FILTER
This filter allows you to adjust clarity, color, details, contrast in a special way! It doesn’t give you an artificial look. It will help to create a natural looking image.
So you’ve been doing some enhancements, this feature helps you tracking your actions creating your ultimate picture.
What is tone mapping?
Macphun AURORA HDR PRO already had some Tone-mapping feature but version 2017 has a complete new build Tone-Mapping build in their application. I guess this is one of the most used features within this application. Nice to fiddle around, but what does it really do?
It’s the process of converting the tonal values of an image from a high range to a lower one. For instance, an HDR file merged from multiple images with a dynamic range of 100,000:1 will be converted into an image with tonal values ranging from around 1 to 255.
Why do we want to reduce that tonal range so much? Well the reason is simple. Most standard display devices (and printers) can only reproduce a low range of dynamic values (between 100 or 200:1 or lower). The goal of tone mapping is to reproduce the appearance of images having a higher dynamic range to fit/display properly on standard display devices, thus keeping the image looking realistic.
The algorithms that tone mapping use to scale the dynamic range down attempt to preserve the appearance of the original image captured by breaking the information up into two categories: global and local.
SOME PERSONAL HDR EXAMPLES
Macphun raised the bar last year with their version 2017 which at that moment didn’t leave much room for improvement. There are some other applications available right now, which offer similar techniques and adjustment settings, but I feel Macphun is the easiest to master
for the average user. The professional may have other options, but this version 2018 doesn’t leave much to desire really. Speed improved as well as a better layout and improved techniques. The Lens Correction and Transform Tool are the obvious improvements implemented.
I am a big fan of Macphun software, and I tried them all ! I love their clean interface and easy use. The offered presets are limited but when you add the mentioned Free packs or buy the available Presets from Macphun you can’t go wrong anymore. A bad result is only due to a bad picture, the software can make any photographer into a true Michelangelo. How’s that for software changing your world !
So, I recommend Aurora HDR 2018 to anyone looking for a great HDR-editing application.
- Current users of Aurora HDR 2017 may upgrade for $59 ($49 with our affiliate coupon code= macsoftreview)