As a ‘Pentax User’ newsletter reader, I came across Franzis, a German publishing and software company, who have been in existence since the early nineties.
Franzis produce a range of software packages for the photographer, but not being familiar with this company I researched online reviews. All were favourable, but one posted by the chairperson of the Brighton and Hove branch of the Royal Photographic Society, recommended a package called HDR 4, which was discounted from £60.49 to £24.95.
Based on the positive reviews I purchased the software, which is downloadable for both PC and MAC, but you will need Windows 10, 8 and 7 operating system with 32 bits (minimum). The licence also allows you to install on a laptop as well.
Once activated the software loads very quickly and there is an online manual and video tutorials are available. The package works well with bracketed images in jpeg and RAW, but also allows you to load single images, which means you can dig out those old shots and revive them.
Upon opening your image you are presented with a HDR presentation window, where you can set defaults such as noise suppression, optimise exposure and even automatic ghosting correction etc. Then at the click of a mouse there is an option to choose between 82 different pre-sets, to achieve the effect you desire. Your favourite pre-sets can also be saved for future use. I find the default settings are more than adequate for my needs, which can be fine-tuned to produce excellent results. There is also an expert mode for the more adventurous.
I use HDR 4 to enhance my scenic images, where I need to retain detail in the mid tones and shadows, but also enhance clarity. One interesting feature, which I’ve yet to explore is Selective Editing, which enables you to enhance specific areas of an image.
I have experimented briefly with Photomatrix, which costs £72.00, used in-camera HDR modes and Photoshop, but nothing to date compares to the ease of use that comes from using HDR 4. I tried enhancing a studio shot, but the results were disappointing, so will use the software for scenic photography, where it performs really well.
The image below provides a before and after example. By just clicking a button you can produce amazingly sharp, colourful and vibrant images.
Why not take a look at the Franzis website link below, where HDR 4 can be downloaded as a try before you buy. I’ve also found their support to be excellent.