Lightroom -v- Photoshop -v- Photomatix for Interior HDR Shots

Now if I can stay within one program to do all my processing.. I am one happy bunny.  Simply because a) my computer is not very good at handling loads of photo-editing programs all at one time and b) it is easier for me and I like the easy life.  However, when it comes to HDR software which one is the best for HDR photography. So I decided to compare Lightroom -v- Photoshop -v- Photomatix for HDR photography.

For my trial I used 10 photographs shot at different exposures, with no editing whatsoever.


Without doing any edits in Lightroom, whatsoever, I first used Lightroom to merge them into one HDR image. The only edits I did after merging was to add a Guided Transform to square the room up and this I did on all my test images for the various programs I used for this comparison.

Lightroom HDR Merge Auto Tone – On

As you can see from the image above, with the Auto Tone turned on during the Lightroom HDR Merge the detail outside of the windows is lost.

Lightroom HDR Merge Auto Tone – Off

Even with the Auto Tone in Lightroom HDR Merge turned off, the details outside are still not there.  Yes of course with some editing in Lightroom I could have brought some of those details back.


Using the same 10 images and via Lightroom, without any adjustments, I sent the images to Photoshop by Right Clicking selecting Edit in > Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop.  I again selected the default options and as you can see there is not much difference in exposure between the Photoshop HDR Merge and the Lightroom HDR Merge with Auto Tone.  But… the image is more flat.



Now for Photomatix, again I used the same set of 10 photographs and via Lightroom exported them to Photomatix to see whether Photomatix brought back the detail outside.

Straight from Photomatix

As you can see using just the default option in Photomatix has produced far more detail in the windows and given me much more detail to work with when processing the image.  Photomatix produced much more definition in the windows and given me an image with so much more detail.

Processed image using the Photomatix HDR Program

Room at Temple Manor
A HDR image of a room at Temple Manor in Strood, Rochester, Kent.

Conclusion Lightroom -v- Photoshop -v- Photomatix

For landscape photographs where you have a lot of trees Lightroom HDR Merge for me is the easiest one to use.  But if you have architectural elements, subjects with a lot a detail in them or interior shots of rooms, then I believe Photomatix is the best program to use.  As Lightroom and Photoshop gave the same sort of result with very little difference, I can’t quite see the point of sending photos to Photoshop for merging to HDR if you have Lightroom.  The Photoshop HDR Merge was lighter but still there isn’t much detail in the windows.  This is where Photomatix excelled.

On another note – Aurora HDR

On another note… I just received an email from Trey Ratcliff telling me that Aurora HDR for Mac and Windows will be available from September 28th 2017.  Click here, for more details about Aurora HDR.  And at the moment you can pre-order it for £80.  At the moment I am sitting on the fence with regards as to whether I will buy this program or not.  Like many windows users, we’ve had to wait.. as Aurora HDR was only available to MAC users.  I think I might wait and see what windows users make of it.. and read their reviews before deciding as to whether to buy it.  For the moment Photomatix does what I want it to do… and to be honest we don’t do a lot of HDR Photography, so will it be worth purchasing another piece of software?  Time will tell!!!



10 responses to “Lightroom -v- Photoshop -v- Photomatix for Interior HDR Shots”

  1. Nice, I am not a big LR user because I started with PS. But if I was strictly a Photographer then my choice would be LR hands down. Ps has gotten so big its hard to use anymore for simple photo editing to me.


    1. Sometimes I delve into Photoshop… but most of my editing is done in Lightroom. I think each have their own best bits and bad bits… but because Lightroom in non-destructive and has an easy cataloguing method I always start my processing in Lightroom. My only regret is Lightroom can be so damn slow at times. 😀 😀 😀


  2. Thanks for sharing. I love to know what other photographers are using and what they like or dislike about software.


    1. You are welcome… I think a lot of people stick with Photomatix … but Lightroom is so handy for HDR because you don’t have to use another software program.


  3. The lighting in the room looks great . What do you do with the hdr pictures? I use them in animation to make 3d objects look lifelike . I would use the jpeg as the backdrop and the same hdr file for image based lighting . Just wondering what others use them for.


    1. Hi thanks for your comment… I am just an amateur photographer, and don’t do any animations or 3d work at all.


  4. Hi Bren and others, I confess I am a Photoshop user and I’m just used to Camera Raw. I used to use Photomatix to experiment with HDR but sometimes it would just muck up my colours and I found the program hit and miss. Since discovering Jimmy McIntyre’s method of luminosity blending and matching for interior work, I’ve been impressed by the clean, natural results that can be achieved and, you don’t need to work with lots of different exposures. Quite often, as little as three exposures can give you what you need for a clean, natural dynamic range. I am aware that the idea of using Photoshop appears to present such a huge learning curve for some and after years of using it, I’m still learning new ways of doing things all the time. As a Mac user, I haven’t tried Aurora but I have heard it is pretty good.


    1. Hiya thanks for your comment… I also have Jimmy’s method of luminosity blending.. However since the new update of Photomatix it doesn’t seem to mess colours up at all.

      Instead of camera raw I use Lightroom,, and only delve into Photoshop if I have to.. primarily to remove an object that the spot healing brush can’t do in Lightroom.

      That is what I have found with Photoshop it is a huge learning curve.. I also have Greg Benz’s luminosity masking with is another great add on to Photoshop.

      Yes I like the results of Aurora that I’ve seen and now it is coming to Windows I suspect I will go ahead and get it. Personally I think it is about what you are trying to achieve with an image.

      Since the update of 6.0.2 Photomatix I find is now giving you more options when toning your image… to give you a more natural merge.


  5. Thank you it will be great for my interior pics.


    1. You are welcome… glad it helped!


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